Now a day’s smartphones have become common place and the standard phone to have, the only problem is that these phones get expensive to use. The cheapest plans out there are still over $100 and as much as I like having a smartphone I don’t think I would pay over $100 a month to use it. We luckily we have a choice now with Straight Talk, Ting, NET10, and more companies coming out offering a cheaper way to use your smartphone. We’re going to look at two of these companies today, Straight Talk and Ting.
Ting is perfect as a limited use phone that can be scaled up big for a month, (vacation, and emergencies) without penalty. The phone can just sit there for $8 a month if you don’t use it at all. You don’t need to pay $90 a month for 450 min, texts and data that don’t get used. Also you can select a larger plan and be credited if you only used a lower tier of any of the services.
You have no contract with Ting and with the cost savings, you can always update your device, or cancel, before the traditional 18 month contract window if the network situation changes.
The call/text and data usage almost updates real-time in the dashboard (picture at top left). I set my account homepage as the homepage in my mobile browser, no need for an app.
The dashboard provides a tool to estimate your total monthly usage of each service (text, voice, data) at any time based on prior behavior. You can set an alert to text, email or call you at any level you determine to prevent you from going into the next tier.
There are no night and weekend minutes with Ting, but calling is cheap, and $0 if you don’t want to use calling.
Data appears to be more expensive at first glance, but taking into account the low cost of other services or lack of need to subscribe to them it comes out cheaper. Your own usage may compare differently. After a 3 gig tier for data, you are charged 2.25¢ per mb, which ends the fear of a big jump on overages.
A link off your data page breaks down you data use by day.
You are paying a phone provider for services you use as you use them. And if you don’t like Ting – no contract – they give you a one button click cancel.
Below is a map of Tings voice coverage, use this link to check the data in your area.
Straight Talk is a pre-paid cell phone service that offers unlimited calling, texting and data usage for $45 a month and allows users to bring their own phone (GSM Phones only).
Straight Talk Wireless offers wide coverage area, but does little to educate potential customers about coverage.
The map below shows the coverage for the United States, but breaks it out into Android and Non-Android coverage, which is to say smartphone and non-smartphone.
Contrary to many online comments, Straight Talk Wireless does offer 3G and 4G service on AT&T’s network with the AT&T SIM card.
This means that users can expect to see download speeds of 4Mbps.
During my use on the AT&T 4G network I saw download speeds of 4Mbps and upload speeds of around .57Mbps.
This is much slower than AT&T or Verizon 4G LTE, but noticeably faster than Verizon 3G on the iPhone 4S.
Straight Talk advertises Unlimited service, but includes a long list of activities not supported, which includes streaming music and movies. The restrictions are quite troublesome because Straight Talk advertises these features in the nationally aired commercial.
I’ve reached out to Straight Talk for clarification, but have not received confirmation on the restrictions listed deep in the Terms & Conditions.
For what it’s worth I can stream Pandora as well as watch Netflix movies on Straight Talk, but that’s no guarantee that the company won’t decide to cut my service off without a refund.
The iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S should work with Straight Talk without being unlocked, but will not support picture messaging unless jailbroken.
Straight Talk Wireless offers an unlimited plan with unlimited calling, texting and data for $45 a month without any contracts.
There are no set limits to usage, but Straight Talk can suspend service for “abnormally high” calling, texting or data use.
Unlimited plans on competing nationwide carriers are much more expensive and come with a two-year contract.
Sprint – $109.99
Verizon – $119.98 (4GB Data)
AT&T – $119.98 (3GB Data)
These plans come with subsidized phones, which is another price factor to consider. Users can buy the Straight Talk SIM card and use it with an AT&T phone or T-Mobile, but up-front costs will be higher.
Straight Talk delivers great coverage in many locations, including access to the fast AT&T “4G” network that is four times faster than Verizon 3G in my tests.
The price is right, and the ability to use the latest phones is incredibly attractive.
Unfortunately the ambiguous data usage terms and conditions detract from an otherwise impressively priced plan.
Users willing to risk the ire of Straight Talk by streaming music or videos can enjoy fast speeds, good call quality and great prices.
Until Straight Talk delivers straight talk about the data usage terms, users must be careful of investing large amounts of money in a phone to use with Straight Talk.