Mega retailer Walmart and prepaid wireless service Straight Talk announced Tuesday that they will offer both the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 5 for customers with a no-contract $45 per month unlimited plan starting Friday, January 11. The unlimited plan, exclusive to Walmart, covers voice minutes, texting, and data, and represents significant savings over national iPhone carriers.
Image via That's It Guys
Walmart and Straight Talk Wireless, America’s largest and top rated no-contract cell phone provider, today put the power back in the hands of customers with an industry game changing offer. Starting on January 11, 2013 in more than 2,000 Walmart stores and online at Walmart.com, customers now have access to the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4 on Straight Talk’s $45 no contract unlimited talk, text and data plan.
The choice of phones available to use with the new service is limited to the 16 GB white or black iPhone 5 and the 8 GB white or black iPhone 4. Due to the lack of a contract, customers will have to pay the unsubsidized price for the phones, which is $649 for the iPhone 5 and $449 for the iPhone 4, although Walmart claims that it will offer in-store customers a no-interest payment plan for the phone hardware at $25 per month when using a Walmart credit card.
F.J. Pollak, CEO and President of Straight Talk’s parent company TracFone Wireless, made the case for his company’s new service:
We are thrilled to be bringing the remarkable iPhone 5 to customers looking for one of the most advanced smartphones with one of the most affordable No Contract plans ever. The advanced iPhone 5 with our unlimited $45 monthly plan and Walmart’s $25 special financing offer is a marriage made in heaven – making it the most affordable premium smartphone offer in America. With this exclusive offer the last reason for not purchasing the No Contract Straight Talk plan is gone.
Walmart’s Seong Ohm, senior vice president of Entertainment for the U.S. division, also weighed in:
We believe customers shouldn’t have to choose between saving money and having the latest technology. Now customers can have the coveted iPhone with unlimited talk, text and data without a contract for $70 a month thanks to our exclusive Straight Talk plan and industry first financing offer.
There is also a $60 per month unlimited plan available that adds unlimited international calling to most nations.
Straight Talk is an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator), meaning that it purchases access to services offered by other networks in bulk, and then resells them to its own customers. Many regional mobile carriers operate under this system.
In the case of Straight Talk, its customers utilize the AT&T network, so those interested in this deal will be wise to evaluate AT&T service quality in their area. Further, there has not yet been confirmation of whether Straight Talk iPhones will be able to access AT&T’s new LTE network, which offers significantly improved data speeds.
Once the plan is launched and the quality of the service can be evaluated, the plan’s success, powered by the world’s largest retailer, will be interesting to watch. In the wake of rumors of a “low-cost” iPhone, the inexpensive data plan and lack of contract may reduce the need for any such device in the United States.