Update: Apple commented on the move:

“By making iPhone available on pre-paid plans through Cricket Wireless, we are making the best smartphone more accessible to an even broader market in the US,” Apple representative Natalie Harrison said.

Apple took a big step today in the United States by aligning with Cricket prepaid Wireless. While you can buy an iPhone off-contract (for significantly more than the above Cricket prices), and then go on AT&T, T-Mobile, or any GSM carriers’ network, this is the first time Apple has let the iPhone play in the prepaid market.

Cricket’s monthly fee for unlimited anything (data throttled after 2.3GB) is $55 per month, which is very low for all things considered. You can also quit at any time, take months off, or trade phones. However, you need to buy the iPhone at an “unsubsidized rate.” But is it really unsubsidized?

What is interesting is that Cricket offers the iPhone 4 for $399 and iPhone 4S for $499. Look at Apple’s prices for unlocked iPhone 4S (iPhone 4 costs $549):

.

There is a $150 gap somewhere. Perhaps Cricket is subsidizing some of the cost by thinking buyers will eventually make up that $150 difference in service fees. Apple may also offer Cricket a discount as it buys large quantities of iPhones, because Apple is hoping to spread its customer base.

We are not sure how many prepaid customers will shell out $400 to $500 up front for an iPhone. However, there are probably some jailbreaker/unlockers or otherwise who would like to take a Cricket iPhone and use it off-network (or without a network).

Sprint, which carries the iPhone, and owns two big prepaid networks in Virgin and Boost Mobile, will likely have an iPhone prepaid offering in the coming months too.

The press release follows:

Cricket Wireless to Offer iPhone on June 22

~ Unlimited Talk, Text and Data for Just $55 a Month

SAN DIEGO, May 31, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Cricket Communications, Inc., a leading provider of innovative and value-driven wireless services, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Leap Wireless International, Inc. (NASDAQ: LEAP), announced today that it will be the first pre-paid carrier in the US to offer iPhone to its customers. Beginning on Friday, June 22, Cricket will offer iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 with its $55 per-month, all-inclusive unlimited talk, text and data plan.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120202/LA46949LOGO)

iPhone 4S is the most amazing iPhone yet, packed with incredible features including Apple’s dual-core A5 chip for blazing fast performance and stunning graphics; an all-new camera with advanced optics; full 1080p HD resolution video recording; and Siri, an intelligent assistant that helps you get things done just by asking. iPhone 4S comes with iOS 5.1, the world’s most advanced mobile operating system; and iCloud, a breakthrough set of free cloud services that work with your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac or PC to automatically and wirelessly store your content in iCloud and push it to all your devices.

“Our customers want the best products available and we are excited to bring iPhone to our pre-paid consumers with an industry leading $55 per-month service plan,” said Doug Hutcheson, president and chief executive officer, Leap Wireless International, Inc. “Launching iPhone is a major milestone for us and we are proud to offer iPhone customers attractive nationwide coverage, a robust 3G data network and a value-packed, no-contract plan.”

iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 will be available in Cricket company-owned stores and select dealers in nearly 60 markets, online at www.mycricket.com/iphone and over the phone at 800-853-7682. Starting today, customers can receive more information on the launch by registering at www.mycricket.com/iphone. iPhone 4S will be available for $499.99 for the 16GB model and iPhone 4 will be available for $399.99.

Cricket’s service plans feature all-inclusive pricing and easy-to-understand pricing packages with no service fees or overage charges. For customers, that means a bill that doesn’t fluctuate based upon monthly usage. Cricket’s all-inclusive pre-paid smartphone service plan includes:

Monthly Fee $55
Voice (minutes) Unlimited
SMS Unlimited
Data Unlimited*
iPhone 4S 16GB $499.99
iPhone 4 8GB $399.99

* Fair usage policy of 2.3GB per month.

For more information about Cricket’s dynamic service and to check for availability, visit www.mycricket.com. To follow Cricket’s latest news and updates online, visit Facebook at www.facebook.com/cricketwireless and Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/cricketnation.

For more information on iPhone 4S, please visit: www.apple.com/iphone

About Cricket

Cricket is the pioneer and leader in delivering innovative, value-rich prepaid wireless services with no long-term contracts serving 6.2 million customers. Cricket offers wireless voice and mobile data services over the latest, high-quality, all-digital 4G (LTE) and 3G CDMA wireless networks. In 2011, Cricket launched its award-winning Muve Music® product, the first music service designed for a wireless phone that now has more than 600,000 customers. Cricket’s innovative products and services are available at Cricket branded retail stores, dealers, national retailers and at www.mycricket.com. For more information about Cricket, please visitwww.mycricket.com.

SOURCE Cricket Communications, Inc.

For further information: Greg Lund, Media Relations, +1-858-882-9238, glund@cricketcommunications.com, or Amy Wakeham, Investor Relations, +1-858-882-9876, awakeham@cricketcommunications.com

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