Straight Talk vs. AT&T

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by MaxPower49, Sep 12, 2012.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2008
    #1
    I have been using an iPhone 4 on Straight Talk (no contract) for a while and have been pretty happy with it. I would like to upgrade to the iPhone 5 though and I have been comparing ST with AT&T. Somebody check my math here...

    Straight Talk
    (Unlimited voice and text, 3G data - limited to ??gb)
    Unsubsidized iPhone 5 (32gb) - $800 after tax (can't preorder though)
    Monthly plan - ~$50/month after taxes and fees ($1200 over 2 years)
    Total 2 year cost - ~$2000


    AT&T
    (Individual plan, 450 minutes, 4G data - limited to 3gb/month, text not included, I will use google voice for that)
    Subsidized iPhone 5 (32gb) - ~$350 with tax and activation
    Monthly plan - ~75/month after taxes and fees ($1800 over 2 years)
    Total 2 year cost - ~$2150

    So ST is only $150 cheaper over the course of 2 years. Of course the downside of AT&T is that you are locked in to a contract. But on the other hand, with AT&T you do get to take advantage of 4G speed and you know you get 3gb of unthrottled data per month. No more playing the ST data limit guessing game and worry about them changing the rules.

    Am I missing something with the AT&T numbers? I'm not that familiar with their plans. If not, I'm thinking of making the jump to AT&T.
     
  2. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2008
    #2
    Can anyone confirm that I have the AT&T plan numbers correct in the post above?
     
  3. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2012
    Location:
    Colorado
    #3
    I am a user on AT&T that has been considering this as well. I use Google Voice for texting. I have the grandfathered 2GB for $25/month data plan. My total bill after taxes is almost $72/month. For the 3GB for $30/month the total bill would be roughly $77 or $78/month.

    Generally speaking the math is close, I would say the difference is closer to $250. A factory unlocked iPhone 5 32GB (when it is finally offered for sale online) will run me about $775 after taxes online through Apple (online sales tax may vary in your state). You MAY be able to get a factory unlocked iPhone at a retail store sooner, but then you're looking at $800+ after taxes. If not, it may be up to two months before anyone can get a factory unlocked iPhone 5 in their hands through Apple's online store.

    Here are my own figures:

    Straight Talk
    Factory Unlocked iPhone 5 32GB through Apple.com ~ $775
    Monthly Plan $50/month -> $1200/2 years
    Total cost = $1,975

    AT&T
    Subsidized iPhone 5 32GB after tax/activation ~ $350
    Monthly Plan $77ish/month -> ~ $1875/2 years
    Total cost = $2,225

    If you have AT&T LTE in your area and really want/need LTE, it is probably best to sign up for AT&T for the initial few months, then wait and see until Straight Talk carries nano SIMs and support for LTE. It is always worthwhile to have the iPhone 5 sooner than later. If you keep your iPhone 4 for the next 6 months until Straight Talk has nano sim/LTE support it will only be half a year or less until the iPhone 5S comes out. From what I can gather, it may be possible to cut a micro-SIM down to a nano-SIM and use sandpaper to make the plastic side a human hair's length thinner. I found this guide to perform that: http://www.airportal.de/How_to_cut_Mini_and_Micro_SIM_to_Nano_SIM.pdf

    If having LTE service and constantly plugging in your iPhone 5 to recharge is not a priority, I would definitely opt for a factory unlocked iPhone 5 and try to cut the micro-SIM to work with Straight Talk. It is just a lot less hassle than dealing with AT&T, possibly porting your number to Google Voice, paying a ETF when Straight Talk later has LTE/nano SIMs, etc.

    There is one drawback to consider with AT&T & using Google Voice. We don't know how long it will be before the iPhone 5 A6 can be jailbroken. If you currently use SMS GV extension to get GV texts in your messages app, it will be very inconvenient to go back to the dark ages of texting through the GV app. If you mainly use iMessage that may not matter as much.

    Don't forget that even if Straight Talk only supports HSPA+ for now (doesn't appear that DC-HSPDA is in the works yet) that is still a major step up from having only 3G on the iPhone 4. You can probably get around 3GB of unthrottled data on Straight Talk, but the added benefit is you don't have to worry about expensive overages. Straight Talk is owned by América Móvil, so I wouldn't worry about them changing the rules anytime soon as they have VERY deep pockets. A year from now there's a very real possibility T-Mobile will have widespread DC-HSPA coverage compatible with the iPhone, which will be almost as good as LTE but with better battery life.
     
  4. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2008
    #4
    You don't have to worry about overages on ST, but you do have to worry about getting throttled or cut off. It seems like they recently changed the rules from cutting people off to throttling them. If you get throttled, you can call and have it removed... but it automatically throttles you again the next day... every day until your new month starts. The worst part for me though is they won't tell you what the actual data limit is (it seems to be dynamic based on traffic or varies based on region). It made me afraid to use data because I didn't know how much I was allowed. Per ST's twitter feed, nano sims don't seem to be on their radar at the moment.

    You definitely have a point with the GV texting though. I do jailbreak and use the apps to integrate texting and BiteSMS also. I will be anxiously awaiting the iP5 jailbreak. Which will probably be a while since it has a new chip.

    I ended up going with AT&T and preordering the iPhone 5. Looking forward to faster speeds and a known data limit. Not looking forward to the higher bill.
     
  5. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2011
    Location:
    Ohio
    #5
    ST is $45 a month, not $50 and the supposed limit is 2GB a month. But if you want the iP5, ATT is better, ST won't have LTE and no clue when they are getting Nano SIMs.
     
  6. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2008
    #6
    Just over $50/month for me after taxes. Although I hear you can get around the tax by buying refill cards at walmart.
     
  7. macrumors P6

    dukebound85

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Location:
    5045 feet above sea level
    #7
    After taxes the 45 plan is 50. At least that is how it works for me and I'm on straight talk
     
  8. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2010
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA, USA
    #8
    When I was with AT$T I was paying on average $105 a month for 450 minutes/unlimited texts/unlimited data. Where you get your $75 figure from I don't know.
     
  9. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2008
    #9
    Well.. did you read the post? I spelled it out pretty clearly. It is not an unlimited plan and doesn't include texting. Comes to $69/month before taxes and fees.
     
  10. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2010
    #10
    I think your numbers are pretty accurate... however it's still mildly unfair to compare a plan with 450 minutes to the unlimited minute plan. I see why you did it though, and I actually did the same in my own personal comparison. I would aaaabsolutely go with this, except I can't stand texting via Google Voice for two reason - The message just don't come through quickly enough, and I don't like giving out a second number for people to text me on. Seems like a lot of trouble.

    Ah I wish so badly that Straight Talk had nano sims... that would make life easier haha. Looks like I'll be shaving mine down...

    If I cancel my iPhone 5's AT&T plan in a week do I have to still pay for this month's plan? Or do they require I return my phone if it's less than a month?
     
  11. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2009
    #11
    Still get taxed with Walmart but I buy the 3 month 'card' for the discount, which brings it to like $46/mo.
     
  12. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2008
    #12
    Well, I don't have a second number. I just use my gv number which forwards to my phone (calls and texts). There is occasionally some detaly with the texts, but it isn't too bad most of the time it is instant. It is nice when integrated with bite SMS.
     
  13. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    #13
    Don't you need to wait for the iPhone 5 to be jail broken to achieve your current integration with GV for texting?
     
  14. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2008
    Location:
    NEW YORK
    #14
    st is $40 a month at walmart.com no tax just change your address
     
  15. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2008
    #15
    Yes.. To integrate with apple's messages app or BiteSMS you do.
     
  16. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2012
    Location:
    Colorado
    #16
    Yes, I agree that comparing a 450 minute plan on AT&T to an unlimited talk plan on Straight Talk isn't exactly equal, but the underlying assumption is comparing this for those that don't use many minutes and would be perfectly fine with 450 minutes/month. For anyone that is a heavier voice user, it would be tremendously more cost effective to go with Straight Talk.

    And I wish so badly Apple didn't change their SIM design every two years. No doubt, in two years Apple will kill off removable SIM cards altogether and go to embedded SIMs, then you'll really be stuck. I bet the carriers will love that!

    If you are planning to cancel after being a new customer for a week, they may make you return the iPhone. As far as paying for a months service (to get past the 30 days) I don't really know, you will have to ask them. This may not work, but you may be able to go on "vacation" out of the country for a few months and get your service suspended right after getting your iPhone. Then 3-4 weeks later after you return unexpectedly from your "vacation" you could resume service, then cancel, pay the ETF, and hopefully then be in the clear to keep your new iPhone.
     
  17. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2005
    #17
    The worst part of Straight Talk is how they can't talk straight about how much data you get. I tried via email & chat and they refused to ever give a number. Not even a range. Is it 1B, 1kb, 1mb, 1gb, 10gb. Nothing. No clarity what so ever. Ironic given their name that they can't tell you straight.

    Given the uncertainty, and their unwillingness to even say 1kb is safe, I gave up considering them. Whats the point in having a smart phone if you don't have data.
     
  18. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2008
    Location:
    USA
    #18
    The point is they do not want you to abuse it. I have used straight talk with my iPad while thetring but i do not abouse it and constantly monitor my 100mb usage per day. The main thing is make sure you do not go 100mb/day and 2gb/month and you would be fine. I have been using them for about 6 months now and cant be anymore happier.
     
  19. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2008
    #19
    Yeah, that seems to be about right. But it would be nice if they would come out and tell us what the limit is instead of making us guess.
     
  20. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2012
    Location:
    Colorado
    #20
    Where are you getting the $40 pricing?

    I didn't realize that Walmart.com sells the refill cards electronically over email. I can confirm you may have a different "shipping" address than what your billing address is. Here is what I found:

    Straight Talk's website, Colorado address = $49.51
    Walmart.com website, same Colorado shipping address = $47.84
    Walmart.com website, NYC "shipping" address = $48.99
    Walmart.com website, California "shipping" address = $45.00, no tax

    I have heard that certain states do not have any tax on Straight Talk refill cards. However, California has some law/regulation that prohibits tax on prepaid cards from I understand.
     
  21. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2008
    Location:
    NEW YORK
    #21
    buy at 3 months at a time and its only $125 and get cashback 5% by you using discover card cash back link
     
  22. cvaldes, Sep 16, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2012

    macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2006
    Location:
    somewhere else
    #22
    I am using autoload (credit card on file) with Straight Talk and I am paying $45.94 per month. I'm pretty sure California does not allow for sales tax on prepaid services; the only thing I'm paying on top of the $45 fee is some FCC access tax.

    I've used both AT&T GoPhone and T-Mobile PAYG and neither one allowed for additional taxes here in California. Tru SIM (another MVNO) doesn't collect additional taxes either.

    Apple proposed the embedded SIM a couple of years ago and the carriers threw a fit.

    Not going to happen in the foreseeable future.
     
  23. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2012
    Location:
    Colorado
    #23
    I think if you're concerned about 1 KB of usage, you'll be fine on Straight Talk and not be one of those people that wonder why they got booted for using 30GB in a month. They just don't want people that abuse the system and use such excessive amounts of data.

    I have heard about a 100 MB/day or 2GB guideline before, but I wouldn't count on it and personally believe it's more like 3GB a month. My friend routinely uses around 3GB+ of data a month on Straight Talk and never has been warned or had anything said. It could help if you're in a smaller city with less network congestion.

    I only once went over my 2GB of data for the entire 24 months I was on AT&T. How? I was tethering where I had no Wifi and watched quite a few shows on Hulu. If you're on Wifi for at least a reasonable time every day and don't go crazy with data usage (hint: video streaming) then I see no reason to be so paranoid about your data usage. If you do get booted get a new SIM, make up a new name/address and learn from your mistake and start over again on Straight Talk.

    ----------

    Thank you for the explanation!! Even without a Discover card, 3 months for $125.99 rounds perfectly to $42/month. Not bad.

    Yes, that did help put a stop to that for now. But that won't stop Apple from owning all of the carriers in a few years at the rate Apple is going!
     
  24. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2012
    #24
    Straight Talk vs AT&T My figures

    I am a power data user and AT&Ts fees for going over the monthly allowance are very high as are their initial and monthly costs. I wanted to find something better. I switched to Straight Talk and this is my figures comparing apples to apples, (no pun intended). The previous posts were comparing Straight Talks unlimited everything to AT&Ts maximum LIMITED Data plan of 5Gs. So for a more realistic comparison I have compared the two plans I dealt with using these factors:

    1. I wanted to purchase a new Iphone (Iphone 5).
    2. Maximum AT&T Text, Message & Data ($139.99/month plus taxes and
    fees).
    3. AT&T subsidized phone purchase of $249.99 + $65.62 tax = $315.61

    AT&T plan.
    iPhone 5 refurbished purchase $249.99 plus tax - requires two year
    contract, iPhones are not available on AT&Ts month to month plans.

    Activation Fee $36.00

    Monthly Service Fee $139.99 ($69.99 unlimited voice+$50.00 for 5gb data+
    $20.00 unlimited messaging.)

    Total due at sign up $249.99 plus tax of $65.62 = $315.61
    Monthly for two years (24 months) at $139.00 plus taxes and fees =
    $3651.61 for two years PLUS taxes and AT&Ts "government imposed fees".

    The Straight Talk plan I moved to:

    NEW Iphone 5 unlocked from Apple Store - $649.00 plus tax $65.62
    Straight Talk Sim card purchase $15.00
    Straight Talk Unlimited everything including tax $49.00 for two years =
    $1176.00
    Total Straight talk plan for two years = $1905.62

    Savings over AT&T = $1745.99

    Thats almost $2000.00 plus savings. $85/month. Plus no contract, no inquiry on your credit rating because AT&T will credit check you and no "hidden government usage fees". You have an NEW unlocked iPhone not a refurbished locked to carrier iPhone. All on the same AT&T network. The savings will be even more if you go with the Straight Talks $495/year plan. I have had Straight Talk for several months now and have not had any "throttling" issues with regard to data usage. Also AT&T charges an additional $9.99 per month for voice guided navigation, I'm getting it for free now.
     
  25. macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2012
    #25
    Wanted to try straight talk but when I searched for reviews it's scared me. Too many complaints about service being cut off without warning. I need my phone to work all the time for work and can't risk a breakdown in communication. My current AT&T plan is $85 and straight talk would be $45. That's $450 in savings in just 10 months and would more than pay for my AT&T eft. But I need the guarantee that my phone will always work and ST can't provide that. If they were clear on what is abuse then I could try it.
     

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