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Save $1,000 on iPhone Charges by Thinking Like 'The Wire'

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In the early aughts, HBO (TWX) began airing The Wire, AKA The Greatest Show in the History of Man. A primer on the failings of law enforcement, state government, and our public educational system, The Wire not only taught us that we never pay the dealer directly, but also that there's something to be said for prepaid phones -- called "burners" by Avon Barksdale's street crew.

Airing in 2004, Season Three's "burner" story arc dealt chiefly with prepaid flip phones bought at convenience stores outside Baltimore. (Though String might've opted for this $300K model.) They were cheap, disposable, and best of all, extremely hard for McNulty and Co. to tap.

Cut to 2012, when flip phones are about as antiquated as rotary dials, the iPhone (AAPL) has now made its way to Sprint's (S) Virgin Mobile network, allowing users to buy an unsubsidized model and prepaid minutes. Sure, you're dealing with a much smaller network than Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T), but as Cult of Mac's John Brownlee explains, you could save over $1,000 over the course of two years.

While Cult of Mac recommended an iPhone prepaid plan on Cricket Wireless (LEAP) as the best bang for your buck, the latest plan on Virgin Mobile saves you even more money.

"While Cricket's a great deal, Virgin's $40 a month plan is a real winner," Brownlee writes. "You don't get Cricket's unlimited minutes, but you get more than the big carriers, and you'll pay almost $200 less over the course of 24 months than you would on Cricket."

He breaks down the payments:

Going further than the chart, Brownlee explains that if you could live with a limit of 300 minutes of voice calls -- and given users' propensity to avoid voice calls, you probably could -- a mere $30 a month will get you unlimited data and unlimited texting on Virgin Mobile. Although you're relegated to Sprint's less-than-stellar network, Brownlee says, "You can have an iPhone 4S for $1369.99 over 2 years, which is over a thousand dollars less than an AT&T or Verizon plan."

Whether you want to assemble a drug ring in the Towers or down by the docks is entirely up to you. Just make sure to run it by Joe or the Greek first.

(See also: Clumsy iPhone Videographers Get a Hilarious Smackdown and AT&T Falsely 'Upgrades' iPhone 4S to 4G)

Twitter: @mcs212

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POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.