Nexus 4 and Straight Talk Part 2: Leaving Verizon (I’m Free! I’m Free!)

This is Part 2 of my journey, moving from a post-paid, two-year contract with Verizon Wireless to the contract-free mobile life of a prepaid carrier. In this case, Straight Talk. If you haven’t yet, I highly encourage you to read Part 1 of this series so that you can see the frustrations with Verizon that drove me from their service. Part 2 deals with my experience setting up my Nexus 4, activating my phone on Straight Talk and porting my number from Verizon.

Upgrading To The Nexus 4

I am now the proud owner and user of a 16gb Google Nexus 4. Moving up from an nearly useless Motorola Droid2Global, it is like the difference between using a dial-up modem moving to 25mb broadband. In some ways I mean that literally. The Motorola Droid2Global was released in the fall of 2010 and I bought one in January 2011. It was nothing but hassles from the start. It was laggy, glitchy and the battery life was terrible. Oh and I mustn’t forget the random forced restarts that would lock me out of my phone 5 minutes or more (a nightmare when navigating downtown congestion).  That being said, most Android smartphones of that era were not much better, if at all. For various reasons, I was opposed to an iPhone, so this was the best I could do at the time.

Enter the Nexus 4. Sleek, powerful, running the latest Android 4.2.1 (now 4.2.2) Jellybean and it is gorgeous. It is every bit as good (I think better) than the iPhone. I haven’t had any problems with lag, the battery is sufficient for my needs and it contract free.

Moving from Verizon to Straight Talk

I will be honest, since I have never had a carrier other than Verizon, so I have never had to deal with SIM cards so my experience with interesting. Before I get ahead of myself let’s start from the top.

Activating My Straight Talk Service

First and foremost, Straight Talk’s website sucks. It looks like it was designed by a kid taking his first website design class at the local community college. It’s slow, buggy and sometimes borders on being completely unusable. I tried to activate my cards on their website but it would constantly hang up or completely glitch out. I tried completing the task with Chrome, Firefox and IE and I consistently go the same result. So I resigned myself to having to muster a modicum of sociability and call them.

Straight Talk is notorious for having terrible phone customer service. Thankfully a friend of mine who ventured into Straight Talk Land before I did, mentioned the website GetHuman to me. GetHuman allows you to enter a contact number and the desired company calls YOU, thus freeing you to use your time more productively. Prime example, when I called the Straight Talk customer service number directly, I was told that my wait time was greater than 30 minutes. When I used GetHuman, I was talking to someone in 10 minutes. I don’t know what kind of voodoo magic is going on but I don’t care. It works and it works well.

After I set up all the settings on my phone to prep for activation, I called via the above mentioned GetHuman. The lady I was talking to on the phone told me that I could port my Verizon number at a later time. I just wanted to get my phone working right away. While technically I could port my number at a later time, I didn’t realize that would require me to wait for another SIM card to show up in the mail. I learned the hard way that once you activate a SIM card, you can’t change the number. The biggest problem here is that AT&T and TracPhone (parent company to Straight Talk) are having a bit of a spat and you can’t get AT&T SIMs anymore. I barely squeaked by and was able to procure two AT&T SIMs. I was afraid that Straight Talk would send me T-Mobile SIMs. T-Mobile coverage in Oregon is atrocious so running over their towers is simply not an option for me. Since I could no longer port my number to Straight Talk, I was left with only one real option if I wanted to keep my old Verizon number.

Porting My Number to Google Voice

Getting a new phone number can be a real pain in the butt. Not only do you have to notify all your friends and family of your new number, you also need to update your information with your employer, financial institutions, clients, government etc. I wanted to keep my old number for these very reasons.
Enter Google Voice. For a one time fee of $20 per number, you can port a phone number to Google Voice. From there, you can have your old number forward to your new one. You can also send and receive text message via this number. It’s really easy to set up. There are a lot more things that you can do with Google Voice than I have space for in this post so I suggest you check it out yourself.
The process was simple. I entered a few bits of data, paid my $20 and 24 hours later my old Verizon number was in Google Voice. Verizon’s end of it was a bit more difficult.
Verizon does not prorate your bill. If you leave Verizon at the beginning of a billing cycle, you will still be charged for the whole billing cycle. Also, because of the way they do their accounting, you will have one more monthly payment. As far as I know, all post-paid carriers do this. It’s a pain and a bit of a shock if you aren’t expecting it.

Bottom Line

The process of actually moving from Straight Talk from Verizon is a bit of a pain in the butt. That being said, you’ll only have to leave Verizon once. And if you port your old number to Google Voice, you won’t need to worry about constantly porting your number if you are the type that hops around to different carriers. Stay tuned for Part 3 when I will post an actual review of my time on Straight Talk.
If you have any questions at all about the process, post in the comments below. I am more than happy to help people move away from the money-sucking farse that is two-year, post-paid contracts.

Read part 3 of my journey with Straight Talk

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