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Virgin Mobile is next to offer pre-paid iPhone, says WSJ

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Apple’s iPhone(s AAPL) is coming to Virgin Mobile, and the announcement should come sometime later this week, The Wall Street Journal is reporting. The plan for iPhone buyers will be pre-paid, and should be available “as soon as July 1,” according to the report. The report has no details on how much the plan would cost or how much the upfront cost to purchase the device would be.

Should Virgin announce these plans, that would make it the second U.S. pre-paid iPhone carrier in as many weeks. Leap Wireless said last week that it would be selling the iPhone with a pre-paid plan on its Cricket service.

Virgin Mobile is owned by Sprint(s S), which started selling iPhones last fall for the first time. Much has been made of the huge financial commitment Sprint entered into to offer Apple’s popular smartphone, with no promise of immediate profitability on the deal for Sprint. So perhaps deals like this one, through its subbrand, were part of the strategy all along? That would let Sprint push more iPhones with lower-priced plans.

For Apple, this would be yet another way to put more iPhones in more customers’ hands. This is key for its battle with Samsung’s Android line of phones here in the U.S., which has continued to see its share rise even as iPhones have sold in record numbers, particularly on the major U.S. wireless carriers.

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