Cheapest Route to Owning an iPhone 4S

Over the last week, no-contract carriers Cricket and Virgin Mobile announced upcoming sales of the iPhone.  If you can swing the initial expense of purchasing an iPhone for $500 or $650, you may be surprised at how much you will save over the course of 2 years compared to AT&T, Sprint or Verizon Wireless. We know we were when creating this chart.

We've calculated the cost for all of the carriers over 2 years of service. The cheapest option possible is the $35 monthly plan with Virgin Mobile--even though the initial cost for a 16GB iPhone 4S is $650. The $35 Virgin Mobile plan offers 300 min of talk time, 2.5GB of data, and unlimited text. This plan is even cheaper if you sign up for automatic bill payment with a credit card or PayPal--the price drops to $30 per month.

For those who need more than 300 minutes and 2.5 GB of data, Cricket is least expensive.  The initial cost of the 16GB iPhone 4S is $500. The monthly plan is $55, and that includes unlimited text and talk time. Data is also unlimited, but only 1GB is promised at 3G speeds. Virgin Mobile also offers a $55 unlimited plan with 4G internet speeds. The only difference in total price for 2 years is that you have to pay $150 more initially to purchase the iPhone through Virgin.  It might be worth it for faster internet.

We reviewed the Apple iPhone 4S for each of the big-three carriers when it was released earlier this year. And all three earned 4 stars and Editor's Choice awards. Rumors are still circulating as to the possibility of a T-Mobile and Boost Mobile iPhone to come soon, so stay tuned for future developments.