Nexus 5 and Straight Talk

I recently bought a new Nexus 5 from Google. My previous phone was a Samsung Galaxy Nexus that I used with Verizon. My hopes for the Galaxy Nexus were that I would be the first to get new updates, which turned out not to be the case. With the recent release of Android 4.4 KitKat, it was announced that the Galaxy Nexus wouldn’t be getting the update. Lame.
The performance of my Galaxy Nexus had slowed considerably since I bought it in April 2012, so I figured it was time to get a new phone anyway. Buying the Nexus 5 directly from Google means that it will, indeed, be the first to get updates, especially since I’m not tied to a carrier version of the phone like I was with the Galaxy Nexus.

Let me reiterate: when bought through Google, the Nexus 5 comes unlocked for $349. So far I love the Nexus 5 and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a great phone at a decent price.

After choosing the phone,  the next question to address was which carrier to use. The Nexus 5 doesn’t work on Verizon, so I needed a new option. After asking around at work, someone pointed me in the direction of Straight Talk, a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) that resells AT&T and T-Mobile service (you may have seen the SIM cards for purchase at Walmart). Back in September 2013, Straight Talk added AT&T LTE support to their monthly plans, so I decided to give that a try.

Straight Talk Logo

For $45 a month, I get unlimited service and data* on the AT&T LTE network. The asterisk is there because after 2.5 GB of data, they throttle your speeds, but you don’t have to pay any extra. The really great thing is that I’m not tied into a contract, and pay on a month-by-month basis (they even have an Auto Refill option, too). I’ve found the speeds between Verizon and AT&T to be comparable where I am in Utah. Coverage obviously varies by location, so if you’re looking to switch over, I’d check with some friends who are on AT&T (or T-Mobile if you go that route) just to get an idea of how coverage compares to your current provider.

Getting up and running with Straight Talk service was pretty simple. I ordered a micro SIM card (Nexus 5 uses the micro size) for AT&T service. The card itself cost me $6.99. Once that came in the mail, I activated the card, paid for my first month of service, and put the SIM card in my phone.

Next, I followed the instructions to change the APN settings on the phone itself to let my phone know which network I was on (here’s a thread about it). The instructions for doing this were very clearly listed on the activation card that came with the Straight Talk SIM card.

Once I had installed the SIM card and adjusted the APN settings, I was immediately able to make and receive phone calls. Straight Talk assigned me a random local number (I assume based on my ZIP code) which I don’t care about anyway since I route everything through Google Voice. The option exists to port your old number over to Straight Talk, but I didn’t go through that process so I don’t know what it’s like.

After using it for about two weeks, it’s been flawless. I’m able to receive MMS messages to the Straight Talk number (Google Voice is another story), and I haven’t had any issues. I just hope the $45/month price lasts.

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