Virgin starts offering $20 plans for unlimited texting or unlimited talking (but not both)

Photo by Kateryna Yakovlieva/Shutterstock

Despite the phenomenal rise of the smartphone in recent years, there is still a significant minority of mobile phone users who could care less or can’t afford data access. They just want to use their phones to make calls or send text messages, and starting Saturday Virgin Mobile is going after that group with new $20 PayLo monthly plans available exclusively at Walmart.

Cheap talk and text plans from a prepaid operator are nothing new, but Sprint-owned Virgin Mobile USA is focusing on the hard-core users on either side of the voice and messaging divide. For $20 a month you can either get an unlimited SMS plan (with 50 minutes of voice) or unlimited voice (with 50 text messages).

The Samsung Montage (source: Samsung)

The Samsung Montage (source: Samsung)

These plans are available on two feature phones, the Samsung Montage and the very basic Kyocera Kona. Both devices sport limited internet features, but I wouldn’t recommend opening your mobile browser. On these plans, mobile data costs a whopping $1.50 per megabyte. If you thought the industry average of $15 a gigabyte was high, these rates work out to be about $1,500 per 1 GB.

As you might imagine, these two variants target entirely separate demographics. The older generation isn’t still fully comfortable with SMS, making the big bucket text message plans included in most plans these days pretty useless. Meanwhile the younger generation often can’t be bother with making a phone call when a text message (or 25) will do.

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