Last month, Apple struck a deal with Walmart to sell the iPhone 5 at discounted prices during the holidays. Both sides must have liked the results, because Apple has decided to extend its deal with the big-box retailer, formally partnering up with Walmart to exclusively sell the iPhone 5 on a contract-less unlimited talk, text and data plan from Straight Talk Wireless, a subsidiary of TracFone that uses the AT&T network.
"Walmart and Straight Talk Wireless, America’s largest and top rated no-contract cell phone provider, today put the power back in the hands of customers with an industry game changing offer," Walmart said in a press release. "Starting on Jan. 11, 2013, in more than 2,000 Walmart stores and online at Walmart.com, customers now have access to the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4 on Straight Talk’s $45 no contract unlimited talk, text and data plan. To make this offer even more affordable, Walmart will be offering customers who purchase the phone in the store, a no-interest fixed-monthly payments special financing offer for only $25 a month with a Walmart Credit Card."
Walmart will only carry the iPhone 5 via Straight Talk in the 16 GB storage capacity for $649, in both black and white colors. Walmart and Straight Talk will also support the iPhone 4 on Jan. 11, selling the two-generations-old iPhone with a strict 8 GB of storage space for $449, also in black and white. Straight Talk uses AT&T's network, but the company did not say whether or not it could access AT&T's LTE network.
Consumers will have to pay full price to buy an iPhone 5 at Walmart, since Straight Talk isn't subsidized by a carrier, but Walmart is sweetening the deal by offering anyone who owns a Walmart credit card a no-interest fixed payment plan for $25 a month, which essentially allows customers to have an unlimited talk, text and data plan for a cool $70 per month before taxes and fees.
Straight Talk says it saves consumers an average of $950 a year when they switch from a conventional contract plan that offers a similar unlimited plan. But even though Straight Talk uses AT&T's network, the company did not say, whether or not it could access AT&T's LTE network.
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"We are thrilled to be bringing the remarkable iPhone 5 to customers looking for one of the most advanced smartphones with one of the most affordable No Contract plans ever," said F.J. Pollak, CEO and President, TracFone Wireless. “The advanced iPhone 5 with our unlimited $45 monthly plan and Walmart’s $25 special financing offer is a marriage made in heaven – making it the most affordable premium smartphone offer in America. With this exclusive offer the last reason for not purchasing the No Contract Straight Talk plan is gone.”
As an alternative to the $45 monthly plan, customers can also opt to pay $60 per month for a plan with unlimited talk, text and data, plus unlimited international calling to more than 1,000 destinations.
TracFone Wireless, which owns Straight Talk wireless, is the largest no-contract cellular service provider in America with 21.6 million subscribers. TracFone is subsidized by América Móvil S.A.B. de C.V. ("AMX"), which is the leading provider of wireless services in Latin America with 255.9 million wireless subscribers.
Walmart, which began selling the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S last month with valid two-year contracts or eligible upgrades, sold the iPhone 5 at just $127 -- a $72 cut off the original $199 base price. Best Buy actually spoke out against Walmart's "dubious" marketing and pricing strategy to the Wall Street Journal, alleging that Walmart didn't have those iPhones in stock, despite the outrageous discounts on the sticker price.
About The iPhone 5
The iPhone 5, Apple’s sixth-generation smartphone, is 18 percent thinner than its predecessor (the iPhone 4S) at just 7.6mm, and it is 20 percent lighter than the 4S at 112 grams. The iPhone 5 features a bigger 4-inch screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio for watching videos in full widescreen, and Apple has again made its new in-cell display a Retina display, with a screen resolution of 1136 x 640 screen and a density of 336 ppi.
The iPhone 5’s screen, according to an extensive analysis by Amherst, N.H.-basedDisplayMate, is actually a “significant improvement” over the smaller screens in the iPhone 4S and 4 and is also substantially brighter and more accurate than the screen in Samsung’s Galaxy S3, which many consider to be the greatest rival to Apple and the iPhone 5. Read the full lab comparison here.
The iPhone 5 is also the first Apple phone to feature the high-speed Long-Term Evolution, or LTE, network. Currently, the global LTE carriers supporting this phone include AT&T, Bell, Sprint, Verizon, Telus, Deutsche Telekom, Telstra, EE and SingTel -- as well as a number of regional carriers like Cricket, C Spire, Nex-Tech Wireless, MTA Solutions, nTelos and a slew of others.
The general theme of the iPhone 5 is speed: In addition to support for the LTE network, the iPhone 5 also features a custom-built A6 processor, which actually boasts more than twice the overall processing performance of any iOS device that has come before it, including the third-generation iPad, as well as newly enhanced camera infrastructure and the new 8-pin Lightning dock connector. The iPhone 5 is powered by iOS 6, which features more than 200 new features for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, including several enhancements to its virtual personal assistant, Siri, the handy application for movie tickets and coupons called Passbook, and the completely redesigned -- albeit half-baked -- Maps application from Apple.
Apple sells the iPhone 5 in two color combinations -- black and slate, or white and silver -- and at three different storage capacities: The cheapest iPhone 5 comes with 16 GB of space and sells for $199, and after that, it’s $299 for 32 GB and $399 for 64GB. Apple will likely sell the phone at a slightly more expensive price point in China, as it does with several other countries in Europe and South America.