We’ve written about prepaid cellular services on occasion, most recently showcasing a provider that allows consumers with unlocked GSM devices to simply insert a subscriber identity module (more commonly referred to as a SIM card) in order to take advantage of its inexpensive talk, text, and data mobile services. The freedom for consumers to be able to use a wider variety of devices with a prepaid carrier while potentially saving money is an attractive trend that is growing within the cellular services business, particularly among no-contract providers such as SIMPLE Mobile and Straight Talk.
Many prepaid providers also offer their own devices, and today we’ll list, in no particular order of preference (aside from the very first item on the list), the top 10 phones that are available for Straight Talk. Though nearly all of the these devices are available directly from StraightTalk.com, the availability of some of these smart phones depends on where you are located. Plugging various ZIP codes into Straight Talk’s phone search form will return different results. So depending on where you live or where you intend to use the device, you may not immediately find the phone you’re looking for. A couple of the smart phones may be more easily discovered at other stores offering Straight Talk services, such as Amazon or Walmart. I am basing my list on the devices I’ve discovered through both Straight Talk and Walmart’s websites, but keep in mind that there may be other devices available for Straight Talk that slipped by my radar (and if you know of any, please add them to the list by commenting)!
iPhone 5 for Straight Talk
I’ll be kicking off this list with my own current favorite smart phone, but after this first item, I won’t be listing the phones in a preferential order. Straight Talk offers all three of the same versions of the iPhone 5 that are also sold directly from Apple at the same prices: $650, $750, and $850 (depending on whether you opt for the 16 GB, 32 GB, or the 64 GB model). The iPhone 5 comes in two colors, black or white, making a total of six available varieties available through Straight Talk. Every iPhone 5 model comes with a 4″ Retina display, an 8 megapixel (MP) iSight camera with panoramic capabilities, a front-facing camera (good for FaceTime and other video calling), and runs on Apple’s own A6 chip. These models are also unlocked (as are the ones sold directly from Apple).
iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S for Straight Talk
Using StraightTalk.com’s shop-by-ZIP-code form, I discovered Straight Talk listing the iPhone 4 is available in my area, but not the iPhone 4S. I discovered that you can purchase the 4S for Straight Talk at Walmart, however. So again, when you’re searching Straight Talk’s website, make sure to try different ZIP codes. Also use Google if you have a specific phone in mind. For example, search Google using the following search phrase (exactly as presented below):
site:straighttalk.com "iphone 4s"
Using that search phrase, you’ll discover that StraightTalk.com has its own subdomain dedicated to the Apple iPhone, iPhone.StraightTalk.com. All of Apple’s current iPhones are available on that subdomain (though it appears that the subdomain is simply a portal to Walmart.com, where you can purchase the device). In any case, The iPhone 4S is available for $550, in white or black, and is available in a 16 GB version (as it is when purchased directly from Apple). The iPhone 4S runs iOS 6 (the most recent version of iOS), has a 3.5″ Retina display, an 8 MP camera, a front-facing camera (especially good for FaceTime video calls), and runs on the A5 CPU Apple itself developed.
The iPhone 4, on the other hand, may be an aging phone, but at $450 it’s still a very capable device, and in my opinion still beats many of the other devices on this list. The phone is available in black or white, and as with buying directly from Apple, available in only an 8 GB model. Now 8 gigs may not seem like much, but remember that Apple offers iCloud storage, which covers the needs of many users (perhaps most). The iPhone 4 is also capable of running the latest version of iOS (version 6). The iPhone 4 has a 3.5″ Retina display, a 5 MP iSight camera, a front-facing camera (again, good for FaceTime), and runs on Apple’s A4 processor.
Galaxy S II and Galaxy S III for Straight Talk
Depending on the ZIP code you enter, it may take you a while to locate a Samsung Galaxy S series smart phone on Straight Talk’s website. Walmart’s website, on the other hand, offers a quick and easy way to locate an S2 that is made to work on the Straight Talk network. $350 will get you the popular Galaxy S series smart phone, which comes with a 4.3″ WVGA Super AMOLED touch display, 12 GBs of storage (with a microSD card slot for up to 32 GB memory cards), and a 1.2 GHz dual core processor running the Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) mobile operating system. Gingerbread is not the latest version of Android, which is now up to 4.2, but keep in mind that there wasn’t a version 3 of Android developed for smart phones, only tablets.
When I checked StraightTalk.com Friday, no Galaxy S series smart phones were brought up when using my ZIP code to shop for a phone. Today I find the Galaxy S III listed, right up at the top of the site. Either my eyes have deceived me or the S III was made available to my area over the weekend. So if you’re not finding the device you desire on the site today, perhaps it’ll show up tomorrow. I recommend contacting Straight Talk if you’re unable to find a device on its website or on Walmart’s (or elsewhere). In any case, the popular Samsung Galaxy S III is now available for $440, boasting a 4.8″ hi-def Super AMOLED screen, 16 GBs of storage (including a microSD slot to expand storage to 64 GB), and a 1.5 GHz dual core processor running Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). It also features an 8 MP camera and a 1.9 MP front-facing camera. Though there is a newer version of the Galaxy S series available, it doesn’t appear that Straight Talk offers it at this time.
Optimus SHOWTIME for Straight Talk
On the Android side of things, everyone’s got their own opinion about which smart phone is best. Unfortunately, most people’s opinion of the best current Android phone available is probably not going to be found on this list, because Straight Talk probably isn’t offering it for sale. What it does have to offer, however, is the $250 LG Optimus SHOWTIME, an Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) smart phone that sports a 4.3″ touch screen, a 5 MP camera with flash, a front-facing camera (great for Google Hangouts and other video conferencing), and a 1 GHz processor. The Optimus SHOWTIME comes with a 4 GB microSD card, but unlike Apple’s iPhones, can be expanded to 32 GB.
Optimus Black for Straight Talk
Straight Talk also offers the LG Optimus Black, priced the same as the SHOWTIME but running on the older Android 2.3 operating system. Now, that may sound like a very old phone, but there was never a version of Android 3 for smart phones, as the OS was exclusively developed for tablet devices. Though I’ve used versions of Android 4 on an Android phone, I’m currently using Android 2.3 and finding it to be fitting my purposes well enough. The Optimus Black has 4″ WVGA NOVA touch screen, a 5 MP camera with flash, and a 1 GHz processor. As with the SHOWTIME, the device comes with a 4 GB microSD card that can be swapped out for a larger card.
Optimus Zip for Straight Talk
Coming in at number 7 on our list is the Optimus Zip, a phone that most power users aren’t going to be happy with but would be suitable enough for a user such as myself (as it’s comparable to the phone I’m currently using). As with the Optimus Black, the OS (Android 2.3) isn’t the latest version, the display (3.2″) isn’t the largest nor is it the greatest, the storage is a meager 4 GB, the camera is 3 MP (and doesn’t have a front-facing camera), and runs on an 800 MHz processor. Yet beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say, and sometimes functionality is what makes a phone beautiful. This phone has a slider — that is, a QWERTY keypad that slides out — and for some users, the tactile experience of a physical keypad is preferable to a touch screen (at least, when it comes to typing). Until recently, I preferred physical keypads to the touch screen ones (yet once I got used to using the touch screen, I realized that typing wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d expected it would be).
The phones on this list vary widely in functionality and popularity, but there’s something for everyone’s price range and needs. Again, plug different ZIP codes into the phone search form on Straight Talk to see if different phones are available for your area (or, more important, wherever it is you plan on using the device). Dig around or use Google to search the StraightTalk.com and you’ll find areas of the website that list different devices, including this section, which includes a Samsung Galaxy S II and some Nokia phones.
Also keep in mind that as with a similar service, SIMPLE Mobile, you can bring your own unlocked GSM phone (such as a Google/LG Nexus 4 or Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone), purchase a SIM card from Straight Talk, and start using your phone for less than most contract carriers! Which brings us to the #10 phone on our list: your own.
Anyone in our community who has used Straight Talk recently: what has been your experience with the carrier? Are you satisfied? What smart phones have you used with the network?