What Phones Work with Straight Talk

Some phones won’t work on Straight Talk networks. If you’re looking to save big bucks with their low-priced mobile service, make sure you’ve got a compatible handset.

You can always buy a phone straight from Straight Talk. You’ll pay top dollar, too. Their iPhone units, for example, sell for the same prices as you’ll find on Apple’s website (that’s anywhere from $450 – $850 depending on the model and storage size). Do you want to save money on your monthly bill just to blow it on the phone itself?

BYOP

Bringing your own phone will obviously save you tons. Besides, maybe you’ve already found just the perfect unit. You won’t need to buy any new accessories, either. If your current device jives with the Straight Talk service, you’re golden.

The other option is to purchase a compatible model online. Opting for an unlocked phone can be pricey, however, and won’t necessarily be much of a bargain. The way around that is to purchase a locked phone and pay a lowball fee to an unlocking service. Of course you’ll still have to pick up whatever extras your new unit needs: cover, case, car adaptor, etc.

The easiest way to go is using the phone you already own. It’s pretty simple to find out if your phone qualifies for Straight Talk service. There are two requirements, and that’s it:

* An unlocked GSM phone
* A SIM card from Straight Talk

If you’re wondering what GSM and SIM are all about, don’t sweat it. The explanations are plain as can be.

GSM

GSM stands for Global System for Mobile Communications. Pretty fancy, right? Actually, to everyone not in the rocket science business, that simply refers to the type of technology used between the service provider and the phones on their network.

A GSM phone uses a little SIM card to store all the details about the carrier and your account. The SIM is a tinier version of a memory card, comes in two sizes and is usually stashed beneath the battery.

That SIM card is what makes GSM phones so cool — at least as far as you and Straight Talk are concerned. SIMs are removable, and that means you can mix and match GSM phones and carriers just by swapping out the SIM.

Don’t get carried away yet, though, because there’s always a catch. Some carriers use a different communications protocol called CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access). CDMA handsets are hard-wired with all the service info — data is actually programmed into the device itself. That means a CDMA phone is not flexible; essentially, you can only use a Verizon phone with Verizon and a Sprint phone with Sprint. So a CDMA phone is toast as far as Straight Talk is concerned.

GSM or CDMA

It’s really easy to check your phone before you commit to anything with Straight Talk. It’s actually as easy as changing a battery. This is will “restart” your phone, so make sure you save or exit anything you don’t want to lose.

First, remove the phone’s back cover — you’re being careful about all this, right? Next, ease out of the battery. If you’re in luck, you’ll discover a SIM card underneath the battery. That’s all there is to it.

If your handset has a SIM card, you’ve got a GSM phone. If you’ve got a GSM phone, you’re just about good to go with Straight Talk.

The last thing you’ll need is a new SIM card from Straight Talk with all their info on it. You can buy a SIM from the carrier for $15, and you can order it separately or bundle it when you sign up for a month.

Bringing you own phone to Straight Talk is one terrific option. It doesn’t make much sense to benefit from their cheap service just to blow all your dough on a new device. Instead of getting a new smartphone, become a smart user.