Market Overview

iPhone 5C Selling Out From One Carrier (AAPL)

Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone 5C is widely available from most carriers, including AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ).

But there is one domestic carrier that is selling out of select versions of the iPhone 5C: Virgin Mobile USA, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sprint (NYSE: S).

"I can confirm that we are currently sold out of the models as indicated on our website," Lorena Pino, Public Relations and Communications Manager at Sprint Nextel, told Benzinga via e-mail. "We expect to have additional units within a week or two."

Pino also confirmed that the iPhone 5C is not available through its national retail outlets. This explains why the device is mysteriously absent from the websites of Target (NYSE: TGT) and Best Buy (NYSE: BBY), among other retailers.

Unlike most carriers, which charge the full price ($549) for the 16GB contract-free edition of the iPhone 5C, Virgin Mobile sells the 16GB model for $449 and the 32GB model for $549. Both iterations provide a $100 savings over the standard price.

On Wednesday nearly all versions of the Virgin Mobile iPhone 5C were sold out. As of this afternoon, the 16GB models appear to be back in stock -- but the 32GB yellow and 32GB green models have yet to be replenished.

Virgin's Advantage

Why would consumers want the iPhone 5C for Virgin Mobile but not for other carriers?

In addition to the lower handset price, Virgin Mobile is one of the few carriers with a low-cost plan without extra data fees. AT&T, for example, charges $15 for every additional gigabyte used beyond the subscriber's plan. One gigabyte plans start at $85 per month and go all the way up to $530 for 50GB of data. All plans include unlimited minutes and messages.

Related: iPhone 5C Is 50% Less Popular Than Apple Anticipated

Verizon's rates are similar (each extra gigabyte costs $15), but the company offers a 50GB plan for $375.

T-Mobile (NYSE: TMUS) offers unlimited data for $70 per month, but if users aren't careful their data speed could be throttled.

Sprint, the only carrier that doesn't throttle, offers unlimited data plans that start at $80 per month.

Virgin Mobile, on the other hand, sells 2.5GB worth of data for $35 per month.

Officially, Virgin Mobile claims that its plans are for "unlimited" data, but the fine print reveals that data speed will be throttled after two and a half gigabytes have been used. The same goes for more expensive monthly plans, which merely provide an adjustment in the number of minutes that are provided, not the amount of high-speed data that can be used.

Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Louis Bedigian had no position in the equities mentioned in this report.

Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at louis(at)benzingapro(dot)com. Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ

Posted-In: AT&T iPhone 5C Lorena Pino Sprint T-Mobile Virgin MobileNews Tech Best of Benzinga

 

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