UPDATE (10/1/14): I wrote the following post (still listed below) in the Spring of 2012 when we bought an unlocked (GSM-compatibl) Apple 3GS and activated in on StraightTalk. However, as of today, I no longer have a StraightTalk phone. After 30 months, we upgraded to a new iPhone5 and transferred our phone number to Ting.com (if you live in a Sprint-friendly area, I recommend a look at them). If you are a StraightTalk customer, be warned that termination of service is “shady” (as you might expect from TracFone/Walmart). In the terms and conditions of service, it is worth noting that once you pay for your service month (in advance)
- early termination is not refunded in any way
Also, it took StraightTalk/TracFone almost two full business days (they do not work on the weekends!) to respond to the transfer request. It typically takes less than a day, and usually as little as two hours, for wireless port/transfers of phone numbers. StraightTalk did not respond until a 2nd request was submitted. Then StraightTalk left the “deactivated SIM/phone” showing as active on their billing system, even though the phone number was transferred to my new provider. I am CERTAIN this is done on purpose. As long as the SIM is “active” they will continue to bill you monthly regardless if it has a working phone number associated. I had to work very hard with online support for them to “manually” complete the deactivation that they admit should have been done “automatically”. As I said…. SHADY!!! Good-bye StraightTalk and little old iPhone 3GS (which still looks perfect after it came out of the well-traveled Otterbox).
I will leave the original post up for those that may need it, but there are better/cheaper solutions than StraightTalk now. If you haven’t found them, you aren’t looking very hard.
UPDATE (6/19/13): The following information was based on using the 2012 Straight Talk SIM program http://www.straighttalksim.com. Based on some 2013 feedback from another member of my family, it appears that StraightTalk no longer offers an “AT&T” sim. Instead, StraightTalk sims are (now) using T-Mobile. The following instructions worked for my wife’s iPhone using the AT&T sim that we received in 2012. The good news is that the T-Mobile sim card may be configurable easily.
— Original Post Continues Below —
My wife is a “mac”. As I have detailed in previous posts, when we started cord/cost-cutting on our monthly landline/mobile/cable/internet bill, she was able to upgrade from a crappy Verizon flip-phone (with no data!) to an unlimited iPhone on Walmart’s Straight Talk service*. When we changed to Straight Talk, it was not advocating iPhones with their “buy a sim card” program. However, the new iPhone 3GS worked just fine, with one exception: the iPhone could not do MMS on Straight Talk because the phone’s APN settings could not be modified for MMS.
Using the iPhone without MMS on Straight Talk was as easy as buying an unlocked iPhone from Apple (AT&T/gsm compatible version), ordering a SIM card from Straight Talk, installing it and then downloading (via Wi-Fi connection on the iPhone) the free APN changer from http://www.unlockit.co.nz . With this solution, the iPhone has worked perfectly (excluding MMS) on Straight Talk for a full year.
There are other options for getting full functionality including MMS on a Straight Talk iPhone if you are willing to jailbreak your phone, but since we did not want to jailbreak her new iPhone my wife lived without MMS (not a big problem).
But being a tech guy, I continued to monitor the web for other solutions.
With the release of iOS 6.1 it appears there is a new solution for enabling MMS by using a SIM card from another carrier (i.e. T-Mobile) in a “SIM card swap solution” to configure the APN settings. For $10, I decided to try it. I ordered a T-Mobile SIM card through Amazon and then walked through the steps on http://www.letsunlockiphone.com/unlock-iphone-straight-talk-without-jailbreak-how-instruction/
While the steps are simple enough, I realized that the instructions were missing one vital piece of information.
IMPORTANT! The SIM swap method allows you to access this configuration screen! This is the goal and solution!
The Straight Talk SIM card does not allow you to get to the above screen, and the APN changer tool from unlockit.co.nz cannot configure the MMS settings for you. This is NOT a jailbreak. It is just way to get to a configuration screen that is (for some reason) hidden to the Straight Talk SIM card (I wonder if it has changed, now that they have the iPhone?).
The instructions would be much clearer if they just said: “Buy a SIM from another carrier, use it to open this configuration screen, then while this screen is still open on your iPhone, hot-swap your Straight Talk SIM back in and enter the Straight Talk APN settings.” Unfortunately, they don’t tell you that, nor do they provide you the correct APN settings.
In case you don’t have them, here they are:
- Cellular Data
MMS Proxy: 126.96.36.199:80 or mms2.tracfone.com:80
MMS Max Size: 1048576
MMS UA Prof URL: http://www.apple.com/mms/uaprof.rdf
- Internet Tethering
APN:<blank, remove ‘phone’>
- That is it. With the information above and a SIM card from T-Mobile, I was able to get MMS working on my wife’s unlocked iPhone 3GS using Straight Talk.
- Full disclosure: She couldn’t care less.
- Further disclosure: As the instructions on other websites mention, you may need to repeat the steps when you update iOS on your iPhone.
- * caveat: if/when Ting.com supports the iPhone, we will probably switch to them — why pay a monthly flat fee to any carrier? Ting let’s you pay for what you use as a family and NOTHING more! The other big difference between Ting and Straight Talk is that you need to accept Sprint’s network rather than AT&T’s.