May 17 AT 12:01 PM Taylor Wimberly 217 Comments

7 reasons to shred your wireless contract and switch to pre-paid


Are you fed up with your wireless carrier? Wish you could lower the cost of your monthly bill? Tired of waiting on slow Android updates? Upset that Verizon won’t be carrying the current HTC One series? Want to purchase an unlocked Galaxy S III and start using it in the US months before the nerfed carrier versions arrive?

Pre-paid wireless service has existed in North America for several years, but it wasn’t a real viable option for smartphone owners until recently. There are now tons of affordable unlocked devices to choose from and plenty of options for pre-paid data at 4G HSPA+ speeds. Read on to see why you might want to shred your current wireless contract and think about joining the pre-paid club.

1. Freedom to choose your own device

Wouldn’t it suck if your internet service provider dictated what kind of computer you had to buy? What if your cable provider only allowed you to watch programming on selected TVs? That’s exactly the situation we have with some wireless carriers and the phones they allow on their networks.

If you switch to pre-paid, you can buy any unlocked GSM phone of your choice and then choose your wireless service with no contract and no commitments.

Google recently started selling their Galaxy Nexus for $399 and reports say that up to five OEMs will be selling unlocked devices through the Google Play Store by Thanksgiving. Amazon also has hundreds of unlocked phones that will work on any GSM network.

The market for used devices is also rapidly growing. You can buy and sell used Android phones on Glyde, Gazelle, Swappa, and many more online retailers.

If there is a smartphone you really desire, chances are you can buy it unlocked and prices continue to drop. An unlocked phone will cost you more in the beginning, but the long term savings will pay off big time…

2. Save money by cutting your monthly bill in half

Why put up with a $100 bill each month when you could be getting the same services for $30-45? Most post-paid monthly bills are high because the wireless companies subsidize the cost of your handset and spread it out over your 2-yr contract, but there are all other kinds of hidden fees and taxes tossed in.

Many pre-paid carriers offer flat rate pricing, so you pay exactly the monthly rate that is advertised. It’s not like a post-paid carrier that advertises a monthly plan for $59, but then your final bill comes in close to $80 after all the fees, surcharges, and taxes.

Best of all, pre-paid carriers have no contracts or commitments so there are no early termination fees if you want to switch networks. Gone are the days of paying Verizon $300 if you are unhappy with their service and want to leave 6 months into your 24 month contract.

If you do the math, going pre-paid can easily save you over $1,000+ for the span of a typical 2-yr contract. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but pre-paid smartphone service is always cheaper than post-paid.

3. Android updates from carriers are broken

The process in which North American carriers update the software on Android phones is completely broken. First a handset maker must build and test an update, then Google needs to approve it, and finally the carrier has to put their stamp of approval on it.

If one little bug is discovered, then the whole process must start over. And often times, it’s some stupid crap like carrier bloatware that is incompatible with the latest update. I’ve heard stories of certain updates being pushed back months just because they didn’t work with the carrier installed navigation app (that no one uses).

Just look at Google’s flagship Galaxy Nexus on Verizon. That device launched on December 15th with a handful of known bugs, and five months have passed without a single update.

The HTC One X is another good example. I have the AT&T version and the international version. The AT&T model has received no updates since I have had it, while the international model has been updated 5 times already by HTC. These updates has helped to improve performance, extend battery life, and squash annoying bugs. It’s a breath of fresh air to see regular updates instead of going nearly half a year with no new software from your carrier.

When carriers get out of the way, software updates flow much more frequently. A Google employee confirmed this when the Galaxy Nexus went on sale in the Play Store. He said they were “very glad that Google is back in the business of selling phones directly without any middlemen to interfere.”

4. LTE is overkill for the average user

One of the major downfalls to going pre-paid is going to be the lack of LTE service, but I have found that it’s mostly overkill for the average user. Having your smartphone connected to a 4G LTE network is really good for two things – eating up your data allowance 5x faster and draining your battery life.

Unless you are downloading large files on a daily basis or tethering your device to share the internet connection, I have not seen many other use cases that take advantage of LTE speeds yet. Both AT&T and T-Mobile offer 4G HSPA+ networks that offer a similar experience for the majority of tasks performed with a smartphone.

A certain number of mobile workers require LTE speeds so they will be stuck with their carrier, but I have found that I can live without LTE since I’m surrounded by WiFi at home and work.

5. Straight Talk SIM

There are many options for pre-paid, SIM only service, but I decided to go with Straight Talk after doing my homework. Straight Talk is a brand of Tracfone and they offer unlimited GSM service on AT&T or T-Mobile’s network.

For only $45.95 per month (taxes included and no hidden fees), you can get unlimited talk, text, and HSPA+ data. Straight Talk lets you choose between AT&T or T-Mobile compatible SIM cards and they also offer micro SIMs for newer smartphones.

Of course the data is not truly unlimited like Sprint and the terms of service prevent tethering, but you can still get access to a HSPA+ network and get download speeds of 5-10 Mbps depending on your device and location.

For most people this is “good enough”, and it’s the same exact service they are paying double for with AT&T or T-Mobile.

I encourage you to visit Straight Talk SIM for the full details.

6. Simple Mobile

Simple Mobile is another pre-paid SIM only service that operates on T-Mobile’s network. They were recently acquired by Tracfone, but we expect them to keep the brand going.

Like Straight Talk, Simple mobile will sell you a regular SIM card or a micro SIM. Phones that were designed to operate on AT&T will still work with Simple Mobile, but they will only have access to 2G Edge data speeds.

They offer a cheaper plan for $40 per month that includes unlimited talk, text, and web, but data speeds are limited to 3G HSPA. If you want the full 4G HSPA+ speeds, then you will have to pay $60 per month.

Once again, tethering is not supported and your data speeds may be throttled if you abuse the service.

I think Straight Talk SIM is a better deal all around, but check out the Simple Mobile site for more details.

7. T-Mobile Monthly 4G and SIM-only Value Plan

If you don’t need a lot of talk time and really want to save some money, you can also go with T-Mobile’s Monthly 4G pre-paid plans. T-Mobile sells the SIM card activation kit for only $1.99 online.

As you can see above, for $30 per month customers get 100 minutes, unlimited text, and 5 GB 4G HSPA+ data (after that it’s throttled). There is a $60 per month plan that offers unlimited minutes, but it only includes 2 GB of 4G HSPA+ data. And for $70 per month you can get unlimited talk, text, and 5 GB of 4G HSPA+ data.

Just like Simple Mobile, phones that were designed to operate on AT&T will still work with Monthly 4G plans, but they will only have access to 2G Edge data speeds. I believe all the SIM cards are full size, but you can pick up a SIM card cutter for under $5 if you have a newer device.

Head over to the Monthly 4G Prepaid Plans page for the full details.

T-Mobile is one of the only nationwide carriers to sell a SIM-only service. It’s more expensive than the options listed above, but we still wanted to share it.

For $59.99 per month customers get unlimited talk, text, and data (up to 2 GB of high speed). A two-line family plan is also offered at $49.99 per line, per month.

In order to get a SIM-only Value Plan, customer will have to pay a $35 activation fee and agree to a two-year service agreement. This kind of defeats the purpose of pre-paid, and there are much better options out there.

Visit T-Mobile’s SIM-only service page for the full details.


  • Pre-paid plans offer access to AT&T’s and T-Mobile’s 4G HSPA+ networks
  • Pre-paid has no contracts and no commitments. Switch service providers whenever you like
  • Carriers slow down Android software updates. Popular unlocked devices get more frequent updates
  • Google’s Galaxy Nexus at $399 is a great deal, and more devices are coming to the Google Play Store
  • Pre-paid is not for everyone, but if it fits your needs then it can save you a lot of money

If you have already made the jump to pre-paid, let us know how your experience has been. Would you recommend it to your friends and family? And if you are thinking about leaving your carrier, please share your concerns below.

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • Noven

    Here’s what I would love: Google Wireless Plan. $20-$40 a month, no contract, unlimited data, etc..

    It is completely in their power to do it. A dream yes, one that probably won’t come true (at least any time soon). They are set up to be their own wireless provider. Just need to set up some towers…

    • Taylor Wimberly

      Google wanted to subsidize a $9.99 unlimited data plan at one time. Maybe they will try that again in the future.

      • Noven

        Thanks for the link! It would be nice to see this come true if T-Mobile runs into trouble in the future.

        • professandobey

          Agreed, but I don’t see any way that regulators would approve a deal like this.

      • WlfHart

        That would be amazing!

      • Gearry

        But don’t you think that those plans were ment for T-Mobile, since they carried the G1.

    • Keyl

      BGR reported that Apple is going to try to do something like this and if they do then Google won’t be far behind

      • Christopher

        I hate people like you.. seriously…… It’s apparent that Google did it first… whatever be the apple pos that you are…….. Sorry all I just don’t like people like this

        • Kendra

          From my memory of the very very first iPhone, there was talk of Apple getting their own service that they could offer. Then with all the unhappy people and finger pointing when they were only with AT&T, it sounded quite serious that it would be implemented. I do remember them mentioning in one of their *we hate being tied to AT&T without a way out through a deal with the devil* rants that they really want control of the service experience too, that way there would be no blame and they could truly have a device that “just works.”

          Only difference is the rumor was that they would create their own data network, no cell tower service, and provide their own Skype-esque VOiP application bragging hi-def better service for calls, deeming traditional cell service in the coming years as archaic and outdated as a corded landline house phone in your kitchen.

          I remember hearing that it would take a few years to implement because the last thing that people want is their phone calls to be dropped due to intermittent internet access and lets face it, unless you pay Bright House apparently $800 a mo., internet is rarely a steady stream.


          Apple is generally ahead of it’s time. Or it was, anyway.

          • Kendra

            I just noticed that my entire second paragraph is one long run-on sentence. Ignore my poor grammar. -_-

  • benjclyde

    Not based in the US but i have been on pre-pay in Ireland for the passed 6 years. I save up for my phone and buy it unlocked when its released. Then I can pick and choose the best network for myself. Currently on which for a monthly top up of €20 provides me with 3000 free texts free calls to other Three numbers and free weekend calls to all numbers but most importantly unlimited data. Cant ever imagine moving on to a contract.

  • halo0

    You don’t necessarily have to be on pre paid to not have a contract.

    • Dave Clary

      True but you’re still paying all those extras that jack up the bill. If your plan was based on a subsidized phone to start with, the payments don’t go down once the contract has run it’s course.

    • Tom Seleck’s Ulcer

      That’s the term for remaining with a company while OUT OF CONTRACT.
      You’re with them but Not obligated to them.

      Good: you can leave.
      BAD: you’re still paying CONTRACT prices but reaping no benefit.

      I was post pay with T-Mobile for 7 years. Floating for AT LEAST two of them.
      After paying $50unlimited mins plus $5(400 texts) and $30internet, I saw $50 prepaid monthly plan (from T-Mobile) that offered the same.

      I felt violated by T-Mobile as a customer.
      I went prepaid, bought my phones off Craigslist and never went back.

      Cellphone companies need to EARN their customers, Not enslave them for two Years.
      If you’re that good, I will stay with your company…I’ll buy my own phone.

      Try a REBATE policy.
      I’ll buy the phone at full rate.
      After I fulfill a duration at certain level, they rebate me half or 3/4 my purchase price. This way I’M EARNING credits with the company even when I’M floating.
      Money toward a new phone.

  • Dave Clary

    I’ve already moved two phones off of Sprint and onto the T-Mobile plan referenced in the post. T-Mobile upgraded the towers in my part of town so I’m getting good HSPA+ data on both phones (Galaxy Nexus and a Nexus One). For an extra $2.99 a month, i put unlimited Skype calling on both phones to use when the 100 minutes run out. I’m going to follow Taylor’s lead and pay the ETF on my Verizon Fake Galaxy Nexus, but I’m holding off awhile to see what phones come available. I still have to move two lines off my Sprint account, and when it’s all said and done, my total monthly bill is dropping by $260 for six lines. No more contracts for me!!

    • Gomez

      Just download Groove IP ( a VOIP app). It uses your google phone number and its only a one time fee.

    • Taylor Wimberly

      Wow I didn’t know T-Mobile offered unlimited Skype calling for $2.99 a month. That’s an interesting option.

      • jj14

        not sure if T-mobile is the one offering unlimited skype calling for that price. I suspect Dave meant getting a skype unlimited subscription, and using the skype app on the t-mobile phone instead.

        • Dave Clary

          Yep, I was referring to a Skype subscription…but I’m definitely going to look into the other options commenters have identified.

      • leganzish

        Its actually just a Skype subscription. I used to have one I used as a “land line” at home through my pc because I didn’t have enough mins on my wireless plan. (All before I had a smartphone to do it on.)

  • spazby

    makes sense for tons of people….

  • Steve

    I live in the UK but the same thing applies here. For £10 a month I get 250mins, unlimited texts and unlimited web at 3g speeds, and it is unlimited as long as you use it only for your phone, obviously tethering is not allowed. But the money saved every month makes a £400-500 phone affordable.

  • Asheki

    Your #7, if anyone wants more details, I’ve put this plan together and dumped Sprint back in April. Here’s the step by step

    • Taylor Wimberly

      Wow Walmart has T-Mobile prepaid Nokia phones for only $17. That’s pretty good since most pre-paid providers charge around $15 for the SIM card.

      • Ludo

        I got my SIM card Activation Kit from for $0.99 few weeks ago!
        BestBuy sells it for $15.

        • Taylor Wimberly

          Thanks. Added the link to the $1.99 T-Mobile SIM card kit.

  • spintrex

    If you were to sim unlock a phone to work on one of the networks stated above would you still face the dilemma of waiting for carrier updates? I’m saying this because I am looking into getting the HTC One X with At&t but down the road prepaid sounds to be better. Only thing is paying a premium for the phone upfront

    Another thing, what benefit do the carriers get for the bloatware on their phone?

    • Taylor Wimberly

      An AT&T branded phone would be subject to updates from AT&T. And the AT&T One X has a locked bootloader. You might want to consider getting the international version of the HTC One X. It runs around $599, only $50 more than the AT&T off-contract.

      Or just wait a month and see what devices get revealed at Google IO. I think there will be several options that could be appealing to you.

      • Rob

        Another option, if shelling out $600 upfront is unpalatable, is getting the subsidized phone from AT&T and then keeping an eye out for tools to root and de-brand it on sites like xda-developers. While this obviously requires a willingness to tinker with core software, the process is pretty straightforward and effectively produces an OEM phone that isn’t beholden to a service provider middleman. Then, after 3-6 months of service, the unit can be unlocked for free (by simply calling AT&T and asking for the code) for use with any future pre-paid carrier.

        • D

          But then wouldn’t you be subject to AT&T’s contract still?

  • Steve Heinrich

    Great list. I made the mistake of renewing my T-Mobile contract last time it came ’round. The lure of a $99 Nexus S made a sucker out of me. The next time my contract is up I am probably going to go with Straight Talk. Unlimited everything sounds delightful. January can’t come soon enough.

    • Jon

      I’ve been using Straight Talk service for a couple years now closer to 3 actually. in the beginning it seems great. everything unlimited at a pretty good price and a pretty good phone. I purchased the Samsung Galaxy proclaim. after all said and done I think it ran me close to $200 for the phone. But for some reason a year to the day I mean right to the date when the manufacturer’ warranty ends everything falls to shit

  • rashad360

    I whole-heartly agree with this article. I went pre-paid with T-mobile’s $30 100 minutes, 5GB web plan a few months ago and never looked back. It was perfect for me because I don’t talk much on my phone but if I ever do need the minutes I just use GrooveIP for unlimited minutes over the data connection. All my needs are covered for only $30 a month. You can’t beat that.

    It is great not to live under the burden of a contract, 2 years is way too much of a commitment! I would probably have a contract right now if they were back to the one year standard it used to be (unlocked phones are expensive!)

    • Taylor Wimberly

      How has the voice experience with GrooveIP been? I’ve heard some good things, but never tried it.

    • ralphwiggum1

      Talkatone is a free Google Voice calling app. It was originally on the iPhone, haven’t tried the Android release (only tried the beta which worked and was free).

    • ARI

      I heard that plan is only for new activations so if youre an existing customer youd have to get a new number. I was also told by Tmo (unsure if true) that the handset had to be bought at WM to qualify. Ill have to check google voice & voip. Not a techie so unsure of these things but cell is my only phone.

      • VS

        I have that plan and it is for new activations. You can attempt to port your old number once the SIM card has been activated to a new number, but you have to call into a Customer Service Rep (CSR) to get it done and Prepaid has a very low priority when it comes to service calls.

        Also, the phone doesnt have to be bought at WM, as I bought a HTC Amaze 4G from Best Buy online off contract (it’s listed as a “Replacement Option” on their website). I leveraged my Best Buy credit card promotional which was offering 18 mos no interest financing on purchases $499+ to offset the initial cost.

        I love this plan, but one thing I’d stress to those interested is that you’ll need to be prepared to use several avenues to accomplish anything related to your account. Reps at T-Mo stand alone stores wont be able to assist you with your account and Phone CSR knowledge can be hit and miss. Be prepared to read their forums for answers.

        That said, coming from Sprint, this plan has been perfect for me and I’m already in the black in terms of paying ETF to get started and cost of phone from the savings difference in plans. I dont make a lot of calls and just use Google Chat on the PC if I need to make / receive one when home.

  • RealDealNeil

    I’m in the middle of a contract with T-Mo, but look forward to get on their $30/mo no-contract plan. Put Google Voice & GrooveIP (or any other VOIP) on there and the 100 voice minutes limitation is no problem.

    • Ludo

      it’s for new customers only though.
      I don’t think T-Mo will let you port your number if you already have a postpaid plan with them :-(

  • Graeme

    This is great for US residents, but can someone recommend prepaid plans with data for visitors? I’m a Canadian with an unlocked Galaxy Nexus, and I visit Washington State and California a few times a year. I’d love something where I can carry a balance for a long period of time (ideally a full year) and use data and txting when I’m in the US.

    Can anyone recommend anything?

    • Taylor Wimberly

      Simple Mobile has 15 day unlimited plans for short visits. Most other pre-paid service providers just let you “top up” whenever you want. So as long as you keep the SIM card, you can activate it at anytime you want.

      • Graeme

        Unfortunately, the Simple Mobile 15 day plan doesn’t have any data, which is really the only thing I care about while travelling. If it did, I’d sign up in a second. :)

        It looks like they have a 750MB plan for $25, but it expires after 30 days, so that’s not exactly ideal for my usage scenario (when I’m unlikely to return to the US within a 30 day window). If someone had a data-only plan that would expire at 6 months or a year or something, I’d be very interested in that.

        • Swarthy Daisy

          Try Straight Talk. Walmart Service

  • aranea

    This article reflects my thoughts too. I have been thinking about switching but the upfront phone costs have been the deterrent so far. Now with Google selling Nexus devices and after months of frustrated waiting for an ICS update on Atrix that will probably never come (or if it does it will be after jelly been is released) I am drawn for prepaid more and more.

    Though I have to say I am kind of disappointed on the prepaid front too. A data only only phone with VoIP has been rumored since release of G1 and it is still a rumor. What I’d rather have is a Google Voice VoIP on a phone with a prepaid data plan and some minutes for emergencies that I am even willing to pay per minute.

    • nephroid

      I think there are data only plans. Just tell the customer representative that you are blind.

      • nephroid

        Oops.. deaf.

        • cmb

          lol you tell him you are deaf and then listen to what he has to say right? :)

  • anamika

    I haven’t paid monthly rental for last 3 years. I pay for what i use. Isn’t there something like that in USA?

    • ralphwiggum1

      There are and they do work for many people. For others who like data, those services charge too much for it (many cents / MB), but for minimal calls and texting and Wi-Fi data, that is the cheaper way to go.

  • nephroid

    Great article Taylor! This is such awesome information. There was a great write-up on XDA ( about it. I suggest you all take a look.

  • Andre

    Its a really good idea but prepaid services don’t offer unlimited roaming. Any post paid service offers roaming while prepaid offers none. Limiting your coverage. One good feature of the contact is you pay nothing really if you find reception is horrible where you live. Within the 14 days of course.

  • pekosROB

    I think the data speed is the only thing that prevents me from switching to pre-paid.

    I wish Google (or someone) would come out with a data only plan that could support VoIP/VoLTE. I would pay for an unlimited data plan only that if needed I could make a phone call. Most of my communication is via text and email – and there are apps like Chat On, Google Messenger, and iOS Messenger that act like text messaging apps but use data. I think that would be enough for me honestly.

    • ARI

      Textfree gives you a separate phone number you use to send text over data & other person doesnt have o have the app. I text from US to Aus free. Esp good if you dont want to pay ATT outrageous $20 monthly texting free. That fee alone makes me turn away from them.

      • pekosROB

        Hmm I will need to check that out! Thanks!

  • Hue Three of Five

    Just did this yesterday. Nexus off Google Play and Straight Talk using at&t network. It will be here tomorrow. Tomorrow is the day i tell Verizon to suck it! Can’t wait. Tip: you may want to port your cell number to Google Voice. It will auto cancel your contract so make u are certain first. See xda nexus this forum.

    • ralphwiggum1

      For Verizon phones, I really liked Page Plus Cellular ( They have a $30 plan which was limited, but enough for me to survive off of using Wi-Fi for data.

      They do have a $55 unlimited talk, text, and 1 GB data which is also a good deal (I think) for Verizon-compatible network. But they don’t activate LTE phones, yet.

      • Hue Three of Five

        I didn’t know about this service. Good to know. I think I will stick with GSM in the future though, if thats what Google is using for their Pure Nexus line of phones. I am sick of these skinned carrier phones. I just want a Google Experience Device from now on i think. I loved my Rezound though, going to miss that phone.

  • ralphwiggum1

    I love Straight Talk. $45 for unlimited talk, text, and HPSA+ data on AT&T or T-Mobile = great deal. I have an AT&T micro SIM to newer phones (and iPhone) but also have a T-Mobile SIM in case I want to switch out for a T-Mobile phone. Best part is no need to unlock the phone either, as a locked AT&T phone will work with an AT&T-compatible Straight Talk SIM!

    • Chele bee

      I’ve been using straight talk on an iphone4s that I found for 5 months Now & i love it. Phone doesn’t need to be unlocked, just buy the sim Compatible to your phone, AT&T or Tmobile, activate it, & stick it in. You don’t have to worry about if the phone was lost or stolen, straight talk doesn’t need to know what kind of phone, you just pay to activate the sim and it’s all good. $45/ month unlimited talk, text, & data(up to 2g)

  • tmihai20

    I have already done this and I am from Eastern Europe (Romania). This applies to all carriers from all the countries. I get better mileage (minutes/euro and MB/euro as well). It shouldn’t be like this, but sadly not.

  • Jonathan

    I am grandfathered in to Tmo’s no contract plan and get 5gb unlimited. Best move I ever made. Have two lines.

  • Ryan Shyffer

    I switched to T-Mobile’s $30 plan with the GNex, and I am loving it. I even wrote my own article detailing how to team this with VOIP to get unlimited talk time here:

  • leganzish

    Does anyone happen to know if these prepaid carriers that operate on one of the big 4′s networks work just as well as being with the big 4? About a year ago, I asked a sales guy at a Sprint store about Boost and Virgin (which operate on Sprint) and he said you get what you pay for. That Sprint customers get better coverage/reliability and have priority on the network. I kind of thought it might have just been sales bs, but can anyone speak to this one way or the other? I’ve wanted to go this route for a while now, but have worried it might be a second rate experience on a first rate carrier’s network.

    • Taylor Wimberly

      Give me a couple days and I’ll do some side-by-side testing with the HTC One X using an AT&T SIM card and Straight Talk SIM card.

      • leganzish

        Awesome! Thanks Taylor!

    • B2L

      I have been on both T-Mobile, and AT&T. I have also been on prepaid plans with Straight Talk (AT&T’s network) and Simple Mobile (T-Mobile’s network). From my experience I have noticed absolutely no difference, data speeds, reception, and coverage are exactly the same.

      I’ve been using prepaid carriers for over two years and have been extremely happy. Prepaid CDMA carriers might not have the same experience, but GSM carriers are definitely the same.

    • ARI

      Can tell u tmo prepaid service is way worse…reps in phillipines & ur treated as secondclass. They run prepaid as separate company. Realize if you were postpaid & switched to prepaid, they have to port your bumber. I lost voicemails I had saved from a friend who had died. They said theyd work to get them back and as usual I never heard back

    • monterey

      Can’t really attest to whether Virgin comes off better than straight Sprint service, but I found Virgin to be very good while I was on it. The phones were kinda iffy (Intercept, Triumph) but I was satisfied for $25/month. Once it got bumped to $35 with a 2GB limit, I bolted for T-Mobile. I’d almost consider returning for the VM-branded Evo 3D with Wimax 4G, but frankly the hardware interests me more than the Virgin Moblie coverage.

      • DIVINECA77


  • jw

    Welt unfortunately I will say you are wrong in that prepaid is always cheaper as now more and more of the prepaid carriers are raising their fees. Verizon and att both raised their plans up to $80 a month for any type of smartphone and T-Mobile is looking to do the same which at $80 it is entirely the same price as the of service contract att and verizon offer and when you are on contract you have priority on the network so if you as a no contract person are talking on their phone or streaming a video and a contract person tries to connect to the network the no contract person will get kicked off that network and won’t reconnect until the tower feels it has enough capacity free to handle it.

    • Swarthy Daisy

      I find this to be true. I am on Straight Talk with Sprint Service. Mostly during rush hour I have to wait to make a call because the network is clogged. I get a busy signal quite often then. Non peak times are ok though.

  • jamey

    Lots of holes here. First and foremost is upfront cost. Most people do not want to pay 400-600 dollars for a phone. With verizon you cant get insurance on prepaid, you cant get a 4g phone on prepaid, you cant get the iPhone on prepaid. Oh and verizons smartphone prepaid plans are MORE exprnsive than their contract plans. And prepaid customers do notget network priority on the towers. That means in a busy part of town with lots of traffic on the network, the first calls to get dropped are prepaid customers. I know a bulkof this story is predicated on the use of unlocked gsm phones , but verizon is the largest carrier in the US. So you cant use any of them on their network since its cdma.

    • ralphwiggum1

      Page Plus Cellular is a BYOD MVNO that runs off of Verizon. I used them for a year and was able to successfully activate an iPhone 4. It doesn’t officially work with LTE phones, but these GSM prepaid providers don’t have the red-tape of CDMA ESN checks; you can purchase any GSM phone (even if it’s LTE) and use it with the right SIM (though no LTE service, it will run off of HSPA+).

  • jamey

    Seems jw and i think alike!

  • Vance

    I was just making this case on your “multiple nexus phones coming” post the other day! If ever my work situation changes and I am no longer in a position to expense my wireless bill, I will definitely go this route. Since I get reimbursed for my monthly plan, but not for hardware purchases, it makes more sense for me to take the discount on the phone and let my employer pay the higher phone bill. My wife is still paying $15/mo. as an add on to her family’s plan and I just bought her the unlocked Galaxy Nexus for Mother’s Day. My buddy just switched to Walmart’s Family Mobile Plan: Unlimited talk, text, and data: $45/mo. and it runs on T-mobile.

  • Max.Steel

    I made the stupid mistake of renewing with T-Mobile two years ago. Thankfully, my contract ends this month and I will say adios. I’ll buy a GNex and pop a prepaid sim inside. Never doing a contract again.

  • jamey

    The problem is phone choices and coverage. People wouldnt pay verizon what they pay if they didnt have the best service and the best choice in phones. Plus Verizon is the only onewith a real LTE footprint and you cant even utilize it on prepaid.

  • Jedediah Sweetser

    Very convincing article Taylor. Unfortunately in the area that i live in (Clermont Florida, 25 miles NW of Orlando) The only 3g coverage is Verizon. Everyone else is Edge. If the Tmobile or AT&T upgraded their tower out here, I’d probably make a case for switching, 3G works just fine for me since I also am surrounded by WiFi. But Edge blows, and is worth the extra 25 bucks a month (my monthly bill is $85 on Verizon).

  • uzunoff

    I’ve been with T-mobile’s Get More Plus (not existing anymore) plan for about 4 years now.
    My only gripe with them was the lack of high end devices.

    Even if you look right now, they don’t have a high end device. At this point One S is their best device. But then Google swooped in and I was happy again. The Galaxy Nexus runs like a champ on the T-mo network.

    If Google really will offer numerous nexus devices from the Google store, I don’t see any reason why I would leave them.

    One thing that I am really impressed by the Galaxy nexus is that when I don’t need fast speed (e-mail update, twitter, background sync) it switches and uses the 3G network. But when I need to stream video or any other bandwidth intense task it switches to 4G. WHAT A GREAT WAY TO SAVE BATTERY.

  • ralphwiggum1

    Another advantage of AT&T compatible Straight Talk SIM is conditional call forwarding for Google Voice voicemail. T-Mobile MVNO seem to block that. I can confirm Simple Mobile DOES block conditional call forwarding and I’ve read that Straight Talk with T-Mobile SIM also blocks.

    I think there’s also a good chance that T-Mobile pre-paid blocks conditional call-forwarding, but I could be wrong.

    • Matt

      Yes, TMo pre-paid will not let you use GV as VM.

    • Taylor Wimberly

      I heard you can call T-Mobile and have their voicemail service turned off and then Google Voicemail works again. Have not tried that myself though.


    I’m seriously tempted to do this. I’m off contract and my wife will soon be. We’re on AT&T. Does anyone know if a Straight Talk SIM would work with an AT&T Microcell? (I imagine the Microcell would be deactivated once leaving AT&T). The thing that sucks is there is a tower right near my house, but I’m on the other side of a hill from it, so my cell reception isn’t the greatest at home. It’s great everywhere else, just not at home :(

    • Taylor Wimberly

      It should work with the AT&T Microcell. You can purchase a StraightTalk AT&T compatible SIM for $15 + $45 for 30 day unlimited plan. They offer free 2day shipping and total with taxes comes out to $64.94.

      That is non-refundable, but at least you would only be out $60 if it didn’t work. And if it does work then it would save you a ton of money.


        true. thanks for the reply!

  • Jimmy_Jo

    Love the idea but worried about Roaming as well… Doing my research as we speak.

    (12 year Sprint customer who’s been out of contract since March. My other 2 lines are due in Oct and January)

    • ralphwiggum1

      No roaming is a problem if you have bad signal or travel a lot, but AT&T and especially T-Mobile have large HSPA+ networks and cover most metro areas. If you travel, you will likely drop to 2G on either network anyway. I haven’t had a problem in the Phoenix area with either service (though T-Mobile seems to be generally better than AT&T especially indoors).

      • Jimmy_Jo

        I’ve come to realize I don’t really need 4G speeds since running an ICS ROM on my EVO 4G which doesn’t support 4G…. I can easily wait til i get home to download larger files over wi-fi. And really who uses their phone to.. you know… talk on the phone anymore?! So long as my data is good, I’m good. Unlimited text and data for Google Talk and I’m a happy camper.

  • ralphwiggum1

    There are couple reasons why my wife is still on Simple Mobile and I’m on Straight Talk.

    Simple Mobile starts at $40 flat (no taxes or fees) and includes international texting for free. It does have capped data speeds, but she doesn’t really need full speed. Advantage is she can switch to the $60 plan if she does want faster speeds on her T-Mobile HSPA+ phone. Cons are the slow data on the $40 plan and no Google Voice voicemail.

    Straight Talk is $45 + tax (a little under $50 for me) and includes HSPA+ data and Google Voice voicemail (with AT&T-compatible SIM).

    So her plan is cheaper and offers free international texting, which is more important to her than GV voicemail and faster data at a higher cost.

    • Jimmy_Jo

      You answered my next question!!! Gotta have Google Voice. Especially on ICS. Once you get used to it, you’ll wonder why you ever used anything else… Plus it’s free. But I would rather T-Mobile’s SIM. They seem to be getting better reviews on their network.


    looking at this coverage map, is this only for android phones you buy from them?

    if I take my Galaxy Nexus and put a Straight Talk sim in, would it know android and therefore limit my coverage?

    • Taylor Wimberly

      I’m not sure what that map is showing, but it might be Edge and HSPA+ networks. The coverage depends on if you choose the AT&T or T-Mobile compatible SIM. The Galaxy Nexus has a penta-band modem, so it will work on either network. I’d just pick the SIM card that works on the network with the best coverage in your area.

      Check coverage maps here –

    • Adryan maldonado

      as i just commented coverage is my biggest concern. I hope that map is some how wrong cause thats just terrible.

    • ralphwiggum1

      Those maps are outdated and don’t reflect the bring your own phone philosophy. I think all the Android phones for purchase are CDMA (either Sprint or Verizon). The Bring Your Own Phone SIM plans are AT&T or T-Mobile. Even then, their maps are probably not too reliable as service can depend on the network being used and your area.

    • Ardrid

      Those maps refer to the Android devices Straight Talk themselves sell. Their Android phones are all CDMA devices. The “non-Android” coverage map is GSM.

  • Adryan maldonado

    My only reason for staying on verizon right now with contract(well actually im off contract) is that im still grandfathered in to their unlimited data( I will probably leave to that straight talk plan for my galaxy note if verizon decides to somehow force me off my contract). Also while i havent done my research just how is the coverage for some thing like straight talk or some of the other prepaid plans? So far i have never had a billing or service issue with verizon(except lte being an issue here and there but that could just be a number of things custom rom, omap processor not playing well with lte among other things). But i wouldnt mind giving up lte for the hspa+ if its really not that much of a step down from lte.

  • Shatterpane

    Looking at Straight Talk’s coverage maps, I see the coverage is OK – unless you have an Android phone. That makes me a little nervous and I definitely have to do some research before taking that plunge.

    • Ardrid

      See my post above. Android refers to their CDMA coverage; non-Android refers to their GSM coverage.

  • McLovin

    I’m all over this but for one thing. I’m timid about giving a new service a try with my primary number. If I move the number over and it doesn’t work out that’s gonna suck.

    What’s the chances that I could buy a SIM for the first month with a new number to try things out. If I’m comfortable with that then on the 2nd month move my primary number over to the new service?

    • Charlie Horse

      No contract means yes to your plan. Good way to test coverage.

  • Drodzand

    What about this?

    It seems there coverage area varies, drastically, when using an Android phone. They seem to have practically no coverage if you are using an Android phone in their network. I was ready to try this out but now I’m having doubts….

    • ralphwiggum1

      As posted a few posts above yours, those maps are outdated. In fact, I think all their Android phones (for purchase) ran off of Sprint (except for the newest which looks to be Verizon), so that’s the map you see, while other phones ran off of AT&T or Verizon.

      With the bring your own phone SIM plans, you’re coverage is going to be with either T-Mobile or AT&T, depending on the SIM you get; and both networks have HSPA+ throughout the country.

      • Drodzand

        Thanks everyone! This article certainly generated a lot of activity! I read many of the comments but didn’t get to the one that had my question. Before writing this post I sent Straight Talk an email asking what exactly do they mean by Android Coverage. I also asked for a higher resolution map so that I can get a better idea of the coverage in Puerto Rico. I will update this post with their response.

        thanks again!

    • Jared

      A few posts up they address that. It seems that it’s an outdated map. Cheers.

    • Taylor Wimberly

      As someone else said, that map is outdated and could be referring to the CDMA phones that Straight Talk sells. The Straight Talk SIM lets you choose AT&T or T-Mobile’s network, so I’d trust their coverage maps more.

      • Drodzand

        This is the reply I received from Straight Talk: (you guys were right!)

        Please be informed that Straight Talk Wireless provides nationwide
        prepaid wireless coverage by piecing together the best networks such as
        Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint. Straight Talk Wireless has created a
        national footprint covering 99% of the United States population, so that
        whether you are in your home area or traveling, you should be able to
        receive service as long as the cellular service that supports your phone
        is available in that area. Moreover, upon further review of the coverage
        in Puerto Rico, we verified that only AT&T network is available in this

        Furthermore, the Android Coverage Map found on our website is the
        coverage map for our Android phones that are manufactured specifically
        for Straight Talk Wireless. Moreover, that map refers to Sprint
        network’s coverage. The Non-Android Coverage Map is the approximate
        coverage for the Straight Talk phones that use Verizon, AT&T and
        T-Mobile networks.

        If you have a non-Straight Talk phone and you would like to use it with
        our service, it will either be powered by AT&T or T-Mobile networks
        since these networks support our Bring Your Own Phone program. The
        network that will support your phone will also depend on the SIM card
        you have chosen to purchase. Therefore, the coverage for the phone will
        be checked through this link:
        Regarding with the resolution of our Coverage Map, please be informed
        that we are currently working on improving our services in order for us
        to provide the best service possible to our customers.

        If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact one of our
        customer care representatives at 1-888-251-8164. For your convenience,
        our representatives are available Monday-Sunday from 8:00 AM to 11:45 PM

        Thank you for being a Straight Talk Wireless customer. We appreciate
        your business.


        Straight Talk Wireless

  • Rick

    Taylor – You can just buy the TMO pre-paid SIM card kit for $1.99 and then pick your plan. That is how I got mine.

    • JS

      If you were on tmo postpaid & contract expired, you can just call and say u want to switch to prepaid. no need for a new sim. it can take a day to port # & they gave me $5 off. Found out from a Tmonews poster cuz TmoPrepaid custserv kept giving me incorrect information

  • B

    Go phone on at&t is $25 unlimited text and a few hundred minutes and although you have to buy a data package the data does roll over


      can you buy a sim online?

  • skyflakes

    Where I live, 80-90% are on prepaid. I’ve never considered going on postpaid because I always have access to wifi, and will thus not need the data plans. As for calls and sms I usually don’t exceed the smallest plan available, so why bother. Being on prepaid lets me choose my device and change it (through buy and sell) whenever I feel.

    • JS

      Currently dimilar sitch; wifi most often so i get 1500 min/text 30mb data for 30. Use wifi often & data is for gps directions or timed when I must check an email or look something up. Added bonus is most free games work fine wo data & Im spared the annoying apps. I use a data toggle widget. We need more choice as different people have different needs. its not one size fits all…i wish iphone lte could be used on a 40-50 plan. Majors talk only is 40. also as stated the tax on my prepaid is .75…previous talk only plan in contract had $10 in taxes & bogus fees

  • Bob Saget

    The article mentions that StraightTalk SIM is not truly unlimited but I can’t find anywhere on their website where it say when you will be throttled. Anyone know what the cap is?

    • ricky

      THEY WONT TELL YOU…email them & see the response

  • Rastor

    Some people on Straight Talk have reported being cut off for using more than 100MB of data in a day.

    If you’d like to have prepaid service on AT&T’s network but want your data limit to be explicit rather than nebulous, another option Taylor missed is Red Pocket:

    $60/month for unlimited talk and 2GB data is the same as T-Mobile charges, but you get the larger coverage of AT&T.

  • Mike

    I’ve been on pre-paid since November when I imported the Galaxy Nexus. First I had the $30 T-Mobile plan but found that 100 minutes were not enough for me so I got the Straight Talk $45 plan in February. Couldn’t be happier. Even though I payed a lot for the phone upfront, I’m saving at least $40 every month on my monthly bill. I definitely recommend people to try it out

    • ARI

      Do u get 3G or 4G with ST? Every time Ive called or emailed them, They said they only provide 3G…no hspa+4g…They also said theyre allowed to throttle you but wont tell you when (again just if ur high usee)..Otherwise if they offer 5gb+ on 4G, it would be better than Tmo Prepaid which offers 2GB for

      • Mike

        I’m getting HSPA+. Average download speed of about 7mbps. I have the AT&T compatible sim

  • ARI

    Seems only options are Tmo or a Gsm mvno. Ive contacted Straight Talk multiple times & theyve told me a Tmo 4G phone WILL ONLY GET 3G & thats where available. I have emails where they clearly state in writing, they dont support 4G so pls check that out or if someone uses ST, please comment. ATT prepaid requires special GoPhones; u cant use any handset; same with most other prepaids like Metro, boost, virgin etc. Nexus @ 399 is only high quality somewhat affordable phone. Most cant afford 700-800 phone…

    • Mike

      They’re not being honest with you. You’re going to get full hspa+ with the T-mobile sim on straight talk

      • ARI

        Dorsnt make sense..why would st say you dont get 4g on their plans if u do?

        • Mike

          not sure man. But I know other people who get full hspa+ on straight talk as well as myself

  • Rastor

    Straight Talk doesn’t put any speed restriction on service. Where 3G coverage is HSPA+, you get full “4G” speeds.

  • Aaron_301

    I really wish Canada had similar offerings (maybe they do and I don’t know where to look). Even if we did though, the big three would probably find a way to screw over the little guy as always. CRTC Y U NO WORK!

  • redraider133

    I am seriously going to look into this when my contract is up because simply I would be able to get whatever phone I want and not be locked into a contract.

  • rasterX

    Here here, well said Taylor. Carrier subsidized phones with 2-year lock-ins have become the de facto way people purchase phones in the US, and that has really messed up the business for both the hardware and software guys. Consumers now aren’t willing to pay more than $200 for a new phone ($700+ worth of state-the-art hardware), yet don’t flinch at forking over $2500+ over 2 years for overpriced service bills. Google has a huge hurdle educating the public in this regard with the next Nexus(s) launch, but that’s no excuse for the enthusiast crowd to not free themselves from contracts with the options currently available. Time to wisen up and treat the carriers for what they really are, just a dumb pipe.

  • mike

    Let me know if I have this right and I want to leave big red for Straight talk (since I’m out of contract)

    I purchase a Nexus from Google. Then call Straight talk and order a sim card for AT&T. Once they all arrive I activate the phone and use my current number. Then call Verizon and cancel my service.

    I just want to make sure that I don’t lose my number.

    Can I use my Google Voicemail on Straight Talk if I use AT&T.

    • killabee44

      Im trying to find out the same info…

  • Nathan D.

    Thanks for this post, I’ll use this post to show my mom other cheap option that not on a contract and still save money with the added benefits.

  • killabee44

    Thanks for the info guys. I have a year left with Sprint and am gonna pay the ETF ($120.00) and still come out ahead.

    Can someone confirm that T-mobile = no google voice?

    That’s what I thought I read above, that tmobile is somehow blocking the GV service?

    • killabee44

      So, what I’m hearing is that you have to call T-mobile so they can shut off the voicemail on you prepaid account, because the prepaid number’s voicemail will kick in before GV.

      You can avoid all this by just giving out your GV number to everyone.


      I saw a post above that said if you had the HSPA+ TMobile data, you could do Google Voice. Search the threads above.

  • Orion78

    Damn it Taylor! Now you got me tempted to go this route. Lol Just when I thought I got my mind made up…I read this article. I have been going back and forth with this for over a week. I just find it hard to leave Sprint when I have true unlimited. I’m set on getting the new EVO but the thought of getting the Galaxy Nexus for 399 is intriguing. My contract ends in June. I want the EVO. I have some thinking to do. Maybe I’ll get both. LOL

  • Ardrid

    Well said, Taylor. Right now I’m deciding between Straight Talk’s $45 plan and T-Mobile’s $60 plan, which I intend to pair with the Galaxy Nexus’ successor. I’d be interested to know if anyone has any information on when Straight Talk caps/throttles your data usage since it’s not truly unlimited.

    • Taylor Wimberly

      I’ve heard different reports and I think it varies if you get the AT&T or T-Mobile compatible SIM card. Several people have said that you get a warning around 2 GB, but others have said they went over that with no problems.

  • Y314K

    Right now there are awesome single line deals for pre-paid… But it gets a bit more complicated for Family plans…I’ve been crunching the numbers for the past we years & I keep going back to 2-year contracts… Right now my 3 line ETF goes down from $600 ($200×3) to $300 ($100×1) around Aug. or Sept. I am seriously thinking of moving to a pre-paid option… If NetTalk finally comes out with a decent Android app that lets u not just make but receive calls thru Wifi & 3G/4G for their $30 yearly unlimited US/Canada plan then the Monthly4G $30 will be a no-brainer… It would be around $33 a month per line with 5GB of 4G Data a month…

    I really hope there is a service available soon like Republic Wireless & the new one with unlimited everything mostly on Wifi service for $20 that run on the worst possible tech for it CDMA… This business model needs to come to GSM… Preferably on TMobile…

  • mercado79

    And few people have mentioned the option of picking up a sim card from tmobile for $1.99, however is that only good if you choose tmobile’s plan? If I want to go with straight talk, do I have to buy a sim card from them directly?


      I think you have to have a straight talk sim for straight talk “service”

  • TC

    Taylor, Which exact One X model number are you using on Straight Talk? Are you using a TMO or ATT microsim? Lastly was the porting process easy?

    Great article

  • kendibo7

    Here in the Philippines we do not have that type of crap. Since carriers here do not meddle around the device. The only restriction is the device is locked to one carrier and that is it. :)

  • steven schwartz

    I have been using Wind Mobile here in Canada for two years. I have a Nexus, so unlocking was moot. My plan is $40.00 or $44.25 with tax a month. I get unlimited calling to Canada & US, Unlimited texts and MMS, Unlimited international texting and unlimited data with tethering.

    I am pre-paid and they offer the same plans pre or post paid. Also no contract, but you can get a tab phone (subsidy) if you like.

    I wrote a blog post about my experience and cost of ownership. I figured out that people on contracts with our big three pay an average of $154 more a year than I pay in three years which are the contract lengths in Canada. My annual bill is $531.00, if I had a somewhat similar contract with our big 3 providers the annual bill would be $1747.20 . Huge difference and I can use the money saved to buy a unlocked flagship phone.

  • Don Levin

    I’m considering buying unlocked HTC One X and using ST, but if X stops working how can I use the one year HTC warranty? I can’t find info on HTC site about repairs. Anyone tried to get HTC phone fixed under warranty w/o a provider helping? Is Apple iPhone easier to get repaired under warranty than HTC? What about Samsung? Thanks!

    • steven schwartz

      OEMs have made it difficult to get warranty services outside of carriers. It is one aspect of the wireless industry that makes it customer unfriendly. Imagine your ISP being who you go to when your laptop has problems or a specific gas station to get your Honda serviced. But with that said, yes Apple offers the best service option currently for warranty issues. Samsung is opening stores in more and more cities now so your SIII could be brought there and Microsoft and Sony have stores as well. I buy Nexus devices, they may not always be top of the specs phones but I know I can always get them serviced outside of carrier restraints.

  • felipe

    So if I buy the international version of the One X, does that mean I can use hspa+ data on T-Mobile?

  • Matthew

    Great article i also totally agree going prepaid. I plan on going prepaid when my contract expires in a few months. Google is making me excited once more by offering the Galaxy Nexus unlocked through Google play for $399. That is a great deal and will either buy the Galaxy Nexus or see what the next Galaxy Nexus offers in November.

  • Omar

    Not reevant but follow me on instagram I follow back ;) ohh_mar

  • Marissa

    What I would like to see is an individual data plan that allows me to connect on ALL my devices as needed under ONE bill. Why must I have a different plan for each my home network, my ipad, my mobile phone, my laptop, etc. all with separate bills? Seriously? We live in a mobile world, can we not simplify and get it together?

    • Ardrid

      Sounds like what you’re looking for is Verizon’s shared data plan, assuming it works as expected. Downside of course is they’ll probably charge an arm and a leg for it.

  • Chetan

    None of the plans here compare to GiffGaff in the UK. Their goodybags are the best value plans I’ve seen by far (including actually unlimited data & free calls to other GiffGaff users)! The £10 plan gives me everything I need and more!

  • Jimmy_Jo

    Do any of these plans give you a warranty or insurance for the phone?

    • Ardrid

      You’ll always have a warranty through the phone’s manufacturer. You’ll have to seek insurance on your own though.

  • Alex R

    You forgot to mention that a GSM phone with a SIM can be easily used abroad. Just need to buy prepaid time from the local provider there. About 20 times cheaper than paying reduced ATT rate.

  • androidarmin

    How long does it take for comments to post here…??

  • Dev1359

    I’m looking forward to switching to a pre-paid plan once I’m off my contract but I’ve heard some horror stories about Straight Talk SIM. Stuff like people’s numbers never getting ported over and ending up lost in the end, people’s numbers being transferred to other customers’ phones without their permission or knowledge, atrocious customer service reps who barely speak English and transfer you to like 4 different people in order to get a problem fixed, etc. If I do pre-paid I might just stick with T-Mobile once my contract is up, their plans might be a little bit pricier than Straight Talk’s but their reliable customer service should justify the extra cost.

  • barry

    unfortunately this isnt true. Look at straight talk maps coverage. Its different for android phones. Yes. All newer android phones. Its nit good coverage like their better map. I called them. Doesnt work with newer android phones…with same coverage. This should be included in article. Basically android phones use diff antenna. Which gives less coverage.

    • killabee44

      Barry, read the thread. Those are old maps. Also, it does work with the newer Android phones. Whomever you spoke to doesn’t know what theyre talking about.

      • barry

        ok, thanks for letting me know. obviously i spoke with someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about. I thought it would be a great deal if i could grab a tmobile or att higher end android phone and use the straight talk service.
        Kindof seemed silly to offer a service without top android phone capability.

    • killabee44

      Read the post above by Drodzand. He contacted ST about these questions and here was their response:

      “Please be informed that Straight Talk Wireless provides nationwide
      prepaid wireless coverage by piecing together the best networks such as
      Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint. Straight Talk Wireless has created a
      national footprint covering 99% of the United States population, so that
      whether you are in your home area or traveling, you should be able to
      receive service as long as the cellular service that supports your phone
      is available in that area. Moreover, upon further review of the coverage
      in Puerto Rico, we verified that only AT&T network is available in this

      Furthermore, the Android Coverage Map found on our website is the
      coverage map for our Android phones that are manufactured specifically
      for Straight Talk Wireless. Moreover, that map refers to Sprint
      network’s coverage. The Non-Android Coverage Map is the approximate
      coverage for the Straight Talk phones that use Verizon, AT&T and
      T-Mobile networks.

      If you have a non-Straight Talk phone and you would like to use it with
      our service, it will either be powered by AT&T or T-Mobile networks
      since these networks support our Bring Your Own Phone program. The
      network that will support your phone will also depend on the SIM card
      you have chosen to purchase. Therefore, the coverage for the phone will
      be checked through this link:
      Regarding with the resolution of our Coverage Map, please be informed
      that we are currently working on improving our services in order for us
      to provide the best service possible to our customers.

      If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact one of our
      customer care representatives at 1-888-251-8164. For your convenience,
      our representatives are available Monday-Sunday from 8:00 AM to 11:45 PM

      Thank you for being a Straight Talk Wireless customer. We appreciate
      your business.


      Straight Talk Wireless”


      It depends on the situation – Straight Talk can run Android phones on Verizon (Galaxy Precedent), T-Mobile (Straight Talk SIM), AT&T (Straight Talk SIM) or Sprint All other Straight Talk Phones) depending on the situation.

  • Mike

    I’m thinking about dropping Big Red for the $30/month T-mobile pay as you go plan. 100 minutes, unlimited text & messaging and 5gig of date / month. For fear of using to many minutes I was thinking about getting the $7.99 SKYPE unlimited calling to mobile and land line plan too. Does anyone have any experience using this from SKYPE. I have good reception in my area and are on WiFi a lot too. This would be way cheaper then what i’m paying Big Red now.

    • killabee44

      Mike, what about using Google Voice? Wouldn’t that be a voip – all data calls solution as well?

      • Mike

        From what I’ve found so far, you still use your minutes to make the call thru Google Voice. I’m not sure how to use the VOIP with Google Voice on an Android phone.

        • mercado79

          There are a few free options. Groove IP though you do do have to buy the app, Talkatone (former iOS app recently launched on Android), or using Android’s built in VOIP functionality (requires something like Google Voice Callback along with a Sipgate account or something similar). Google bought a VOIP service last year so hopefully that comes back online soon… Jellybean?

          • Mike

            I just bought Groove IP to give it a try. Someone (under the Groove IP reviews) said that you are still using your minutes. I guess, I’ll have to watch my bill and see if its true.

          • mercado79

            I’ve only ever used Groove IP over wifi while on vacation overseas. Definitely no minutes used and I can’t imagine why that’d ever happen either, even if using Mobile data for the call.

  • Andrew

    Straight Talk Sim TOS doesn’t allow any kind of media streaming, audio or video.
    That’s gonna be a problem for me as I currently use Pandora on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ every weekend during my commute. If it wasn’t for that I would’ve hopped all over it…

    • barry

      no media streaming? no youtube? no pandora? that doesn’t sound good…if its true. where did you find that info?
      so you are telling me that you can’t even play a youtube video no that service? I find that really hard to believe. they do limit data, but they don’t tell you how to use it…i wouldn’t think.

      • Swarthy Daisy

        I have ST. I rarely use the Internet because it is so slow and choppy. You can stream pandora, YouTube, and other radio player apps, but it is sooooo choppy and the stream is unreliable. I mainly use the Internet on my ST Android to check email, FB, and Twitter. The map app works fine, but I think it works on both Satellites and 3G.

  • Andrew

    I didn’t want to believe it myself when I found out that I would’ve saved around 400 bucks a year, but after some searching and reading i found the TOS and I pasted the section which corresponds to data. Here’s the URL as well
    Read (iii) in particular

    6. STRAIGHT TALK UNLIMITED TALK, TEXT AND MOBILE WEB ACCESS PLAN INTENDED USE: Straight Talk Unlimited Talk, Text and Mobile Web Access Plans may ONLY be used with a Straight Talk handset for the following purposes: (i) Person to Person Voice Calls (ii) Text and Picture Messaging (iii) Internet browsing through the Straight Talk Mobile Web Service and (iv) Authorized Content Downloads from the Straight Talk Mobile Web Store. The Straight Talk Unlimited Plans MAY NOT be used for any other purpose. Examples of prohibited uses include, without limitation, the following: (i) continuous mobile to mobile or mobile to landline voice calls; (ii) automated text or picture messaging to another mobile device or e-mail address; (iii) uploading, downloading or streaming of audio or video programming or games; (iv) server devices or host computer applications, including, but not limited to, Web camera posts or broadcasts, automatic data feeds, automated machine-to-machine connections or peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing; or (v) as a substitute or backup for private lines or dedicated data connections. This means, by way of example only, that checking email, surfing the Internet, downloading legally acquired songs, and/or visiting corporate intranets is permitted, but downloading movies using P2P file sharing services and/or redirecting television signals for viewing on laptops is prohibited. A person engaged in prohibited uses may have his/her service terminated without notice or a refund.

    • barry

      thanks for pointing that out. good information.

      i see now. shouldn’t be a problem for me as i am mostly on wifi both at work and at home nowadays. but I’m glad I know.

    • jaxidian

      Keep in mind that it does say “This means [...] downloading legally acquired songs [...] is permitted, but downloading movies using P2P file sharing services [...] is prohibited.”

      Ultimately, their terms are VERY unclear and conflicting/confusing. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’ll be a cold day in hell before I trust my phone number with them – I am NOT going to be losing it due to some stupid unknown rule of theirs….

      • Mike

        But if you port your current phone number over to Google Voice you don’t have to worry about losing it. Straight talk will give you a new number and you just give out your Google Voice number to your friends/family/business assoc. and have the calls forwarded to your new cell phone #. That way if they screw you and cancel your service, you can just go to another pre-paid company and get another number and do it all over again. I’m convinced this is the way to go.

      • Ardrid

        Agreed. I’ll probably end up going with either one of T-Mobile’s Monthly4G plans or one of Pocket Red’s plans. Straight Talk is coming across as very sketchy and draconian with its ToS. I also can’t say I want to bother with porting my number to GV and forwarding my calls to a new number just for peace of mind. Straight Talk is out.

  • Grant

    Tracfone have got various brands. Straight Talk is a great option at $45 a month, but even the Tracfone brand is now offering smartphones at a very low cost. Prepaid is absolutely the way to go.

  • Danny G

    Just as an FYI, T-Mobile pre-pay doesn’t work with Google Voice and when I called Straight Talk to get verification the guy had no clue!

  • Ryan Gails

    I might consider jumping back to prepaid after my AT&T contract is up cuz it would save me plenty.

  • Uma Fan

    Yes, prepaid is always cheaper

    UNLESS you are talking about family plans.

    Take T-Mobile’s Value plan for a family of five unlimited everything. Divide that by 5 people and that’s the cheapest thing out there.


      Good point about Family plans. Of course with family plans you are getting less as well, unless it has free mobile-to-mobile and you mostly talk within your family.

  • Swarthy Daisy

    I am on Straight Talk currently and have been with them for about a year and a half. I used to have an iPhone with AT&T. I truly loved my iPhone, but AT&T actually jacked my bill up by bundling all of my services after getting youverse, then charging me all kinds of outrageous fees! Thank goodness I was a month away from being out of my contract when ths happened.

    I like the low cost of ST, but in my experience, call service during high peak times can get quite unreliable. I get busy signals when trying to place a call during rush hour. I usually end up waiting a few minutes before re-placing my call. I get dropped calls in areas near my job, and no service at one of my job sites. During non peak times, voice service is pretty good. I use the map app quite a bit. Streaming YouTube on 3G is awful. I mainly use my Internet service for hotmail, Twitter, and Facebook. I have a lot of issues with memory and app storage on my ST Android Galaxy Precedent. I have basically gotten used to using the phone for very basic tasks. If you push the phone too hard, it will bite back. Lol.

    I am looking at getting the Samsung Galaxy S3 when it comes out. I am tossing around several options 1. Get the phone with reliable service on a2 year contract. 2. Buy an unlocked version of the phone and use TMobile’s unlimited service. 3. Buy the phone outright at Walmart and use their prepaid TMobile Family plan for $45 bucks a month. The sales associate at WM said the she runs her S2 on the Family plan and she gets great service plus she tethers up to 5 devices at home.

    Any advice or comments would be helpful :)

  • Jimmy_Jo

    So is AT&T the only option for Google Voice? The more I’m reading I’m worried that I won’t have all my features with pre-paid. And I’m afraid I won’t be able to use anything but the GNex. What’s the point of getting an unlocked phone if they only work on one network. I’ll just get an AT&T phone

  • T-Rav

    I just don’t think saving 30 or 40 dollars is worth all the hassle. I use Verizon and I might have to wait a little bit for my updates, but at least I know that if I ever have a problem with my phone or service, that I can’t handle myself, there’s someone there to give me a hand. Sure it’s a bit more money, but I save it in other areas. Having access to reliable communication and lightning fast internet is crucial now a days. I just think people that can’t afford a plan or don’t have the credit to sign with carrier make up reasons why it’s better. Either way were gonna have to pay it somewhere so mine as well be to someone I know that can keep me in the now. Pretty good article though. Thanks!


      You can have an Android on the Verizon network with Straight Talk.

  • BenK

    I am moving out of the U.S., but will visit a few weeks a year.
    Is there a phone plan which would :
    1) Not make me have to pay each month since I will only use minutes a few weeks a year
    2) Let me keep my existing phone number when I am around ?


      Try the T-Mobile 1000 minute no-contract plan – it’s good for 1 year.

  • Ong

    Not in the US,I like prepaid as it saved me lots of cash,I get data and calls for cheap

  • Ivn

    Im planning on cancelling my plan on AT&T and just buying a galaxy nexus w a prepaid plan. I’m a heavy Internet user and texted. Talking not so much. My inclination is that tmobile has unlimited and 4g. I like that
    Currently I pay $90 a month on AT&T iphone4s

    • Phone Bill Cut

      Yes, you could have unlimited data on that nexus for $30 or $45 if you went with T-Mobile or Straight Talk… – check out your plan options there.

  • Canv

    I’ve had a prepaid plan with an Android phone for almost 2 years now.
    We live in Canada and travel to the US (snowbirds) and to Europe ( summer).
    I simply have a prepaid top up plan with Telus in Canada let’s me put $10 in each mth. and pay .30 per min, or by 100 Mb of data for $10 and talk for .20/min. We don’t talk alot on the phone but data is more important.
    In Europe I use a Cellomobile international Sim card and it keeps costs down. I get to keep the same ph. # with them.
    In USA I used AT&T for ph. but they can’t tell me/guarantee me data service if I buy a data plan with them. What gives? Who is better for low data costs, low usage in the US. I don’t want to be spending 30-40/month unless I have to.

  • shyam

    Taylor – can you please suggest some good pre-paid plans for International students studying in USA? Their requirements are slightly different. They will be frequently calling internatinal locations like India from their mobiles using calling cards (1-800 numbers will be provided by the calling card providers)

    They will also be receiving incoming calls from International locations like India on their mobile phones.

    Since we are students our budgets are very very low. So looking for some good pre-paid plans which will meet the above requirements

    • Phone Bill Cut

      Shayam – Check out Simple Mobile – they have an unlimited international calling add-on for $10 a month. Might be worth it if you make a lot of international calls. Otherwise Skype is always good :)

      If you want to check out all your base options, check out – input your needs and it will make a recommendation. I haven’t incorporated international calling search yet, but I plan to soon.

  • Malcolm

    There is a company called Solavei that is partnering with T-mobile in september to offer unlimited voice, text, and 4G for $49 per month with no contracts. I was one of the lucky few to be on the network before the official launch and it is great.

    Learn more at

  • TheBigEasy

    Very good article, I too have been free of contracts for 1 year and have tried many of the plans available. There is a new one I’m trying out next week which looks like to be the best deal I have seen lately. 4G Nationwide Unlimited everything for $49 at It looks like they are using T-Mobiles Network but with Roaming included which is good for coverage.



  • Phone Bill Cut

    I created a search engine that allows people to search through available prepaid plans and choose the one that fits them the best:

    There are a lot of options out there in the marketplace. The tool I created allows you to input your needs and suggests the prepaid plan that is right for your situation.


  • tracey

    i currently have a share everything plan with verizon wireless and pay about 100 dollars a month… ridiculous. i am contemplating going to their prepaid plan, or i have also been comparing rates with straight talk. i only have basic phones and would like to be able to continue to use those phones. who out there knows whether its possible to use the existing phones and tranfer phone numbers to a prepaid plan? Which prepaid plan is the best out there right now. I have been a customer with verizon for 17+ years and am pretty loyal although something has to give since i’m on a limited income. please help Tracey


    Another great prepaid option is the new carrier Solavei.
    Solavei offers nationwide unlimited talk, text, data and 4g where available for just $49/month! Plus, when you share Solave with others and they join, you earn real money! Share the service with 9 people and your service is free!

  • joe

    Solavei is an MVNO carrier that uses T Mobile towers and also has T Mobile roaming. Solavei uses a pay for referral service. They give you $20 for every three people you refer. If one of the people you referred gets the people to join Solavei you also get another $20 off your monthly bill! If you already have TMobile it’s a no brainer to get Solavei. You would pay less than you normally would with TMobile and you could also bring your phone with you! You should join Solavei because it saves you a lot of money compared to your traditional post paid carrier. Also, depending on the number of people I refer, I will be doing a TON of giveaways!

    If anyone is interested in getting an invite to Solavei I’d be happy to help out. I’m trying to refer (a lot) people to raise money for devices to review and do giveaways on YouTube.

    If 15 people sign up- 1 case per month
    If 21 people sign up- 1 case per month 1 tablet every 6 months
    If 30 people sign up- 1 case per month 1 tablet every 4 months
    If 54 people sign up- 2 cases per month 1 tablets every 2 months
    If 75 people sign up- 2 cases per month 1 unlocked smartphone/tablet every other month
    If 100 people sign up- 2 cases per month 1 unlocked smartphone/tablet each and every month.

    Solavei gives you unlimited talk, text, and unlimited data (up to 4GBs until throttled) for $49 per month!

    If you guys sign up for Solavei it will give me the money to spend on new devices and accessories to review and then give them to my YouTube Viewers, or you if you decide to enter .

    If you join The Lane before September 10th you get your 2nd month free and no activation fee ($130) So join now before it’s too late!

    eMail me at jollyrancherex if you want to get an invitation!

    Here’s my YouTube Channel-

  • herb fellows

    I am totally new to this stuff and I just went to ATT to see about getting a smart phone on my go phone plan. According to the sales rep:

    1) You must use an ATT branded android phone to access the internet.

    2) These phones are locked.

    So, your choices are to buy a locked ATT phone and have to throw it in the garbage when you get sick of ATT…
    Buy a non ATT branded Android phone and not be able to get the internet on your $300 phone!

    The only reason I’m looking at ATT at all is that I have $400 on my ATT account that I could use to pay my bill for the first 10 months or so.

    How are these good choices?

  • Ross Michigan

    These are all good comments and a good article. It does still seem like me that I am stuck with a carrier.

    I use over 3000 minutes each month …easy… and a little over 2GB in data.

    I constantly drive between states in the USA so “roaming” could be a factor.

    I am constantly using the GPS while talking on the phone and if not, then I am using my mobile web browser so I need speeds fast enough to talk/data both at same time. The Verizon 3G speeds are a non-starter. Although, so long as I can do the above I don’t clock if I DL’d an app in 8 seconds or 29 seconds…I just need the minimum above.

    Inside of the above considerations, being a mega nutzo power phone user can I still use a prepaid? Keep in mind I pay $138 a month through Verizon so even paying $90 out the door is still low enough to consider the change.

    I am REALLY interested in getting away from the Verizon S**TWare that they add in on their phones and rid of their pompous attitudes as well =P – So spending $500+ on a new phone is fine with me – I just have to have the service.

    Any advice would be most helpful thanks all.

  • simon

    ugh — even with prepaid plans, mobile carriers here are a total rip-off. as someone who’s lived in many countries around the world, and just moved to the US, I’m pretty much appalled by the idea that anyone would have to spend even $30 per month on cell phone service, let alone some of the figures I see. i don’t really understand why the companies are allowed to treat people the way they do here.

  • Sarah

    What about buying the Samsung Galaxy Note II (16 GB)? I want to get one but I’m not sure if buying the UK or the US version outright would save me more money in the long run. Why pay $300 + tax, $36 + activation fee, and then $100+ a month for two years? I’m looking to travel to Australia and want a phone I can take world wide – and unlocked. Does that sound crazy? I found what I needed online but I’m just not sure if it will work. I’ve always wanted a workhorse phone for what I do and I’ve been saving for the right phone for a while. I think it will work for me. Any thoughts on this? Even $50 a month is less than half of all the contracts I’ve been pricing. I’ve been burned by Verizon and my phone isn’t going to last much longer.

  • Brian Frederick

    Is there any advice on what mobile devices work best with these prepaid plans? I’ve been doing a bit of research on this and it looks like a few of them can use whatever phone so long as it has a SIM card? I’m so sick of the run-around I get with my phone / provider and the cost is outrageous compared to what I actually use it for. Me and my gf are looking to cut expenses immensely so we can do things know…enjoy life and such. Traveling, cooking, going to shows and getting tattoos are just a few on our list and we spend about $200 a month between the two of us on our phones. If we could cut out $150 of that just on a phone a month that would be unreal. That’s the goal anyways.

    I’ve been looking into buying one of those old work horse Nokia phones they used to have way back when. The 3310,3410 or 3330 were all about the same, but those things rocked! I had a gold edition 3310…or whatever it was (I can’t for the life of me find out what it was) and would love one of those again. Those had the SIM card so I’m hoping they work with the prepaid plans. IF I CAN EVER FIND ONE! If you have any other suggestions on which phones work best or where I can find an older model phone for purchase that would be awesome. Thanks!

  • Robinson DIaz

    I would be glod dto switch to Straight Talk but I dont like the idea of the speed limited I dont like limits as many people, but everything sounds cool. I have a Motorola Photon from Sprint and a good phone on signal i mean i get good signal where most of it are so bad and i love having unlimited data with same 3G speed or 4G all the time because i use my phone as Wifi using FoxFi that is locked on my sprint google store but i can still download it online. and reason wifi I have to use it as wifi is because i live out of the city and there no internet provider around here just some satellite internet and Virgin mobile hostpot but Salillite internet has the same sh…. that they limit your speed and Virgin mobile hostpot is to slow. Sprint its ok but i wish their mobile network would be same fast as Verizon.

  • Tony U.

    Thanks for sharing this valuable information.

  • Tony Pearl

    Man – there’s a LOT of great comments on this thread!
    It’s great that a so many people are finally waking up to realize what a freakin’ rip-off the 2-year contracts are with the cell phone companies.
    I mean – they practically THROW these sweet cell phones at you for free-or $50-or $99, etc., and ‘all you have to do’ is obligate yourself to them for 2 years… at the much higher monthly rate… PLUS all the hidden taxes, charges, and B.S. fees they slap on there.
    And what about the ‘required’ smartphone data plan?!?! What a joke.

    Anyway – my story is that I was on AT&T for about 10 years. In July 2 years ago (2010), I got the iPhone 4 & renewed my contract. That’s the last time I’ll do that. My monthly bill was $115… for ONE line!
    I had been grandfathered in for their ‘unlimited everything’ plan, which they don’t even offer anymore. A few months before my contract was over, I ‘woke up’ and realized I was throwing my money away because I really didn’t even use or need all that any more.
    So as soon as it was over, I dumped AT&T, dumped the iPhone (gave it to my son to use as an iPod!), bought a Droid (HTC One S), and got on a new plan which is INCREDIBLE!!

    My new deal: I now get unlimited everything (including 4G data), calls, text, and I pay only $49/mo. w/ NO stinkin’ contract, NO limits, no B.S.!

    You can take a look at it here:

    I absolutely love it & am telling all my friends about it to help them wake up & save money, too.
    The only ‘catch’ is that you have to get your own phone – it’s not subsidized by any contract.
    But go on Craigslist & find someone selling the phone you want! No problem.

    Anyway, I hope that helps. My way of giving back for what I’ve learned here.

  • 7LeagueBoots

    The problem with all these plans is that for someone like me who is bouncing back and forth to and from the US from overseas they don’t work.

    There needs to be a cheap 1yr (or more) pre-paid option that allows you to keep your original phone number so that you can swap the SIM card in and out depending on what country you are in at the time. Europe does this, but in the US no-one is willing to allow this to happen, at least not with an iPhone.

  • ashleyS

    pre-paid is the way to go i would just sell that att or sprint iphone to and then just buy an unlocked samsung galaxy world phone if you travel you can use it worldwide becuase buy another perpaid GSM card anywere

  • James Carville

    Prepaid is the future. If you just check out Simple Mobile service at ( ), you will find the large number of people switching over to Simple Mobile with features such as unlimited talk, text and web with no contract you really can’t go wrong with Siple Mobile monthly no contract plans. You can bring your own cell phone to Simple Mobile as well as an even more added benefit.

  • Jayr

    I agree with that. That was also the reason why I cut-off my wireless contract with mobile plan. I also made a single post about mobile and network in my site which is also regarding about this article.

  • bhawani

    nice information Best carrier options after 10th

  • bhawani