PROS / The company's phone selection blows its competition out of the water, with 45 models to choose from and the option to bring your own devices.
CONS / As one of TracFone's many sub-brands, Straight Talk suffers the same poor customer support as its sister providers.
VERDICT / The straightforward monthly plans at Straight Talk live up to the provider's name, but a lack of prepaid flexibility and terrible customer support are drawbacks that nobody should deal with.
Editor's Note: This review has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it no longer ranks as a top 10 product. The original review is below, but check out our current top 10 about Prepaid Cell Phones here.
Straight Talk Wireless is a company you've probably seen touted at your local Wal-Mart. It's not a particularly large provider of no-contract cell phone plans, but it offers a handful of prepaid options and the ability to pay for several months of service in advance. Straight Talk promises no-nonsense pricing and straightforward options, but prepaid phone plans aren't as complicated as they used to be – most providers offer the exact same thing, often for less.
One of the qualities we look for in a great prepaid cell phone provider is low-usage flexibility, and Straight Talk doesn't have it. There are no daily or pay-as-you-go plans to speak of; instead, you pay for at least 30 days of service up front. True, most users are probably looking for monthly service, but those that only need their phones rarely or in emergencies are out of luck.
Should you decide to pick a monthly plan, your unlimited talk and text options start at $45. That's $5 more than you'd pay at competing brands, but you get 3GB of high-speed data with it, and unlimited 2G browsing after that. If you're only looking for affordable messaging, you can pay just $30 a month for unlimited texting and limited-use calls and data.
Regardless of which plan you pick, your device options with Straight Talk are as diverse as it gets. Both feature phones and prepaid smartphones are available, including Android, iOS devices and Blackberrys. In all, 45 different phones were available from Straight Talk as of our last count, not including devices you already own: If your current phone works on Sprint's network, it'll work with Straight Talk.
Should you pick a phone and find that Straight Talk's plans work for you, there's one last hiccup you may encounter with the company: terrible customer service. Straight Talk is owned by TracFone, a prepaid provider with a number of different sub-brands. Our experience has shown us, however, that all are serviced by the same pool of customer service agents. If you buy a Straight Talk plan and need help, we'd suggest going to a brick-and-mortar store to get it taken care of; TracFone's telephone and online chat providers are universally poor.
While its device selection is second to none among our top 10 prepaid providers, Straight Talk's plan selection is generally inferior. The company is all about clear choices – if it has what you want and you're happy with the Sprint network, you'll be good to go. But if you're after some of the best prepaid plans around, you should probably look higher in our lineup.