How can I get the iPhone 5 on a prepaid network? (Virgin|Cricket|Smart Talk)

Lick

macrumors member
Original poster
Aug 14, 2012
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So I'm sitting on an iPhone 4 that's been off contract with AT&T for a few months. I wanna get the new iPhone and I wanna stop paying AT&T a thousand bucks a year to drop my calls. I was planning to buy unlocked and go prepaid, which sounded simple in theory but in reality I'm not sure if it's even possible.

Here's what I want to do within the next month if anyone can offer me some guidance I'd be real happy...

Sell iPhone 4 (Through Nextworth, Amazon, or eBay)
Pre order the new iPhone unlocked
Switch to Virgin and transfer my # from AT&T

Is there any chance that Virgin, Straight Talk, or Cricket will get the iPhone 5 at launch? I assume I can't just buy an unlocked one and bring it to them to activate since all US prepaid company's are CDMA and real locked down.

If that's not possible what's my next best option for getting the new iPhone and a reasonable prepaid plan? I'm real sick of being locked in to one of the big 3 paying them $1000 more over two years for their plans compared to what the same thing would cost me on prepaid.
 
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Lick

macrumors member
Original poster
Aug 14, 2012
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0
isnt the iphone $400 more unlocked? if so, your paying the $200/yr back right there
Even if the iphone cost $1400 unlocked you would still save money over 2 years on a $30-50 prepaid plan versus a $70-120 big 3 plan. They Subsidize the initial phone price to make the initial investment much more appealing but your paying far more in the end. It's the same mentality as rent-a-center really.
 

madsci954

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Oct 14, 2011
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ST doesn't offer the iPhone, you have to provide it yourself, it's a BYOD program. And unlike the other pre-paids, ST is GSM so you can use an ATT locked or factory unlocked phone.

As for VM or Cricket, normally I look at history to guess but since they recently came out, it's hard to say. They will get the new iPhones but I'm not sure if they will get them at launch.
 

Lick

macrumors member
Original poster
Aug 14, 2012
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ST doesn't offer the iPhone, you have to provide it yourself, it's a BYOD program. And unlike the other pre-paids, ST is GSM so you can use an ATT locked or factory unlocked phone.

As for VM or Cricket, normally I look at history to guess but since they recently came out, it's hard to say. They will get the new iPhones but I'm not sure if they will get them at launch.
Right, I'm hoping they do on one hand but on the other if I got the unlocked GSM enabled iPhone instead and used it on straight talk it would be more versatile (as in I could crawl back to AT&t if I move somewhere with 4G LTE) whereas how I understand it, CDMA is completely locked to the carrier.

Now I gotta call AT&T for an unlock on my iPhone 4 and figure out how to switch my number over to ST. If I were to cancel my contract with AT&T at the end of the month can I still retain my # when i setup ST on my iPhone 5 22 days later?
 

madsci954

macrumors 68030
Oct 14, 2011
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Ohio
Now I gotta call AT&T for an unlock on my iPhone 4 and figure out how to switch my number over to ST. If I were to cancel my contract with AT&T at the end of the month can I still retain my # when i setup ST on my iPhone 5 22 days later?
When you get your ST SIM card, it comes with instructions for setting up, including porting your number over. I think you have to keep your contact active to port the number over.
 

Ugg

macrumors 68000
Apr 7, 2003
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When you get your ST SIM card, it comes with instructions for setting up, including porting your number over. I think you have to keep your contact active to port the number over.

Yep. Your account needs to be current with your former carrier in order to port your number.
 

PerplexShyt

macrumors 6502
Sep 1, 2011
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pre-order iphone 5 unlocked? that's not going to happen.

you know the officially unlocked versions come out maybe a month after release
 

tbayrgs

macrumors 604
Jul 5, 2009
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pre-order iphone 5 unlocked? that's not going to happen.

you know the officially unlocked versions come out maybe a month after release
Beat me to it. However, if it's anything like last launch, you'll be able to buy the AT&T version at full retail at an Apple Store and it will be unlocked--worked for me.
 

dontwalkhand

macrumors 603
Jul 5, 2007
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Beat me to it. However, if it's anything like last launch, you'll be able to buy the AT&T version at full retail at an Apple Store and it will be unlocked--worked for me.
This is what I want to do, but don't they check your account even though you're buying it outright? They did for Verizon iPhones...at least on launch day.
 

Lick

macrumors member
Original poster
Aug 14, 2012
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Beat me to it. However, if it's anything like last launch, you'll be able to buy the AT&T version at full retail at an Apple Store and it will be unlocked--worked for me.
Ah nice, someone in my family is still on AT&T so I assume I can just say its going on that family plan. Is there any difference between getting the full retail AT&T one from apple or getting the "officially" Unlocked one that comes out a month later?

Edit: Wait are you saying I have to go to a retail store to get it or can I still preorder the unlocked AT&T one at full retail online?
 

tbayrgs

macrumors 604
Jul 5, 2009
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This is what I want to do, but don't they check your account even though you're buying it outright? They did for Verizon iPhones...at least on launch day.
Didn't at the Apple Store. I didnt go on launch day, went a few days later, made a reservation the night before to pick it up, went in, said it was a gift and wanted to pay full retail. Didn't have to give any account info and just paid and walked out. Plugged in into iTunes at home and received the "your iPhone is unlocked" message.

Ah nice, someone in my family is still on AT&T so I assume I can just say its going on that family plan. Is there any difference between getting the full retail AT&T one from apple or getting the "officially" Unlocked one that comes out a month later?

Edit: Wait are you saying I have to go to a retail store to get it or can I still preorder the unlocked AT&T one at full retail online?
If I recall, you cannot preorder full retail, only subsidized on contract (either fully or partially subsidized, depending on your upgrade date) or new contract. So if you don't want to wait a month or two for the officially unlocked versions, you'll need to pick one up at the store.
 
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dontwalkhand

macrumors 603
Jul 5, 2007
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Ah nice, someone in my family is still on AT&T so I assume I can just say its going on that family plan. Is there any difference between getting the full retail AT&T one from apple or getting the "officially" Unlocked one that comes out a month later?

Edit: Wait are you saying I have to go to a retail store to get it or can I still preorder the unlocked AT&T one at full retail online?
Well with the AT&T one you get an extra SIM card and no removal tool :p
 

redred

macrumors member
Jul 3, 2012
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Even if the iphone cost $1400 unlocked you would still save money over 2 years on a $30-50 prepaid plan versus a $70-120 big 3 plan. They Subsidize the initial phone price to make the initial investment much more appealing but your paying far more in the end. It's the same mentality as rent-a-center really.
I gave ST a serious consideration a few weeks ago but have decided to just get the next iPhone and renew my contract with AT&T.

I did the math and honestly you don't really save that much money with ST unless you keep your iPhone 4 and simply use that with ST.

My guess is that if you join ST you'll be getting the $45 a month plan because the lowest one has some pretty pathetic amount of data. So do the math.

24 months x $50 (your monthly bill will most likely be roughly $50 when you factor in taxes) + an unlocked 2012 iPhone $650 (that's the price for the lowest model unlocked every year, and I wont' include taxes). So...50 x 24 + 650 = $1,850.

Now let's say you get the same phone and renew your contract with AT&T. Let's also assume your current monthly bill is $80 total. If your current bill is much more, please tell us, otherwise this is a pretty common total if you don't have a work discount, etc. So...24 x 80 + 200 + 36 (upgrade fee) = $2,156.

$2,156 - $1,850 = $306. That's a savings of $153 a year. Barely anything and certainly not worth switching over to ST IMO. (Plus you lose LTE.)

Like I said before, ST really is not a huge savings unless you keep your iPhone 4. I think you are making a big mistake going to ST with an unlocked new iPhone.

Virgin Mobile is a pretty good deal. $30/month x 24 + $650 (price of 4S that you must purchase from them) = $1,370. Substantial savings compared to AT&T. But you need to deal with slow as hell 3G Sprint speeds and you have an iPhone that cannot be used internationally AND will be close to worthless down the road.
 
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nburwell

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May 6, 2008
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Your best bet is to get an unlocked iPhone, and buy a ST SIM via their web site. Then once you get the SIM, port your number via their web site. I doubt Cricket or Virgin Mobile will get the new iPhone at launch (ST probably won't get it either so you'll just have to pay full price for an AT&T or unlocked model).
 

redred

macrumors member
Jul 3, 2012
55
0
Your best bet is to get an unlocked iPhone, and buy a ST SIM via their web site. Then once you get the SIM, port your number via their web site. I doubt Cricket or Virgin Mobile will get the new iPhone at launch (ST probably won't get it either so you'll just have to pay full price for an AT&T or unlocked model).
I disagree. The savings are minimal. Plus OP, ST runs on AT&T's network. So if your big gripe is the dropped calls you get with AT&T, nothing is going to change with ST with respect to service.
 

zhris

macrumors newbie
Jul 20, 2012
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Boise, ID
I have a 4S on Cricket, and you can't (any more) bring your own iPhone. Before there was an 'official' Cricket iPhone, you could flash and activate VZW/Sprint iPhones, but since they started selling iPhones themselves, they won't activate non-Cricket ones.

As far as them getting the i5? I haven't heard anything one way or another, but I assume we will eventually. I'm in no hurry though, since I just dropped $499 on my 4S.
 

Lick

macrumors member
Original poster
Aug 14, 2012
62
0
I gave ST a serious consideration a few weeks ago but have decided to just get the next iPhone and renew my contract with AT&T.

I did the math and honestly you don't really save that much money with ST unless you keep your iPhone 4 and simply use that with ST.

My guess is that if you join ST you'll be getting the $45 a month plan because the lowest one has some pretty pathetic amount of data. So do the math.

24 months x $50 (your monthly bill will most likely be roughly $50 when you factor in taxes) + an unlocked 2012 iPhone $650 (that's the price for the lowest model unlocked every year, and I wont' include taxes). So...50 x 24 + 650 = $1,850.

Now let's say you get the same phone and renew your contract with AT&T. Let's also assume your current monthly bill is $80 total. If your current bill is much more, please tell us, otherwise this is a pretty common total if you don't have a work discount, etc. So...24 x 80 + 200 + 36 (upgrade fee) = $2,156.

$2,156 - $1,850 = $306. That's a savings of $153 a year. Barely anything and certainly not worth switching over to ST IMO. (Plus you lose LTE.)

Like I said before, ST really is not a huge savings unless you keep your iPhone 4. I think you are making a big mistake going to ST with an unlocked new iPhone.

Virgin Mobile is a pretty good deal. $30/month x 24 + $650 (price of 4S that you must purchase from them) = $1,370. Substantial savings compared to AT&T. But you need to deal with slow as hell 3G Sprint speeds and you have an iPhone that cannot be used internationally AND will be close to worthless down the road.
Well I'm in NY and we have some of the highest taxes / random bs charges of any state. So I end up paying $80 after taxes for the lowest Minute and Data plan. If I want decent 2GB data it is $100 a month. Buying prepaid you avoid the bulk of these taxes. Plus I'll get the same ****** 3G service either way because AT&T doesn't have 4G near me anyhow. Not to mention I don't have to worry about going over my data cap when I drunkenly put on a 2 hour video podcast when I'm not on Wifi. Most importantly I have the freedom to decide not to pay one month if I'm feeling anti-social or feel like using a Google or skype # over wifi like a dirty hippy and can sell it off and upgrade / downgrade at will.

So for me I estimate it factors out more like this.

$90 x 24 = 2160 + 236 = 2396

$46 x 24 = 1104 + 650 - 40 ($130 3 month bundles) = 1715

So $681 cheaper, No Contract, No overage Charges, Same Spotty 3G Coverage, More Data, Minutes, messaging, and the smug satisfaction of no longer funding the price gouging of the Major 3 networks.

And Honestly I was set on Virgin before I knew what I know now. Namely that CDMA is completely locked to a carrier and despite saving another $360 over 2 years with Virgin vs. Straight Talk your on a smaller network and the resell value of that phone will likely be far lousier then an Unlocked GSM iPhone. Still tempting though, if they surprise us and include iPhone 5 on Virgin or Cricket I might go that route instead.
 

yeah

macrumors 6502a
Jul 12, 2011
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Virgin Mobile already has the iPhone (unlocked price)($650-$850)
 

redred

macrumors member
Jul 3, 2012
55
0
Well I'm in NY and we have some of the highest taxes / random bs charges of any state. So I end up paying $80 after taxes for the lowest Minute and Data plan. If I want decent 2GB data it is $100 a month. Buying prepaid you avoid the bulk of these taxes. Plus I'll get the same ****** 3G service either way because AT&T doesn't have 4G near me anyhow. Not to mention I don't have to worry about going over my data cap when I drunkenly put on a 2 hour video podcast when I'm not on Wifi. Most importantly I have the freedom to decide not to pay one month if I'm feeling anti-social or feel like using a Google or skype # over wifi like a dirty hippy and can sell it off and upgrade / downgrade at will.

So for me I estimate it factors out more like this.

$90 x 24 = 2160 + 236 = 2396

$46 x 24 = 1104 + 650 - 40 ($130 3 month bundles) = 1715

So $681 cheaper, No Contract, No overage Charges, Same Spotty 3G Coverage, More Data, Minutes, messaging, and the smug satisfaction of no longer funding the price gouging of the Major 3 networks.

And Honestly I was set on Virgin before I knew what I know now. Namely that CDMA is completely locked to a carrier and despite saving another $360 over 2 years with Virgin vs. Straight Talk your on a smaller network and the resell value of that phone will likely be far lousier then an Unlocked GSM iPhone. Still tempting though, if they surprise us and include iPhone 5 on Virgin or Cricket I might go that route instead.
Well, to start you are bringing up this idea of stopping your service if you desire for a month or so and that's a new factor that you never mentioned at the start. If you think you'll want to stop service at times, then yeah, I'd agree that prepaid is your best bet.

I'm a little puzzled by your bill. I live in Massachusettes which also has high sales tax and additional cell taxes. I have a 450 minute/2 GB plan plus a 1000 text grandfathered addition. My bill without tax is $75 and with taxes is roughly $82-83.

Even with 3 month bundles you will be paying more than you are stating. There was a gentlemen on this forum from PA and his bill was roughly $50 a month with the ST plan. So with the three month bundle you are going to pay $130 plus taxes and additional for the 3 months. So it's more like $140 and maybe more if I'm guessing.

So let's just say $140. I obviously can't take into account when you'd be suspending service but for the sake of the argument let's say you don't suspend service. That would be $140 x 4 x 2 + 650 (+ NY sales tax for your iPhone which you can determine) = $1770 for 2 years.

Let's say your monthly iPhone bill with AT&T is $90. That would be $90 x 24 + 236 + again, NY sales tax which you know, = $2396.

In such a scenario you are saving $626 over 2 years and $313 a year. If that's the story and you don't have access to LTE then yes, I would at least consider said option. I'd need to know exactly what you are paying roughly each month now to do the numbers.

My situation was different because I know for a fact that I pay roughly $82 a month now and I have no desire to shut off service moving forward. Plus I work, travel, and live in LTE areas.

If LTE doesn't matter to you then you might want to seriously consider just using your iPhone 4 with ST. That would be even more savings.
 
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Lick

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Original poster
Aug 14, 2012
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Right now my plan with 1000 messages plus 200mb data costs $75 a month (which isn't even comparable to ST unlimited) Then I pay $11.31 on top of it for 7 seemingly made up surcharges and and government fees. If I were to bump it back up to where it used to be w/ Unlimited Messaging (+ $10) and 3GB Data (+ $15) I would be paying over $111 for less minutes and the EXACT SAME COVERAGE.

111.31 x 24 = 2671.44 + 236 = 2907.44

2907.44 -1715 = $ 1192.44 For same coverage / More Minutes / No Contract

Why in the world would I pay $1200 more for the privilege of signing a 2 year commitment? I could literally sell my old iPhone and buy the new one every year and still pay hundreds less at the end of two years than you did for your older gen iPhone.

With ST all your paying is sales tax none of this, "state telecomm Excise Surchage" and other nonsense. That's the stuff people forget to factor in when comparing prepaid plans to contracts. Even though your Massachusetts surcharges are a few bucks cheaper your going to have to give up your grandfathered plan in favor of the new pricier ones i mentioned above when you upgrade. Otherwise they won't subsidize it for you. So maybe it is infect YOU who should reconsider lol, unless spotty 4G is worth over $1000 to you.

But I am going to be using my iPhone 4 on ST starting the end of this month and if I don't get suckered in by apples keynote in a month. (Which I normally do) I'll just stick with the 4. But if I sell the 4 now I could get $150 more for it on amazon then I would a year later. That's what I keep telling myself to justify spending $800 for a longer 4G version of my current phone only to keep 4G disabled for 2 years. My battery life would probably be sweet though.
 
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redred

macrumors member
Jul 3, 2012
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Right now my plan with 1000 messages plus 200mb data costs $75 a month (which isn't even comparable to ST unlimited) Then I pay $11.31 on top of it for 7 seemingly made up surcharges and and government fees. If I were to bump it back up to where it used to be w/ Unlimited Messaging (+ $10) and 3GB Data (+ $15) I would be paying over $111 for less minutes and the EXACT SAME COVERAGE.

111.31 x 24 = 2671.44 + 236 = 2907.44

2907.44 -1715 = $ 1192.44 For same coverage / More Minutes / No Contract

Why in the world would I pay $1200 more for the privilege of signing a 2 year commitment? I could literally sell my old iPhone and buy the new one every year and still pay hundreds less at the end of two years than you did for your older gen iPhone.

With ST all your paying is sales tax none of this, "state telecomm Excise Surchage" and other nonsense. That's the stuff people forget to factor in when comparing prepaid plans to contracts. Even though your Massachusetts surcharges are a few bucks cheaper your going to have to give up your grandfathered plan in favor of the new pricier ones i mentioned above when you upgrade. Otherwise they won't subsidize it for you. So maybe it is infect YOU who should reconsider lol, unless spotty 4G is worth over $1000 to you.

But I am going to be using my iPhone 4 on ST starting the end of this month and if I don't get suckered in by apples keynote in a month. (Which I normally do) I'll just stick with the 4. But if I sell the 4 now I could get $150 more for it on amazon then I would a year later. That's what I keep telling myself to justify spending $800 for a longer 4G version of my current phone only to keep 4G disabled for 2 years. My battery life would probably be sweet though.
You are way off on a few things here.

First off, why are you on such a lame data plan? No wonder you are afraid of going over your cap. You can currently get 3GB for $30 a month. I'm getting 2 GB for $25 but I don't know if that's currently offered.

I'll just say it again. I currently get 450 minutes, 2 GB of data, and 1000 texts for $75 a month. That does not include MA sales tax and any additional charges. Seeing that you are currently grandfathered into the same text plan I have, I find it hard to believe that you'd be paying substantially more than me per month if you keep your text plan, go with 450 minutes (unless you have that already) and upgrade to 3 GB of data. Sales tax and extra charges amounts to roughly $8 a month extra on my plan monthly. You'd have to be paying much more than that in NY to start reaching the levels you are quoting.

You are WAY OFF saying that ST only charges state sales tax. This is what the gentleman from PA on ST stated to me on here last week regarding his bill.

"Subtotal $45.00
Discounts and Credits $0.00
Tax1 $2.70
Wireless E-911 Surcharge2 $1.00
Federal Universal Service Charge3 $0.68
Regulatory Cost Recovery Fee4 $0.09
Final Purchase Amount $49.47"

That's still a great deal, but lay off this boasting that ST only charges sales tax. Also you may be paying more than this gentleman as it appears in NY you get hit pretty hard with extras. And the bundles won't help with taxes and extra charges.

You're also dead wrong in stating that I can't keep my grandfathered plans when upgrading. You absolutely can. I kept both my text and data plans when I got my iPhone 4 after upgrading from my 3G iPhone. I've already talked to an AT&T rep regarding the next iPhone and I can indeed keep my 1000 text plan and data plan when I upgrade next month. So spare me that point too.

When you say sell on Amazon do you mean in their marketplace? Because their trade in program is only Amazon credit, not cash.

If you plan on using your iPhone 4 with ST and not upgrading to an unlocked new iPhone, then your savings will be greater. Otherwise your only benefit to getting the new iPhone is a larger screen, faster performance, and a better camera. Remains to be seen what the story is with battery life.

Like I said before, if not being on contract is important to you, then yeah I'd go with ST, but I still don't think the savings are what you make them out to be. I think you are twisting numbers and inflating your alleged savings.
 

Lick

macrumors member
Original poster
Aug 14, 2012
62
0
You are way off on a few things here.

First off, why are you on such a lame data plan? No wonder you are afraid of going over your cap. You can currently get 3GB for $30 a month. I'm getting 2 GB for $25 but I don't know if that's currently offered.

I'll just say it again. I currently get 450 minutes, 2 GB of data, and 1000 texts for $75 a month. That does not include MA sales tax and any additional charges. Seeing that you are currently grandfathered into the same text plan I have, I find it hard to believe that you'd be paying substantially more than me per month if you keep your text plan, go with 450 minutes (unless you have that already) and upgrade to 3 GB of data. Sales tax and extra charges amounts to roughly $8 a month extra on my plan monthly. You'd have to be paying much more than that in NY to start reaching the levels you are quoting.

You are WAY OFF saying that ST only charges state sales tax. This is what the gentleman from PA on ST stated to me on here last week regarding his bill.

"Subtotal $45.00
Discounts and Credits $0.00
Tax1 $2.70
Wireless E-911 Surcharge2 $1.00
Federal Universal Service Charge3 $0.68
Regulatory Cost Recovery Fee4 $0.09
Final Purchase Amount $49.47"

That's still a great deal, but lay off this boasting that ST only charges sales tax. Also you may be paying more than this gentleman as it appears in NY you get hit pretty hard with extras. And the bundles won't help with taxes and extra charges.

You're also dead wrong in stating that I can't keep my grandfathered plans when upgrading. You absolutely can. I kept both my text and data plans when I got my iPhone 4 after upgrading from my 3G iPhone. I've already talked to an AT&T rep regarding the next iPhone and I can indeed keep my 1000 text plan and data plan when I upgrade next month. So spare me that point too.

When you say sell on Amazon do you mean in their marketplace? Because their trade in program is only Amazon credit, not cash.

If you plan on using your iPhone 4 with ST and not upgrading to an unlocked new iPhone, then your savings will be greater. Otherwise your only benefit to getting the new iPhone is a larger screen, faster performance, and a better camera. Remains to be seen what the story is with battery life.

Like I said before, if not being on contract is important to you, then yeah I'd go with ST, but I still don't think the savings are what you make them out to be. I think you are twisting numbers and inflating your alleged savings.
lol no just telling you what I pay exactly, I don't have grandfathered anything and the Data plan in my math was the 3GB w/ 450 minutes and Unlimited text.

You don't pay those extra taxes and fee's when you buy ST minutes from wall mart, in fact you don't even pay sales tax if your from OR, CA, or DE. But believe and do what you want what the hell do I care.

Only thing that was wrong in my calculation was I left out the sim card ($15) and it turns out ST 3 month plan is cheaper: $126 instead of $130.

What would be my motivation to fudge the numbers anyway, do I sound like an undercover ST rep? If I was I'd be far more savy, I'm just a guy who read the forums, did some math, and realized I could get the same service on an unlimited plan with no contract and save enough money at the end of 2 years to buy a new macbook air, a couple of kegs, and still be paying less then I did on AT&T.

ANYWAY what I really want to figure out is what is the easiest way to get an unlocked iPhone at launch. They really don't offer unlocked versions on apple.com initially? There's got to be another way to pre order other then showing up day 1 and asking to buy an AT&T one as a "gift" for full price. I really don't want to wait a month or what not for the Officially unlocked ones and I don't want to wait in line at 6AM. Just wanna watch the keynote, eat some lunch, and order it online. There's got to be a workaround
 

eagandale4114

macrumors 65816
May 20, 2011
1,011
1
lol no just telling you what I pay exactly, I don't have grandfathered anything and the Data plan in my math was the 3GB w/ 450 minutes and Unlimited text.

You don't pay those extra taxes and fee's when you buy ST minutes from wall mart, in fact you don't even pay sales tax if your from OR, CA, or DE. But believe and do what you want what the hell do I care.

Only thing that was wrong in my calculation was I left out the sim card ($15) and it turns out ST 3 month plan is cheaper: $126 instead of $130.

What would be my motivation to fudge the numbers anyway, do I sound like an undercover ST rep? If I was I'd be far more savy, I'm just a guy who read the forums, did some math, and realized I could get the same service on an unlimited plan with no contract and save enough money at the end of 2 years to buy a new macbook air, a couple of kegs, and still be paying less then I did on AT&T.

ANYWAY what I really want to figure out is what is the easiest way to get an unlocked iPhone at launch. They really don't offer unlocked versions on apple.com initially? There's got to be another way to pre order other then showing up day 1 and asking to buy an AT&T one as a "gift" for full price.
They should have it available at launch at apple.com