Click here for updated and simpler instructions on how to switch your iPhone from AT&T to Straight Talk (2015).
I’ve been an unhappy AT&T customer for years and I have decided it is time for me to leave. Paying more than $200 a month for a two iPhone family plan with limited minutes is just ridiculous. Gladly, there are now other options. I’ll be saving 50% or more on my cell phone bill so I’ll definitely give Straight Talk a chance and see what they have to offer. I can always leave if it does not work out, but whatever happens, I will not do business with AT&T again.
I’ll be porting my number and requesting AT&T to unlock my iPhone 4S (the same instructions apply for the iPhone 6, iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c or iPhone 3GS, read below for more details). I’m not a computer programmer or hacker, so if I can get this thing working, I’m sure you’ll be able to do it as well. I will be updating this post during the following months to report on Straight Talk’s iPhone service, so make sure to check back every now and then to ask questions or post feedback.
What You Will Need
1. A Straight Talk AT&T Compatible SIM Card (Amazon links provided)
- For an iPhone 3G or 3GS you’ll need: Standard Size SIM
- For an iPhone 4 or 4s you’ll need: Micro Sim Card
- For an iPhone 5, 5C or 5S you’ll need: Nano SIM Card
- For an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus you’ll need: Nano SIM Card
2. A Straight Talk Plan (two options)
- You can order a card online: Straight Talk $45 Unlimited Plan (30 Day Service)
- You can call Straight Talk directly or go to their website. There is no need for a physical card as long as you have a credit card to pay for the service.
My phone: AT&T iPhone 4s (iOS 7.1.2)
Last blog update: May 2015
Straight Talk Service Review: I’ve been on Straight Talk since October 2013 and so far my experience has been great. By switching I was able reduce my cell phone bill by 50% and I haven’t noticed any difference in my service. I will never return to ATT!
UPDATE: After updating to iOS 7.0.3, I’m glad to report both data and MMS are working as they should. This means that with the carrier update provided with iOS 7.0.3, switching your AT&T iPhone to Straight Talk should be a lot simpler than it was before. After activation, insert the SIM and you should be ready to go! Read steps 1 & 3 for instructions. Step 4 “updating data settings” is no longer needed and you can ignore it.
Here are the steps I’ve taken to switch from AT&T to Straight Talk. This is a guideline of what you’ll have to do. If you are thinking about switching or are in the process of doing so, I’m sure you’ll find it helpful. Straight Talk will provide detailed instructions on the activation process.
These are the steps I followed:
- I ordered a Micro Sim Card from Straight Talk. You can also order it from Amazon. You’ll need an “AT&T compatible SIM”. If you have an iPhone 6 plus, 6, 5, 5s or 5c, you’ll need a Nano SIM Card. If you have an iPhone 4 or 4S, you’ll need a Micro Sim Card. iPhone 3G and 3GS users will need the Standard Size SIM (used for older phones). You can buy the “AT&T Compatible Micro SIM + Unlimited Plan” or just the Micro SIM by itself. You’ll have a chance to pay for the plan with a credit card when you do the activation if you only buy the SIM. I purchased mine directly from Straight Talk as there was no other option back then. Shipping was free and the SIM was delivered in 3 days. NOTE: AT&T will NOT pro rate your final bill, so make sure you switch before your new billing cycle starts.
- (OPTIONAL) I waited until my AT&T contract ended and requested my iPhone to be unlocked at att.com/deviceunlock/. If you switch companies before your contract ends, AT&T will charge you Early Termination Fees. To request an unlock from AT&T, your phone needs to be out of contract or you should’ve paid early termination fees. You DON’T need to unlock your AT&T iPhone for it to work on Straight Talk, but as of now, you need to unlock it to have picture messaging working (MMS). A few minutes after requesting the unlock, I received an email saying: “We have received your request to unlock your AT&T Mobile device” and later, another email later saying “We have reviewed your request and confirmed that the device may be unlocked. Please allow 24 hours upon receipt of this notification to complete the unlock process“. Check here to read Eligibility Requirements for Unlocking All AT&T Mobile Devices. You will need to restore your phone via iTunes to complete the unlock (make sure to backup your data first).
- I followed the instructions on the Straight Talk Activation kit. You’ll be activating your SIM either by phone or online. I did my activation online at www.straighttalk.com/activate. Choose the activation option that fits your needs. If you want to keep the same number you had with AT&T, make sure to select “Activate my Straight Talk Service with a number from another company” (have your AT&T account number ready). After completing the activation request, wait for your current AT&T service to stop (“No Service” status). When your service has been disabled, you can then insert your new Straight Talk SIM. Surprisingly, for me this only took about 10 minutes, though the instructions say activation can take up to 48 hours. Once you have your new SIM installed, your status bar should now display “HOME” instead of “AT&T”. Test your phone by making a phone call. If this works, you are now on Straight Talk.
NOTE: If you want to port your number, DO NOT call to cancel your AT&T service before activating your Straight Talk SIM. Once the porting process is completed AT&T will automatically cancel your account and send a Final Bill.
- (NO LONGER NEEDED. SKIP THIS STEP!) I updated my data settings. You need to do this in order to get your data (internet) working. While on Wi-Fi, open Safari and type in iapnupdatetfdata.straighttalk.com. Tap “Install” then tap “Install Now. Enter your pass code if prompted, and tap “Done. At this point exit your browser, turn the Wi-Fi off, and re-boot your phone. With the Wi-Fi off, access Safari to ensure your data connection is working.
- Troubleshooting: If online activation didn’t work or if you encountered any issues, call Straight Talk at 1-800-299-7784 for assistance (you can also post your question below and I’ll try my best to answer it).
- That’s it your’re done!
(NO LONGER NEEDED. SKIP THIS STEP!) Enabling MMS/Picture Messaging
This process is a little more involved but it’s doable. It requires you to buy a T-Mobile SIM card to enter the correct data settings for your Straight Talk service. APN settings are “hidden” in AT&T iPhones (’cause they want to keep you as a customer forever), so you need to briefly insert a T-Mobile SIM card in order to access and update the APN settings (not hidden for T-Mobile customers).
Which are the correct APN settings for your iPhone? You can check them here by inputting your SIM’s serial number: www.straighttalk.com/wps/portal/home/support/apn
Here’s a basic guideline of what you’ll need to do. Check the provided links for step by step image/video instructions.
1. For iPhone 4S, order a T-mobile Micro SIM like this one from eBay or purchase one at Target (for iPhone 5, 5s, and 5c purchase a Nano SIM).
2. Remove your Straight Talk SIM and Insert your T-Mobile SIM.
3. Go to: Settings-> Cellular -> Cellular Data Network (or wait for Cellular Data Network to show up and then select Cellular Data Network, this is why you got the T-Mobile SIM for)
4. Go to Home and open Notes.
5. Insert your Straight Talk SIM again. Wait for phone to change from “NO SIM” -> “Searching” -> “HOME”.
6. Double Tap and go back to the Cellular Data Network page.
7. Enter Your Cellular Data Settings. These are the data settings that worked for my iPhone 4s, which are the settings for the newer Straight Talk SIMS:
Leave fields not listed here blank. You might have to re-enter some of the settings again as you’ll see they’ll go back to their default values when you scroll down.
MMS APN: tfdata
MMS Proxy: mms3.tracfone.com:80
MMS Max Message Size: 1048576
8. Go back to Cellular -> Settings. Reboot your phone (Turn OFF then ON).
9. Try sending an image text. If it works, you’re done!
Enabling MMS Links (Pre iOS 7.0.3):