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T-Mobile $49 plan vs Straight Talk $45 plan – Unlimited plans battle

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If you’ve read our other posts – I’ve talked about Straight Talk $45 unlimited minutes, text and web, and how you could take a sim out of your Nokia E71, and put it into an AT&T-compatible GSM Android phone of your choice, and get great service and your own phone (not being limited to ancient Nokia brick). This is referred to as “SIM swap”. Early this year, Straight Talk started offering you to buy a Straight Talk sim card for $15, and get $45 unlimited plan. This would not be limited to just AT&T phones any more – you can order a sim card that would work on either T-mobile or AT&T network (but not both at once).

The sim card offering makes “sim swap” obsolete for new Straight Talk customers. I will review this option soon, with details of how it works, data speeds, reception, and other nuances (like limits on “unlimited” data).

In this article, I want to discuss the alternative to a budget virtual carrier (MVNO) like Straight Talk / Metro PCS, etc. And this one is from a major carrier – T-mobile.

T-Mobile $49.99 unlimited plan for “small businesses” – preamble:

After unsuccessful takeover by AT&T (which I personally think is the best thing that happened in US mobile market in many recent years, as this would essentially create a duopoly between AT&T and Verizon, and would REALLY suck for all the consumers), T-mobile found itself with $4 billion in contract cancelation fee and extra network spectrum from AT&T. At the same time, T-mobile lost almost a year, during which, they signed up very few customers, and did not get the iPhone (one of the biggest driver of new contracts – just look at Sprint).


Essentially T-Mobile is now the smallest major carrier in US, and needs to catch up to the big boys, and even Sprint. What’s good with T-mo – they did not give up on expanding and upgrading their “4G” HSPA+ network, and even installed several 1900MHz towers here and there. They now have huge bandwidth capabilities and not too many people using the network – so their speeds are great (when you have reception).

T-mobile's Carly Foulkes increases 4G speeds :)

Now, trying to revamp themselves, and get more customers, T-Mobile has offered a new plan that is in the same price range as the MVNO’s (budget carriers) – $49.99 / month, with unlimited minutes, text and web (up to 5GB full speed data, which then gets throttled to EDGE speeds – but you don’t pay for extra traffic). In the age of no unlimited data plans in US – this is great and inexpensive. For $39.99 / month, you can get same plan, but only a 1000 anytime minutes (which is NOT enough for many people – myself including).

There is a catch however – this is a plan for Small Business customer – though I think if you come in and tell them that you are a DBA (“doing business as” non-incorporated small business), they will still hook you up.


Second catch – this plan assumes that you use your own device. If you want a subsidized phone – you will be paying $20 more per month to a total of $69.99. Over 2 years duration of the contract you will pay $480 more, which will cover the phone subsidy.

I personally usually buy my phone outright, and this is great for me – I will be paying less every month, and if I already have my own phone that I want to keep using – I don’t have to pay extra every months. Really like this T-Mo!

Just compare this to AT&T – there to get unlimited minutes, texts and ONLY 3GB of data, you will have to pay $119 + taxes ($69 unlimited minutes, $20 for unlimited SMS, and $30 for 3 GB of data, with extra traffic costing you $10 / 1GB). AT&T does not offer any bundled plans – only “a la carte”.

Of course there is an argument that T-mo has spotty coverage – and they do. But if you live in a major metropolitan area – you are good on coverage and data speeds, and you can’t beat T-Mobile’s prices.

T-Mobile vs. Straight Talk

As I mentioned – Straight Talk is only $45 / month, and also unlimited. But there is a catch – unlimited is actually limited. If you start using too much data, you WILL be cut off, and will loose your prepaid time, and they will disable your sim card / phone from working on their virtual network. Read fine print to understand the details of unlimited “web browsing” (that is no tethering, no downloading, no youtube). In a nutshell – Straight Talk will cut off heavy data users after about 2-3 GB in one month, and if you are not cut off right away, there is always that chance. If you use mobile web moderately, you are safe. I will explain this in details, in my next article.

By contrast – T-Mo give you 5GB of full speed data (up-to 42Mbps, which is comparable with LTE speeds), and even if you go over 5GB, they will throttle your speed to 2G – not cut you off or charge you extra.

If you are a business user – consider Nokia Windows phone or their new HTC One S Android phone, or even other (older) Android devices that are still very much fast and powerful – eg. HTC Amaze 4G or Galaxy S2.

Walk the walk:

Well – i’m not just talking about this – I will be getting an Galaxy Note from AT&T and porting it to T-Mobile 4G network as soon as the bugs and data speeds are ironed out by XDA devs who hacked AT&T Galaxy Note modem to work on T-Mobile 4G 1700MHz HSPA+ network.

I will report my finding to you, as soon as I do it.

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April 20th, 2012 at 2:13 pm

AT&T Galaxy Note ICS leaked

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Fresh off the rumor mill – an Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0.3) rom for AT&T Galaxy Note LTE version (i717) has leaked, and is now Rooted, Deodexed, and Zipaligned. Any band all bloatware (AT&T just loves to fill up their phones with useles and NON-removable apps) is still there, but you can sure expect these to be removed very soon – as soon as dev get some time to clean it up. Remember – this has just leaks a few hours ago.

image of AT&T Galaxy Note ICS leaked rom - app drawerimage of AT&T Galaxy Note ICS leaked rom - home screenImage of AT&T Galaxy Note ICS leaked rom


Get the 4


Besides all the good stuff that very talented devs will do to this rom in coming days, this actual rom is already flashable with CWM (ClockWorkMod recovery), which will make it easy to do for anyone who has already rooted their i717 Note.

Another great news is that this ICS rom already has a flashable modem / radio which will allow your AT&T Galaxy Note to work on T-Mobile 4G HSPA+ network (which we reported back in March).

There is a number of CWM flashable files already available on XDA-developers. Links to ROM and T-Mobile modem files download and installation instructions, are at the end of this article.

AT&T Galaxy Note (i717) ICS rom compared to international Note (n7000)

The good news for i717 owners, is that this is an almost OFFICIAL AT&T rom – not the Chinese ICS leak for Galaxy Note n7000, which came out almost a month ago, and is still very much unusable as a daily rom.

I anticipate this Ice Cream Sandwich rom for Galaxy Note to be very stable. I assume it is almost ready for OTA update, and will be released soon after Samsung officially releases ICS for Galaxy Note N7000.

Most n7000 ICS roms are very unstable due to multiple bug, force closes, freezing, random rebooting (which I experienced with MIUI beta rom on my Galaxy Note n7000), etc.

Read my MIUI for Galaxy Note n7000 review, to see what it looks like, and for a full list of bugs that come with it.

Reference info, Rom and Modem files download:

ICS rom for AT&T Galaxy Note: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1581065

i717 ICS modem files for T-Mobile: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1581084