220 Comments

Summary:

I’m now using Straight Talk, a Tracfone-owned cellular provider that resells service on both AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S. After a few weeks of testing and some questions posed to the company, here’s the skinny: Depending on your data needs, this plan can save money.

straight-talk-SIM-featured

Earlier this month, I took a look at Straight Talk, a TracFone-owned mobile virtual operator that resells service on both AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S. I personally bought a T-Mobile compatible Straight Talk SIM card for my Galaxy Nexus because the deal for unlimited everything at $45 per month and no contract sounded too good to be true. For the most part, Straight Talk delivers on its promise with two small exceptions that I’ll point out shortly. The company calls its product a “BYOP” or Bring Your Own Phone prepaid service.

Since trying the service, I’ve received a number of questions about it and the company noticed. So in order to help me answer them intelligently, Straight Talk sent me a loaner unlocked iPhone 4, two AT&T SIMs (regular sized and micro SIM) and some pre-paid monthly service cards.

Unlimited isn’t quite unlimited, except for voice and messages

So here are some follow up experiences I’ve had with both my phone and the loaner iPhone 4, which hopefully helps you decide if Straight Talk’s $45 month to month service is an option for you. First, let me point out the two key exceptions that I’ve found.

  1. Apple’s Visual Voicemail isn’t supported by Straight Talk, so if you go this route, you’ll be calling in to hear your messages. I don’t think that’s a huge issue, at least not for me personally as I use Google Voice for all communications. However, some folks may not be happy with the feature loss.
  2. For $45, Straight Talk advertises unlimited voice minutes, messages and HSPA+ data (There’s no LTE support, even if your phone is capable of using AT&T’s LTE service). Based on user-reported experiences, Straight Talk won’t cut you off provided you keep your monthly usage to 2 GB or about 100 MB per day. Hit either of these and you might get a message about excessive use, along with the threat of service termination. History shows that I use about 1 to 1.5 GB of mobile broadband a month on my phones (I use Wi-Fi a ton), so this works well for me. If you want truly unlimited data or use more than 2 GB per month on your phone, this isn’t the plan for you. Don’t even try it, would be my recommendation.

Note: I asked Straight Talk about the limit and was told that company is trying to “focus on trust and communication with customers.” It’s likely that TracFone has no way to throttle after any limits, since it doesn’t operate the networks. As a result, the company will warn folks for excessive use and potentially disrupt service if you don’t limit your usage.

Good value or no?

If you can live with those two caveats, I think the service is a great value. I was using a $30 data-only T-Mobile SIM in my Galaxy Nexus paired with low-cost VoIP calling but due to coverage issues with dropped or missed calls, I’m much happier with the Straight Talk SIM. My first month of service ends next week and I’ve already added 3 months to my account for $130 thanks to a $5 bundle savings. And because my kids have T-Mobile Sidekick 4G handset and share 1,000 minutes, I ordered a pair of Straight Talk SIMs for them as well. They use very little data but tons of minutes and messages. Now I’ll save on their service and not worry about voice minute overages.

Some questions people have asked me along with answers:

  • How hard is it to set up a Straight Talk SIM on an iPhone? Great question since you can’t directly access the network or APN settings on an iPhone without jailbreaking it. It’s quite easy to set up the new SIM. Just pop it in your iPhone and hit this site in mobile Safari over Wi-Fi: http://unlockit.co.nz/ Here you’ll get a small file to download after choosing Straight Talk as your provider. This file will set up the phone to work with the new SIM and the process takes all of two minutes.
  • Is it difficult to set up the service on an Android or other phone? Nope, this is super easy as you can access the APN settings directly on most smartphones. You simply enter the settings provided with your SIM card. It takes a minute or two at most to type the data in.
  • What about MMS on the iPhone? The above setup solution doesn’t enable MMS, so there are several manual methods to enable both data and MMS. First, back up your iPhone in iTunes with its current SIM. Then swap SIM cards and restore your iPhone backup with the Straight Talk SIM in the handset. Again, this isn’t an issue for me personally as I use Google Voice for messages. There’s plenty of information on Straight Talk setup in this wiki page if you need it. If you have a cut-down T-Mobile SIM, you can follow these simple instructions as well. Or you could jailbreak your phone to get access to the settings.
  • Are the network speeds the same? According to my testing: Yes. I’ve used my Galaxy Nexus with both a T-Mobile SIM and Straight Talk SIM for T-Mobile’s network and found the speeds to be equal. On T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network where I live, I routinely see between 6 and 8 Mbps down, 2 Mbps up and ping times around 120 milliseconds. The same test on my iPhone 4S with a SIM from AT&T and then from Straight Talk showed no difference either.
  • How’s the coverage? Since Straight Talk is paying AT&T and T-Mobile for their networks, the coverage is the same as if you were paying those operators directly. I haven’t seen any coverage differences at all. If you get good coverage now from one of the two carriers, you should get the same with a Straight Talk SIM.
  • If I can save money with this SIM, why wouldn’t I do it? First, if you’re a heavy data user, I wouldn’t recommend this option, as stated above. Second, you’re bringing your own phone. That means you either pay full price for your phone — which can be anything from $400 to $700, if not more — or you keep your current phone and close out your contract with an early termination fee. You’ll have to check with your carrier to see how much that will cost. I’ll be closing my T-Mobile contract on the two Sidekicks, for example, so my break-even point is a few months out. Lastly, if you use a CDMA phone (such one from Sprint or Verizon) or you want LTE service, this plan won’t work for you.
  • What about tethering or using the phone as a mobile hotspot? That’s expressly forbidden in the terms of service. You might get away with it for a short bit here and there, but once you bump up against some heavy usage in a single day, you’re raising the red flag to Straight Talk’s systems.
  • Can I port a number to Straight Talk? Yup, not a problem. You do this when you activate your SIM card online. I didn’t do this for my account. Although I now have another new phone number, nobody knows it because of Google Voice. I will, however, port my kids’ phone numbers next week.

No, this service isn’t for everyone. Heavy-duty data users, folks that want LTE, use a CDMA phone or don’t want to pay full price for their handset are unlikely candidates. But for someone like myself that buys unsubsidized hardware, doesn’t want a long term contract and can supplement mobile broadband with Wi-Fi usage, the BYOP plan at Straight Talk offers solid savings and the same level of service found from national carriers.

Disclosure: The free 30-day service provided by Straight Talk was for testing purposes, not for my personal use, and the iPhone will be returned, per our editorial policy. I pay for my own phone service and provided my own Galaxy Nexus and iPhone 4S  smartphones, which I bought out of pocket last year.

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  1. Zarani Barrow Wednesday, May 23, 2012

    I’ll have to wait for someone to do this with LTE but I’m sure by the time my contract is up it will be available. I love the stuff you post. After reading your post on HD voice I’ve been using Callcentric and gvoice for 3 months with my Verizon Nexus. Wonderful way to save $30/month. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks much for the kind words, Zarani. Hope that the posts inform and help!

      1. Can you help me with striate talk unlimited data? How fast the date same speed AT&T?

        1. The data speeds are the same you would get from AT&T or T-Mobile’s HSPA+ (not LTE) service.

  2. I was planning on getting T-Mobiles 35 buck plan for 100 mins and 5 gigs of data. That seems to be more like how I use my phone. This looks like a good option for those who talk more than browse I guess.

    1. Kevin C. Tofel Sid Wednesday, May 23, 2012

      Sid, many folks have told me about that plan, which I think is $30. Agreed; if you can get by with 100 minutes per month or less, it’s a great deal.

      1. I’m either going to get that $30 T-Mobile plan or Straight Talk. I’m very glad to hear it’s HSPA+ speed. I just sold my Sprint 4s this afternoon. I plan on selling my Sprint GNex next. The ETFs are gonna be killer since I have two lines on a family plan, but $700 now is better than paying $1700+. I’ll be SO GLAD to get back to GSM. I just might get that unlocked GNex from Google Play.

      2. I got the 30 dollar tmo plan (from Wally’s). Also pay 15 a month to do legal tether. Get ok speeds (5 down,1 up). May get mifi from ATT or Verizon though. Thanks!!

      3. Sid – 100 minutes may sound OK but be aware that most companies round UP. Signed my daughter up for AT&T GoPhone ($25 monthly for unlimited text and 250 minutes) but every month they say she is over.

        Ex. – a 10-second call is rounded up to 1 minute; a call 1 minute and 3 seconds is rounded up to 2 minutes. So your 100 minutes won’t last long unless you just want it for emergencies in which case I’d say go with AT&T because you get 250 minutes for less $.

      4. At $0.45 per minute overages, this wouldn’t be for me.

      5. CAN
        Straight Talk gave you unlimited date? How fast the date same speed as AT&T?

        1. You don’t get unlimited data. Roughly 2 GB per month.

  3. I think this article highlights that value of GSM networks and unlocked phones. Having your device uncoupled from your service provider allows you to decide what service features you need and then determine the best. With your Galaxy Nexus you can use AT&T or T-Mobile postpaid and prepaid as well as MVNOs or even foreign SIMs. Having many choices is good for the consumer.

    1. +1 to that Stuart. I’m really hoping Google starts expanding the direct sale method to consumers with more Android / Nexus devices. This is also why even though there are some superb new smartphones available or coming soon, I’ll likely stick with my Galaxy Nexus. The pentaband radio and ability to switch providers is a huge benefit to me.

  4. Another thought came to mind. Dual-sim smartphones will really make carriers mad. They are available but hard to find with US 3G frequencies. Being able to have multiple phone numbers as well as one network for data and a different network for voice means that the consumer can really be in control.

  5. Tristan Higbee Wednesday, May 23, 2012

    So I currently am in the stone age. I still have one of the Nokia brick phones and I’ve had it for years because the thing works fine for calling and texting, which is all I’ve wanted it to do.

    But now I want an iPhone. I haven’t gotten one recently because I don’t want to pay $100+/month for the plan and don’t want to be locked in to the contract. Straight Talk looks like a great solution.

    So let me see if I understand the whole process. I buy a regular iPhone from a place like Amazon or Best Buy (and it has to be an AT&T iPhone, right?). I buy the SIM card from Straight Talk, along with the $45/month plan. I get the SIM card and put it in the iPhone and go to that unlock website you mentioned in the article and do whatever it says to do there. And then I activate the $45/month Straight Talk service and then… It will work?

    I’d get all of the same functionality I’d get as if I were using AT&T or Sprint?

    Thanks in advance.

    (Also, any speculation on approximately when the iPhone 5 will come out?)

    1. Yup, you buy your own iPhone — full price, not the subsidized price through a carrier, which will require a contract — order the SIM card and service, configure it as stated in the article and it works on AT&T’s network. The only missing functions are what I mentioned in the article: Visual Voicemail (you can use a 3rd party app for this) and no MMS unless you follow the additional instructions.

      1. How do I get MMS on the iphone

      2. You tube has video on it.

    2. I believe you could also buy the unlocked iPhone directly from Apple.

    3. All iPhone 4S and GSM iPhone 4 are identical in the hardware aspect, the only caveat being that some are locked to networks if you buy it through them and they don’t unlock it for you.
      The iPhone’s frequencies are compatible with att’s 3G now and possibly Tmobiles in the future.
      I’d recommend buying through apple or bestbuy etc as long as it is unlocked. That is, no contract to be signed or anything like that.

      1. George Georges Nik Sunday, August 5, 2012

        If your iPhone is out of contract (>2 yrs.) with AT&T, they will unlock it for you, free of charge, with just a phone call to AT&T (which took about 20 minutes to give the agent my phone’s information and for her to make all the necessary checks–like, was this a stolen phone…). It takes a few days to as much as 2-3 weeks for the action to finalize with an email to you. It took only three days for me to get my email. So, my iPhone 4 is unlocked, and I want to get a prepaid provider in place of AT&T. I was waiting for GSMNATION to offer service, but StraightTalk looks like a good deal also. — SteveG

    4. Tristan – I bought an unlocked smart phone for my daughter on Amazon but there are many places on the net to shop; just search for an UNLOCKED phone and you won’t have to bother paying to get it unlocked.

      Good luck!

  6. I have been using a straight talk sum for about two weeks and it has been excellent so far. I used it with an iPhone 4 for a week and it was easy to set up. I am now using a windows phone (focus s) and it was even easier to setup compared to the iPhone.

  7. My daughter is on a Straight Talk unlimited plan. She’s been using it the last three months with an AT&T Samsung Focus. Works beautifully. No issues whatsoever.

    I make sure that whenever she is in the house she has WiFi and we’ve never run up against the data issue though I have read in multiple places that the data cap is definite and if you start to hit 100 mb the warning will come quickly and if you ignore them they can shut your service down.

    I am hopeful that this is the wave of the future.

    1. I think 100mb is too little a day to start send out notices. Who cares who much I use in a day as long as I don’t go over the 2gb a month? Also, they don’t advertise that it is only up to 2gb. I’m currently on T-Mobile’s $30/month plan with 100 minutes, unlimited text and data up to 5gb, and love it. I can use more than 5gb if I please, but they will throttle me, which is more acceptable than shutting off my service.

      1. If you happen to be roaming on Tmo you only get a couple hundred mbs/month and then get shut down

  8. Kevin, your twin articles on this topic have been awesome; the possibilities of CHOICE have me so excited. This kind of thing (along with Boost, Republic, and the just launched Voyager) have sucha huge ability to save consumers money that the large carriers are going to HAVE to lower prices and add more flexibility to stay competitive. I hope you continue to follow these types of trends. I’d love to see you profile the afformentioned Voyager for example if you have not yet. Keep up the great work!

  9. how well does it work with google voice?

    can you completely turn off the carrier voicemail?

    or use conditional call forwarding?

    i ask because i really do not like to either have my carrier VM eat my calls and/or have to hit ‘1’ to answer every call.

    1. Kevin C. Tofel tom Thursday, May 24, 2012

      Works great with GV, which is how I’m using it. However, I haven’t been able to shut off carrier VM or use conditional call forwarding as GV doesn’t yet support Straight Talk. I’ve actually never called in to my VM number; I just pay attention to GV.

      1. Have you considered writing a post detailing how to setup and use Google Voice in this scenario?

        1. That’s an interesting thought, Derek, but in reality, setting up a ST phone with Google Voice is no different than setting up Google Voice on any other phone. The only difference — for me, that is — was to never make a call with my ST number; just make all calls with Google Voice, which is a checkbox setting.

      2. Kevin I have ST using the at&t network sim. You can use GV and conditional call forwarding works on the at&t network but does not work on t-mobile’s.

      3. The only thing that’s keeping me off using GV as my primary number is the fact that it always requires a smartphone with the Google Voice app. In the unfortunate scenario where I might either break or lose my fancy smartphone and am forced to use a cheap brick phone (at least temporarily), I lose more than just my primary phone — I also lose my number. Isn’t this true or am I getting this wrong?

      4. the only reason you need to use a smart phone is if you want to use the google voice app. Google voice does not require the app to work, it is capable of forwarding calls to any phone, and text to any cell phone with text messaging service.

        Now with a cheap brick phone to MAKE a call and have it come from your google voice number you have to call your google voice number, enter in your pin (or set it up with auto-pin), and then press the menu option to place an outbound call, similar to using a calling card. The smartphone app basically does this for you in order to have your outbound caller id be your google voice phone number.

        Another option to make sure your outbound caller id shows up as your google voice number is to place the call from the google voice web page. Just type in the number you want it to dial and select which number of yours you want it to call. I use this to place google voice calls from my desk phone.

  10. have you asked if they have plans to support at&t lte anytime soon?

    also they really need to get rid of the ‘unlimited’ data marketing thing. it makes them look like real bad guys.

    what i would really like to see more than anything else in prepaid though is real metering at a fair price. for the data part it should be $0.01 per MB or less deducted from a prepaid balance as it is used. i am tired of paying for what i do not need just to not be hit with super expensive overages.

    1. Kevin C. Tofel tom Thursday, May 24, 2012

      Tom, I didn’t ask about LTE support, but I doubt that will happen any time soon. The operators are likely to “keep” LTE for themselves as it’s so costly to upgrade their networks. That will allow them to totally control the revenue stream for LTE. I hear you on the “unlimited” marketing aspect and I did chat with them about that.

      1. I would be really interested in how that chat dialog went. my experience so far with prepaid operators is flat out denial that they are selling anything other than totally/completely unlimited service unless the call takes place after an account is cancelled and/or suspended.

      2. I was just talking to technical support at Straight Talk and was told that if there is an AT&T 4G LTE tower near me and my phone supports it, I will be able to use the 4G LTE. It is August 11 2012 now, maybe they support it now, 4 moths later?

      3. I just spoke to another technical support rep at the Straight Talk sim card department. He told me there is no information for Straight talk supporting 4G LTE, only 2G, 3G and “4G” which is, as you know 3G HSPA+. So I assume they don’t know what they are talking about, and I also assume they still don’t support 4G LTE.

  11. Kevin, great article. I’m really hoping this type of service catches on. Buying a smart phone and picking he carrier that best meets my needs sounds much better than the strange oligopoly we have now.

    One question, I think in your original article you said you were going to use the Galaxy Nexus. Did you find the Android 4.0 bandwidth features to help with that 2GB cap? I only use around 500MB a month now, but the hard cap concerns me a bit.

    1. Dan, if you mean the bandwidth management feature in Android 4.0, yes, I use it. Once I activated my SIM, I reset the data counter on the Galaxy Nexus and even set up a warning message to hit at 1.5 GB, which I didn’t hit. Folks not on Android 4.0 might want a 3rd party app to monitor their data use; something I recommend regardless of provider.

  12. Thanks Kevin for the summary, I’ve been following your posts on this and am just waiting for my contract on 2 family phones to expire then I’m jumping over to this service. What amazes me is that I’m paying $220 or so for 2 phones 2500 minutes/200 text messages/”unlimited” data (which is really not unlimited anymore), but when I switch over I’ll be paying $90ish (less if I prepay 3 months. I also recently switched my Verizon business lines to Google voice, turning a $500+ bill into $0.

    It’s amazing how much profit companies like ATT and Verizon must make with what seems like such a huge profit margin.

    1. Chiro – Depending on when your plans expire you can call them to see how much an early termination fee will cost you. If you’re close to the end or depending how much money you’ll save by switching it might be worth it. Thanks for the tip about Google voice also.

  13. Also for you visual voicemail guys you can switch over to Youmail. It’s a visual voicemail app which works very nicely, I’ve been conditioning myself to use it in anticipation of switching over to straight talk.

    1. Good call on Youmail, which is a super app!

  14. Kevin, I was also looking into switching to Straight Talk once my contract expires this year. We have 2 lines (Android & iPhone) with AT&T and keeping usage under 200MB is quite a struggle these days. You’ve answered lot of the questions I was researching into. Thanks Kevin!

    1. Glad this helped Alok, but if you have any other questions that I can answer from my experiences, just let me know. Thx!

  15. Walmart Family Mobile is also a great value at $45 for the first line, and $35 for all additional lines. Unlimited Talk, Text and Data, too. They use T-Mobile’s network, and you can use your own phone, as well.

    1. 250 MB of data is such a small amount.

    2. Steve – I was all set to move 2 phones over to the Walmart plan but when I talked to customer service about any registering fees or taxes he said that depending where I am people pay anywhere from about $5-$15 extra per month. I didn’t get why there was such a big difference and can’t find out until I switch so for now am looking at other plans.

  16. I’m coming out of my contract with Verizon.So I’m going to have CDMA locked phone (DroidX). Even if I get Verizon to unlock it for me (as AT&T has apparently agreed to do for their customers), do I have an option like Straight Talk for CDMA? I heard Virgin Mobile being mentioned on some forum. What are your opinions?

    1. This bring your own device only works with a GSM device.

  17. I was already moving in this direction when I read your first article regarding Straight Talk. The same day I purchased a Google Nexus, transferred my number and I couldn’t be happier.
    I will save $1000-$1300 over the length of what would be a two year contract.
    You fail to mention in the article and subsequent replies, that with the Nexus you receive bloatware free phone and are guaranteed all Android updates pushed to your phone.
    Two things that the major carriers will never accomplish.
    Love your articles,
    Keep up the good work!
    David.

  18. My sweet hubby sent me your report. I am the phone/tablet geek of the 2 of us. Well written and very interesting information. I’m using unlimited data and 250 mins now with Sprint but at the cost of almost $100 a month this sounds much more viable. Just got to figure out how much data a use in reality and when my contact ends! Thanks again for the great report

  19. You mention an “AT&T SIM card” which I take to mean you choose AT&T or T-Mobile at initiation.

    One question, though, do you get data roaming between the two networks or are you restricted to your chosen network’s data?

  20. Rebekah Callor Grow Friday, May 25, 2012

    I have a 3g phone and I went to your site and downloaded the file and it said it was done but how do I know it’s really working? I tried to go to a website but it’s not working.

  21. Rebekah Callor Grow Friday, May 25, 2012

    I just wanted to update my previous post. I find this information on a site and followed the directions and it worked brilliantly. I hope this can help someone.

    Ok… it is possible to use the iPhone 3G with StraightTalk.

    1. Make sure the ST phone you have is GSM (sim card) not CDMA (Verizon)
    2. Power off iPhone & ST Phone.
    3. Put ST sim into iPhone

    **Most of you may have already done this and notice that you can place and receive calls…. send and receive txts but not MMS or get internet for you apps and etc. Well Step 4 will explain how you can add a new carrier file to your iphone so you can use the full features.

    Option A: Manually configure your carrier file and add the APN and etc. I won’t elaborate on this option.

    Option B: Download the premade file. If you chose Option B, proceed to step 4

    4. Visit the following link on your iPhone: StraightTalk.mobileconfig
    5. Click the Start Download.
    6. You will be asked if you want to install an “UNSIGNED”/”UNVERIFIED” file. Just click install.
    7. VIOLA!!! It works… You may need to reboot the iPhone. I didn’t… I have full access to internet and apps can access internet.

  22. Robert Todd McBride Sunday, May 27, 2012

    I purchased the merit z990g which is also the at&t avail. Only paid 99 dollars on line . I am very happy with this phone . My number was ported in about 2 hours . Lol, it is only 600 mhz . Around here at&t is the way to go .I love this phone , for the money can’t be beat . Straight talk is number one in my book .

  23. I’m probably going to switch my wife and I over to this shortly (my T-Mobile contract doesn’t expire till November, but my ETF is ~$50/line, and I’d save ~$100/mo, so it’s a no-brainer really). The 2GB limit doesn’t bother me as much as the 100MB/day one does. How hard is that?

    1. I think that daily limit is more of a flag for ST to see that you’d be on track for 3 GB per month. Since they don’t own the network, they can’t throttle; all they can do is monitor for red flags and provide warnings. Having said that, it’s not too hard to blow through 100 MB in a day if you’re consuming media, updating a bunch of large apps and such….

    2. I put ST onto my Sprint iPhone 4S 5.1.1 first day I used 400 MB of data, that 2GB 100MB daily info comes from the howard forums wiki on ST iPhone. Granted I’ve only had it for a week and have averaged 200 MB per day plus my first 500 MB day so far no probs

  24. I bought a iphone on ebay and a sim card from straight talk and it works great, I can’t work a dvd player but I was able to set this up plus jailbreak it. Just do it you won’t be sorry.

  25. I am 2.5 weeks in my one month trial of Straight Talk and am definitely pleased. My Sprint service is still active and since I was using my Sprint # as my Google Voice # I have not had to port my number to try out the service just install the GV app on my Galaxy Nexus. Out of the box my data speeds were 10X faster than what I was receiving with Sprint= .3 mbps down vs 3.0 mbps down. I am using the WiFi Ruler app to offload my data use while at home and on the go so for two weeks I have used about 350 MB of data. The call quality is great in the SF Bay Area and I have had only a couple of instances where I could not get a good signal where I ususally get a good signal with Sprint. Hopefully this is something I can port all my Sprint lines out for and enjoy a little more freedom than I am afforded with my 2 year contracts…

  26. I have an jailbroken and unlocked iphone 3gs and I would like to buy a sim card from Straight talk. I am unable to figure out if I should buy the ‘Unlocked GSM Phone’ sim card or ‘AT&T Compatible Phone’ sim card. Your advise would be appreciated in this case.

    1. Mohit, either should work, but you may want to check with Straight Talk directly. Neither will allow your iPhone to switch between AT&T and T-Mobile’s network; you’d need separate SIMs for that. :(

      1. That is one of the questions I had. I imagine if I got the AT&T or T-Mobile cards, I’d be natively be using their network. Which network will I use if I get the “unlocked” sim? I plan on getting the HSPA GNex.

        1. IIRC, you get the AT&T network SIM if you choose “unlocked”.

    2. You want to make sure to get the ATT sim. I did so with my unlocked Sprint 4S 5.1.1. It doesn’t appear that you can roam between the two networks available on ST (tmo and att) so pick the better network go with the ATT card. Also with the iPhone you definitely want ATT because then you get 3G/4G on Tmo you get crap EDGE only since the network frequencies dont support 3G for iPhones (at least not yet)

      1. I thought you couldn’t use the Sprint iPhone on a US carrier?

  27. Great review Kevin, thanks for sharing, I just think that ST needs to be honest with their customers and tell them there is a 2gb data cap, not unlimited. I probably use about 1 gb max per month because my data speed with sprint is horrible in my area, most of my data use is on my wifi at home. What use is truly unlimited when its deplorably slow. I’m kind of waiting for the end of the year hoping google will have the new nexus devices in the play store by then. If they offered the current galaxy nexus in 32gbs, i would purchase. Feel I need more storage than 16gb. Not really sold on cloud service. Again thanks for your service review. Tim Morris

  28. chadlydivis Friday, June 1, 2012

    What 3rd party Visual Voicemail app would you recommend for the IPhone.

    1. I’d definitely give YouMail a look.

  29. Thank you so much for the information that you posted about straight talk’s BYOP program. I read your article before committing to purchasing their sim and minutes for my I-phone and I am glad I did. Nowhere,on the straight talk website, do they speak of how to change the APN setting on an I-phone. I would have been frustrated and completely lost had I not known about the download needed to do this. My hat is off to you, Sir. Thanks a million!! Cliff K

  30. jameshailewebb Thursday, June 7, 2012

    Take a look at Simple Mobile (www.mysimplemobile.com). It too is a T-Mobile MVNO, and it’s unlimited voice, text, and 3G data is $40 per month, **including taxes and 911 fees**. For me that made them $9.89 per month cheaper. SIMs can be bought on Amazon for less than $1, including shipping, or for free on pinzoo.com when you activate a new account. I have tested ST and SM, and the only difference is that SM is a T-Mobile network only. Everything else is the same, so the main question is whether T-Mobile has good service where you use the phone. It is worth looking at since there is no barrier to switching carriers.

    Disclosure: I am not a representative of any phone carrier, nor have I ever been. I am just a dad for a family of 6 who is trying to save money on cell phone service until the kids get jobs.

  31. Take a look at Simple Mobile (www.mysimplemobile.com). It too is a T-Mobile MVNO, and it has a $40 plan that includes unlimited voice, text, and data. The key difference is that $40 includes all taxes. For me, that saves me $9.89/month versus Straight Talk. Also, the SM sims can be bought on Amazon.com for less than $1 including shipping or for free on pinzoo.com with a new account activation.

  32. Hi Kevin. After I read this wonderful writeup of yours about Straight Talk weeks back, I went ahead and ordered the $45 Plan (on top of subscribing to your email newsletter that same day).

    I originally was on T-Mobile for >9yrs with the same exact old plan using countless unlocked gsm phones through the years..now is day 1 of Straight Talk via the T-Mobile network.

    However, I’m a bit disappointed. Data shows via Speedtest.net, the fastest I got was 200kbps…far and away from your speedy 5017kbps.

    I am using an unlocked Acer Liquid Metal S120 Gingerbread Android…Could it be that I was given a wrong APN settings. I was given stock settings for Smartphones by Straight Talk upon signing -up via phone setup.

    I would like to get the HSDPA APN settings for this Acer Android (as spec’ed for HSDPA). Also, I know that T-Mobile has HSDPA capability (esp here in major Los Angeles market).

    Is there a way that you could assist me on this predicament? I have searched high and low..and cannot find anything regarding this online.

    Thank You so much in advance.

    James G.

    1. Mitch Surprenant James G. Friday, July 27, 2012

      The Liquid Metal does not support T-Mobile’s 3G bands. You’ll need to get an AT&T SIM card from ST if you want the speeds that Kevin’s talking about.

  33. Thanks for the great article, Kevin. I am a big fan of your MobileTech Roundup podcast with Matthew Miller. I am wondering if you’re still happy using your Galaxy Nexus. It sounds like a great option given the pentaband radio. Can you live with the camera? Also, does the iPhone run on EDGE speeds with the Straight Talk Plan? Thanks!

    1. The iPhone runs on ST using EDGE, 3G AND 4G (fake 4G just HSPA+ still wicked fast) For the iPhone GET the ATT SIM dont use Tmo.

      My unlocked Sprint CDMA iPhone 4S 5.1.1 gets 4G with straight talk SIM for ATT phones. One must assume a Tmo SIM runs on Tmo which does not yet support iPhone’s 3G/4G frequency. I get EDGE only if i shut off 4G otherwise I always get 4G it rocks and i”m in a secondary market east coast. DL speed avg 3 MBPS as high as 6 MBPS wicked fast

    2. Thanks for the kind words! Yup, my Galaxy Nexus is my primary phone; still happy with it even though some phones coming out now or soon have better specs. The pentaband radio was a huge reason for my purchase because I don’t buy my phones on contract and would rather have the flexibility to use either T-Mo or AT&T.

      I do live with the camera, which isn’t quite as bad as people might think. Yes, my iPhone 4S camera is much better without any effort on my part. But if I take my time using the Nexus, and tweak a setting here or there, I get some great shots. As far as ST in the iPhone: You can get a ST SIM for AT&T’s network and get full HSPA speeds as RilesPro notes. Or, if your iPhone is unlocked, you can get a ST SIM for T-Mo’s network but you will only get EDGE speeds until T-Mo refarms all of their spectrum and moves to 1900 MHz data frequencies over the next year.

  34. Raymond Bonds Tuesday, June 19, 2012

    I’m trying to change my Virgin mobile phone to straight talk;is that possible?

    1. Raymond, that won’t work. Virgin Mobile uses Sprint’s network technology, which is CDMA / EVDO. Straight Talk works with GSM devices that use SIM cards.

  35. I have a sprint phone….and sprint service,i heard about straight talk and i wana gt the service so will i be able to keep my same number or will i have to contact sprint first

    1. You can port your number from Sprint to Straight Talk without speaking to Sprint first. Note that if you have a contract with Sprint, you may have an early termination fee when you port the number away. You’ll also need a new phone that uses GSM technololgy, i.e.: one that works on T-Mobile or AT&T.

  36. It is so cool to watch this thread continue to act as a resource and help people save money!

    1. +1 to that, Luke! It’s always great as a writer to see an audience gain a better understanding of a topic; if they can happily save money, that’s a bonus. :)

  37. Hi do the phones have to be unlocked? I have a sidekick 4g and a galaxy s ..both with tmobile

  38. Does this work on the iPhone 3GS?

  39. I recently converted my HTC Inspire and my husband’s Inspire over from AT&T. Absolutely no problems.. like you we use WiFi a lot… BUT…. The area in both out phones where the APN is to be changed is locked on both phones… Any suggestions??
    Thanks a bunch!!!!!

  40. Anthony Mcintosh Thursday, June 28, 2012

    The Google Nexus is coming out with ics 4.1 update if i got that phone on Straight Talk which is what i would like to do could we get the updates for the nexus?

  41. Anthony Mcintosh Thursday, June 28, 2012

    Can you get updates for os on your phones with this plan?

    1. Shouldn’t be a problem to get OTA updates. For one thing, you can always get them over Wi-Fi; no SIM needed. Second, the phone is actually using the carrier network (AT&T or T-Mo), it’s just the SIM is your relationship with ST and your bill. I don’t see an issue.

      1. Thanks, I had a question regarding which sim to get for the Nexus from Straight Talk, and which carrier to go to when it comes to speed and data.

        1. Anthony, there’s no right answer to that question. ;) It all depends on which carrier has better speed and coverage in the area you plan to use your Nexus. Where I am, T-Mobile has 21 Mbps coverage, soon to be 42. That trumps AT&T speeds in my area; at least for now, so there’s a T-Mo compatible ST SIM in my Nexus. If the coverage situation changes though, I’ll buy an AT&T compatible SIM. That’s the beauty of the Nexus: with the pentaband radio, we actually have real network choice! :)

  42. Micah G. Mortensen Monday, July 2, 2012

    Kevin, The ST website shows 2 different maps of Android vs. Non-Android coverage ( http://www.straighttalk.com/Coverage ) The non-Android map has way more coverage. Is this true, and if so, why, technically speaking. I like the android system but will switch to an iPhone if it’s better coverage. Thanks in advance for the information.

    1. Hey, the maps are very confusing so I’ll try and explain. The android phones that ST sells, from what I’ve read online, are CDMA phones that run on Sprint’s network. Thus the “Android” map is a map of their CDMA network. All GSM phones, including any unlocked android’s will follow the “Non-Android” map which is their GSM map. Hope that helps clear up the confusion.

      1. Micah G. Mortensen Jordan Thursday, July 5, 2012

        That makes sense, thanks Jordan.

      2. +1 Jordan! I was trying to figure that one out too. Thanks for clearing that up!

  43. Jessica Ormsbee Thursday, July 5, 2012

    I did this and my iphone 4s still will not read my sim card.. What do i do PLEASE HELP :(

  44. Grant Brown Friday, July 6, 2012

    i see visual voicemail isn’t supported. what about iCloud?

  45. I would assume if I choose the AT&T ST sim now… and down the road, T-Mobile has the faster network in my location… I could just purchase the T-Mobile ST sim and swap it out. (Or since I travel, I could just purchase both and swap out as needed)

  46. Great article. Been reading about prepaid carriers all day and this is by far the most informative.

    A few questions that I didn’t find answered in the article or comments. All my questions are related to using a T-mobile sim on S.T. First, I heard of some GPS issues with Straight Talk and prepaid in general. Are you able to get a GPS lock on your Galaxy Nexus? Any difference at all with S.T. regarding GPS? Second, can I use any T-mobile phone or does it have to be a unlocked GSM phone? Reason I am asking is because I currently use a T-mobile locked g2x and might want to try out service before buying a Nexus phone.

    My last question is regarding Google Voice. You mentioned it a few times in the article and would appreciate any more info on how you use it? I currently use it to transcribe voicemails but I have a feeling I’m missing the point of it. I went on Google’s page but I still feel like its going over my head.

    Thanks again for the info and help.

  47. Hello, I have a question. I recently switched from T-Mobile to Straight Talk and I can confirm that in my area the network speeds are identical. Unfortunately that means I still have a very mediocre Edge 2G network signal. You see my wife already had a Straight Talk phone and she got nearly full 3G. So I thought that the switch would improve my coverage but it stayed the same. (Still cheaper plan though) So here is my question:

    Beings that I’m using an unlocked Galaxy Nexus (from Google Play Store) and beings that AT&T is more prominent in my area, would the AT&T sim card be better for me and my network speed?

    And another question for my buddy:

    Will this allow him to download over 3G connections without subscribing to Apple’s data plans? (I know nothing about iPhones so hopefully that makes sense)

  48. I bought an Iphone4s 64GB sprint version. It has since been jailbroken & unlocked and used with both a tmo microsim & a at&t microsim. I have tmo service and i used my dad\’s at&t microsim to test at&t works amazing. Tmo has me on Edge!!! I\’d like to know from my peers if ST micro sim will get me at&t speeds on my data & email. I\’m now with simplemobile in my hunt for faster than Edge data speeds. Will ST get me to my goal of faster data or am i stuck in this E zone until further notice?

  49. Patrick Flavin Tuesday, July 10, 2012

    Great article

  50. Man i didnt think id find the right info i needed. This a great information site for straght talk. Just thought id compliment the “great” info here. Thanks alot

  51. Ryan Feliciashusband Wednesday, July 11, 2012

    I have a question. If I purchase an at&t iphone or at&t iphone 4s online, it doesn’t have to be unlocked for it to work with the straight talk sim? also, if i purchase an unlocked iphone, would i still purchase the at&t sim? I am looking at the prices of the phones on amazon and ebay, wondering if i should wait for the price to drop when the next iphone is released in the fall.

    1. Your phone doesn’t need to be unlocked to use a ST SIM because phones are locked to the network, not the SIM. Meaning: your phone would still “see” the SIM card as one from AT&T; it would simply use different access point settings to get to the network. Also: you would buy the AT&T compatible SIM from ST if the phone you purchase supports AT&T’s network frequencies.

  52. Yes do i have to use the $45 unlimited plan or can I use the $30 plan on my ATT phone?

  53. what if u dont have tmobile coverage in ur area and u buy the tmobile sim will it work?

    1. Hi Britt, Greetings from Texas! I thought I would answer your question, but you probably may have already found your answer by now. I just found the information out for myself personally through trial and error, so thought I would save you the time and hassle of having to buy 2 different sims in the long run. Okay, To answer your question, YES, it still works. However, if by your question you meant does the qaulity of the Tmobile service in your area change just by using a Straight Talk TMobile Sim card, well then the answer to your question would be NO!
      I would advise AGAINST choosing the Tmobile sim as your choice upon your initial Straight Talk Sim purchase. Because, If you dont have good coverage with Tmobile now it would not change the quality of the service by just using the Straight Talk Tmobile sim card. If you chose the TMobile sim card you would essentially have a phone that would be running on that same slow network that you already said does not have good coverage in your area. It would be pointless otherwise….
      But just remember there are several other options available to you with the Straight Talk Service, thats the Beauty of it all! :)
      Hope I have been of some help.
      Much Peace & Kindness!

  54. I want. To get straight. Talk for my teenmobile 4 touch

  55. I have an unlocked T-Mobile phone, could I get away with getting using an AT&T sim card with Straight Talk? I am currently doing so using AT&T’s GoPhone prepaid service because I do not get any kind of reception at my house with T-Mobile…

    1. Kevin C. Tofel John Sunday, July 15, 2012

      You could do that, John, but aside from voice service, you’re only going to get EDGE data speeds; no 3G.

  56. Not paying 15 for a sim card. FAIL.

    1. To save $40 a month per line, I happily paid $15 for the SIM.

    2. To save money month after month, are you kidding?

  57. Kevin, any indication if SImple Talk will ever launch a card that supports talk/text only that could be used for an iPhone? I think that’s a hold that would be awesome to plug? Carriers like Voyager Mobile are charging a flat $19 monthly so, seemingly, money can be made at that level. If Simple Talk even played it safer and went say $25 for that level using an iPhone compatible sim? I’d jump at that. Is there any reason that this wouldn’t be possible?

  58. Why would I not get 3G, but only edge?

    1. Kevin C. Tofel John Sunday, July 15, 2012

      Because the typical T-Mobile unlocked phone (save a pentaband device, such as the Galaxy Nexus) doesn’t have the radio to support 3G on AT&T’s network.

  59. Benjamin Wade Tuesday, July 17, 2012

    Thanks to this article, I am now using straight talk on my daughter’s iPhone, and it is working just fine.

    Thank you.

  60. Actually there is another way to change iPhone APN settings, by using Apple’s iPhone Configuration Utility, a free download from Apple. I used it to change the APN settings on my unlocked iPhone 4. The problem was that the proxy settings offered in the documentation was incorrect, had to spend half an hour on foreign customer support to get a working proxy server setting.
    Another caveat, voicemail notifications do not work (no red ball on the phone app icon).

  61. This is interesting. I’ve considered getting a Galaxy Nexus from the Google Play store and either going with a plan like this or trying to use it with a wifi hotspot and Google Voice.

    I don’t like, however, that they advertise “unlimited data” but then warn you for using 100 mb/day or 2 gb/month and may drop you for it. This sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

  62. Have the straight talk sim…. Works great on talk and text… How do I get phone unlocked to change apn so everything will worked. I’m a former at&t user…

    1. Ann, I’m assuming you have an iPhone and can’t get to the APN settings? If so, check the link above in the post that downloads and run a little program to modify the APN settings.

  63. Actually I have the HTC Inspire….. Is there still help available???

    1. Gotcha. You should have access to the APN settings then because the Inspire uses Android 2.3 IIRC. I don’t have a phone with that version of Android so I can’t provide the exact steps, but you’ll want to look for the APN Settings under Mobile Networks (or something similar) in the general settings. From there, you can create a new APN called Straight Talk with the APN settings for AT&T’s network here: http://www.straighttalksim.com/support.php

      1. You can go to any of the manufactures web sites and find the APN settings, I found with Samsung they where very helpful with the live support.

  64. I have a new At & T Iphone 4s thats unlocked but it has a bad esn (cause it was lost then found) Can i use the staright talk sim card on this bad esn iphone 4s- would it work?

  65. Anthony Mcintosh Thursday, July 19, 2012

    On the site, It offers an AT&T sim, a T-Mobile sim and a Unlocked GSM Phone sim. What service does the Unlocked GSM Phone sim go on?

  66. Anthony Mcintosh Thursday, July 19, 2012

    If I get the Galaxy Nexus from Google Play what would i be able to get 3g or any better?

    1. The GSM Galaxy Nexus is what’s called a Pentaband phone, so you’ll get either T-Mobile or AT&T 3G service. You can choose either SIM card.

    2. 3g, not better, make sure its a ATT unlocked, not TM unlocked. TM does not have the coverage as ATT does. You can see my comment I made on this earlier.

  67. Straight Talk has been my family cell phone provided for over three years, and we have had several different updated phones. I was able to keep my old phone number, and update my phone as needed.

  68. How does this work when traveling – would I need to get a sim for say the UK when I am there (not a problem just curious). Do straight talk sims work outside of the US. With my current ATT I can connect pretty much anywhere through other “local” networks

  69. Qua johnson Friday, July 20, 2012

    I have the HTC inspire through at&t and I have the $150 bill I have to pay plus I hate all the other charges they keep charging me with. I wanted to know if I could still do this trick & how? My monthly bill is coming up and I want to know if I just let the phone get turned off could then turn to this solution & how?

  70. Hi Kevin, i already have straight talk unlimited talk/text/data. The droid i bought when i got straight talk has messed up. the touch screen stopped working. I bought a unlocked gsm phone yesterday(not thru Straighten talk though). Straight talk is saying i have to buy another unlimited sims card even though i already have unlimited. Do i really have to do that or can i just use the sims i aleady have?
    thanks Lesa

    1. Lesa you will have to buy a new SIM. I assume the droid was a straight talk mobile. If you bought an unlocked mobile you will have to buy the BYOD sim and chose a network you will like to use. It will cost you 15 more but you can transfer ur old ST no to the new SIM.

  71. Brandon Richards Sunday, July 22, 2012

    I thought I figured out that I wanted to use the AT&T StraightTalk SIM with the Gnex because looking at the 36323 ZIP code only shows 2G service and my boss has an AT&T phone that he uses in that area and has good coverage with decent speeds. However, when I went to buy an AT&T SIM card it says they don’t offer service in my area. Do you think I would run into any problems if I put in a different zip code that will let me use an AT&T SIM and forced it to let me buy one? Also, do you think it’s possible that the T-Mobile coverage for 36323 is better than what is showing on their website and I’ll actually get 3G/4G speeds with the T-mobile SIM they are trying to get me to buy. (If so, I’m considering the Monthly 4G plan from T-mobile for $30. – Any thoughts on that?)

    1. I left out a very important word in my previous post… I should have said that I only see 2G “T-Mobile” service in the 36323 ZIP Code. Does anyone what T-mobile’s 2G means in terms of kbps?

      1. Just forced my phone to do a speed test, just for you. These are all download speeds.

        T-Mobile HSPA – 3115kbps
        T-Mobile EDGE – 105kbps

  72. We have T-Mobile phones but our service isn’t that great so my question is, could we unlock our phones and use the AT&T SIM for their coverage which is much better?

    1. Yes you can. But you wont get 3G speed as ATT and Tmobile use a different freq (radio freq) to provide their 3G service and your unlocked Tmobile phone most probably will support only the tmobile frequency (technical – i think tmobile uses 1900/2100(radio freq) while ATT uses 1700). BTW voice and message will work fine and you will get EDGE or 2G speed for web.

  73. Elizabeth Wilson Box Friday, July 27, 2012

    We have T-Mobile service and phones. I’m wondering if it would work to unlock our phones and get AT&T Sim cards since they have the better coverage here where we live?

    1. Yes you can always unlock your phone for AT&T, but your data wont be worth anything if you ever use it… think of dial-up speeds if anything. I just went through that…

    2. Yes you can. But you wont get 3G speed as ATT and Tmobile use a different freq (radio freq) to provide their 3G service and your unlocked Tmobile phone most probably will support only the tmobile frequency (technical – i think tmobile uses 1900/2100(radio freq) while ATT uses 1700). BTW voice and message will work fine and you will get EDGE or 2G speed for web.

  74. How did the transfer and service go with your kids’ phones? My two have the t mobile sidekick and we are looking at switching them to Straighttalk.

    1. Kevin C. Tofel jennie Sunday, July 29, 2012

      Jennie, we had no issues at all. Both kids got their numbers ported over just fine and their Sidekick 4Gs have worked great with the Straight Talk SIM cards / service.

  75. Is it UNlimited data… I currently have Tmobile Samsung galaxy s2, unlimited everything with 5gb w/hotspot.. I pay 113 month… Now would straight talk work for me, because I tend to use my hotspot and sometimes almost go over my 5gb?? Please help thanks

    1. Michael, those details are in the post. It’s not unlimited data; it’s roughly 2 GB per month, so I don’t think it would work in your particular case due to your usage requirements.

  76. Hi. do you have any idea on how to access the voicemail on galaxy nexus? is there a need to update the voicemail box number? the voicemail does not work ever since we started the service through straighttalk using a byop t-mobile sim. thanks.

  77. can you provide us an instructions on how to access the voicemail on galaxy nexus? is there a need to update the voicemail box number? the phone is using a straighttalk byop t-mobile sim.

  78. will this work with the ATT Xperia X10 phones?

    1. Kevin C. Tofel Rommie Sunday, July 29, 2012

      It will work with any phone that is supported by AT&T or T-Mobile as it uses the same carrier network. The only difference is that you pay Straight Talk, not the carrier.

  79. i just ordered the samsung galaxy proclaim, which is supposed to work on verizon cell phone towers.
    i have been with verizon wireless for years. i hope i am making the right move.

  80. The coverage for Android phones is very limited according to the website:
    http://www.straighttalk.com/coverage

    And I have read there is no roaming…so no service if you have an Android phone in these more rural areas. Non-Android phone coverage appears to be the same as Verizon coverage.

    1. I think this was discussed before. The pictures and headings are confusing.
      Non ANDROID – GSM (BYOD)
      ANDROID – CDMA
      So a GSM android phone will get the coverage as mentioned in Non ANDROID. Technically the coverage does not depend on a phones software.
      For BYOD if u get a TMOBILE SIM it will have the coverage of tmobile for any phone(be it android, iOS, symbian etc). so chk the coverage of the service you plan to take

  81. For clarity, I wouldn’t have to jailbreak my iPhone 4s at all except to enable mms, or is it possible to enable mms without jailbreaking? And also, if I decide I do not want to continue with Straight Talk, is it possible to reverse all the effects of straight talk? In advance, thank you.

    1. You need to jailbreak so that you can add the APN setting for accesing the web. So yes u need to jail break for MMS, web etc. Once you jail break I doubt you will want to go back. It opens up a new world for you on your iphone. BTW to your question if you can rollback, I am not sure about it. Will need a expert reply.

  82. Hi,
    I have Galaxy Nexus.
    I have dumped T-Mobile and Virgin mobile for Straight talk.
    Unlimited means normal use, not abuse.
    Speed shows HSDPA+ but depending on my location it is slow.

    Connection good.
    $45.00 is about half of other services.++ ILD is only 15.00 more.
    Good service.
    Video clips are also slow.

  83. Moved over from my Tmobile to ST just today. Funny thing is I took the tmobile SIM. Your article kinda made my decision easier. Having been looking for a plan with a balance in features and price for the past 2 weeks (bought myself a Galaxy Nexus two weeks back)

  84. can i buy a new at&t iPhone 4s from Apple and just put it in the sim and do what you said and it works like a regular iPhone 4s?

  85. Iphones dont take sim.cards..so how are you using a sim card?

    1. GSM Iphones do take SIM cards.

  86. I’ve been using ST for two years and it’s a great service if you don’t abuse it. One thing I haven’t seen mentioned here is if you travel a lot ST many not be for you. There’s no agreement between carriers when you go outside AT&T’s coverage area so you lose service.

    1. Great point that I neglected to make Peter; can you tell I don’t get out (of the country, that is) much? ;)

  87. Greta Kirkland Friday, August 3, 2012

    I’ve been using Straight Talk for over a year now, and it works great. I have an iPhone that I had to cut off because I couldn’t afford the monthly bill, and I’ve been using an android LG phone. I did not know that I could connect it to Straight Talk, and I don’t know how to go about obtaining just a sim to get it started.

  88. Kevin – Have you run into any problems using your phone # (as opposed to your email address) with iMessage? My phone has been unable to activate with my phone # for iMessage or FaceTime since I obtained the ST SIM on Tuesday. ST tech support tells me the features aren’t supported… thoughts?

    1. I wish I could answer that question, but I don’t have a ST SIM in my iPhone (yet). Only in Android phones for now. I can’t see why iMessage would be limited to certain carriers, but perhaps there’s a reason? I’ll see what, if anything, I can find out.

    2. From what I’m seeing here (http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php/1771746-iMessage-woes-with-Straight-Talk) iMessages will work only if you set up your iPhone with the ST SIM; i.e.; don’t set it up with an AT&T SIM and then swap to the ST SIM. Not sure if you want to try that, but it might work.

      1. Thanks, Kevin. I had also seen that, but I did set up the phone just with the ST SIM…it may be related to the activation woes Apple seems to be having this week. Some reviewers have said their phones worked just fine so…I’m hoping it’s on Apple’s end. Cheers!

  89. Straight talk also works off Verizon network. I live out in the boondocks of East Texas and Tmobile and AT&T can not provide adequate service out here. Now granted there are only two phones that work off Verizon, but it is an option.

  90. I have straight talk, I bought an unlocked att phone on ebay, its a galaxy S1. So we are talking 2 year old technology. It works great, I dont go over the 2 gig a month, if I get close to doing that, a text gets sent to you, but that is rare.
    With tax it cost $48 and change for the unlimited service, the customer support are people mostly from South America, so you must be patient and dont talk so fast. They are very helpful with questions and problems. I tried to get a better deal with sprint, they have an unlimited deal with 2 gig web time a month, but it is 80 dollars with out tax. Also very important dont buy a new phone from straight talk, its not new its old technology that is in a new phone. Do your research on models and makes of these “new” phones. That is the reason I bought the S1. Better tech and better price. My last comment, I travel all over the north east, so I chose ATT because of their better phone coverage. TMobile does not have this advantage unless you just stay in major markets “big cities” I would stay away from TM.
    To sum up, get an ATT unlocked phone with the unlimited plan. Its the best deal out there!

  91. Dear Kevin, My contract with AT&T is almost up so I am considering going with straight talk’s byop plan. your article was very informative but one thing I didn’t understand was you said that it doesn’t support Apple’s visual voicemail. I have an iPhone 4, does that mean I wouldn’t be able to get my voicemails the way I do now on it??

  92. Diane Wilbur Sunday, August 5, 2012

    Kevin. I need help. I bought an att iphone 4 with 5.1.1 and 04.12.01 firmware. I went to straighttalk and the phone is working, as well as my wifi. I have tried three different ways to unlock the phone to get data. It finally unlocked through a factory unlock guy (itunes congrats message), but I still can’t get data. The settings, general, network area does not give me the data network option. It shows data on. But I don’t get data. It appears I have to use the iphone configuration utility to modify the apn. do you agree?

    do you know of a good video to help me through that. it’s a little scarey for a novice like me.

  93. ingridsitems Sunday, August 5, 2012

    This was a great article, thank you for writing it! It really helped with my research. We have a T-Mobile plan and have been looking at ways to reduce our cell phone bill. I’m going to talk to my husband about not renewing our contract when it’s up and going over to ST. My husband has been looking forward to upgrading our phones, but I think I can convince him to hold off until we can afford a Google Nexus for each of us (3 phones on the plan). Also found something interesting – I was checking the T-Mobile coverage map for our area – it confirmed what I had surmised – we really don’t have 3G coverage in our area. However, AT&T apparently does have 3G/4G where we live. So, we could start out with our T-Mobile ST SIM cards, then when we get a Google Nexus, upgrade to the AT&T ST SIM card and get full time 3G coverage.

  94. I want you to know I have had nothing but trouble since I decided to go to Straight Talk. I have called their “Customer Service” and activation lines numerous times to try to get my husband’s and my phones transferred from another carrier and activated, but I have had no success and can’t find anyone to help with the problems I am having. I have literally spent hours talking with Straight Talk (I believe the people I spoke with were in the Phillipines) and everyone says the phones are activated, but my husband’s has yet to be. There is a language barrier, on top of all of the problems. I have spoken with a “Supervisor” (as of last Friday) who guaranteed that my husband’s phone would be working within 24 hours, and as of today, Monday, 72 hours + later, it is still not activated.

    I ordered the phones online since Walmart did not carry a decent stock (we checked several times), as well as (2) $30 cards for monthly service. When I opened the box that FedEx delivered with the phones, there were 2 of these cards in the box and one of the cards had apparently been used since the “Service Pin” had been scratched off and someone had written in pen across the card. I tried to explain this to the people at Straight Talk, but it was if I had never uttered a breath.

    Mr. Tofel, I think you need to research this company more thoroughly before you recommend it.. I have never been more frustrated in my entire 58 years. The frustration is that there seems to be no one who can help and no one who cares to help. Talking to these people, my land lines have literally gone dead because I have had to spend so much time talking to these people and repeating the same information to them, over and over. I believe Customer Service is extremely important, and they have not served me. I doled out nearly $300 and will probably have to end up eating that money. I don’t know where to turn, and I hope that by my letting other people know my experience, some may be saved from making a bad move and experiencing what I have experienced.

    I wish you would follow- up with a story on their Customer Service. You may want to google Straight Talk as I have done and see the frustration other people have had, as well.

    1. Always ask to speak with someone in the United States. They have to give you that option whenever you reach service people out of our country. It may also help bring jobs back home.

  95. Victoria Meisner Tuesday, August 7, 2012

    my daughter is giving me her “old” iphone 4, with at and t. Id like to set it up for straight talk. can i buy the sim card and service plan from straight talk and get a new phone number? how hard is this going to be or can I do it at all? I cannot use the # in the I phone as its transferred to her new i phone..the one connected to everything but Curiosity on Mars. Can you giv me some guidance? thankyou, Victoria

    1. You should be able to buy an AT&T-compatible SIM card from Straight Talk, get a new number and you’ll be good to go.

  96. THE SERVICE I GOT WIT STRIGHT TALK SUCKS—. I ONLY HAD MY PHONE FOR 9 MONTHS AND THE SERVICE SUCKS PLUS CUSTOMER SERVICE DON’T NO WHAT THERE DOIN. I’VE BEEN HAVIN PROBLEMS TRYIN TO GET SERVICE AT MY HOME BUT THEY SAY ITS THE TOWER. WHATEVER U DO JUST DON’T GET THE PHONE THAT HAS SPRINT ON IT THEN U WILL HAVE PROBLEMS LIKE ME THE PHONE COST AROUND $185.00.

  97. I’m Curious about Straight Talk, is the coverage equal with an Android phone or non-Android?

  98. Giovanna Peredo Tuesday, August 7, 2012

    Can i use my ATT Blackberry Torch on the Straight Talk network? My account is inactive with ATT. Please provide me guidance… thank you, Giovanna

    1. No such luck. According to the FAQs at Straight Talk:

      “How can I tell if my phone will work?
      SIM card will only work with an AT&T or T-mobile compatible or unlocked GSM phone. To activate your service, you will need a Straight Talk Unlimited 30-day Service Plan card or credit card. Some data services may not be available with all wireless devices. BlackBerry® and branded TracFone, SafeLink, NET10 or Straight Talk phones will not work with this program. “

  99. Thanks for the review.

    I liked the sound of Unlimited and No contract myself and that’s why I put in an order for a microSIM and $45/month unlimited.

    However, if they’re virtually capping your data usage then it isn’t helpful. At least with AT&T plans, you could clearly see how much you’re using on a daily basis.
    The way I see it is you’re only really saving on the unlimited phone & text and not much for data which is the appeal to me for being a heavy data user.

    I’m getting it because my 3GB/month at AT&T is almost being used up for less than 20 days which makes me sit here with an unusable smartphone.

    I might have to switch to “true” all unlimited plan at Sprint or T-mobile since they’re the only ones that offer competitive pricing for Unlimited without worrying about the headache of getting capped for data.

    1. Mina, your point about “only really saving on the unlimited phone & text and not much for data” is correct, but sort of a moot point, I think. You can’t get an iPhone from AT&T, for example, with a data only plan. The cheapest entry point (for 450 minutes) is $40 a month. Then you add for the messages and $30 for your 3GB of data. So while correct, you’re really saving on the voice/text, you still have to pay AT&T for those services anyway; in which case, I’ll take the savings.

      But, as you pointed out, your essentially using 3 GB in 3 weeks. I rely heavily on Wi-Fi so I can live with the 2 GB of data from Straight Talk. If your data usage will continue to be that high, I’m not sure the ST plan is for you.

  100. If I have the straight talk phone but I haven used over a year do I have to get a whole new phone an do it all over again or do I just get a pre paid card an add mins or wat will u help me please

  101. THE COVERAGE MAPS ARE NOT THE SAME FOR ANDROID AND NON ANDROID PHONES WITH STRAIGHT TALK. IF YOU USE AN AT&T ANDROID PHONE ON STRAIGHT TALK, YOU ONLY GET COVERAGE ON SPRINT TOWERS, NOT AT&T. IS THIS CORRECT? RICK

  102. Kevin – Thanks for sharing your personal experience using Straight Talk. No one has mentioned that if you don’t need more than 1000 minutes or 1000 texts per month that ST has a plan for $30.

    You can also save a little bit each month on the Unlimited Plan by paying for 3, 6, or 12 months coverage at a time instead of monthly.

  103. I am trying them now, so far I’m not so impressed. I hesitate to buy any of their service plans over 1 month in duration since I can see them going BK within a year due to poor customer service, language barriers, and not standing behind their product (in my experience).

  104. I have a at&t phone I need a straight talk chip I miss my straight talk phone I need three chip

  105. I have an unlocked Sprint Blackberry Bold 9930, I am using it with my T-mobile plan, and unfortunately I have no picture messaging nor internet (except for WIFI). I am thinking of moving to Straight Talk. Would an unlocked Sprint Blackberry be supported (internet & picture messaging)?

    1. Monika, according to Straight Talk’s FAQs, their service doesn’t support BlackBerry devices.

  106. Straight talk sucks!! I thought I was getting a deal. It doesn’t come in and I live right in the middle of a town. So I was lied to. And when these mths is over I am going to verzion.

    1. I’m into my third month of ST service using an unlocked AT&T Samsung Galaxy S II with a ST AT&T SIM. I was paying T-Mobile over $70/month (incl. taxes, fees and more fees) for 1000 mins of voice, no texting and a grandfathered data plan which was limited to 3G on my old phone, and often only Edge. With ST, I get 4G data and texting. ST costs me $49+ with taxes. My monthly savings will pay for my relatively expensive phone in the first year.

      I never needed to call them. Did everything over the Web. Activation and number transfer over the web happened in a half-hour. I’m pretty savvy and didn’t have any issues setting up my phone. If I do encounter a future problem, I can switch to another carrier with no penalty.

      Historically, I’ve only had to call my previous providers when I encountered new phone problems and when they screwed up my billing. Well, the phone is mine and I can get all the help I need on-line and there are no billing issues to be had with ST. If they drop the service I’ve paid for, it will be their loss and it can’t cost me no more than one month of service I’ve paid in advance.

      So, if all that works for you, I can recommend ST. If you want or need hands-off, absolutely no hassles, then I can say that T-Mobile has the best customer support I’ve had. If that’s worth at least $40 more per month (add texting and lose the grandfathered data plan), then go with one of the big guys.

      In my case, ST really works for me. However, if you’re asking some of the questions being asked here, ST may not be for you. It’s not for you if you use more than 2GB of data per month. It’s not worth considering unless you have an AT&T phone and you live and work in areas with good AT&T signals.

  107. william.andrews Saturday, August 11, 2012

    Bad comment I sold my t- mobile to my friend I pay gsm liberty to unlock my T-Mobile my touch 4g slide phone to straight talk service and they sim card will not work
    In that phone

  108. Alessandro Geminiani Saturday, August 11, 2012

    Very interesting alternative to ATT for unlocked iPhones.
    Tmobile is opening a new band in my area that is supposed to be compatible with iPhone 3g data connection.
    I may look into it.

  109. I need international texting to the Philippines is that included or can it be added with straight talk?

  110. kdboltshauser Tuesday, August 14, 2012

    will itunes still work with ST

    1. Absolutely!

  111. Great article. I am currently in Europe with an unlocked iphone 4s. Anywhere in Europe I can buy a sim (with credit). For roughly $20 a month I get 300 min, 3000 texts and unlimited data. Now I am heading to the US and so far I have only been using tmobile on the 2g network. Its weird that you have to buy a sim, but I can live with that.
    My question is, why wouldnt someone choose the ATT sim versus the T mobile (if you have an iphone) since you get full 3g and better coverage with att then you would get with t-mobile and only 2g?

    1. Great question, Jonathan and for the iPhone, I agree with you. For other handsets, I think it has to do with two things: Phone preference and HSPA+ rollouts by both carriers. Some folks prefer the T-Mobile version of a handset and those use 1700 MHz for HSPA+, which is different from AT&T. And T-Mobile has rolled out HSPA+ 21 and 42 faster than AT&T, so it may make sense for someone in a specific coverage area to go with T-Mo.

  112. To start I am no techy. I have an I-phone 4 through AT&T. Where are and how do you get the SIM cards on these? I wasn’t even aware they had them. Thanks.

    1. Scott, hit up the Straight Talk website for information and ordering. They also have directions on how to setup your phone after they ship you the SIM.

  113. I did last night but now I don’t see my question let alone an answer from you Kevin so why “join” again Kevin ,you didn’t address my trouble? Keith

  114. Marks@snayway.com Saturday, August 18, 2012

    I just switched from T-mobile to Straight Talk and I have one major problem. I if click on one of my apps it opens to that internet connection like Face book. If I open something like Bing or Goggle it says “internal error access is not allowed for this user agent”. If I punch in Face book manually it will not let me access from that method. T-mobile wont help and Straight Talk says they have no idea. I tried to post on several Straight Talk sites for help, but if they don’t like the question it never makes it to posting.

  115. Almost forgot I have a Samsung Galaxy S2 T989 and I put in the new Straight Talk Sim card

  116. I just switched from T-mobile to Straight Talk and I have one major problem. I if click on one of my apps it opens to that internet connection like Face book. If I open something like Bing or Goggle it says “internal error access is not allowed for this user agent”. If I punch in Face book manually it will not let me access from that method. T-mobile wont help and Straight Talk says they have no idea. I tried to post on several Straight Talk sites for help, but if they don’t like the question it never makes it to posting.
    Amost forgot I have a Samsung Galaxy S2 T989 and I put in the new Straight Talk Sim Card.

  117. sii i can turn my Samsung Galaxy Nexus into a straight talk prepaid phone?

  118. Now that I have and use my ipad for work and emails, all I need my cell for is talk and text. I have a at&t captivate and am now past my contract. It sounds like there is no reason not to change and cut my payments in 1/2. Is this phone able to change?

    1. Absolutely. You can buy a ST SIM and pop it in your phone. You’ll just need to modify the APN settings with the information provided by ST.

  119. N R Von Staden Sunday, August 19, 2012

    Are there any taxes on that $45?…another ?..what does 2 gigs equal in usage? pictures ect….how does one know what their average is? Does the Straight Talk plan have a family option? are sim cards a one time deal…renewed on account.. can you pay on internet? you got a three month discount…any others? thx

  120. Kevin , i thought that straight talk phones use verizon as well ?

    1. Not that I’m aware of Manny. I just hit the site and selected a CDMA phone option and got this message: “This program is not available with CDMA (i.e. Verizon, Sprint, Metro PCS), TracFone, SafeLink, NET10, Straight Talk or BlackBerry phones.”

  121. Love the info, A T and T is killing us, 8 phones 550 a month

  122. hello, i have 3 questions.

    1) how do you choose which sim card you want, the at & t or tmobile variant?

    2) will the LG 4xHD work on striaght talk? it is a non 4g phone and runs on at&t 3g.

    3) when you mention power users, and how straight talk will interrupt service if you go over 2gb…how does the straight talk SIM handle wifi? do they monitor that too on the handset? it sounds like if i were to become an avid android 4.0 or 4.1 user on the LG 4xHD i would need to do most of my downloading via WiFi for apps and games and big files such as music and movies. is that accurate?

    4) last question, are you certain that straight talk offers a 3g variant for both AT and T for and Tmobile? or are you suggesting that the service runs off of Tmobile towers and that maybe if you are a SIM card phone user you could dump your unlocked at and t handset for this service? please clarify.

    feel free to email me directly @ iankhan02840@yahoo.com

  123. b. billionaires Monday, August 20, 2012

    I\’m currently a Simple Mobile 4G customer. They also change their 24hr telephone & chat support. My UNLIMITED data has been suspended & all communication about the my issue is vague. When my data suspended, I got a text message to call an 800 number. Called the number and it\’s a recording saying you violated the T&C and if you want to xfer your number you are free to, that\’s it. Talk about an excellent customer experience. Today is the beginning of my new cycle and they haven\’t resume the data plan. UNLIMITED has a new meaning in the wireless world.

  124. Larry Froehlich Tuesday, August 21, 2012

    Is there a “Bring your own phone” plan that I could use my Verizon (no sim card) iPhone 4? Larry

    1. ST uses a bring your own phone model, but it only supports GSM-based phones compatible with T-Mobile or AT&T at this time.

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