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Straight Talk's First Android Phone - Should You Buy It? Specs, Videos, Reviews


TracFone's Straight Talk subsidiary is launching its first Android phone, probably some time in September. It's the Samsung Galaxy Precedent (image, left) and appears to be physically identical to the Boost Mobile Samsung Galaxy Prevail. Straight Talk has confirmed that the Precedent will run on the Sprint network. Boost Mobile is wholly owned by Sprint and Boost phones also run on the Sprint network with no off network roaming.

Very little in the way of official information or specifications are available for the Precedent, however as the phone is apparently identical to the Boost Prevail, here are some specs, reviews and hands on videos of the Boost phone.



Specifications
  • Android 2.2.2 with Access to Android Market™
  • 3.2-inch 320 x 480 px glass capacitive touchscreen
  • 2MP fixed focus camera with QVGA video capture and no flash
  • GPS enabled with Google Maps navigation, free and unlimited
  • Bluetooth support for stereo headphones, handsfree headsets and file transfer
  • Easy access to Gmail™ and Google Talk™
  • Switch between portrait and landscape
  • Speakerphone with voice-activated dialing
  • Standard Android MP3 Music Player app
  • Supports microSD™ cards up to 32GB (2GB card included) 
  • Voice mail, caller ID
  • 1500 mHa battery, up to 6 hours talk time and 9 days standby.
  • 800 MHZ Qualcomm MSM7627-3 processor
  • No GPU (Graphics co-processor)
  • No Adobe Flash support
  • No proximity sensor
  • 124 MB internal storage memory
  • 384 MB RAM
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • USB charging
  • 1900 MHz only
  • EVDO Rev A 3G data (the faster of two EVDO variants)
  • WiFi 802.11b/g/n 
  • Dimensions: 4.43” X 2.26” X 0.47” (113 x 57 x 12 mm) 3.81 ounces (108 g)
Reviews:
There are tons of reviews of the Prevail on the web, here are links to a few of the better ones from: PhoneDog, PhoneArena and Phone Scoop. Pretty much everything that's been written about the Prevail should also apply to the Precedent.

To summarize the reviews, the Prevail and Precedent have:
  • Excellent screen quality; sharp, with good color saturation and touch sensitivity
  • Good overall build quality and physical appearance
  • Better than average battery life for a smartphone
  • User interface responsiveness that's usually OK but can lag or hang at times
  • Slightly better than average call quality
  • A screen that washes out in bright light
  • Camera quality that's OK for casual photos in good light but only fair indoors.
  • Low quality video recording
I'm a little disappointed that Precedent turned out be the same as Boost's Prevail and runs on the same Sprint network. It's not that the Prevail/Precedent is a bad phone, as it isn't. The real issue is that it doesn't bring anything new to the table.

In my opinion anyone waiting for this phone might as well buy the  Prevail, which is available now. Here's why;

Same coverage as Boost: I'm 99% sure that there will be no roaming for Straight Talk under Sprint, which means that coverage will be identical to Boost and  generally inferior to what current Straight Talk customers experience on the Verizon or AT&T networks that all the current Straight Talk phones use.

How much worse? Here's Straight Talk's coverage map for its current phones. Curiously Straight Talk only seems to publish one map even though the coverage area for their CDMA (Verizon) and GSM (AT&T plus roaming) based phones is different. The map below seems to represent the GSM service. The CDMA coverage is actually smaller because of the lack of roaming.



Here's Boost's coverage map showing the Sprint native network:

Quite a difference! To be fair, Sprint's native network covers most of the places where people actually live and work as well as the major highways in most regions.  Millions of Boost and Virgin Mobile users find it meets their needs.  Just don't expect the Precedent to work everywhere that current Straight Talk phones do.

Why am I so sure that there will be no roaming on the Precedent?  It's because the Prevail only supports the 1900 Mhz band, which is what Sprint uses. Verizon and US Cellular, which are the other major CDMA operators and the only significant potential roaming partners for Sprint, use the 850 Mhz band in most areas, which the Prevail doesn't support. Samsung didn't submit the Precedent to the FCC for approval, which would be required if it used different radio hardware or ran on different frequencies. The FCC approval process takes months and the Precedent goes on sale next month so there is no time left for approval.

Straight Talk's hard data cap: There are numerous reports on online forums of Straight Talk having an undocumented 2GB data cap on their current unlimited service on AT&T. That's not bad in itself, most "unlimited" plans have some sort of cap and 2GB is fairly typical. The problem is that when you exceed 2GB, Straight Talk allegedly shuts off your data, not just for the rest of the month, but permanently.  Sprint currently has no cap on Boost Unlimited and a 2 GB soft cap on their Virgin Mobile unlimited plans.  Most industry observers believe that Boost will soon adopt a soft cap too. With a soft cap, when you use too much data, your data downloads are slowed to near dial up speeds for the rest of the month, but full speed is restored at the start of the monthly billing cycle.  It's possible that Straight Talk will adopt a soft cap or no cap policy for their Android phones on the Sprint network, but they haven't said so.  But do you want to take a chance of having your data cut off permanently?

No real price advantage: Sure, the Precedent's list price is $30 cheaper than the Prevail. But the Prevail goes on sale regularly and is currently on sale for the same $149.99 price as the Precedent at Target stores.  Straight Talk's unlimited service is $45/month which is $5 less than Boost's.  However Straight Talk refills are rarely discounted and sales tax is charged on them in many states.  Discounts are widely available on Boost refills. For example,  CallingMart.com sells Boost $50 refills for $47.04 if you use coupon code ca3p-1207. This can be reduced another 1% to $46.04 if you join and use CallingMart's free "points" reward program.  There's no tax on refills from Callingmart and other online refill vendors, so if Straight Talk charges tax in your state Boost can actually be less expensive.  Then there's Boost's "shrinkage" which reduces the monthly cost of service by $5 for every six on-time refills to $35/month after a year and a half.

I'm glad Straight Talk is finally getting an Android phone. But it's really a Boost phone with Boost coverage and with little or no price advantage and the potential of having your data terminated if you use it too much. I'm hoping that Straight Talk eventually adds Android phones running on AT&T with the much more extensive AT&T postpaid coverage that their current Symbian smartphones enjoy. That would be something worth taking the chance on the hard cap for.

If you are still interested in the Precedent, click here to see if it will be available in your area and to reserve your phone.

47 comments:

Comment Page :
  1. Thanks for the warning on the coverage. I'm looking for a prepaid Android phone that will have coverage on the Appalachian Trail. I've found my Tracfone to almost always have coverage on the AT which isn't surprising since they use the Verizon network as well as others (this may also explain why Tracfone is somewhat more expensive than some other prepaid MVNO's). As far as getting one of the higher end America Movil phones to use as a smartphone, I don't like the way Tracfone and Net10 charge for data which appears exhorbitant (one "minute" per minute of data connection). I have been interested in StraightTalk which I thought would have the same coverage as Tracfone and Net10 so thank you for letting me know that's probably not the case. If the coverage really is just the same as the Sprint network then they are really exaggerating it with what they show on the StraightTalk coverage map.

    ReplyDelete
  2. For hiking in remote areas TracFone or Net10 CDMA, which use Verizon plus US Cellular plus dozens of little local operators, can't be beat.

    Hopefully, when the Precedent is released Straight Talk will publish a separate coverage map for it. To do otherwise would a pretty extreme case of false advertising.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Now that the Android is going to be offered to TracFone users, are there going to be any major modifications to the phone and the way it works?
    By the way, I've gone over my cap before and all I had to do was call them and ask them to reactivate it the following month.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Not sure what you mean. I doubt that it will get Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) at least not officially.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I bought this straight talk android phone on oct.15,2011 and I am not pleased with it . I stay in Louisiana and I get poor coverage or searching for signal mode often.I switched from my e71 smart phone that I had just got about 5 months ago to the android phone.I spent 169.00 for nothing,i'm going back to my e71 smart phone.

    Oct.23,2011

    ReplyDelete
  6. I just got my service turned off for violating their cap. Dec 9th, 2011.

    Hard Caps are TERRIBLE!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Were you using a Straight Talk Android phone (on Sprint)? I'm surprised as Sprint's own prepaids don't have caps.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hey Yeswap, any word on Straight Talk getting the Android on the other networks yet? I live in WI and the coverage is bad with sprint. I would upgrade my E71 to the Android if the coverage was better. Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  9. I haven't heard anything. It it happens it will be with At&T first I believe.

    ReplyDelete
  10. thank you for responding back yeswap.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I had my Android GSM (Motorola Flipside upgraded to Android 2.2) phone running with a SIM from my E71. My service was terminated Dec. 9th by ST.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Can you download apps such as Temple run, angry birds, voxer, ect?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's an Android phone and most Android games should work. Angry Birds and Voxer reportedly work,Temple Run is currently iPhone only but is supposed to be coming to Android soon.

      Delete
  13. I'm wanting to know if there is any way I can get my current cell phone number swapped from a Verizon contract phone to the Android Straight Talk phone?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, you can port your Verizon number to Straight Talk. Before you activate your new Straight Talk phone, call the Straight Talk "Executive Resolutions Dept." at 1-800-876-5753 (Monday – Friday from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM EST) and tell them you want to port your number.

      Beware that if you are still under contract with Verizon you will have to pay an early termination fee of up to $175 ($350 if you have a smartphone).

      Delete
  14. With verizon you can just keep suspending your account to.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Will this phone get service in southern Ohio?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Southern Ohio is a big place. There's Sprint network coverage in some parts but not others. Use the Boost CDMA coverage map to check the areas where you will be using the phone.

      Delete
  16. I have a couple concerns...I'd like to upgrade to the Straight Talk Android, but I live and work in two very seperate areas in the state of Maine. Because I do travel a lot and have children...not to mention possibilty of car troubles, etc...I need a phone that will have good service for a wide area. Also, I was curious as to the comment about "caps" and being shut off because of them. I have my Straight Talk set up to auto refill, unlimited...is this affected in any way by any caps?

    ReplyDelete
  17. The Precedent runs on the Sprint network which doesn't have much coverage in Maine. There's service in the south east corner around Portland and along 95 as far North as Bangor but that's it. See Coverage Maps For All Prepaid Carriers Looks like Verizon followed by T-Mobile and then AT&T have the best overage coverage in Maine.

    Straight Talk's cap is only on data. As long as you only use it for browsing and don't tether or stream music or video you should be OK

    ReplyDelete
  18. Is there any info on whether they intend to arrange more coverage for the Android?

    ReplyDelete
  19. Ok...so I'm sure that I'm about t sound really ignorant right now, LOL, but am I understanding properly that this device will provide better service coverage to my straight talk phone? Once bought, will I need to pay any additional fees to keep using it?And, also, there seem to be some discussion at the link you provided about Straight Talk phones rejecting these devices... I just want to make sure, before I spend all that money (I'm a single mom), that I am not investing in something that won't work the way I expected. By the way, thank you for your help...this is an amazing blog...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you are talking about Straight Talk BYOD SIMS, they don't work in Straight Talk phones, only AT&T, T-Mobile and unlocked GSM phones.

      The monthly fee is $45 for unlimited talk, messaging and about 2 GB of data.

      Delete
  20. That's bullshit if I can only have 2gb of data when it says unlimited. You lying pieces of shi t. You should be sued. Why cant u just say its 2gb data!? I'm mad. Corprate bastards!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I gotta agree, if there are limits, calling it unlimited is dishonest. Unfortunately that sort of lying is common in the cell phone industry. It's not just Straight Talk, most of the carriers do it to some degree.

      Delete
  21. I was actually ready to go purchase one of these phones but after finding out it has a data cap, I'm too angry to even give em a cent for one. It's dishonest and I don't like supporting dishonest companies.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I have just purchased the ST Samsung Galaxy Precedent. It has not even been activated. After reading the information in this blog, I am going to return it. Thank you guys, so much.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Does anyone know if the coverage maps shown for the Straight Talk Androids (CDMA?) have been updated recently and if all Straight Talk Android models rely solely upon 1900 Mhz band? I just looked up their coverage maps for Android/non-Android phones (http://www.straighttalk.com/coverage). I live in a rural region of PA (17815 zip). I have to replace a Net 10 LG900 which went for a swim. I have always had decent coverage with Net 10, but am now desiring a "smartphone" and the Androids are appealing to me - but not if they are basically useless in my area or while traveling. When I enter my zipcode on the Net 10 site, no Android phones appear available; maybe this should be my clue?! 4G is out of the question! I only use approx. 250 minutes of talk time per month and I rarely text. I would like to be able to have a smart phone that I can look up web pages with when I am traveling, and I will not be using it to stream videos or music. I am not of the "techie" generation, so this blog has been very helpful. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The current Straight Talk Android phones run on the Sprint native network. Coverage is the same as with Boost or Virgin Mobile and hasn't changed significantly in the last couple of years.

      If you want an Android phone on Straight Talk with the same coverage as your LG 900G get an AT&T Android phone and use a Straight Talk or NET10 BYOP SIM. See: Straight Talk, Net10 Bring Your Own Phone SIMs now available

      Delete
  24. Thank you for the information and the link. I have always been pretty happy with the coverage area of Net 10, so if I can buy an AT&T Android and use a Net 10 sim, that would be great! Now for the dumb question - if I purchase an Android phone from AT&T is it "locked" or are they unlocked? I have no idea how to unlock a phone and frankly it is probably beyond my capabilities or tolerance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Any phone you get from AT&T will be locked. It doesn't need to be unlocked to use Net10'a AT&T SIM

      Delete
  25. Thank you very much Yeswap! I do appreciate it!

    ReplyDelete
  26. I have an Iphone with AT&T. If I get the straight talk sim card will I have the same coverage as I get with AT&T?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It should be similar but perhaps not quite as good. Straight Talk's AT&T coverage should be at least as good as GoPhone (map). Some say it's the same as AT&T postpaid but Straight Talk doesn't publish detailed coverage maps so that's impossible to verify.

      Delete
  27. I bought the LG Android 3 months ago. Wished I hadn't. Straight Talk rents Sprint towers. Poor signal. My calls were getting dropped and was missing calls. It took forever to upload a site. The mean time the battery drains out fast while waiting or when the phone not in use. I didn't have anything stored except for a few contacts. The Straight Talk phones are only at Walmart. They don't accept phones after 15 days. If you didn't buy directly from S.T., you're out of luck and stuck with a useless phone. I was lied to by Walmart when they said Verizon can take over signal since theyre both CDMA. I should have gone to US Cellular for their non contact phone. I now have US smart phone. Much better service.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I used to have a us cellular plan until i couldn't afford it any more, but i've been dying for a smartphone again, my boy friend and i were thinking about getting the straight talk android, and i figured there would be limitations on the phone because there's no contract. i would like to see for my self how the phone works but i'm not sure if it would be worth it? is there youtube and stuff like that on it? and how good is the storage space on the phone? they also have a prepaid smartphone plan for verizon, 80 a month, but only 1gb of data, BUT on the plus side about that, they at least tell you that instead of lying. im not sure what to do!? does anyone know if spending the extra 30$ is worth it for a prepaid verizon???

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  29. horrible company to do business with. of course it is not a us company.i have dealt with nothing but inefficient supervisors, technical support and rude staff. answers vary based on the representative and it seems they do not care very much about their customers.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Ok i have been reading all of this and i just want to say that i have the Android zte phone and my wife has the lg one with the slide out key board and we both love them. We have gotten a good sigh every where we have been we both came from verizen as well. I would recomend straight talk to anyone thats wanting a cheap smartphone and a good service thank you for your time.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I would like to note that this phone although offers all the bells and whistles as the expensive phones does switch to a different service that does drop calls all the time. I have ahd straight talk for 3 years and never had a problem until I upgraded to an android, love the phone and the things I can do without thinking about minutes etc but it drops calls, deadzones all the time. Its frustrating to not be able to make a call when you want to and have to wait until you are in the right zone. This is not a phone for emerengies, but if you want the perks without the big bill and are near a big city you will probable enjoy this phone.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Can straight talk sims be configured for the 45$ and the 30$ plan ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Straight Talk SIMs can only be used with the $45 plan.

      Delete
  33. Does anyone know if using an android phone from t-mobile is possible. Does straight talk GSM support text messages from abroad?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. T-Mobile phones will work with a Straight talk T-Mobile SIM from www.straighttalksim.com

      Delete
  34. Looking at the galaxy 3 and on walmart site said it will not work in 17815 area code. However on straight talk they will sell it to me. Anyone in this area of rural Bloomsburg pa have the phone and how is service?

    ReplyDelete
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