My Straight Talk iPhone is Locked for 12 Months!

YouTuber Crystal Johnson commented,

Straight talk is suppose to be a no contract plan I purchased iPhones(paid in full) for my kids and bought straight talk kits. Now that I want to switch the phones to another provider Straight talk won’t unlock the phones. Stated we have to use them over 12months with their Service provider. So basically they hold you into using only their plan for over a year or u have to pay over $150 for them to release you out of a contract with them you never agreed to. Do not I repeat do not use straight talk. I shouldn’t have to pay their company to unlock phones I paid in full for to keep from being in a contract. If I knew this I could have went to AT&T or whomever else and just signed for a real 12 month agreement with better service.They scam you into staying with their service provider if you activate your phone with one of their starter kits. Never Again!

Yes, that is unfortunate and doesn’t really seem fair.
I’ve discussed this in many of my articles and videos. But to add some context here. Straight Talk sells a number of different model iPhones. Somet of their iPhones sell for full retail prices, some are discounted and sell for hundreds of dollars less than what Apple sells the same iPhone for full price. The difference is that Apple’s full price phones are unlocked and can be used with any carrier. All of Straight Talk’s iPhones are locked until you meet the terms of their unlocking policy, which more or less says you need to use it with their service for one year.

I can understand that when Straight Talk sells a discounted iPhone that it is locked. No wireless company is in business to sell discounted phones to anyone other than their customers. The challenge for consumers is to decide if the discount on the phone is enough to make it worth buying the phone knowing it is locked for a year. Paying full retail price for the iPhone from Straight Talk, the same price Apple charges for an unlocked phone is a bad deal.

So for example, today you can buy the iPhone SE from Straight Talk for $149. Apple sells that iPhone SE unlocked for $399. That’s a discount of $250. I think it’s fair for them to lock that iPhone. That discount is effectively lowering the price of your monthly service by $20 per month. It is up to the consumer to make an informed decision if the savings are worth it for them.
On the other hand, Straight Talk sells the new iPhone 12 mini for $729, the same price Apple charges for an unlocked iPhone 12 mini. But the Straight Talk phone is locked for one year, and the one from Apple isn’t. Not a good deal, doesn’t really seem fair does it.

And while there is no contract involved in any of this, it’s a form of lock in as if you cancel your service you won’t be able to use that iPhone with another carrier.