Straight talk is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator providing prepaid wireless service via a partnership with Wal-Mart and TracFone. This alternative carrier provides support both for GSM and for CDMA phones, as it rides on the Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T networks. You can also check our straight talk compatible phones for more options. Even with the flexibility in their services and network options, the most important question to consumers remains: are straight talk phones unlocked?
If you purchase your phone through straight talk or get a Free Phone From Straight Talk, the device is automatically locked to the carrier. The default lock often depends on the agreement you entered with the service provider when buying your device. On the other hand, Straight Talk carries an unlocking policy, in which they unlock phones that are capable of being unlocked. Some Straight Talk phones that use Verizon Towers cannot be unlocked.
You will only find two type unlocked cell phone networks in the market:
- The Global System for Mobiles or GSM – used by AT&T, T-Mobile and many more
- The Code Division Multiple Access or CDMA – used by Sprint and Verizon
The technical differences between these two networks may not be useful to consumers. The practical difference you will find important is that CDMA phones do not support a SIM card and a GSM device supports SIM cards. Simply, CDMA devices can only ever use a CDMA carrier. Therefore, if you begin with Spring, you are stuck with it. It also means that when buying straight talk refurbished phones, GSM devices avail better flexibility for alternative careers.
In trying to answer the question; are straight talk phones unlocked, it is essential to begin by understanding locked vs. unlocked phones. The major difference between unlocked and locked devices is being able to use the phone on other carriers after inserting a compatible SIM card into the mobile phone.
What Is Locking A Phone?
Due to GSM phones’ flexibility, moving from one network to another is simply through changing the SIM card. For example, if you bought one of the used unlocked cell phones in the marketplace, it avails the freedom to change carriers via swapping the providers’ SIM cards. As such, unlocked devices can work with nearly every Mobile Virtual Network Operator around the world, provided it supports the GSM network.
Most network carriers, however, have a problem with this view on unlocked phones, since some finance the phones for customers as an inclusive offer in the phone deal package. Very few consumers pay a thousand dollars and beyond for the amazing new Samsung Galaxy, iPhone or any other cell phone for that reason.
In its place, they opt for higher monthly bills that pay off the cell phone every month. Therefore, the carrier does not want to finance a phone whose owner will walk away and immediately insert another SIM card that switches them to another carrier. Consequently, the carrier locks the phone through a combination of both software and hardware to make the device only function on their network.
Can You Unlock A Locked Phone?
Carriers who finance phones for consumers have accompanying unlocking policies. However, keep in mind that not all phones can be unlocked. Essentially, a mobile network virtual operator will unlock the phone if you place the request. Most importantly, you must meet their criteria. Usually, the criterion is that:
- You own the cell phone
- You do not owe the carrier any monies
- You have been with the carrier for a specified period
That notwithstanding, the carrier reserves the right to reject or refuse your phone unlock request and compel you to stick around, even if you do not want to. The moment the GSM phone is unlocked, it can work on any GSM carrier’s network, as long as they sell you a SIM card.
Are Straight Talk Phones Unlocked?
So, are straight talk phones unlocked? Straight Talk phones are usually locked to the company’s network. However, the details may differ from one customer to another, often based on signing up an agreement with the company when you were buying the device. If your phone qualifies for unlocking, the company follows through on your request to unlock the mobile phone.
For instance, to unlock straight talk iPhone 6, the company has an unlocking policy under section VII, in which if you qualify, they will unlock the phone as long as you follow these guidelines:
- Request the phone unlock: This is often free for former and current Straight Talk clients, but a fee may apply for non-former customers.
- Make sure you are requesting the unlock code for an over 12 months’ Straight Talk activated phone, with a full-service plan.
- Ensure the phone has not been reported as lost or stolen.
However, military personnel is an exception to Straight Talk’s unlocking policy. The MVNO will unlock the device on the condition that you provide the necessary deployment papers as proof. Do you meet the prerequisites in Straight Talk’s consumer agreement but your device cannot be unlocked? The carrier often avails the option to credit for another device.
The moment your device is unlocked, you can use it with any carrier the phone supports. A good rule of thumb is to cross-check the bands supported by your device prior to using a different carrier with the phone.
Understanding Straight Talk’s Phone Deals
Straight Talk avails no-contract deals for individuals on monthly refills for basic data and voice plans starting at $30. For unlimited texts, nationwide talk time, as well as high-speed data, their offers begin at $45. Because of they partner with Wal-Mart, Straight Talk allows consumers to purchase new cell phones and plan refills online through their website or in-store. While this provider’s focus is on availing budget phones, you can still get the amazing Samsung Galaxy 8, or choose to bring your device.
Are you a price-conscious consumer? You must be in luck since Straight Talk carries plenty of offers for you. Therefore, you’ll want to read on for a suitable plan.
Best Individual Deals
For individuals, Straight Talk strictly avails prepaid 30-day deals. You do not have to sign any contract commitments, lest you are buying a cell phone through a monthly payment schedule. The company provides competitive plans for wireless phones including:
The $45 Monthly Plan
- Unlimited talk
- Unlimited text
- 8 GB of High-Speed data including 4G LTE speeds for compatible phones
The $55 Monthly Plan
- Unlimited talk
- Unlimited text
- 12 GB of high-Speed data including 4G LTE speeds for compatible phones
Data is usually unlimited for these two plans, just like the text and talk. However, once you reach the 8 GB and 12 GB allocations respectively, you will realize a sharp drop in internet speeds. This is because the system is set to reduce to 2G speeds until the next account refill.
To access a new plan card, you can purchase online from Straight Talk’s site or in-store at Wal-Mart. Better still, you can save a few dollars by signing up for the auto-refill selection. You can always opt-out of auto-refill at any time without incurring cancellation fees.
Straight Talk not only provides outstanding coverage from border to border but also avails substantial high-speed data, at highly affordable rates. This is because they borrow on the infrastructure and equipment of the big four networks. Therefore, the company can pass along the great savings without breaking the bank.
If you are interested in making multiple international calls, the company has a plan specifically for that.
The $60 Monthly International Calling Plan
- Unlimited domestic talk
- Unlimited text
- Unlimited data
- Unrestricted mobile to mobile calls to India, China, Mexico, and Canada phone numbers,
With Straight Talk, customers can refill their accounts based on their needs. This means you can sign-up for the international plan only when it is necessary.
If you are looking for something more long-term, Straight Talk still avails pre-paid extended plans. Under the plans, customers can pay 3,6, or 12 months in advance for the unlimited nationwide plan. These one-time payments relieve you from the hassle of account refills throughout the year, while still saving some bucks.
Here is the summary of the pre-paid extended plans:
$30 Monthly Plan
- 1500 minutes
- 100MB data
$45 Unlimited Monthly Pre-paid Extended Plan
- Unlimited nationwide calls
- Unlimited nationwide texts
- 8 GB of 4G LTE data
$55 Unlimited Monthly Pre-paid Extended Plan
- Unlimited nationwide calls
- Unlimited nationwide texts
- 12 GB of 4G LTE data
$60 Unlimited Monthly International Calling
- Unlimited international calling
- Mobile to Mobile to Canada, India, China, and Mexico
- Up to 15 exclusive destination numbers every service month
- 8 GB of 4G LTE data
- 400 extra minutes to Claro Guatemala mobile phone numbers
Unlocking Straight Talk Phones
If you got your device through straight talk and need to bring it to a different MVNO, the outcome depends on the specific phone you are looking to unlock. Simply call their customer service line at 1-877-430-CELL (2355). Once you get a connection to a customer service representative, ask for your phone’s unlock code. If the device is available for unlocking, the customer service agent will avail the unlock code via phone and you are good to go.
Straight Talk has a 24/7 call center, which operates between 8.00 am and 11.45 pm EST.
What Phones Does Straight Talk Provide?
In terms of the best phone, this alternative carrier’s offers are somewhat restricted to a few low-budget Android devices plus the common Apple phones. However, prospecting buyers can still land on the latest Samsung Galaxies, the S8 and S8+. You can purchase either of the devices downright, or on 15 and 24-month payment schedules.
However, the mobile virtual network operator may have different offerings for different areas. For that reason, you will have to enter your ZIP to determine exactly what they are offering in your area. The Galaxy S8 is, however, available across the country via Straight Talk. Certainly, you can as well check a participating local Wal-Mart store for their offers.
Apart from the Galaxy S8, older models like the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S7 plus some low-budget Android phone options are also available at Walmart.com or in the physical stores. Additionally, Straight Talk gives you the choice to bring your device. To begin with, head to the carrier’s website and make sure that your phone is compatible. Because Straight Talk supports both GSM and CDMA cell phones, you should be in luck. From there, the last stage is placing an order for their SIM card, along with a preferred monthly plan.
Straight Talk equally avails Wi-Fi Hotspots. Based on what they have in your place, you can purchase a 4G LTE hotspot at only $49, and keep buying prepaid wireless data as the need arises. This offer is suitable for summer travels when you often need a reliable data connection everywhere you go.
Checking For Phone Compatibility
Straight Talk is a branch of Tracfone. The latter is a unique company as it carries deals with all the carriers in the U.S. If you opt for a direct phone from Straight Talk, the online system or customer service representative ensures that you receive the correct SIM card. However, things get somehow tricky, when you choose to use your current unlocked phone.
Even as the mobile phone is most probably compatible with the networks availed by Straight Talk, if it is a U.S. – purchased phone, it should have the correct SIM card that aligns with the correct parent network.
Can You Cancel Straight Talk?
Straight Talk is one of the easiest carriers with whom consumers can terminate contracts. Because the company exclusively gives prepaid contracts with no agreements to sign, customers are at liberty to stop using the network. To do that, you should just stop refilling your account once the current term ends.
However, if the phone was purchased on a monthly payment basis from Straight Talk, you will have two options at the end of your active term. You can choose to return the device, or simply pay off the outstanding balance. Straight Talk outlines in the fine print on their site that this is a lease to own contract. In other words, you do not technically own the device until after you make the final payment.
Do you already own a Straight Talk phone? Most likely the device is locked to the specific network. For you to use the cell phone with another mobile virtual network provider, you will have to get the phone unlocked first. The company will unlock cell phones for former and current customers without a fee. To qualify for the unlock code, however, be sure to check that you meet the regulations as per their unlocking policy. Qualifying customers who cannot unlock their phones will get a partial refund from Straight Talk, or credit for buying another Straight Talk phone.