Saturday, September 01, 2012

Straight Talk: an alternative to AT&T for my unlocked iPhone 4S?

I've paid off my 4S, and completed the authorized unlock. So I'm free to consider other options with for my GSM iPhone. That includes H2O Wireless (we use it for the kids voice/SMS) and Walmart's Straight Talk, an AT&T MVNO.

Straight Talk costs $45 a month for "unlimited" text, talk and data. According to the Terms of Service that does not include tethering for a "laptop or personal computer", but that does leave iPad and Nexus 7 in a gray zone. There's been at least one report, however, of Straight Talk terminating service for heavy data use. (Virgin Mobile doesn't allow tethering either.)

It's not impressive enough.

Mobile economics in the USA are challenging. I'd like to buy an unlocked iPhone at full price and then buy my voice and data separately, but currently the market is biased to the subsidized device model. It will be very interesting to see if any new options emerge with the iPhone 5 -- assuming it's LTE. 

If an option does emerge, it better charge me for my data. I don't trust any vendor who offers me unlimited data -- those plans always come with strings attached.

Update: I might have been too hard on Straight Talk -- see this GigaOm review and Gordon's Tech: The US iPhone scene: Options and trends


Andrew W said...

I set my wife up with straight talk and one of my android phones (Atrix). It works great after entering the correct APN.

I'm not sure I care about a carrier monitoring for data abusers. With unlimited plans I mostly am attempting to avoid a shocking bill due to "runaway" data usage. I could also be good with a "pay as you go" model as long as data cuts off after I have burned through the data I paid for.

JGF said...

I also came across a positive review from GogaOm May 2012: