iPhone and iPad

Which US Carrier Offers the Best iPhone Prepaid Plan?

Kannon Yamada 17-05-2013

Can’t afford an iPhone because of an expensive monthly contract? There’s something that the major post-paid carriers don’t want you knowing: You can buy an iPhone without paying a fortune in monthly payments.


Here’s the secret: You don’t have to renew your cellular contract with Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon. There are alternatives called MVNOs. MVNOs lease spectrum wholesale from the big players and resell to the consumer at a much lower rate. If you want to save money, there are two choices Never Buy a Phone From Your Carrier! Buy Unlocked Phones and Save Hundreds Unlocked phones can cost a fortune, but the savings more than make up for it. You can save thousands by not signing a contract. We've got six phones that come contract free! Read More : Purchase a new, unlocked iPhone and add it to an MVNO carrier or buy a locked iPhone from an MVNO.

This article explains the five best MVNO carriers for iPhone users and the issues faced when migrating from a major network. However, if you simply want tips on how to evaluate the best iPhone prepaid plans, check out this article 4 Tips for Saving Money on Prepaid Mobile Phone Plans In the United States, T-Mobile made history by becoming the first cellular carrier to not force customers into buying multi-year contracts. After the policy shift, T-Mo users can purchase subsidized phones independent of a monthly... Read More .

best iphone prepaid plans

How Do I Get An iPhone onto a Prepaid MVNO?

As stated previously, you can either purchase a new or used unlocked iPhone or you may purchase a locked phone from an MVNO carrier. However, caveats exist:

  1. You cannot move a used Sprint iPhone onto any MVNO carriers. Sprint has given little explanation for this decision, unfortunately. The likely reason is that they don’t want their biggest cash cows to graze in other fields. If I’m wrong, please correct me.
  2. If you’re under a contract, leaving will require a very hefty early termination fee.
  3. If you move a phone across networks, even on GSM, you may experience data speed issues. For example, if you switch an AT&T iPhone 5 onto the T-Mobile network, you may only be able to reach 2G or 3G speeds.
  4. The iPhone 4S comes with dual GSM and CDMA technology, meaning that if unlocked they function on any network (except Sprint), making them highly prized among Apple products.
  5. GSM phones use different sized SIM cards. The iPhone 4 uses a micro SIM whereas the iPhone 5 uses a nano SIM. However, wrong sized SIM can easily be converted into the right size How To Save Hundreds On Your Mobile Phone Bill In 3 Easy Steps Cutting your mobile phone bill in half takes only three simple steps - first, find a carrier that offers discounted plans, such as an MVNO. Second, get an unlocked phone. Third, and optionally, you can... Read More .

T-Mobile Prepaid Plans

best iphone prepaid


For heavy data users, T-Mobile’s $30 a month plan for 100 voice minutes and unlimited SMS and data ranks among the best. However, if you require additional voice minutes, T-Mo offers $60 and $70 plans for which include unlimited everything, although data gets throttled after 2GB and 5GB, respectively.

They don’t advertise their best plans, though. You have to go to the bottom of their prepaid page to find their “Pay by the day” plans.

What’s good? In terms of total value, the $30 T-Mobile plan provides the best bang for your buck. However, if you scale up, you get better value, and network connectivity, from the MVNOs.

What’s bad? Unfortunately, the T-Mobile network trails behind the other three big carriers in data connectivity. Its 4G network focuses on providing HSPA+ data, which doesn’t reach the speeds of LTE. T-Mobile plans on rolling out its actual LTE network throughout this year, although any phone without an LTE chip won’t be able to reach LTE speeds.


What’s ugly? In many markets, all iPhones except the iPhone 5 are limited to 2G data speeds because of 3G compatibility issues with the 1700-MHz band. You will want to check with T-Mobile to see if your area is one of the effected regions.

Phone cost: A brand new iPhone 5 will run about $649.99 from the Apple Store.

Extra costs: The T-Mo SIM card runs about $10 from their website.

PagePlus Wireless Prepaid Plans

best iphone prepaid


PagePlus Wireless currently holds the honor of being the only MVNO with full functionality with the Verizon iPhone 5. While Verizon officially disallows its iPhones from leaving its service, it’s been reported that users have been activating Verizon iPhones on the PagePlus Cellular service. Keep in mind that Verizon is legally obligated to provide service to any phone on its network – if it attempts to block service, that’s grounds for a class action lawsuit.

PagePlus offers three main plans:

  • $29.95 for 1,200 minutes of talk, 3,000 SMS/MMS and 250 MB of data.
  • $39.95 for unlimited talk and text and 200 MB of data.
  • $69.95 for unlimited talk and text and 5 GB of data.

What’s good? PagePlus uses the Verizon network, meaning that it receives excellent data speeds and coverage.

What’s bad? The PagePlus plans rank among the most expensive.


What’s ugly? The fact that Verizon may decide to block iPhones from operating on their network is criminal.

Phone cost: You can’t buy an unlocked Verizon iPhone 5 outside of eBay. The Verizon iPhone is sold “unlocked” and it includes a SIM card slot. However, Verizon can relock the phone if the terms of the contract are not met. However, you can still buy an iPhone 4S from the Apple Store for $549.

Extra costs: None.

Straight Talk Prepaid Plans

best iphone prepaid

Straight Talk operates on both AT&T and T-Mobile networks, which use different SIM cards for each network. Finding an AT&T SIM might be difficult, however. For heavy data users, the $45 a month, unlimited everything plan for Straight Talk offers great value. Also, it appears that Straight Talk may start offering codes for Verizon-CDMA phones (although, probably not iPhones).

I personally regard Straight Talk plans as the best suited for all GSM iPhones.

What’s good? You get a lot of juice out of this bargain, if you use a lot of data, voice minutes and SMS. Another great option is that you can pay up-front and receive a discount. For example, if you pay a full year in advance, it only costs $41.50 per month.

What’s bad? It’s hard to find AT&T Straight Talk SIM cards anywhere. Walmart sometimes carries them. Another place is eBay and Craigslist. Otherwise, you are forced to use the T-Mobile network SIMs.

What’s ugly? Nothing! I consider the Straight Talk plan to be the prettiest of the MVNOs.

Phone cost: A brand-new, unlocked iPhone 5 will run about $649.99, or more, from the Apple Store.

Extra costs: Finding a Straight Talk SIM card is not easy. Walmart sometimes carries them.

Virgin Mobile Prepaid Plans

best iphone prepaid service

Virgin Mobile operates on the Sprint network, so, depending on your region, could be very good or very bad – or something between.

Here’s some of the V-Mo plans that you can sign up for:

  • $35/month with 300 minutes of voice and unlimited  SMS and LTE data.
  • $45/month with 1,200 minutes of voice and unlimited SMS and LTE data.
  • $55/month with unlimited everything.

What’s good? Virgin Mobile plans rank among the best. For those who want Sprint coverage combined with great customer service and an awesome replacement program, you can’t do better than Virgin. Additionally, you get LTE speeds.

What’s bad? V-Mo only offers the iPhone 4 and 4S. Also, after buying, you cannot move your phone onto another network, nor can you ever unlock your iPhone from the V-Mo network (which is Sprint). All V-Mo phones, by default, are locked to the carrier without the possibility of ever changing that.

What’s ugly? Not much.

Phone cost: A brand new 16GB iPhone 4S will run about $449.99 from Virgin Mobile and the iPhone 4 8GB costs $349.99.

Extra costs: None.

Cricket Prepaid Plans

best iphone prepaid service

Cricket operates on the Sprint CDMA network. It also has a single $45 a month, unlimited everything plan, which is on par with the competition.

What’s good? For a completely unlimited plan, Cricket ties with Straight Talk. However, it uses the Sprint network – it has been reported that CDMA phones function better from within buildings.

What’s bad? Cricket, like most CDMA carriers, doesn’t allow their phones to be used on other networks. Nor does it allow other CDMA phones on their network. I have read about third parties that modify CDMA phones to work with Cricket. However, I would not advise that.

What’s ugly? The Cricket iPhone is not available in many major markets.

Phone cost: A brand new iPhone 4S will run about $400-500 from Cricket’s website. An iPhone 5 likely runs about $650. However, Cricket does not show prices if you aren’t within an eligible market (and I am not).

Extra costs: No additional costs.

Ptel Prepaid Plans [No Longer Available]

best iphone prepaid plans

Ptel operates on the T-Mobile network.  They’re known for their barebones PAYG (pay as you go) plans and for not rounding up on voice and data usage. Essentially, if you barely use your phone and don’t mind the T-Mo network, Ptel will likely suit your needs. Its plans all work with all models of GSM-capable iPhone.

Pay-Go Plans:

  • $10 for 60 days of service, with your balance expiring after a year.
  • $20 for 90 days of service, with your balance expiring after a year.
  • $30 for 120 days of service, with your balance expiring after a year.
  • $40 for 150 days of service, with your balance expiring after a year.
  • $50 for 180 days of service, with your balance expiring after a year.
  • $100 for a full year of service, with the balance never expiring.

Full disclosure: I am a happy Ptel user.

What’s good? Ptel offers no-nonsense BYOD pay-as-you-go and unlimited plans. However, their unlimited plans aren’t entirely comparable to similar plans from Straight Talk or Cricket. On the other hand, their pay-go ranks among the best around.

What’s bad? Ptel doesn’t have a data roaming agreement with AT&T, so data coverage can be poor when traveling.

What’s ugly? Ptel ranks among my favorite BYOD prepaid MVNO carriers. Nothing is ugly about them, unless you use a lot of data – in which case you’d pay $100 a gigabyte on their most expensive pay-go plan.

Phone cost: A brand new iPhone 4 costs $449.99 from their website, but you can bring aboard any GSM iPhone for the cost of a SIM card.

Extra costs: A microSIM card costs $4.99 from the Ptel site.


There’s a lot of great plans out there for people who want an iPhone, but don’t want to get ripped off. In my experience, as long as you avoid signing a contract and pay up front for the phone, you won’t get taken to the cleaners.

Remember that each person’s individual usage and location will strongly influence which MVNO carrier provides the best deal. For most iPhone users, if you can find an AT&T Straight Talk SIM, Straight Talk provides the best value.

Also, keep in mind that if you already have an iPhone, you can migrate to a cheaper MVNO by simply swapping out the SIM card.

However, for those of you sick of the iOS walled garden, consider some of the alternative absolute best Android prepaid plans The Best Prepaid Cell Phones on the US Market Mobile phone contracts suck. Everyone knows it, but we accept them because often we don’t seem to have much choice. The selection of pre-paid phones is poor and off-contract phones are expensive. But perhaps you... Read More that you can buy in the US.

Image Credits: iPhone via MorgueFile.com; Apple Logo via Shutterstock; Logos via their respective websites.

Related topics: Call Management, Mobile Plan, Save Money.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Troy W
    February 11, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    This information needs to be updated as it is Feb, 2015 and this information is from May, 2013. as of now Virgin Mobile does offer iphone 5s 5c as well as 6. some updating is truly in order right away.

    • Kannon Y
      February 17, 2015 at 5:03 am

      I'll see what we can do. Right now we normally just publish updated content rather than rewrite older articles.

  2. steve
    December 29, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    Have been trying to activate my IP 5 for over three weeks with Straight Talk. They blame Fedex for my inability to obtain ported SIM card. Should have kept AT&T unlimitted data plan.

    • Kannon Y
      December 29, 2014 at 9:10 pm

      That's horrible. FedEx won't ship you the SIM card?

  3. Anonymous
    November 7, 2013 at 5:10 am

    I bought my iPhone from Straight Talk so it was all set up. I didn't have to deal with the CDMA cards so don't really know anything about that. Sorry

    I just returned from a trip and I'm happy to say my phone - and Straight Talk - worked beautifully all across the country. Absolutely no problems!

  4. CC
    September 28, 2013 at 5:41 am

    I've had my iPhone 5 through Straight Talk for about a week now, and so far so good. Setting it up was a breeze and I've had no problems at all. I asked customer service a lot of questions via email and they answered promptly. One thing I verified is that my phone is using Verizon network which works best in my area.

    So far, I'm extremely happy with my iPhone and very satisfied with Straight Talk.

    • jen parks
      November 6, 2013 at 4:30 pm

      I went on the straight talk website, and it said that cdma cards aren't compatitble with their service... so how does it work?

  5. CC
    September 16, 2013 at 3:57 am

    I decided I didn't want to wait until 5C or 5S are available from Straight Talk and I hear T-Mobile doesn't get good reception in my area. Soooo - on Friday I ordered an iPhone5 from the Straight Talk website and I should get it this week. It's a relief to have the decision made, and after all the research, I feel I made the right one. I'll let you know how I like it!

    • Kannon Y
      September 16, 2013 at 7:38 am

      Hey, thanks for the comment!

      You should be able to buy the $550 (unlocked) 5C or the 5S for $650 (unlocked) and then insert a Straight Talk SIM card. You just have to make sure you buy the phone for a GSM network, like T-Mobile or AT&T.

      According to the Apple Store launch page, the T-Mobile version comes unlocked. You should be able to use the T-Mobile version with an AT&T-based MVNO (like AirVoice, Net10, etc...), but you would need to contact the carrier first, to ask as there are sometimes complications. In this case, though, don't think there's going to be issues.

      While MVNOs like Straight Talk sell phones ready to go with their network, these are identical to the phones being sold unlocked by T-Mobile.

  6. Jessica
    September 11, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Thanks for all the helpful information. I still don't have very clear something. My situation is that I have an iPhone 4S with sprint and I can not afford the fees any longer. Can you please recommend me what to do to my iPhone in order to be able to connected in a pre paid company.? Will it work with a safe link SIM card? Please help me thanks in advance.

  7. CC
    September 9, 2013 at 4:19 am

    I contacted Straight Talk directly (several times since they danced around my questions). I told them I wanted to buy an unlocked iPhone from Apple and wanted to use it with Staight Talk. They answered that they didnt have SIM card for i5 so I couldn't bring my own phone. They sell i5 at full price of $649 for 16GB and it can only be used with Straight Talk. So if I ended up not liking ST, I'm out of luck (hopefully I would like it).

    My thoughts now (after hours of researching plans - and your article was very helpful) I'll either buy from Straight Talk and cross my fingers I like it - - or buy unlocked from Apple and go with T-Mobile prepaid. Assuming I'd like ST, it seems like the best value. It's all soooo confusing!

    Thanks for your reply

    • Meriam
      September 11, 2013 at 9:34 pm

      I have the same problem as you. The thing is T-mobile does not work good in my area. I hardly get the signal and I hate it (I am using the T-mobile prepaid with regular phone). I think iphone 5c can use straight talk, but not 5s. I am not so sure. I really want 5s. Let me know what you choose and how you like it, please.

  8. CC
    September 8, 2013 at 2:46 am

    I had planned to buy an iPhone 5 from Apple (or 5S or 5C) and use on Straight Talk but they tell me I can't do that; and if I buy it through them, it can't be used anywhere BUT Straight Talk. Sort of like a contract without the contract. I can't decide for sure what to do.

    • Kannon Y
      September 8, 2013 at 6:26 pm

      In the United States, provided that you buy an unlocked phone, you can use the iPhone 5 on any MVNO that rents spectrum from either AT&T or T-Mobile (or AT&T and T-Mobile directly).

      You can buy locked phones from Straight Talk or another carrier. These cannot legally be unlocked, without the permission of the company that locked it. If they are locked, then these are subsidized phones and oftentimes cost less than the full retail value. The full retail price of an iPhone 5 is about $500-550. The full cost of a brand-new 5S or 5C device is around $650, based on previous iPhone prices at launch.

      Apple sells unlocked iPhone directly from their site. The key word is "unlocked". If it's not unlocked, then you won't be able to change networks at a whim.

      Thanks for the comment!

  9. Matt
    August 24, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    What's the low down on Net10?

    • Kannon Yamada
      August 24, 2013 at 11:39 pm

      If I remember correctly, with Net10's recent changes and its BYOD policies, you can migrate a GSM iPhone onto their service without much issue. Provided you pay the money up front, the total cost comes in at $40/month. If you factor in the data cap (1 or 2 GB last I checked), it's one of the best deals around.

  10. Gabe
    August 23, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    Where is the proof that Verizon is legally obligated to provide service to any phone on its network? I looked at the link above in the PagePlus section and couldn't find this info anywhere.


  11. Terry K
    August 10, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Page Plus will accept the Verizon iPhone 4 and 4S now. I'm running a 4s on P+ and happy with it.

    • Kannon Yamada
      August 10, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      Nice! The iPhone 4 series is one of the best phones ever made IMO.

      PagePlus (I love the P+ shortener!) does not officially support the iPhone, last I checked. But according to all accounts, the iPhone works fine with its service. I couldn't find any source that showed official support though.

      Verizon network + iPhone 4 is one of the best combinations you can get anywhere. It's an amazing deal. Good job!

      • Terry K
        August 11, 2013 at 3:03 am

        P+ (I had a discussion with someone high up at P+ about this) has said now that VZW is allowing iPhones on its prepaid, as is ATT (which officially supports the iPhone on GOphone now), as long as the computer accepts the serial, its a go. I had no problems getting my 4s activated on P+

      • Terry K
        August 11, 2013 at 3:06 am

        Also, P+ has a $55 plan for 2gb of data, the two ones mentioned with 200 mb are now 500 mb.

        AT&T's $60 plan supports the iPhone and reportedly gives LTE access.

  12. Kyle
    May 21, 2013 at 5:51 am

    After being with AT&T for over 10 years, I switched to pre-paid carrier Solavei and am loving it!  $49/mo unlimited talk, text, and data on T-Mobile's 4G network.  The first 4gb of data are at the full 4G speed before your speed gets throttled. Comparing apples to apples, that's the best out there. And the cherry on the top is they pay you residually every month for referrals you enroll in Solavei. Not only is my cell bill paid for, but I also make a significant amount of money monthly -just for sharing about my savings with my friends and family.  You can too... Check out [Broken URL Removed] for more info.

    • Kannon Yamada
      May 21, 2013 at 8:16 pm

      I know that Solavei offers a very good service, but their business model isn't sustainable. The $49 a month unlimited plan, compared to other T-Mo MVNOs, is actually a good deal by itself. But as they expand, there's an increasingly important question of profitability. Can a business continue to offer free or reduced cost plans to a large number of their members? Only if they keep expanding. And MVNOs have limited growth.

      Solavei is an MVNO. They actually rent finite broadcast spectrum from T-Mobile, so over time they must either find another revenue source or become unprofitable.

      Unless there's something I'm missing, I imagine that Solavei won't be able to do business as is forever. Eventually the bottom is going to fall out.

      Thanks for sharing Kyle. And thanks for not linking to your referral account. :-)

      • Kyle
        May 22, 2013 at 3:28 am

        Thanks for the response. Solavei is one of the fastest growing MVNO's in history, with a strong partnership with T-Mobile. We have 180,000 members in 8 months.

        Yes, there is actually something you're missing. Solavei is actually a first-of-it's-kind social commerce company with the first phase being mobile service. We are rolling out "Solavei Marketplace" which will launch on our 1 year anniversary (Sept. 21st). It will be a mix of Groupon and Amazon and provide Solavei members discounts at retailers (Target, Wal-mart, Home Depot, Starbucks, etc) and allow small and medium sized businesses to run deals and coupons. There is much more to it, which if you want, you can watch the actual presentation on Solavei Marketplace from the Solavei regional event from last weekend in Las Vegas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Q7sZstG478 )

        John Rittenhouse, the Chief Operating Officer of Solavei said, "Solavei is the modern day Wal-Mart story." That's a lofty statement. But then you realize the weight of those words when they come from Rittenhouse, who was the former Chief Operating Officer of Wal-mart. He is just one of the many C-class executives that have aligned themselves with the vision of Solavei.

        Would love to discuss it more with you if you have any questions.

        Thanks - Kyle

  13. Paul Werner
    May 19, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    Android walled garden???

    • Kannon Yamada
      May 21, 2013 at 8:06 pm

      Thanks for the correction Paul! I'm not sure what I was thinking. :-D

  14. gio
    May 18, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    Nice article, been a fan of mvno's for quite sometime. I have used straight talk the most with no issues. I did want to point something out, because of work and needing heavy days I switched to tmobile. I had been with them before and left because they used to throttle after a certain amount. I have been using about 8gb + with no throttling whatsoever recently. I spoke with their support or if curiosity and add told they removed the throttling for their unlimited plans. Just an fyi in your article, you still mention the old way, when they indeed throttled. They don't anymore.

    • Kannon Yamada
      May 20, 2013 at 11:15 pm

      I'll need to make that correction - thanks Gio! I also heard about this change very recently - everyone is talking about it.

      I'm curious - how are you managing to hit 8GB in monthly usage? That's quite impressive. Streaming video perhaps?

      • Gio
        May 21, 2013 at 3:06 pm

        It is quite a bit and it was within a weeks time too lol, and you are right. I was pretty much streaming, downloading everything I possibly could. I added a 64Gig sd card to my note 2 and just went crazy. I am still having a lot of data usage, but no more 8gb in a week. I still do about 4-8gb in a month normally.

  15. Robert
    May 18, 2013 at 4:02 am

    I just started ptel, what do you mean "with your balance expiring after a year."? I thought the balance rolled over.

    • Kannon Yamada
      May 20, 2013 at 10:39 pm

      It's a good thing you mentioned that - the balances do roll over, but Ptel expires balances after a year from the date of purchase on the cheaper plans. It's only on the $100/365 days a year plan that the minutes never expire.

      It works like this: If you purchase the $10 per 60 days plan, you continue to get additional service days and cash balance as you add money. However, each individual dollar that you add has an expiration of one year. So unless it's used, the $5 that you added a year ago goes away. However, if you actually use the phone at all, it shouldn't be an issue.

      I've been using the service for a while now. Dollar-per-dollar, it's still a better plan than all the other pay-gos around. A much better deal.

      • gregor
        July 22, 2013 at 4:38 pm

        Hello Kannon - you write: "if you barely use your phone" - usage fluctuates, but my average seems around 1300 minutes/mo. I have a 3S but am ready to upgrade. I mainly would want to use my data plan for tethering, emails, navigation, skype, facebook and visiting/writing to bloggs - no download or streaming. I checked PTel but am not sure anymore seeing voice at 5C/min. Something else useful at PTel: International texting 2Cents. Very useful if you travel or if you have International visitors. If you advise "StraightTalk", why don't their sell their ATT-SIMs online?

        • Kannon Yamada
          August 11, 2013 at 4:45 pm

          Hey Gregor, Straight Talk just started selling AT&T SIMs again.


          Another thing about Ptel is that just recently AT&T and Tmobile dropped rates on MVNOs - Ptel hasn't yet adjusted their prices. Still 5 cents a minute for voice isn't bad at all. There are only a few other MVNOs that offer lower rates, but have worse policies and customer support.

  16. dave
    May 18, 2013 at 2:58 am

    I have straight talk and have had no problems. I use the internet quite a bit. Great speeds, operating off the AT&T spectrum. As good as speeds as AT&T contracts in this area. Didn't need any tech support/service, so can't speak to that.

  17. Rajaa Chowdhury
    May 18, 2013 at 2:25 am

    In such situations, I feel blessed residing in India rather than in the USA. Initially, SIM locked CDMA services and handsets were introduced in India, but never picked up. CDMA is still there, but are very marginal players in India. GSM holds the roost here, and that has handed the unlocked environment as a boon. Unlocked devices is the norm, and we can change our telecom service provider at a fraction of a a time if we are unsatisfied with their services or tariff plans. Specially applicable for the prepaid situation, which probably 80% to 90% of the Indian mobile user uses, specially the middle class. Postpaid is more popular with high society people or for corporate connections. Even in such situations, they mostly use unlocked devices and opt out of a postpaid plan if they wish, though the retention team really tries hard to keep them. :) Their are subsidised lock devices available with contract plans, but I doubt only a miniscule number of people opts for it in India, as we are well aware of the fallacies of such contracts, where you practically get bound and enslaved by the telecom service providers to their whims and fancies. That was also the reason, that iPhone did not pick up in India, as Apple tried to follow the USA model here, in tieing up with telecom players and offering only locked device with a contract plan. They realised their mistake last year, and have now started selling unlocked GSM iPhones through retail outlets, however, have missed the bus, as by now Android has garnered 62% of Indian smartphone market and iOS devices has only 1%. Even BB user are higher over iOS at 3%. :) :D You cannot compare two countries on same assumptions and standards, hard lesson learnt here in India by Apple. Missed out on probably the second or third biggest mobile user base in the world due to their policies.

    • Rajaa Chowdhury
      May 18, 2013 at 2:30 am

      I must add, that Sammy really understood the Indian mentality and played their cards well here and India is one of their better markets worldwide and is the most popular foreign brand for smartphones. They also launch their latest offerings in India with the least time lags.

    • Kannon Yamada
      May 20, 2013 at 11:07 pm

      Hello Rajaa, thanks for the thoughtful comment (and for the other awesome recommendations you left me earlier, which I have been evaluating over the last week).

      I'm curious - if 62% of India's smartphone market is Android, 1% iOS and 3% BB, then what is the remaining market composed of? It couldn't be Windows phones could it? Perhaps some kind of Symbian derivative?

      Anyway, It must be shocking to hear that contracts are the standard way of acquiring a cell phone in the US. It was quite a shock to me finding that in other parts of the world, contracts were a rarity. But if we think about it, it's very practical: Why would one need to sign a legally binding agreement for cellular service? I would rather connect two tin-cans using string than sign a contract.

      In 2006 I went to a major carrier with an unlocked phone and asked for service. They required that I sign a two-year contract for any service whatsoever. This is still the most common practice.

      The state of affairs for mobile internet in the United States is a sad one indeed. I have read that Indian prices per gigabyte put America to shame. And I would imagine the quality of Indian 4G will likely also trump that of the States. Our quality is not very good at all. And the coverage is quite bad.

      The broadening and strengthening of information technology infrastructure, in my opinion, is the sign of a rising superpower. And the US stagnation is represented by the lack of development in this area.

      Thanks again for sharing Rajaa!

      • Rajaa Chowdhury
        May 21, 2013 at 2:04 am

        India is just a growing market for smartphones and probably the phenomenon started around 2010 for this category to become common place, specially with the young urban population. Till last year, we had around 40 million smartphone users comprising of 62% Android, 21% Symbian (yes, I am surprised too, probably because of the Nokia stronghold), 8% Windows Phone, 5% Windows Mobile, 3% RIM and 1% iOS. Very different market share that probably any other country scenario. :)

        4G has not picked up, though it was launched almost simultaneously with the USA by a company called Airtel is some areas of Kolkata and Bangalore. Luckily my residence fell in that area, so I was one of the first to have a 4G coverage, but I still did not opt for it due to exorbitant pricing. However, 3G prices when revised last year by all telecom providers and yes it is now very affordable so most of the people use 3G. I have a 1GB DataPlan for 30 days costing US$3.6 pm and even if I consume off the 1GB within the 30 days, it runs at 256kps for the remaining days. Kinda unlimited plan at that price. :)

        Click here to see the Airtel 4G coverage Map. They have now added Pune and Chandigarh too : http://www.airtel.in/4g-lte/coverage.html .

        Last but not the least, thanks a ton for considering my suggestions and actively reviewing them. :D

      • Rajaa Chowdhury
        May 21, 2013 at 2:30 am

        To give an idea of our 3G Dataplan tariff :

        Aircel 3G DataPlan at Kolkata, India - PrePaid
        Price Validity Type High Speed Data Speed Available
        US $ (Days) (@3.6 Mbps / 7.2Mbps) on

        0.127 1 Unlimited 50MB Up to 3.6 Mbps Mobile
        0.29 3 Unlimited 100MB Up to 3.6 Mbps Mobile
        0.709 7 Unlimited 200MB Up to 3.6 Mbps Mobile
        1.218 15 Unlimited 250MB Up to 3.6 Mbps Mobile
        2.327 30 Unlimited 500MB Up to 3.6 Mbps Mobile
        3.6 30 Unlimited 1GB Up to 3.6 Mbps M & D
        7.254 30 Unlimited 2GB Up to 3.6 Mbps M & D
        12.67 30 Unlimited 5GB Up to 7.2 Mbps M & D
        18.127 30 Unlimited 10GB Up to 7.2 Mbps M & D

        *The performance and speed of data browsing is dependent on network usage patterns. Post reaching fair usage limit, 3G data browsing/downloading speed may be reduced up to 256 kbps for maintaining quality of services as per discretion of Aircel.

        **Plans for dongles start from US $3.6 and work on mobiles as well.

        M&D stands for Mobile and Dongles. Those plans work on both mobile and USB 3G dongles.

  18. Diane
    May 17, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    I tried StraightTalk earlier this year and was terribly disappointed in their service. I gave it a go for two months and for 3 1/2 weeks during that time I was unable to get any internet coverage. I ended having to call customer service every few days. Buyer beware. The price is good but in my experience the service isn't.

    • Kannon Yamada
      May 17, 2013 at 7:38 pm

      Sorry about your troubles Diane. On the iPhone there's a lot of data transfer issues migrating over to T-Mobile (which is the network Straight Talk uses).

      However, Straight Talk also offers AT&T SIM cards, although these are extremely hard to find nowadays. If you ever get one, the service is practically identical to an iPhone on AT&T. It's one of the reasons AT&T forced them to stop using them.