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Virgin Mobile USA goes iPhone-exclusive, promises first year of unlimited plan for $1

Sprint-owned Virgin Mobile USA announced this week that as of June 27, it will only sell the iPhone —and through the end of July, offer the first year of an "Inner Circle" unlimited plan for $1.

The $1 unlimited deal is available to new customers buying an iPhone, along with existing subscribers paying to upgrade, the carrier said. After the first year the plan will cost $50 per month, with mandatory AutoPay.

There are additional restrictions. Some forms of data, for instance, are being "mobile-optimized" —video streams at about 480p resolution, while music is limited to 500 kilobits per second. "Cloud gaming" is capped at 2 megabits per second.

After 23 gigabytes are used in a month, customers may find their bandwidth throttled in times and places with network congestion. Subscribers are at risk of losing service altogether if off-network roaming exceeds 800 voice minutes or 100 megabytes.

Paying an extra $5 per month allows unlimited global texting, and unlimited calls to Canada and Mexico. A $10 add-on includes everything in the $5 bundle, plus unlimited landline calls to over 70 countries, 200 voice minutes to "select" cellphones in over 50 countries, and lower per-minute rates to some 200 locations.

People enrolled in Inner Circle should also get perks from various Virgin-related businesses, such as a bonus Virgin Atlantic ticket when booking a round-trip fare to the U.K.

iPhone prices range from $279 for a 32-gigabyte iPhone SE through to $969.99 for a 256-gigabyte 7 Plus. The carrier is also selling a 32-gigabyte iPhone 6, albeit for $319. Orders made today will ship June 27.