Leap Wireless (the parent company of Cricket Wireless) today announced that iPhone will begin to be offered on their network as of June 22.
Cricket, over the past couple of years, has been undergoing a transformation. Previously a regional Tier 2 carrier, the company has signed on to be an MVNO of Sprint, operating both its own network, and selling in Sprint markets jointly. The symbiotic relationship allows Leap to maintain a lower-cost, independent network, while having a new national presence.
Both the iPhone 4, and iPhone 4S will be made available at launch. The two devices will be unchanged hardware-wise from their counterparts on Sprint and Verizon. Only the 8GB iPhone 4 and 16GB iPhone 4S will be available at-launch, at $399 and $499, respectively.
Both devices appear to have a subsidy from Cricket, and the carrier will only permit activation of Cricket-branded units. While Verizon and Sprint iPhones are unlocked, Apple does not permit the activation of CDMA-based iPhones on carriers other than the one they were originally intended for. This is similar to how a GSM “unlocked” iPhone 4S from Sprint or Verizon cannot be activated on AT&T or T-Mobile. Apple only provides for “international unlocks” on iPhone 4S, meaning that the devices can be unlocked for use abroad.
The good news is that sources report to PhoneNews.com that Cricket’s iPhone 4S will be unlocked for international use, out of the box.
Cricket will only offer one plan for the iPhone 4 and 4S, their $55 unlimited plan. The plan includes unlimited voice and messaging, as well as 2.3 GB of unthrottled data. After which, speeds will be throttled, similar to Sprint-owned MVNO Virgin Mobile.
It is not clear yet if Sprint or Verizon will offer up their own prepaid iPhone units as a result, though it is likely that Sprint MVNOs Boost and/or Virgin Mobile may offer an iPhone. The June 22 launch date is shortly after Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC), leaving the potential for a Tier 1 carrier to announce and ship a prepaid iPhone themselves ahead of Cricket’s June 22 launch date.
Cricket’s iPhone introduction web site is available at mycricket.com/iphone where you can sign up for availability and ordering announcements.
Article was corrected to clarify CDMA iPhones can be only internationally unlocked, whereas GSM iPhones can be totally unlocked for use on both international and domestic carriers.