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Summary:

Straight Talk, the $45 a month no-contract provider that resells wireless service from major U.S. carriers, has finally embraced the iPhone 5. Walmart is selling the phone with Straight Talk service and $25 a month no-interest financing. But there’s one major caveat to the deal.

iphone happy

It’s practically impossible to get Apple’s iPhone 5 on the cheap without a contract, but at least there’s another option for the commitment-averse to save money on the monthly service bill. Straight Talk is officially supporting the iPhone 5 now with its $45 plan advertised as unlimited talk, messages and data. The price of admission for a 16 GB iPhone 5 with Straight Talk is $649 at Walmart stores, but the retailer is offering no-interest special financing for the phone: $25 per month.

You’ll need a Walmart credit card for the financing deal and although the Straight Talk service is month-to-month, there’s a bit of a contract feel to the transaction. At $25 a month, you’ll be paying Walmart for 26 months to pay off the iPhone 5 purchase. Still, for those that don’t have the $199 up front for a contract-based iPhone 5, it provides an ownership opportunity for Apple’s smartphone with a lower monthly service bill.

straight-talk-simBased on my own usage of Straight Talk, I find the service to be a good value. Straight Talk buys wireless service from the major U.S. carriers at wholesale prices and then resells it. With this iPhone 5 deal, for example, you’d actually be using AT&T’s network but paying Straight Talk’s prices. Coverage and speeds would be the same as if you had bought the iPhone 5 directly from AT&T, with one major exception.

There’s no mention of Straight Talk offering LTE service. That means if you buy an iPhone 5 and use a Straight Talk nano SIM card, you won’t be using AT&T’s fast LTE network, but its HSPA+ service. In other words: Don’t expect your iPhone 5 to surf the web or download apps at 30 to 40 Mbps. Instead, you’ll see speeds about one-third as fast. Provided you can live with that and don’t mind that Straight Talk’s “unlimited” service has a soft cap of around 2 GB per month, you may want hit up your nearest Walmart.

For those that already own an iPhone 5 and want to switch service to Straight Talk service, you’ll have to wait. I checked Straight Talks’s site for ordering SIM cards and see only the standard SIM and micro SIM available; no nano SIM cards just yet.

  1. You can just cut your sim cad to the nano sim standard. I like the move to forcing people to buy phones outright and hopefully it’ll lead to lower phone prices.

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    1. Yup, you can do that too. Most consumers don’t realize that or are afraid to use a SIM cutter in case something goes wrong. I’m all for killing the subsidy model over time as it has kept phone prices high.

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      1. The death of the subsidy model appears to be gaining traction. One interesting aspect is how much transparency is gives to margins on smartphone hardware. I’m not anti-Apple, but they enjoy some very nice margins on iPhones that might suffer some in a no-subsidized world.

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    2. Gregg Borodaty Friday, January 11, 2013

      Here’s one solution if you’re on T-mobile. Take your current SIM card into a T-mobile store and tell them you’re getting an iPhone5. They’ll trim your card for you (with a cutter, not scissors) and give you the adapter to slip it back into your phone. Then you’ll be ready to make the switch. It worked for my daughter who recently got an iPhone5 for Christmas.

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      1. I’d like to use T-Mobile, however, they’re not moving very fast at increasing beyond edge coverage in urban and some semi-rural areas. So StraightTalk will have to do until T-Mobile gets better.

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  2. CDMA or GSM? what’s the model number on the phone?

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    1. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect its the GSM-only version.

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      1. Humberto Saabedra Saturday, January 12, 2013

        All 10 iPhone models being offered by StraightTalk and Walmart will be powered by Verizon’s network.

        The iPhone 5 inventory is also sourced from the carrier, but the LTE hardware is dormant, with the additional advantage of the SIM slot being unlocked for GSM service for both domestic and international use, a consequence of Verizon’s iPhone 5 being mandated to ship unlocked due to the FCC guidelines it agreed to when rolling out LTE on C-Block spectrum.

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    2. I called and spend a while trying to figure this one out. It will be CDMA off of verizons network not sprint. LTE is undefinded but with Straight Talks insane TOS no LTE actually might be a good thing to keep your data under control.

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  3. kootenayredneck Friday, January 11, 2013

    Not in Canada and we have Wal_Marts in the Great White North.

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  4. Kevin, any word on whether visual voicemail will be enabled for those of us currently using older iPhones on straight talk?

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    1. From what I’ve read, if you use an iPhone not purchased from Straight Talk, visual voicemail nor MMS will work properly without a workaround. (i.e. Jailbreak, etc.)

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      1. I have heard the same. But that is not as bad as no LTE and a data cap (if true) of 2Gb.

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  5. Went to Wal Mart and checked the model number on the phone and it is the CDMA model. (A1429).

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    1. Whoa – that surprises me a bit. Thanks!

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  6. Reblogged this on Zen Garden Inspiration Gallery and commented:
    Wow do we really need an iPhone and all these other gadgets but hey I have to admit it is very cool. I mean do we need 10 different gadgets with slightly altered functions where with an Apple you can practically have one device and do everything on it…but that is greedom for you people and if people are willing to buy it more power to them. Don’t get me wrong I like Apple a lot more than Microsoft but PCs are more affordable for like 98% of the population than Apple. I am not surprised that Walmart is now offering these phones at their locations because it is a no brainer Walmart gets involved with everything they want to be the best price for everything. I guess for the price of the phone you get a great plan that will save you something on that monthly phone bill.

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  7. @Kevin I hope you mean the contract model and not the subsidy model. I find the tmobile new plans super absurd wherein they want to kill the subsidy not the contract. Also it is strange that even though you buy the phone outright you still have to pay a high monthly fee at VZ/ATT

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    1. The contract model utilizes the subsidy as an incentive to sign said contract. Without a subsidized device, there’s no incentive to enter into a contract in the current state of the mobile market. Thus, we have services like Cricket, Straight Talk, Boost and more.

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      1. Oops, hit Submit too soon. Furthermore, if the device subsidy goes away, the simplest recourse the big companies would have to remain competitive is to reduce cost on services. Losing the subsidy model is a good thing.

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  8. No LTE and the 2Gb limit (on supposedly an unlimited data plan) are deal killers for me.

    There are some other slight disadvantages (found in more detailed articles on Straight Talk) but they are minor. Slow service and a data cap are not “slight” disadvantages. They are why I buy the phones with high speed and a high data cap.

    Verizon here I come.

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    1. Given that most of my data usage is via WiFi, a 2GB data cap or data throttling or whatever it might be doesn’t bother me too much as I’m not a power user. That said, the lack of LTE service is terribly unfortunate. 3G service in my area is pretty good as far as mobile data speeds go, so I’m still on the fence about whether or not to make the jump.

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    2. But if you think about it Verizon own unlimited talk text and 2gb of web is what 100.00 bucks plus taxes and fees or 90 bucks for just 1gb with unlimited talk text and web but yea there is no lte but you be paying half the price plus no activation fees… But it’s all if you want to save money or not cause their prepaid plans for smartphones is 80 bucks a month on Verizon’s

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  9. Nitish Kannan Friday, January 11, 2013

    Thanks to Moore’s law, lots of competitors, costs are falling substantially, soon we will have sub 200 dollar phones that outdo the 600 dollar ones, which will seem a great value, and I truly believe unlimited prepaid is the future, no point in contracts and locked phones when product cycles are so rampant! Right?

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  10. A person can just cut a regular sim card to nano size and it should work. I used an older sim card that had a large foil surface. Just have to cut through the foil to resize it.

    I even did a terrible hack job and it still worked. My carrier, another ATT reseller was surprised when I told them I cut through the foil and that it continued to work.

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    1. Iphone 5
      A1428 – GSM (AT & T)
      A1429 – GSM / CDMA (Verizon)
      A1442 – CDMA (Sprint)

      i got my iPhone 5 16g (A1428) at walmart last month $ 127.00 plus tax with upgrade from my at & t line. I got stuck 2 years for this.

      Now i bought a iPhone 5 16g (A1429) with straight talk from Walmart $710.66 total with tax. All the A1429 model are open line base on apple tech info. Since i got A1429 model straight talk. There is no way that I can get a signal or service from At & T for this particular model A1429 . I’m guessing Verizon will only provide this. Base on the model of the Phone. Correct me if i’m wrong.

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      1. Hunter Hendricks Thursday, January 17, 2013

        Okay, the Straight Talk iPhone 5 is using Verizon Wireless Service? And although they are LTE phones Straignt Talk isn’t offering LTE. What about visual voicemail? Just wondering, will visual voicemail work with a Straight Talk iPhone 5?

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      2. I am not sure what you mean “A1429 model are open line base ” Are you asking if this is UNLOCKED being a Verizon and there deal with the FCC,Since ST is getting a base Verizon,I think they might have started out unlocked but being passed on to ST they might have locked them just so it had to stay with them as there orher phone’s are…
        But there are other way’s to unlock an Iphone on Verizon so Gevey sim’s work good although you must be at certain ios !!!
        Everyone say’s data cap well I found out that sprint say unlimited but they will slow you down as I found out one with my cousin’s i phone 4s so there is really NO true unlimited service and I have had a i4 on st since E71,I’ve had no problem’s with them and 2 gig’s the screen is small and it wear’s my old eye’s out but it is nice since I am on tethered 6.0.1 that 1 of the new feature’s is a FULL screen so it’s some what better?? My ATT based i4 w/st has a big downfall here where I live in Tn. that the signal is weak in the hills here and I have friend’s using Verizon Iphone’s and are able to get a call when I can’t so that is good thing to know when I go to wally world to get a new i5 and reading today about the jailbreak effort’s that will come out after 6.1 gm is put out by Apple Thing’s Look Great…..

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