Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of posts about Straight Talk. For those of you who don’t know, TracFone is collaborating with Walmart to “Cut Your Cell Phone Bill In Half” by working as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) on AT&T and T-Mobile. This allows you to get the same coverage as the big companies in your area, but pay the much cheaper costs associated with Straight Talk, namely $45.00 a month for Unlimited* Talk, Text and Web (The web as many customers have found out is not “unlimited”, but most consumers aren’t going to hit the warning cap set by Straight Talk). I was nervous mainly because I didn’t know what features were going to break when I tried to convert my phone to Straight Talk’s network. My iPhone 4S is locked to AT&T (I am waiting for AT&T to unlock my phone since it is now out-of-contract) and I wasn’t sure if that would create an issue or not. But, I took the plunge anyways and below are my findings!
The first thing I did was go to Straight Talk’s website and look into its “Bring Your Own Device” program. Previously, users were forced to purchase a cheap phone that they would just end up throwing away. That is no longer the case, as you can now purchase a Micro SIM for the expensive-for-a-SIM-card-price of $14.99 + Tax. The program supports any GSM iPhone, but it does not work with CDMA-only (iPhone 4) models like those used on Verizon or Sprint.
Once you receive your SIM card, activate it, following the directions inside the insert it came in. Then insert your SIM into your device and watch as the “AT&T” disappears to reveal a “HOME” carrier. Try to make a phone call and send a text message (to another person who DOES NOT have an iPhone). If all works well, you should be good to go on your “Unlimited Talk and Text”. Now we must address the Web side of that.
Data and Multimedia Messaging (MMS) on Straight Talk is a lot more complicated. Data is relatively simple. All you need to do is go to http://unlockit.co.nz and select “Straight Talk” as your carrier. Install the profile it downloads to your device, and your data is good to go! Since this iPhone 4S is running iOS 6, the numerous methods that have gotten MMS working for others (including backup, .plist modify, and restore) did not work for me. Even on Straight Talk’s website, it says the only way for you to get MMS working was to Jailbreak. Although I’ve jailbroken devices before, there isn’t an iOS 6 jailbreak out for the 4S and even if there was, I don’t want to mess with it that much.
Then I found a SIM-swap method that “supposedly” worked for iOS 6. I was skeptical, but decided it would be worth my time to try it. I headed over to my local T-Mobile Retail Store and asked to buy a Micro SIM. Although I was hounded to buy a plan with it to get the SIM “free” I finally was able to get out with just a $9.99 T-Mobile Micro SIM. You don’t have to have a T-Mobile SIM, it simply needs to be a non-AT&T SIM. Make sure you are on the home screen and you have all pending and unsent MMS’s deleted. Make sure to read these directions BEFORE you do the SIM swap, otherwise you could mess something up. I’m not liable if you
Eject your current Straight Talk SIM, and replace it with your T-Mobile SIM.
Wait about 5 seconds and then tap Settings -> General -> Cellular -> Cellular Data Network (Most of these settings will be blank, that is okay.)
While on the Cellular Data Network screen, eject the T-Mobile SIM and insert the Straight Talk SIM. (DO NOT WORRY – when you take out the T-Mobile SIM you’ll get kicked back a few settings screens, that isn’t a problem.)
QUICKLY navigate back to Cellular -> Cellular Settings. Sit on this screen for 10 seconds. You should see the apn field filled with phone.
Update the settings to the following:
MMS Proxy: 18.104.22.168
MMS Max Message Size: 1048576
MMS UA Prof URL: Blank
Tap Cellular -> General -> Settings
Tap the home button to get back to your home screen.
Hold down the power button and turn off your phone.
Your MMS should be properly configured and you should be completely set up on Straight Talk, just as if you bought the iPhone directly from them!
Update: For the past few days, the iPhone has had the exact same coverage, service, and reliability as my iPhone 5, all for $45.00 a month. No problems whatsoever!