Should I Choose the Straight Talk AT&T or Verizon Network?

A reader, John asks…
Hey Bob,
Please answer me ASAP. I am purchasing a Verizon iPhone 6. I get great coverage at home and at school with both ST AT&T and ST Verizon. I am almost certain I would receive VVM on the iPhone 6 using ST Verizon. However, ST Verizon caps their download speeds at 5Mbps while ST AT&T’s download speed can go up to the 30-40 Mbps. So the golden question is do you think I should sacrifice my download speed for VVM? Also Verizon tends to have better service in most places I am at.

Hi John,
That’s a good question.

I’d say try the Straight Talk ATT network with your iPhone 6. Try YouMail if you really need VVM. If you find that the network coverage is a problem, or you really can’t live without VVM then consider switching to ST Verizon.

In general, I tell people to pick the network that has better coverage in their area. For someone in your case, where both networks work well, but maybe one is a little better (Verizon in your case). I often recommend that people try the Straight Talk ATT network first, and they have problems with speeds or coverage, to then consider switching the Verizon network.

I recommend that because you don’t need to register your phone with Straight Talk to use the ATT network. Just activate the SIM. I also think it’s a little easier to fix problems with MMS on the ATT and TMobile networks. Finally, when you register your phone with Straight Talk’s Verizon network I am not sure you can move it back to Verizon or another prepaid carrier using the Verizon network. I haven’t verified that though.

In terms of speed, the Verizon network is capped at 5Mbps. Many readers tell me they really don’t notice the difference. I suspect that depends on what you do on your phone. I use the ST ATT network and my speeds are all over the place. Generally at home, they are under 5Mbps, when I go out I can see 10, 20, 30, even 40 Mbps.

As for Visual Voicemail, it really depends on how important that is to you. I don’t rely on voice mail. My family and friends are trained not to leave me voicemail, and the number of work related messages I get is manageable without VVM. A couple of months ago, I installed an application called YouMail. It is very similar to VVM. You essentially program your phone to redirect your voicemail to YouMail and then they have an app you can use to manage your account. The service is freemium, you can use it for free and pay for upgraded features. It’s a decent replacement. I am not a heavy user. I set it up when trying to help a reader out and have left it on my phone. Keep in mind that Straight Talk doesn’t promise that VVM will work on your iPhone. While many Straight Talk verizon LTE network users are reporting it works, if it stops one day, you’ll be back to regular voice mail.

Another thing to consider is whether you can use both voice and data at the same time on the Verizon network. I don’t know if you can on ST’s Verizon network. On Verizon’s network, they support a new feature called Voice over LTE. When this is enabled you can use voice and data at the same time. I’ll have to check with a few Straight Talk verizon users to see what’s working for them.

I hope this helps, let me know what you choose..

18 Comments

  1. Keith | | Reply

    I am currently using the iPhone 5s on straight talks Verizon network, would there be a way to get straight talk to switch me over to the att network? I have had nothing but slow speeds and message problems. The coverage is good in my area though but so is att! So would they be able to do that for me?

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Keith,
      The will not do this for you. But you may be able to do it yourself. You’d transfer your current service to a BYOP straight talk AT&T SIM and then use that in your iPhone. Many customer that used the Straight Talk Verizon iPhone 5 have done this to get better service.

      The one issue is that if your may have gotten your iPhone 5s at a discounted price and there was a message saying the phone was restricted to the Straight Talk network. Was that the case? I’d start by borrowing a AT&T SIM from a friend and putting it in your phone. If it works, Straight Talk’s AT&T SIM will work. If it doesn’t the Straight Talk AT&T SIM might still work, but I don’t know for sure.

      Can you borrow an AT&T SIM from a friend? what happens when you put it in the phone? Take a screen shot. Taking a Screenshot on the iPhone

  2. Joe | | Reply

    Straight Talk does NOT supoort VoLTE on the Verizon network so you cannot have simultaneous voice and data on Straight Talk on Verizon’s network unless you have an older phone that has two modems (like an LG G3 would work, but not a LG G4). Almost none of the newer phones have dual modems. Do not expect to get VoLTE, Enhanced Calling, or simultaneous voice and data (browse web while on call, etc.) if you use a modern CDMA phone on Straight Talk Verizon network.

    Huge reason not to use Straight Talk. I really wish they did support it. You can only do it if you use an older phone model.

  3. Donna M | | Reply

    Hello Bob- please disregard my question- I phoned Verizon- my phone is unlocked- even though it was postpaid. What I did find out- is being ” postpaid – and being “prepaid” service- are two different settings on Verizon towers. Example: if there is a disaster- like 9/11 or Hurricane Sandy – I am IN NY- Verizon towers will PRIORTIZE and give usage to ” postpaid/ contract” accounts over prepaid users. The contract users will fill up the towers- and if prepaid gets any access – they are limited or will encounter “dropped calls” and no service. So in moving to ST- I asked- and the service is basicall prepaid and ” downgraded ” service ( their term) – disaster strikes- you are Lucky to get service. Just thought you might want to inform readers. My needs are financial right now. Im going to downgrade my service- pay off my remaining contract- Donna

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Hi Donna,
      Yes. in addition to that information they gave you. Note that ST, or any Verizon prepaid network has its speed limited to 5Mbps down. And if you travel into rural areas prepaid phones sometimes won’t have service, where a postpaid phone will. The difference being that ATT, Verizon, Sprint, and TMobile sometimes partner with smaller regional wireless companies to provide service in areas they don’t cover. All that said, I use the Straight Talk ATT network and I have been satisfied with the service.

      Also note that while your phones are SIM unlocked, you’ll need to check the MEID of each phone to see if it is eligible. Your phone being unlocked and your phone being eligible are two different things.

      Sounds like you want to use the Straight Talk Verizon network. I recommend reading this article and the comments. Straight Talk Wireless Now Supports Verizon’s 4G LTE Network!

  4. Donna M | | Reply

    Hi Bob- You have a great website here! I have 2 Verizon Samsung S4 minis model SCH-i435. I bought it “postpaid” 2 yrs ago & tired of monthly fees (its for me and my son) I am thinking of switching to Straight Talk. Here are my concerns: 1-not sure if its unlocked. Verizon website says they do not Lock LTE and I discovered a SIM card in my phone- so maybe? 2- ST says its compatible. 3-Both phones are in good/excellent condition- we like how these work. Can I get a new phone number on Straight Talk or do I have to port my current number? 4- If they are not unlocked- and Verizon does not unlock them- can I still bypass and get them unlocked? Thanks for all your help- Donna

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Hi Donna,
      Do you have a preference for the Straight Talk ATT or Straight Talk Verizon network. Your using Verizon now?
      Right now it sounds like you have the option to use either network.

      Regards,
      Bob

  5. Kevin | | Reply

    Tried ST AT&T and the reception is just not good in my area for third party MVNO companies. Its really bad. So I am using ST Verizon instead and it works fine. Sure its only 5Mbps for data, but when I am home I use my WIFI and that is plenty fast. The slower speed while mobile, just means I do not run out of mobile data of 5Gigs allowed as fast. If you are just streaming audio only you will be fine. Its people who insist on streaming video that get into problems. Hopefully in five years the bandwidth issue for streaming will be mostly solved with newer technology broadband.

  6. Michael | | Reply

    I’m looking to purchase a Galaxy S3. I understand the difference between the AT&T and Verizon services. I need the AT&T service in my area and will be using it on Straight Talk. What I do not clearly understand is all of the model numbers. After hours of research I think I know that each carrier has their own model number for the phones they sell for their service.
    My 1st question is, Carrier service aside, Is there really any major difference between the model numbers?
    Is there a comparison list/chart of the S3 model numbers that contains the technical differences?
    After cruising the internet for 3-4 hours I’m pretty sure the “Samsung Galaxy S3 i9300 Unlocked Cellphone, International” is the most widely advertised S3 for sale. It’s certainly one of the cheapest in many cases.
    Is the S3 i9300 International even useable in the USA and how does it compare to the WalMart Straight Talk model S968C?
    Any of the fog you can remove will be appreciated.
    Mike B

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Hi Mike,
      The number of Galaxy S2, S4, S5, and S6 models is mind numbing. Could make you cry. If you want to use Straight Talk’s ATT network. I recommend a SGH-I747. That’s the ATT model. A locked phone will work. I recommend unlocked as an added measure of safety.

      The difference between the S models, in general, are the radio frequencies they support. While an i9300 will work on the ATT network, it doesn’t support the radio frequencies for 4G LTE, so I’d avoid it. Sometimes their are other spec differences too. The Straight Talk S968C uses the Verizon network, and last I checked only supported 3G. I generally check Wikipedia for a comparison of S3 model variants. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samsung_Galaxy_S_III

      A year or more I tried to buy a used S3 for an article on smartphonematters and I when through the same issue you had. I ended up buying a “new” phone on Amazon. And it came in an i9300 box. The seller then told me, the phone is new but the box isn’t. I returned it immediately.

      If your willing to go the used route. I’d look on eBay for an S4. Prices seem to be down. judging condition is challenging. What price point are you looking at?

      • Michael | | Reply

        Many Thanks Bob.
        All questions answered and understood.
        As much as I use Wikipedia for researching other topics you would think it would be one of the first places I’d turn for this one. You’d be wrong! For some reason it never occurred to me! 🙁
        Based on prior practice looking into the S4 didn’t take too long. Which model S4 would you recommend?
        I found a Samsung Galaxy S4 SGH-i337 on Amazon that’s under $200. The seller has a very good rating and the phone is listed as Very Good. Unfortunately it’s not one of the model numbers listed in Wikipedia.
        Your recommendation would be of great value.
        Mike

        • Michael | | Reply

          Bob,
          I was in error, the SGH-i337 is in the Wikipedia chart. I found it when I went back to take notes.
          I’d still appreciate your thoughts on which model S4 you would recommend but otherwise I believe I’ve found my next phone. And hopefully the last one for a long time. This time I’m putting the phone in an Otterbox or one of the LifeProof protectors.

        • Bob Thompson | | Reply

          Hi Michael,
          For an S4, you’d want an SGH-i337, which is listed on the wikipedia page.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samsung_Galaxy_S4#Model_variants

          Under 200 sounds good, check eBay too. Unlocked is preferred.

          The S4 is a great phone. I’d also say take a look at the Moto G which is under $200 new and any of the BLU phones that support 4G LTE.
          The S4 has great camera, so if that a great reason to go with a used S4 over a new Moto or BLU.

          Let me know how it goes.

          • Michael | |

            Hi Bob,
            My NEW Galaxy S4 (SGH-i337) arrived today. I say “new” because, if this phone has ever had a SIM card in it I can’t tell it. I purchased what was advertised as a “good-used” phone from Cellular Trendz. It arrived in near record time, 100% scratch, smudge & fingerprint free with a new OEM battery. 🙂
            The semi total for this phone including S&H is $160. The only thing left is a SIM card. The SIM from my broke ZTE Whirl is too big. Since I have to charge the battery for 12 hours and it’s a little late to run to WalMart for a SIM kit I figured I’d use the time to chase down a link I’d noticed during my phone searchs concerning trimming large SIM cards down to the smaller size.
            Any advice, knowledge or thoughts on trimming SIM cards?
            Mike

          • Bob Thompson | |

            Hi Michael,
            The Smartphonematters SIM Cutting Guide

            So in theory, what you should really be transfer your current phone to the new phone.
            Transferring Your Existing Straight Talk Service to a New Straight Talk Phone or SIM

            In your case, though you are going from straight talk Verizon 4g lte phone to a used straight talk Verizon 4g lte phone and I have never done that. Not sure what the steps would be. They might tell you to register the phone an move your sim, or send you a new sim for the phone.
            You could call them and ask them and then decide to go that route or cut your sim.
            If you do cut your sim make sure to get an adapter so you can move the sim back to the zte.
            Smartphonematters SIM Adapter Guide

  7. John | | Reply

    Thanks for the response Bob. With that info, I believe I will just stay on ST AT&T for now and learn of all the problems with the ST Verizon network before switching. But I am currently using YouMail on my iPhone 5s running ST AT&T and it works fine. But Thanks for the info and please let me know if you find that VoLTE actually works on the ST Verizon network.

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