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Symetrical AWD
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11,216 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
It's not spam, just a write up of my experience switching from big brand (Verizon) to pre-paid (Straight Talk).

When I started looking into this I was looking for a way to save money. With a kid on the way every dollar helps so I started doing some homework. If you've ever looking into MNVO's (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) like Virgin, Boost, etc... etc... you'll realize quickly that they don't operate their own tower. They buy in bulk from large providers like Sprint, AT&T and so on and resell to you at bargain basement prices, but the trade-off is minimal technical support, and more often than not either crappy phone selections or no subsidized pricing for any premium phones.

Enter Google and Motorola now offering a few great phones at reasonable prices. They offer the Nexus 5 ($350, LTE support and really best phone for the money), Moto X (was $350 off-contract for cyber Monday normally $500), and Moto G (No LTE support, but you do get HSPA+ and hella cheap at $180) at down-to-earth prices. I don't know about you guys, but I was paying $90/mon for my VZW contract. Single line, unlimited data with some low minutes and text package. Now compared to ST for $45/mon I would saving $540/year so very early on I realized if I pay for an off-contract phone upfront that my break-even would be less than a year (8 months) or even if I had gone with an iPhone I'd still have just barely over a year and anything after that is pure savings.

Back on Straight Talk now. The reason I went with them is several reasons:
1) They offer LTE now.
2) Their towers are either AT&T or Sprint depending if you bring a GSM or CDMA phone with you to sign up.
3) $45/Mon and that's it. No additional fees, and taxes.
4) Unlimited-ish data. It's 2.5GB at 4G speed and throttled to 2G speed for the remainder of the 30 days. So at a minimum they don't cut you off entirely or charge you overages and most months I'm right around 2-2.5 GB anyways.
5) Unlimited voice and texts


The Cons:
1) Their service is not for the non-technical. It takes a little bit of fiddling to get the settings all right to make your phone work and I'll remind you that their technical support is minimal. I found that their recommended settings from their website didn't actually work. I had to dig around several forums to get it right.
2) I've heard rumors that very heavy data users get service cancelled without warning.

The 1 month review:
I'm almost to my 1 month mark with ST and aside from the difficulties getting the settings right it's been flawless. Throughout the city (Indy) I have either 4G HSPA+ or 4G LTE coverage and haven't found a spot with anything less than that. I started out the first 2 weeks with an iPhone 4 borrowed from my sister till my Moto X arrived and both worked well. If you're looking to save some money and don't mind messing with settings on your phone then you can't go wrong.
 

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08/05/2008
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5,624 Posts
I've thought about it although my Verizon service costs me ~$70 a month. So my recoup time would be longer. Being out in Pendleton Verizon is the best provider in my area. Sprint and AT&T are a little spottier. Perhaps in 2 years things will be more equivalent.
 

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Wut Wut In Da Butt
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36,300 Posts
:yesway::cool: Nice write up. We all want to save money :D

My VZW contract will expire in 11 months. Currently I'm paying around $150/mo = ($140 +tax&fees -15% State Employee Discount) for 2 lines, unlimited minutes & texts and 4GB shared data.

I just need to do more research on how good the service is in the areas I'm frequently in (NJ & PA).

I just went to their website to check if my phone (HTC Droid DNA) is compatible, and it is! :twothumb:

$60/mo savings = $720/year savings :eek:
 

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Excellent Mediocrity
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14,802 Posts
Just FYI for you on-contract AT&T'ers, AT&T is now offering a $15 price cut per each non-contract phone. The only caveat is you need to be signed up for the mobile share plan. For me, switching to the new plan kept my bill the same price (pre-discount) and gave me unlimited talk on top of it. In 4 months, my phone will be contract-free, and my wife's in a year, so, in a year, i'll be saving $360/year.
 

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"I dunno" guy
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2,555 Posts
I moved my personal line to T-Mobile. They give my company employees a 12% discount so we end up at $88/month for 2 lines ($44/month/per line) with unlimited talk, text and 2.5GB of 4G. So far so good around NJ and NYC. There are a few places where I lose signal, but in those places, even VZW or AT&T doesn't have coverage. Used to be on Sprint SERO plan but due to horrible coverage, BAD 4G/LTE availability, slow as molasses 3G speeds and did I mention horrible coverage?

On T-Mobile I'm authorized up to 10 lines on my family account. If I move my family members or other close friends onto it, we cut the price down even more.
 

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Symetrical AWD
Joined
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11,216 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
:yesway::cool: Nice write up. We all want to save money :D

My VZW contract will expire in 11 months. Currently I'm paying around $150/mo = ($140 +tax&fees -15% State Employee Discount) for 2 lines, unlimited minutes & texts and 4GB shared data.

I just need to do more research on how good the service is in the areas I'm frequently in (NJ & PA).

I just went to their website to check if my phone (HTC Droid DNA) is compatible, and it is! :twothumb:

$60/mo savings = $720/year savings :eek:
Just keep in mind with any VZW phone that's SIM unlocked (world phones) like the DNA that you'll have GSM/HSPA+ only on Straight Talk. No LTE speed. As far as coverage it'll be the same as either AT&T or Sprint depending on which you pick. If you're using your Droid DNA it'll be AT&T's GSM network since Sprint and VZW's CDMA bands don't overlap.

http://www.androidcentral.com/how-use-verizon-droid-dna-att-or-any-other-gsm-network
 

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Symetrical AWD
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11,216 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
I moved my personal line to T-Mobile. They give my company employees a 12% discount so we end up at $88/month for 2 lines ($44/month/per line) with unlimited talk, text and 2.5GB of 4G. So far so good around NJ and NYC. There are a few places where I lose signal, but in those places, even VZW or AT&T doesn't have coverage. Used to be on Sprint SERO plan but due to horrible coverage, BAD 4G/LTE availability, slow as molasses 3G speeds and did I mention horrible coverage?

On T-Mobile I'm authorized up to 10 lines on my family account. If I move my family members or other close friends onto it, we cut the price down even more.
I had looked into TMo, but coverage is horrid in my area. If I were still living in Chicago I'd have looked harder at it, but here in Indy I wouldn't even consider it. If I recall it was 3G coverage over my house and at work... the 2 places I'd use it most I couldn't live with gimp-speed in these places. But if coverage is good in your area it's definitely another route to save money. At a minimum TMo is where I'd buy my next tablet since they're giving away free data and 0% financing for up to 2 years.
 

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"I dunno" guy
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2,555 Posts
I had looked into TMo, but coverage is horrid in my area. If I were still living in Chicago I'd have looked harder at it, but here in Indy I wouldn't even consider it. If I recall it was 3G coverage over my house and at work... the 2 places I'd use it most I couldn't live with gimp-speed in these places. But if coverage is good in your area it's definitely another route to save money. At a minimum TMo is where I'd buy my next tablet since they're giving away free data and 0% financing for up to 2 years.
The free data is only if you have a post-paid line with them, so if you don't already have a line with them it doesn't apply. Oh and the free data is on 2G speeds. The whole free data while roaming international thing is also on 2G which essentially makes it relatively useless. Also the tablet pricing there is higher than what you would pay direct from Google which is why I ordered my Nexus devices from Google directly :(
 

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Excellent Mediocrity
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14,802 Posts

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Excellent Mediocrity
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14,802 Posts
The free data is only if you have a post-paid line with them,
I have a pre-paid account.

so if you don't already have a line with them it doesn't apply.
I've never had a T-Mobile plan.

Oh and the free data is on 2G speeds. The whole free data while roaming international thing is also on 2G which essentially makes it relatively useless.
It's 4G speeds.

Also the tablet pricing there is higher than what you would pay direct from Google which is why I ordered my Nexus devices from Google directly :(
This is true.
 

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Symetrical AWD
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11,216 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Just FYI for you on-contract AT&T'ers, AT&T is now offering a $15 price cut per each non-contract phone. The only caveat is you need to be signed up for the mobile share plan. For me, switching to the new plan kept my bill the same price (pre-discount) and gave me unlimited talk on top of it. In 4 months, my phone will be contract-free, and my wife's in a year, so, in a year, i'll be saving $360/year.
The AT&T discount is a good start, but if we assume everyone on the share plan gets 2GB then with 2 people that's:

$70 4GB Data Plan
$25 Discounted Line 1 Share Plan ($40-$15=$25)
$25 Discounted Line 2 Share Plan ($40-$15=$25)
$28 Taxes & Fees (Calculated for Indiana through Wireless from AT&T.)
------
$142 Total or $71/line.

Of course this looks better if you have some sort of discount applied so if we assume the average user can pull off 15%

That's $120 total or $60/line. It's pretty good, but I figured on ST I'm getting an extra 500MB for $15 less and I'm using the exact same towers. Either case it's money saved though. :yesway:
 

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Wut Wut In Da Butt
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36,300 Posts
Just keep in mind with any VZW phone that's SIM unlocked (world phones) like the DNA that you'll have GSM/HSPA+ only on Straight Talk. No LTE speed. As far as coverage it'll be the same as either AT&T or Sprint depending on which you pick. If you're using your Droid DNA it'll be AT&T's GSM network since Sprint and VZW's CDMA bands don't overlap.

How to use the Verizon Droid DNA on AT&T (or any other GSM network) | Android Central
:yesway: Thanks for the info. I prefer AT&T over TMobile. I'm frequently up in the Pocono Mt area in PA, and all my friends/family with TMobile can hardly get any cell signal with little to no data connection at all.

Can I just buy an activation package to try it out for a month?
 

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Symetrical AWD
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11,216 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
:yesway: Thanks for the info. I prefer AT&T over TMobile. I'm frequently up in the Pocono Mt area in PA, and all my friends/family with TMobile can hardly get any cell signal with little to no data connection at all.

Can I just buy an activation package to try it out for a month?
It's a pre-paid carrier so yeah. It was like $6.99 for the SIM, no activation fee, and $45/mon. If you're just trying it out I'd recommend not porting your number over right away and just for both pay the VZW line and ST line for 1 month to see if you like it or not.
 

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Wut Wut In Da Butt
Joined
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36,300 Posts
It's a pre-paid carrier so yeah. It was like $6.99 for the SIM, no activation fee, and $45/mon. If you're just trying it out I'd recommend not porting your number over right away and just for both pay the VZW line and ST line for 1 month to see if you like it or not.
:yesway: Thanks!



EDIT: This is for my reference when my contract is up.
Go to: Welcome to Straight Talk
>Shop >Sim Cards >AT&T Compatible Phone >AT&T Compatible Micro SIM Card >AT&T Compatible Micro SIM + Unlimited* Plan $51.99


Hopefully, by the time my contract is up, they will have Straight Talk Verizon with LTE up and running :ndance:
 

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How-Man
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842 Posts
Nice write up. I switched to straight talk back in July with an Iphone 4. I absolutely love it as the service is great. At first I was skeptical because many were getting throttled on the data usage (as you mentioned), but I haven't been throttled once. I've got auto-fill activated so they take the money directly out of my account each month. Never have to go to the store to buy the cards, so its really convenient.
 

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Excellent Mediocrity
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14,802 Posts
The AT&T discount is a good start, but if we assume everyone on the share plan gets 2GB then with 2 people that's:

That's $120 total or $60/line. It's pretty good, but I figured on ST I'm getting an extra 500MB for $15 less and I'm using the exact same towers. Either case it's money saved though. :yesway:
I know its not a cheaper plan when compared to ST; I only mentioned for those who are in a similar circumstance (multiple phones, on-contract) as me. My line can start receiving that discount now while my other line is still on-contract. At the end of the contract, I will be free to look at ST if I choose. :D
 

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"I dunno" guy
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2,555 Posts
:agreed:

I walked in with my Nexus 7 and a sim I got for free during a promotion, paid a $10 activation fee, and walked out with the free data plan.
Thanks, good to know. When I was in the store picking up my sim for the N5, that's when the manager told me about the 2G part. Could be she was mixing up my 2 questions about free global roaming data and the tablet data.
 

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Registered
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Tim,

I have used Straight Talk for a year or two. They don't have much of a selection for them, but there are phones that run off of Verizon's towers. I have the Huawei Impress with a 4 inch screen. The phone is a bit of a pain some times, but it gets the job done and still plays games like the Simpsons Tapped out and Clash of Clans without problems.

One word of caution is that I've gone through like 3 phones. They're pretty cheap and the cost for a new phone does get pricey, but still not as pricey as Verizon.

Cheers,
Anthony
 

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Symetrical AWD
Joined
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11,216 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
From what I understand you need a pretty ancient phone to get on Straight Talk with a Verizon phone AND use Verizon towers (pre-simcard phones if I recall). Otherwise, you're using a Verizon "World Phone" that's GSM unlocked and you're using AT&T towers at HSPA or 3G speeds only. No LTE.

These days with the Nexus 5 starting at $350, MotoX starting at $399, and MotoG for $100-179 depending if there's a sale or not, there's no reason to buy their crappy phones.
 
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