Virgin Mobile $280 iPhone refurb deal includes $1 service

Virgin Mobile is offering Apple's iPhone for as little as $280, as long as you're okay with a refurbished phone, and it's sweetening the deal with $1 per month service. The carrier's Certified Pre-Loved iPhone will initially launch with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, which will be priced from $279.99 to $399.99. They're on sale alongside full-priced, brand new models on Virgin Mobile's network.

While you might be cautious about a phone someone else has used before, Virgin Mobile says it's testing and inspecting them according to Apple's specifications. They're restored to the factory default settings and whatever the latest version of iOS is. Most importantly, they swap out the existing battery for a brand new one.

Finally, they throw in a new set of Apple EarPods headphones, and a brand new charger. A one-year Apple warranty is also included, as per a new iPhone purchase. Virgin Mobile shifted to only sell iPhones in the US back in June 2017, eventually dropping all of the other handsets from its line-up.

For the first six months, service will be priced at a dollar a month. After that, subscribers will be moved over the Virgin Mobile Inner Circle plan, which is $50 per month. That gets unlimited talk, text, and data, the latter with a 23GB "de-prioritizing" cap that could see you throttled in situations of heavy network load.

The iPhone 6s has a 4.7-inch display, while the iPhone 6s Plus has a 5.5-inch display. Both use Apple's A9 processor, have LTE and WiFi 802.11ac, and a 12-megapixel main camera. There's Touch ID in the home button, together with Apple Pay support. Apple originally released the phones in September 2015, and they're still available to buy new today: a new iPhone 6s will set you back $449 SIM-free, while the iPhone 6s Plus is from $549 SIM-free.

Come January 2018, meanwhile, Virgin Mobile will be adding the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus to its offer. They'll be priced from $379.99 to $499.99. Whichever you pick, there's no minimum service contract.

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They're aggressive prices all round. Apple offers refurbished iPhones itself, though it's currently offering the iPhone 6s Plus in 32GB form for $469 unlocked and SIM-free. It's unclear whether, like Apple does, Virgin Mobile is giving the refurbs a new outer shell, however.

In the run up to the holidays, meanwhile, Virgin Mobile is also throwing in an Amazon gift card for anybody buying its "pre-loved" iPhones. Purchases made between December 8 and December 14 will get $100 from the retailer. The refurbished phones will only be available via the carrier's online store, not at physical locations.