I have an iPhone 4 that's currently on AT&T. My 2-year contract will be fulfilled in January, and at that point (if possible) I'd like to switch my service to Straight Talk or some other less expensive alternative, since I hardly use up my data/voice/text allotments on AT&T.

A few questions:

  1. First, I assume my phone needs to be unlocked. Can I simply request that AT&T unlock it once my contract is up? How does that work?
  2. Since I already have the phone, can I buy just a SIM from Straight Talk (or whoever)?
  3. Does any of this require that the phone be jailbroken? I do not want to jailbreak

Unlocking appears to be a pretty easy process. Just call them up or go online. Here's another article from Apple about it.

After the phone is unlocked, you should be home free to swap SIM cards with no jailbreaking required at all. I've had multiple unlocked smartphones (Blackberrys which previously had data contracts) in the past, which come down to just pulling the SIM, and moving it to a new device. Apple started with just AT&T, and at that point made it difficult to change carriers, but things have changed, and particularly the iPhones 4/4S do quite well at switching networks. The two year data contract can also be confusing, because this is required if the phone is to be purchased at a lower price. After that, there is no ties, to speak of with the carrier that originally sold you the phone.

After the contract ends (and in this case, it is unlocked), you can use the device as a iPod Touch (wifi) + phone. You could even get a prepaid SIM card (from AT&T) and use it without unlocking it.

*Apparently (thanks to @jsd), you don't even need to unlock your phone. Switching to ST should be pretty easy for you.

  • So that takes care of the unlocking, but what about switching to Straight Talk or another service? It's as simple as just buying a new SIM?
    – daGUY
    Dec 20 '12 at 21:39
  • Sorry I didn't explain that part very well. See my edit. Hopefully makes more sense. I've gathered most of that info from my experience, but it wouldn't hurt for you to call AT&T, unlock the phone, and double check with them that I am correct. Keep in mind the iPhone 4 uses a micro SIM unlike some other phones with a full size SIM. Dec 20 '12 at 22:08
  • You don't need to unlock to use Straight Talk. My never-unlocked originally-on-AT&T iPhone 4 is on ST right now. ST is just an AT&T reseller. You don't get a few features like visual voicemail and MMS but otherwise it's identical to AT&T.
    – jsd
    Mar 12 '13 at 23:55

I have AT&T iPhone 4 which I purchased a StraightTalk sim and unlimited service plan ($45) from Walmart for. I Installed the AT&T micro sim from the ST sims pack. I then activated the sim online.

All you need to do is simply follow the activation instructions included with the sims/service plan kit you purchased.

After it activated and updated to iOS 6, texting to non-iPhone users and non-wi-fi browsing did not work, so the APN settings have to be changed. However, the specific APN carrier settings fields are not accessible I used the www.unlockit.co.nz app (just go to that site using your phones browser using a wi-fi connection). You will now have 3G browsing and text to non-iPhone user capability but can not MMS to non iPhone users. I am still trying to get MMS working completely.

By the way, iMessages worked even before the unlockit process is performed.

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