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Actually, Cricket ALSO uses Sprint's network. They are a company who is growing like wildfire in the Central Valley of CA (where I am) so I will be purchasing one and loving that I don't have a contract. Yes, people balk at the price, but it's an investment. I almost constantly have WiFi connection, so I'm not worried about 'losing' coverage, especially as even in my travels, I'll have coverage everywhere I go routinely. What makes me feel even better, is I'm buying it (in essence) FROM Apple, through Cricket. No bloatware. No catchy start up tunes. And Apple will take care of problems (since customer service is lacking on Cricket at times.) I won't feel the need to buy someone's 'old' or 'bad' phone just to avoid a contract. Peace of mind is worth that up front cost. And if I *hate* it, I can always sell it to someone. (:
I may be a little biased on this, seeing as how I was an AT&T customer and now I am with Virgin Mobile. The main complaint I've had with Virgin and other prepaid carriers was a lack of high end devices, but that's been somewhat addressed by Virgin Mobile with the upcoming 4S and the HTC EVO 4G.
I certainly would consider it, if I were you, but there are some caveats. Virgin is a Sprint company, and uses Sprint's network. In my experience, that has meant generally good coverage, with some glaring exceptions like when I travel to the Appalachian mountains. When I was with AT&T I got spotty coverage there, but spotty is a lot better than none. The other downside is the download speeds are noticeably slower than AT&T. Not slow enough to be painful, but noticeable. I can still stream Netflix with little or no buffering, but pages load quite a bit slower.
The amount of money I save makes it worth it. With the iPhone you would pay $35 a month for a plan that is pretty close to what would cost you about $90 with AT&T. Do the math, it doesn't take that long for the purchase price to be offset by the monthly savings.
I've never used Cricket, so I can't tell you much based on personal experience. I do know that their coverage is pretty limited and their monthly cost is higher than Virgin Mobile.
Another thing to think about is how you use your device. I just looked at my data usage for this month of service, which happens to ends tomorrow, and I've only used 288.17MB of the 2.5GB that Virgin allows before throttling. However, I've used 2.89GB of data over WiFi. If you rely heavily on WiFi like I do, the slower speeds of the Sprint/Virgin network don't have much impact.
Oh, one last thing. You know all those monthly charges and fees that you get tacked on to your phone bill? I don't get that any more. I pay my $25 (I'm grandfathered on an older plan) and the sales tax. That's it. No regulatory surcharge, no 911 maintenance fee, no other BS charges. My overall experience has been positive, and I have never...NEVER...regretted switching.