Nexus 4 and Straight Talk Part 1: The Backstory

After being out of stock for two months, the ever elusive Nexus 4 is finally in stock in the Google Play store. I like many others quickly purchased a Nexus 4 out of fear that they go out of stock at any moment. My plan is for my wife and I make the switch to a prepaid carrier. The Nexus 4 and Straight Talk are our ticket to freedom. Because I know that there are many of you that are interested in the Nexus 4, switching to Straight Talk or both, I’ve decided to chronicle my experience.

Like you may have already have guessed there is a back story. If you have watched my twitter stream lately you will have undoubtedly noticed that I have been counting down the days that I can finally free myself from the clutches of Verizon Wireless’ contract. They have simply gotten too expensive and I am sick of their heavy-handed policies concerning device upgrades, features and so forth.
For example: two months ago my wife and I were eligible for an early upgrade to our two-year contract. I had decided to buy a Samsung Galaxy Note II and at the time, my wife wanted an iPhone 5. Two top-tier, expensive devices, even on contract. My wife and I would also need to “upgrade” from an unlimited 3G data plan to a Share Everything plan with 4gb of shared data between us. To do this, Verizon wanted to jack our phone bill by more than $35 a month. If you do the math, that’s $840 more over a two-year contract! To add insult to injury they also wanted to charge us $35 activation fees! For what? I’m already shelling out $500 for 2 phones, and guaranteeing them a regular check from me for two years. To be fair, it is their network and since we live in a capitalist society, I am under no obligation to use their network if their terms are not agreeable to me. Needless to say I was pissed (still am). It was right then that I decided that I as soon as I could, I would find a network with more agreeable terms.
As an avid technophile, I follow many of the major tech blogs and listen to several podcasts a week. Over the years I have heard an increasing number of people switching from their two-year, post-paid contracts to cheaper prepaid ones. The biggest catch here is that there is no subsidy on your phones with a prepaid carrier. That means that you buy the phone outright for the full price. This I think, is most people’s major hangup with prepaid carriers. $500+ for a phone is a lot of money. This is also where the post-paid carriers (like AT&T and Verizon) get you. They convince you to buy a phone for cheaper and more than make it up on the back end through your monthly payments that contractually obligate you to pay them every month for 24 months. In my case it ends up being far more money in the long run.
The prepaid carrier that I’ve been hearing about the most is Straigh Talk. They are a prepaid carrier that runs on either T-Mobile or AT&T’s network. You bring your GSM compatible phone, pop in their SIM card and your off to the races. For $45/month you get unlimited voice and text as well as “unlimited” data. I say unlimited because while they usually won’t cut your data off completely, if they detect abusive behavior on your part they will drastically throttle down your data connection speed for the remainder of the billing cycle. Straight Talk was something I decided to investigate.
Since my main gripe with Verizon is their pricing (never mind how they handle updates and Google Wallet) I needed to make sure that switching my wife and I to Straight Talk made mathematical sense. With the help of a Google Docs spreadsheet (I will never pay for Microsoft Office again) I made an astounding discovery. Over the course of a two-year contract with Verizon, I was going to bleed out more than $4,300! Switching over to Straight Talk was going to save us more than $1,400 and there was no contract for me to sign. This is despite the fact that it was going to cost us $700 right off the top for two Nexus 4s with Straight Talk. Even more astounding was that I would break even with Verizon somewhere between month two and three! Imagine that. I was going to pay $700 for phones and I was still going to start saving money before the fiscal quarter was up. That made my decision a no-brainer.
My plan with Straight Talk is purchase AT&T compatible SIMs and run use AT&T’s network. Admittedly their coverage isn’t quite at good as Verizon’s but Big Red’s network isn’t $1,400 better in my book. Worse comes to worse, if Straight Talk doesn’t work out, my wife and I take our phones to AT&T and we sign up with them. With the discount my wife gets through her work, we would save a fair bit of money over Verizon.
So that’s the backstory. I ordered two Nexus 4s today and according to Google, I should have them in one or two weeks. I will let you know my impressions of both the Nexus 4 and Straight Talk as soon as I get everything set up. In the meanwhile, stay tuned.

UPDATE: Read Part 2: Leaving Verizon (I’m Free! I’m Free!)

Kenny Larson
Onetime Apple/Android/Windows fanboy. Now a firm agnostic when it comes to OS. They all suck in their own special way.

"Be excellent to each other."
--Bill & Ted