Best/Cheapest carrier to use Unlocked GSM iPhone with?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by angelica314, Jul 30, 2013.

  1. angelica314 macrumors member

    Jul 17, 2013
    Hello everyone.

    I'm soon buying an unlocked iPhone 4s most likely, and would like to know the cheapest and best (coverage wise) carrier for it. I was going to get T-Mobile but it's not the cheapest ($60) and I've heard doesn't have the best coverage. I'm looking to have unlimited texting/talking + 2.5gb data for around $45-50.

    Thanks a lot for any input! :)
  2. sonicrobby macrumors 68020


    Apr 24, 2013
    New Orleans
    One of my friends has Straight Talk, you can look into that. I think its 45$ for unlimited everything, but I dont think its LTE speeds
  3. angelica314 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 17, 2013
    Thanks! I was just looking into ST but they say that you have to go through some process to be able to send pictures.

    Anybody know which would be better, AT&T GoPhone ($60) or T-Mobile (same price)? Would I get better coverage with AT&T?
  4. Lucille Carter macrumors 65816

    Jul 3, 2013
    Coverage depends on where you are at and how well that particular carrier cover the territory. Where I live AT&T covers everywehere I have been and T-Mo only works if you go outside:eek:
  5. CEmajr macrumors 601

    Dec 18, 2012
    Charlotte, NC
    You would likely get better coverage with AT&T. Their 3G network covers the rural areas where T-Mobile has a lot of Edge.
  6. takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Feb 9, 2011
    ^ This. Check with others in your area and make sure to test real world coverage in places that you need it most before your time to cancel without ETF runs out. Don't rely on coverage maps or "X has the best coverage" comments.
  7. Satnam1989 macrumors 65816

    Nov 16, 2011
    I would bank on AT&T - using it now with $60 plan (get from for $54 taxes included with monthly 10% off coupon), cant complain, I find AT&T Coverage far superior than T-Mobile.

    AT&T (850-1900MHz Bands) has better building penetration vs T-Mobile (1700MHz AWS & 1900MHz). I have used T-Mobile but because you are going be using a 4S I would recommend AT&T as T-Mobile will only be good for you if you are in their 1900MHz refarmed area as well as if that 1900MHz is complete/very towerly(is this even a word? lol) populated...

    If you had the iPhone 5 with AWS compatibility I would have recommend giving T-Moible a go because T-Mobile 1700AWS covers is superior to 1900MHz coverage due to more towers.

    those are my few cents, rest is your call.
  8. angelica314 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 17, 2013
    Thank you all. What do you think of the new "plan" with Metro PCS, where we can bring an unlocked iPhone and pay $50? 2.5gb data and everything else unlimited. Although i'm not getting how they limit downloads and all?
  9. Retired Cat macrumors 65816

    Jun 12, 2013
    MetroPCS is a subsidiary of T-Mobile now, so that plan uses the Tmo network. $50 for that is a good deal though.
  10. angelica314 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 17, 2013
    Thank you! Yeah, I think so as well.

    I'm going to try it since I'm on Metro right now so it won't be such a big change and since the phone (just bought it today actually!) is unlocked I'd be able to switch to at&t if I don't like Metro.
  11. lordofthereef macrumors G5


    Nov 29, 2011
    Boston, MA
    TMO also has a $30 100 min, unlimited texts, 5gb data plan. It's a pay as you go, and you can add minutes packages to it as well. The way minutes packages work is they stay with you until used up I believe, so that's a good bargain.
  12. angelica314 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 17, 2013
    Thanks, but I need unlimited minutes or else it sounds great.

    I was looking at NET 10 and they have a $45 (when you refill)... would that be better than Metro PCS?
  13. Retired Cat macrumors 65816

    Jun 12, 2013
    One question I have: if MetroPCS uses the same GSM network as the parent company T-Mobile, why would anyone pay the extra ten bucks to stay on Tmo service?

    Same goes for MVNOs on the AT&T network. If Net10 or Straight Talk are cheaper, why stay with the main carrier?
  14. bjb.butler macrumors 6502a


    Aug 18, 2008
    Southern California
    I think the main reason is the familiarity/confidence in the brand; You can tell someone that they use the same network, but I'm sure a non-techy person will have more confidence in the popular one.

    In addition, I'm sure a lot of people simply aren't aware that MVNOs utilize the same network.
  15. spicynujac macrumors regular

    May 24, 2012
    I think some people aren't even aware some of the MVNOs exist. There are T-Mobile stores but I've never seen a metropcs one, although I see their billboards and commercials when travelling. I pay $30 for talk/text only with T-Mobile now and am switching to Metropcs talk/text/data for $40, both inclusive of tax. Plus Metropcs is running a $50 rebate for number porting and $50 for BYOD so I'm getting $100 back and my first ever smartphone :)
    Buying a refurb Iphone5 from Straighttalk for $400 (less a coupon) and popping in Metropcs SIM.

    The only disadvantage is I'm not sure you can roam on Metropcs or not. But I roam on T-Mobile about once a year or less so the savings far outweigh the benefits to me.
  16. tivoboy macrumors 68040

    May 15, 2005
    straightalk apparently now has LTE running on the AT&T it is less of a loss of performance than it was for the last year.
  17. CEmajr macrumors 601

    Dec 18, 2012
    Charlotte, NC
    The main carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile offer support and service for their customers whereas with MVNOs the customer service is extremely lacking or almost non-existant.

    Like people try going into T-Mobile stores having problems with their phones or their accounts but they're using Walmart Family Mobile or some other MVNO and the T-Mobile stores can't do anything for them. Can be a frustrating experience for those who are tech savvy enough to fix their own problems.

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