Lets Talk Straight Talk (and the iPhone 5)

I made my mind up and went out and purchased a shiny new iPhone 5 from Walmart (of all places). Went with their 26-month financing option which seems legit enough.

So far I'm really enjoying the iPhone 5 speed wise. The size of the screen is kind of not as impressive compared to my iPhone 4. (iPhone 5 has been heavily reviewed so I'll spare you).

I've been using Straight Talk for over 6 months now with their micro SIM. First with my unlocked iPhone 4 (AT&T unlocked after 2-year contract was over). Then I used it with the Nexus 4 for a few weeks. Never had a problem with the service and for $45/month their "unlimited*" everything is a great value!

With Walmart's $25/month requirement and the $45/month for Straight Talk, the cost is about $70/month which still beats AT&T and Verizon IMO.

Observations:

  • This is a "Verizon" "CDMA & GSM" iPhone 5 that they are selling. Model A1429. This means that it has access to either GSM or CDMA networks, however, 4G LTE is only available with CDMA providers (I think). LTE isn't an option with Straight Talk but it is worth noting for folks who may be interested in using the phone on AT&T or T-Mobile LTE networks. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
  • I think that the phone is running on Verizon's network. It did not come with a nano SIM. Activation required entering the IMEI on their website. Once activated the network name on the phone appears as "TFW" which I think stands for "TracFone Wireless". TracFone Wireless owns Straight Talk so that would make sense. I'm not crazy about this, however, because AT&T's 3G network is faster than Verizon's 3G network especially with HSPA+. I suppose I could cut my microsim to a nanosim, then reactive the SIM and use that in the iPhone 5. With the MicroSIM the network always came up as "HOME".
  • MMS (for me) is not working. I've sent an email to Straight Talk customer support and have not received a response. I'm not finding any information on how to "hack" it in to work. On my iPhone 4 it could be accomplished by changing the value in a .plist file using iBackupBot but apparently that isn't an option since iOS 6 (I think...). Also, since the phone is operating on the Verizon network the settings may be different than they were on AT&T. Not a huge deal to me as I would just use Facebook Messenger to send a photo anyway, but I still would like it to work. If anyone has any information on this I would appreciate it. It isn't a deal breaker for me, but I think people should take note.
  • No Visual Voicemail. This has always been the case with Straight Talk. Voicemail features still work, such as the badge indicating how many voicemails you have waiting for you. When you "click" on "voicemail" in the phone app, it dials the Voicemail service for you. No biggie for me. Visual Voicemail is only slightly more convenient.
  • No Tethering/WiFi Hotspot. Its locked down. I enjoyed tethering on my Jailbroken iPhone 4 and it was also available on the Nexus 4 but on the iPhone 5 it is locked down. I'm still praying that some day we will get a jailbreak for the iPhone 5. Despite the TOS of Straight Talk I still used tethering fairly often (like once or twice in a month) w/o any problems.

UPDATE 1/24/2013
So..yeah, going full circle on this one I guess. My experience thus far on the 'Verizon' side of the network has not been very good. I'm not 100% sure how to even verify that it is going through Verizon towers but I suspect it may be on Sprint. Does anyone have any advice on how I might find out exactly?


There is no way the Verizon customer base in my town would put up with the splotchy service I'm having. My phone toggles back and forth between 2g and 3g while inside buildings. And the lag has been really bad.
Some general statistics (by running speed tests based on my recollections)

*Straight Talk using AT&T SIM* (on unlocked iPhone 4 and Nexus 4).-

~2.5 - 3.5mbps downstream and

0.7 - 1.5mbps upstream

*Straight Talk on CDMA iPhone 5* -

~0.6 - 1mbps downstream and

0.1 - 0.2mbps upstream

Terrible lag as well. That's if I'm actually on 3G. I haven't been able to complete a speed test on 2g. 2g basically means that data is turned off from the best I can tell.


So I decided to try the SIM route. I've ordered a Micro SIM to Nano SIM cutter tool and some adapters. My plan is to re-activate my SIM and cancel the direct service to the iPhone 5.


Probably follow this procedure:

1. Re-activate MicroSIM with Straight Talk. Probably by phone to make sure it is done correctly... but I'm going to feel out their website a bit more before making the decision.

2. Verify that service is fully restored to my iPhone 4.

2.5. Practice SIM cut with an old AT&T SIM I don't use anymore. Make sure MicroSIM adapter I bought works.

3. Cut the SIM to Nano.

4. Plug it into my iPhone 5

5. Install APN cert off unlockz (or w/e the hell it is)

6. Cross my toes, eyes, and fingers

Yeah, this is whack. My service with Straight Talk has always been stellar. The service they give you by default with the CDMA iPhone 5 is whack. Buyer beware. I'll update when my stuff comes in.