A reader Chad writes,
I am looking to switch to Straight Talk and can’t get a “straight” answer from anyone about how service works… maybe you can help. If I bring an unlocked AT&T iPhone to Straight Talk and use an AT&T sim, what cell towers could I potentially use? Verizon tends to get the best coverage in rural Small Town, USA where I am from, but Verizon iPhones do not work with Straight Talk I have found out. Any insight on this matter would be great!
Your unlocked iPhone is compatible with the AT&T and T-Mobile network. If you use Straight Talk’s AT&T Network compatible SIM it uses the AT&T towers. If you use Straight Talk’s T-Mobile network compatible SIM it will use the T-Mobile towers. Your AT&T iPhone cannot be used with any wireless company using the Verizon network. The AT&T iPhone isn’t compatible. The Straight Talk with the AT&T SIM is the better choice for AT&T / GSM iPhone owners. T-Mobile is still updating their network to support the iPhone. In many areas the coverage is poor and you will only get 2G data speeds.
When moving to prepaid wireless the most important consideration is what network does my prepaid carrier use and how good is the coverage where I live, work, or plan to use my phone most. The second consideration is to make sure the BYOP phone you have is compatible with the network you want to use it with.
I have had comments from many readers in rural areas, that ended up choosing the Straight Talk T-Mobile network SIM and the AT&T iPhone and have found out the hard way that there is no T-Mobile network reception in their area and when they do find any area with reception the data is really slow.
If you buy an iPhone 4, 4s, or iPhone 5 from Straight Talk it will use the Straight Talk Verizon compatible 3G network. Verizon does not let Straight Talk use their 4G LTE network. Straight Talk will not let you Bring Your Own Verizon network iPhone and register it on their Verizon network either. I think this is also part of their business relationship with Verizon.
If you want to use the Verizon network, you’ll need a Verizon iPhone and find a prepaid wireless company that supports Verizon. You could sell your unlocked AT&T iPhone on eBay and buy and equivalent Verizon model and switch to Verizon Prepaid. You should be able to bring a Verizon iPhone you buy to their prepaid network. You might be able to bring a Verizon iPhone to Page Plus. I have never done it. I have read conflicting reports that they will activate BYOP Verizon iPhones. You could also sell your iPhone and buy a new verizon iPhone from Straight Talk or other prepaid Verizon carrier. If you go the Straight Talk route, their iPhone 4, 4s, and iPhone 5 use the Verizon network.
Let me know if you would like to discuss more options to use the Verizon network
Straight Talk doesn’t like to advertise which network you will be using with your phone. It’s a marketing problem for them so it isn’t surprising you didn’t easily find the “straight talk” on Straight Talk.