Virgin Mobile USA to carry iPhone 5 for $550

Sales kick off June 28; unlimited 3G and 4G LTE data, and unlimited messages, available for $35 a month

Virgin Mobile USA will begin selling the iPhone 5 next Friday, June 28. A 16 GB version will cost $549.99.

For $35 a month, as part Virgin's Beyond Talk plan, the pre-paid carrier will provide unlimited 3G and 4G LTE data, and unlimited messages. Signing up for automatic payments cuts the monthly service charge to $30.

The carrier will offer the 16 GB iPhone 5 in white or black online and at Virgin Mobile dealers and RadioShack.

Virgin Mobile will only sell the black and white 32 GB and 64 GB iPhone 5 versions versions online at the Virgin Mobile website next week for $649.99 and $749.99 respectively.

Sprint subsidiary Virgin follows T-Mobile USA, which in April started offering unlimited plans for the iPhone 5 for an up-front payment. T-Mobile charges $579 for the iPhone 5, with $149 as an initial payment after originally charging $99.

Pre-paid plans are becoming more popular, and all the major carriers have shown interest in offering them.

The iPhone 5 is now nine months old. The next generation model is due in September.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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