NET10 Wireless, Total Wireless, SafeLink Wireless and Telcel America – what do these have in common? The commonality isn't a major wireless carrier, the number of options in cellphone models or the many plans available. It’s Straight Talk, a subsidiary of América Móvil (the largest Mexican telecommunications company) that utilizes major cellphone carriers' services to bring the best to its customers. Since its birth in 2009, this contract-free, prepaid wireless service provided by TracFone Wireless Inc. offers desirable features and reliable connections at a reasonable cost.
For only $45.00 monthly, consumers can purchase Straight Talk at Walmart without the annoyance of credit checks or new phone numbers. This low monthly rate comes with enticing features like most major carriers - unlimited high-speed data, talk and text. No difference exists in the infrastructure compared to major carriers since it uses these services depending on customers' locations. Straight Talk is also compatible with the majority of mobile phones currently available.
Features to enjoy seem to be a sure thing for Straight Talk users. But competition exists in all markets, including cellular services. Others also offer low monthly plans and no contract options, making this review a 'must read' for those in search of a reliable and affordable carrier. Below are essential areas to explore if Straight Talk is an option under consideration.
Straight Talk offers low-cost, no contract prepaid cell phone plans, but are they the right carrier for you? Let's find out. You can compare Straight Talk Wireless plans using Wirefly, or read on for the rest of the review.
Unlimited Mobile to Mobile to Mexico, China, India, & Canada
Unlimited calls to over 1000 International landline destinations
Unlimited MinutesUnlimited to Mexico, China, India & Canada
25 GB 4G LTE data, then slowed (no overages)
$60/mo+ $0.99 Upfront
Link not provided
Speed and Coverage
4G LTE speeds are supported by Straight Talk with a compatible cell phone and its 4G LTE SIM card. The coverage makes it unique, since it relies on four top U.S. cellular networks. With these networks involved, optimal signal strength and speedy downloads should be the outcome. Yet, our experiences reveal a dissatisfaction by users regarding speeds. The main issue involves uploads and downloads. These can be too slow.
The average download speed was approximately 7 Mbps with upload speeds lagging behind that at only 3. The best outcomes were measured in Chicago with a download speed up to 10 Mbps. Signal strength also surfaced as an issue, but not so much that it's a concern. Yet, it did fail to fill all signal bars.
In comparison to other carriers with faster speeds, there's not an overall better experience when using a smartphone or tablet. Web pages load at the speed a cell phone is capable of and HD online videos run with no buffering. Also, new apps don’t take extremely long to download.
New Cell Phones
Straight Talk customers have options! The cell phone selection ranges from a few premium phones at higher prices to lower and mid-priced ones. Several models even come free through special offers. These include the economical ZTE Midnight, the Samsung Galaxy R375C and the LG Optimus Dynamic II. Even the smaller sized ZTE Midnight with a 3.5"screen, a lower priced models, is a touchscreen.
This ZTE Midnight supports standard usage like internet surfing and emailing, taking pictures (with a 3 MP camera) and viewing multimedia files. This 832 MHz processor stores multimedia files on an expandable microSDHC card. The downside - only the older version Android 2.3 is available a small trade off for the cost, which is free.
In comparison to the ZTE, the higher end Samsung Galaxy S6 has a larger touchscreen of 5.1" - a Super AMOLED display with Quad HD (2560X1440) resolution. This Samsung has looks that match its awesome performance. It's super fast speed with 64-bit octa-core processor allows for heavy usage the some individuals require, including playing the latest games. Also, many Samsung owners expect the high quality pictures and videos that comes with the Samsung reputation. The Galaxy S6 meets this expectation. With a bright lens and a 16 MP sensor and f1.9 aperture capture, high definition in pictures, even with challenging lighting, is a sure thing.
An additional option: the iPhone 6s Plus. This 5.5” screen with HD display includes 3D Touch technology. Quick taps and long presses are distinguishable and touch (haptic) feedback is reasonable. The camera, a 12-megapixel, records 4K video footage at 30 fps. It also records slo-mo video for 1080p at 120 fps. Appearance-wise, this cell phone is as visually appealing as other Apple options. Basically, this ranks among the best of what cell phones offer.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
When deciding on a cellphone, abandoning a favorite is not always a must. A program offered by Straight Talk, "Bring Your Own Phone," allows individuals to continue using a favorite device. Compatibility is high for the majority of cellphone models including those compatible with carriers such as AT$T, Sprint and T-Mobile. Unlocked phones operating on 850MHz and 1900MHz provide hassle-free connecting and CDMA cellphones only require a few steps for ensuring use on the Straight Talk network.
The ease of set up is a Straight Talk benefit. After the quick verification process to ensure compatibility, individuals purchase an activation kit and service plan for $0.99. The SIM card or access code to the network is provided with this purchase, allowing the activation process to begin. The actual activation process is then completed through the Straight Talk website.
Though only two options exist, customers still have the choice between a $45.00, 30-Day plan or a $60.00, 30-Day plan. Both offer unlimited text with the data set to 5GB before it increases to 2G speeds. The higher priced plan includes international services to more than 1,000 locations worldwide, making staying connected during international travel a sure thing. The one downside to the pricing - Straight Talk requires payments at the start of the month for the full 30 days.
Like other TracFone Wireless services, customer service is not the best. Reaching a live person to assist is not always easy, according to surveys by J.D. Power and Associates. These surveys also show that Straight Talk finishes next to last in both the buying experience and in customer care, leading to the conclusion that customer service, overall, is weak. Yet, there is a way to minimize the stress brought on when calling for assistance through the service number (877-430-2355 or 1-888-442-5096). Utilizing the automated assistance is the best option until a live representative is reached. The hours of operation are Monday through Sunday, 8 am to 11:45 pm EST.
Other Customer Service Options
Connecting through social media such as Twitter or Facebook or using Straight Talk's email service (ST.CorpResolutionTeam@straighttalk.com) are other options to consider. This may be preferred by some customers over real-time cellphone communication. As long as customers include their cell phone numbers and the type of cellphone owned, inquiries should receive responses.
Value is High
Smartphone choices offer new or used options
Speed is fast for downloads
Network coverage is great
International service is an option
Customer service is lacking in response time
Plan options are set to only two
The Final Verdict
Though there are a few downfalls when comparing to other carriers, Straight Talk comes in number one for the level of data available. Wi-fi connections clearly exist as a benefit as well, since this service relies on the major carriers with the one assigned depending on the customer's location. Jump to top
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