Switching Two iPhones from AT&T to Straight Talk Wireless

A reader, Angie, recently asked…

Hello. I have two iphone4s that are running iOS 7.0.3 that are a couple days from being off contract with AT&T and I would like to switch service to StraightTalk. I have already ordered two StraightTalk, AT&T compatible sim cards from Straighttalk, but have not activated ST service yet, since I had found all of the articles online on the difficulty to get the apn settings set for data and messaging running ST I am apprehensive I switching til I am clear on the steps to switch. Can I follow your guide and setting downloads listed on this site to get the apn settings set-up once I activate ST service or is there more steps I need to do? (I want to keep the phone numbers I currently have) Please advise.

Hi Angie,
You can potentially save a lot of money by switching your two iPhone 4s to Straight Talk. And it is wise to make an informed decision before switching Straight Talk or another prepaid wireless carrier and plan to your migration.

In my experience, getting Straight Talk’s data APN set on your iPhone is easy.  Very few people have a problem with this.  MMS is a bit tricky.  Straight Talk doesn’t guarantee that MMS will work on your BYOP iPhone.

My MMS works, but I mostly use iMessage. If you are unclear of the difference between MMS and iMessage see Understanding the Difference between MMS and iMessage on Your iPhone.

To setup MMS on the iPhone you need to enter the APN and MMS information in the Cellular Data Network option in your iPhone’s settings. Unfortunately, your iPhone automatically configures these values and hides this option when an AT&T network SIM is installed.  It’s unfortunate because he iPhone  sets the AT&T values for your Straight Talk AT&T SIM, and those values are wrong. My guide shows how to use an inactive T-Mobile network SIM to access  Cellular Data Network so you can enter the correct values.

Many people follow the guide and get MMS working. Some people have a problem, ask for help, and eventually get it resolved. Some people never get MMS to work. The most common problems I hear are: not getting the Cellular Data Network option when putting the T-Mobile SIM in, MMS not working after entering their APN values, and MMS working in only one direction (sending, but not receiving. Receiving, but not sending).I usually tell prepaid wireless customers to pick a company that uses a network that works well in their area. Since you are already using the AT&T,  your experience for voice and data coverage should be the same using the Straight Talk AT&T sim.In addition to the MMS issue, I usually tell people to make a check list of every feature and app they use to make sure it will work on Straight Talk. Some examples.

1. MMS
2. Group Texts
3. Visual Voicemail
4. FaceTime
5. Personal Hotspot
6. Other apps..

Group Text uses MMS. So if your MMS doesn’t work you won’t have group texts. Visual Voicemail doesn’t work on Straight Talk. There is a 3rd party app, YouMail, that some people recommend as an alternative.

My FaceTime works over cell data, I had a reader that said hers didn’t. Personal Hotspot is not supported and against the Straight Talk Terms of Service. You also want to check any other apps you use. One reader uses a home camera monitoring app from DLink that worked on ATT but not Straight Talk.

As for your situation…

1. You don’t need to rush to get off AT&T. You can cancel your service when you are ready and they will prorate your bill.

2. When you sign up for a prepaid service, you pay for the month. There are no refunds. You are committed for 30 days. If you don’t like it you can move on immediately at eat the cost, or wait until your service is up.

3. As soon as your contract with AT&T is up, request they unlock both your iPhones on their Device Unlock Portal. It’s free. Follow all the instructions including the iTunes iPhone Restore…

4. If you are concerned about being able to SIM swap, order a T-Mobile SIM and try to follow my guide to see if you get the Cellular Data Network option on both iPhones. If so, you have a good chance your MMS will work.

5. You can active one Straight Talk SIM. You can choose to port your number immediately or do it later. If you do it immediately, your AT&T service will be cancelled. If you do it later, both your old AT&T SIM  and your ST SIM with a new phone number will be active. You can test with the ST and test data and MMS on one or both of your iPhones.

6. If you like it, port your number, if not stay with AT&T and look at some other prepaid options.

7. When you activate the second SIM, you can port the second number immediately. Remember to ask AT&T for your account PIN. You’ll need this to port your number.

I use both Net10 and Straight Talk. I am happy with the service. I willing to live with the limitations in exchange for a $45 a month cell phone bill.

You might also want to compare Straight Talk and Net10. Straight Talk is cheaper for one line. You might save a couple of bucks using the net10 family plan and and auto pay with the discount. Net10 and Straight Talk are owned by the same company.

If you decide Straight Talk is not for you, check out AT&T Pay and Go. It’s more expensive, but you get the benefit of going into any AT&T store for support.

You can come back here to ask more questions. Also it might be worthwhile to look through my older posts on smartphonematters.com. I have written about this topic a number of times.

Let me know how it goes.


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