Walmart and their no contract mobile service Straight Talk has finally started offering smartphones and the first two they’re bringing to the market are Nokia’s E71 and 6790, the latter most Americans know as the “AT&T Surge“. Both devices are immediately available, will cost $245 each, and require the $45/month plan that gives users an unlimited amount of minutes, texts and internet access. Straight Talk is a mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO as the industry calls it, so they don’t actually have their own network. Instead they piggy back on both AT&T’s and Verizon’s networks, offering different devices in different parts of the country depending on what the back room contracts say. In this case, since these devices use GSM, you can expect to get a signal wherever AT&T provides coverage, and not only that but you’re not limited to a data bucket either. It’s unlimited. There’s probably a fair use policy in there somewhere, but as long as you don’t tether your smartphone and download 1080p Blu-ray rips you should be fine.
“Clearly, the Wal-Mart shelves are getting crowded with so many prepaid offerings now, especially to start the holiday season. My take on the Straight Talk move is that the company is upping its ante by enhancing its handset lineup now that Wal-Mart shoppers have more choices. However, I think that not many prepaid price-sensitive customers will feel attracted to pay $250 for an older smartphone,” said Maidy Whitesell of Current Analysis. “Also, I find it very interesting that Straight Talk has not presented a CDMA smartphone yet. This leads me to think that Verizon Wireless is protecting its network and customer migration to the MVNO by not allowing the company to present a smartphone to its customer base.”
The price tag may be a bit high, but it’s a one time fee, and the lower monthly bill, at least compared to what everyone else offers, is sure to make a lot of people happy.