Walmart and Straight Talk Wireless have announced plans to offer both the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 to Straight Talk customers for $449 and $649 respectively. The phones should hit Walmart stores next week, beginning January 11, 2013.
As you may have gleaned, the price of the iPhones is unsubsidized – buyers are paying the full price for an unlocked phone, as there’s no long-term service contract involved. Straight Talk Wireless, a joint venture between mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Tracfone and Walmart, offers iPhone users pre-paid contract-free plans starting at $45 per month. If that price sounds steep for the average Walmart customer, the company is offering a special no-interest fixed-monthly financing offer using the Walmart Credit Card, for $25 a month.
Straight Talk already offers simple phones, feature phones and Android-based smartphones for its customers, but this marks the first time it’s offered its own iPhone. The iPhones Straight Talk will offer are CDMA models (Straight Talk operates on both CDMA and GSM networks.)
Straight Talk Wireless also offers users a “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device) plan that enables them to use an existing GSM-equipped iPhone on their network. [Editor's note: In fact, just yesterday I resurrected my AT&T iPhone 4 for my wife to use via Straight Talk. I'll post more after we've had a chance to see how well it works.] A Walmart spokesperson confirmed for The Loop that the Straight Talk iPhones will operate without some of the limitations imposed on BYOD users (On BYOD iPhones, Visual Voicemail isn’t supported; MMS doesn’t work unless you jailbreak the phone, though SMS works without issue).
For $449 users get an 8GB iPhone 4 in either black or white, and for $649 users can get a 16GB iPhone 5 in their choice of black or white.
[7:47 AM: Added information about network and feature support]