Walmart last week announced the availability of iPhone 5 on a Straight Talk no-contract plan with unlimited voice, text and data, but like most so-called unlimited plans, this one too has a limit. For $45 a month, you can use up to 2GB of data, which these days isn't a whole lot. Stream a movie on your shiny new iPhone? Not likely.
However, Walmart has made it easier to buy an iPhone 5 off-contract by offering $25-a-month financing on the purchase of a phone as long as you use a Walmart credit card. Only a few prepaid providers offer the newest iPhone ( Cricket ; C Spire, a regional provider in the South), and you'll pay $649 up front for the phone. At Walmart, you have the option to buy the phone outright or put it on your card with no interest fee.
It's no secret that carriers use the term "unlimited" to describe plans that indeed include what the industry calls a soft data cap. That means when you use your data allotment, the service slows data speeds to a crawl. Technically, data is unlimited, but it's so slow that it's unusable.
For the majority of smartphone users, 2GB of data is often enough as long as a reliable Wi-Fi connection is available. Streaming video can quickly eat up data, but if you watch a movie over Wi-Fi, it won't count against your data allotment. Read more: " Why You Probably Don't Need an Unlimited Data Plan ."
But choosing a prepaid plan instead of a two-year contract for your smartphone saves consumers around $1,000 or more over a 24-month period. For instance, an AT&T customer will pay $70 for voice, $20 for messaging and $30 for 3GB of data a month — that's $120 a month compared with $45 via Walmart's Straight Talk.
The iPhone 5 16GB in black and white is available at most Walmart locations. For an additional $15 a month, Straight Talk subscribers can add international calling to Mexico, Canada and India.