For those who don’t know Straight Talk is a relativity new cell phone service offer by Tracfone through Wal-Mart. It’s $45 per month for unlimited everything though with taxes and fees my bill is $49.49 per month. There is also a $30 per month plan for 1000 minutes and 1000 texts per month. Being a Tracfone fan, I jumped right on Straight Talk though I was disappointed to see only 1 qwerty phone in their line up and it being one of the most expensive it’s still a decent deal for a no contract phone.
Overall the phone feels good in your hand. Navigating the menus and options is simple and straight forward, nothing out of the ordinary. The the full keyboard and mobile web access makes you think it could be a smart phone though it is far from a smart phone. Web browsing is ridiculously slow even in areas with full service.
Let’s go through the features:
Speakerphone: Just works at the highest volume setting it crackles a bit but it’s plenty loud at the medium-high setting.
Camera: At 1.3 mega pixels there is nothing remarkable here, standard low end camera phone picture quality. Decent enough for quick snap shots but not much else.
Bluetooth: The Bluetooth on this phone is actually decent. It’s not locked down like some competing prepaid phones. You can send music and pictures from your blue tooth enabled computer to you cell phone with no problems. I didn’t bother with a bluetooth headset which is what bluetooth is primarily used for so I cannot comment on that.
Web Browser: Very basic, we’re talking 2001 basic. You can login to mobile MySpace and Facebook if that’s your thing. Gmail’s mobile interface works decently. I was not able to access any Yahoo services on the phone though. Keep in mind the internet speed is ridiculously slow on this phone even in areas with full service.
Text Messaging: Text messaging is a breeze with the full qwerty keyboard. The only real complaint here is that the phone stops at 160 characters where as most phones will let you keep typing and just send 2 messages instead of 1, I found that a little annoying but perhaps as it’s prepaid its to stop you from going over your limit. I found one small quirk if you happen to be sending a message just as one comes in the phone freezes and you need to remove the battery to reset it. It’s a rarity but it does happen especially when having conversations with multiple people at the same time. It happened to me a grand total of 3 times.
Music Player: This phone includes an expansion slot for a micro-SD card which I didn’t bother with. Even without the SD card you can put some songs on the phone. I didn’t bother much with this as I have a separate MP3 player but the basic functionality is nice. The included headphone jack is not standard size, instead it’s a ‘PDA jack” so you will need to purchase a converter to plug in your regular headphones/ear buds, these are available from Amazon for less than $10. Here’s the link to the adapter: Headphone Adapter Cellphone PDA 2.5mm to 3.5mm Jack
Battery Life: Battery life on the R451C is okay. On standby (not using the phone ) it seems to last for 4-5 days once you start texting and using the web a lot the battery is gone in about a day which I guess isn’t too bad. My battery only died on me once in 4 months but then again I charge it every night.
The Straight Talk web site is crappy. You cannot do much aside from activating your phone, checking your balance (if on the limited plan) and signing up for auto-renew. It would be nice if you can stop auto-renew on their website. The ‘My Account’ area is under construction and has been since I got the phone. You get the feeling no one is really working on the website. When you select buy ring tones or graphics on the phone it tells you to online from your PC. Not that I do that, I email ring tones and songs for to my phone, it’s a lot cheaper ;). When you go on the website the selection is limited and prices are high.
All in all I feel the phone is well worth $100 initially and $50 per month. In my area Straight Talk is serviced by Verizon towers and the service has been great. I traveled to Florida with the phone and it worked every where. Unfortunately I’m deactivating the phone next month and going back to the Google Voice and Tracfone combo as I’ve cut back a lot on texting, though I plan on reactivating the phone whenever I travel again.
Do you have a Straight Talk phone or are you considering one? Is there anything else you would like to know about the phone?