Many of you may be wondering if you should buy your iPhone, Samsung, or other smartphone directly from Straight Talk Wireless or from some other retailer. The answer is, it depends on what is important to you. I wrote this article to help you understand the things you should consider before buying.
If you read smartphonematters.com or watch my videos you may know that I am a big fan of Bring Your Phone (BYOP) prepaid wireless plans and unlocked smartphones but some people may not have a phone to bring to to Straight Talk when they sign up and sometimes you can get a very good deal on an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy phone from straighttalk.com.
Price & Convenience
Buying your smartphone from Straight Talk can have a few advantages. First, you might get a really good deal on the phone. Compare Straight Talk’s full price on the phone to what you would pay for the phone if you bought it directly from Apple, Samsung, or Best Buy. Sometimes they offer iPhone or Galaxy models for hundreds of dollars less. You’ll save the most when you can combine a discounted phone with one of their phone and plan bundle promotions. Depending on the current promotion, you may save 15%, 20%, or 30% off when you buy a phone and plan together.
Second, aome people simply prefer the convenience of buying their smartphone directly from their wireless carrier. In fact most people in the US buy their phones from their wireless carrier. You know the phone is going to work with their service and theere is no need to visit another retailer or try and buy the phone you want unlocked.
When you buy an iPhone, Samsung, or other Android phone from Straight Talk, the phone is locked. This means you will not be able to use the phone with another wireless carrier other than Straight Talk. Straight Talk will unlock the phone for free after you meet the terms and conditions of their unlocking policy. Their unlocking policy states that after you use the phone on their network for 12 months they will unlock the phone. See their Unlocking Policy here.. Note that after even after they unlock the phone you may be able to use the phone with GSM/LTE carriers that use the AT&T or T-Mobile network, you will still have to check your phone’s IMEI/MEID (serial number) to see if it is eligible for use with any wireless carrier that use the CMDA/LTE carriers that use the Verizon or Sprint networks.
Next, when you buy your phone directly from Straight Talk, they decide if the phone will use their AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, or Sprint towers rather than you. So for example they may sell you an iPhone that will use their Verizon towers but it may be the case that the AT&T or T-Mobile networks have better coverage in your area. You can find out which towers the phone will use before you buy. The easier way to do this is to contact customer service by online chat. Give them you Zip code and tell they which phone you want to buy and ask which towers it uses.
Next, you may find that Straight Talk does not offer the specific iPhone or Galaxy model that you want at a given time. So for example, if you were looking for an iPhone 7 Plus or Galaxy S7 those models might not be available. And even if you find the model you are interested in, they may only offer the phone with the smallest storage capacity. For example, while Straight Talk does offer the iPhone X, they only have the 64GB model and not the 256GB model. Finally, they may not have the full choice of color options that the phone is available in.
When you buy a locked smartphone from Straight Talk, you are making a commitment to stick with the company for a year assuming you want to be able to use that phone with another service. One of the biggest benefits of prepaid wireless service is that there are no contracts or lock-in. You can leave the service at any time. If you buy one of their phones you are giving up that benefit. But on the other hand, you may be getting a great discount, a discount that will cover the cost of months of wireless service. You need to decide if this is worth it for you. Many people stick with the same prepaid wireless carrier for years without needing to change. So in that case it might be worth it for you.