Walmart wants to be your cradle-to-grave retailer — it already sells baby cribs and coffins. So it’s no surprise the world’s largest retailer joined the competitive cell phone market, too. They’ve been offering no-contract cell phones since January 2013.
While I loved my iPhone with unlimited everything, I loathed its monthly $120 bill. So I gave up my pricey smartphone to search for a cheap dumbphone — and I found it at Walmart.
Here’s what I learned…
Less is more
When comparing no-contract providers, it’s best to find a retailer who offers many options for both their plans and their phones. My search led me to two of the nation’s largest retailers…
- Best Buy offers variety. The electronics store carries six different providers and has a plethora of phone options that range in price from $30 to $200.
- Walmart offers less but charges less. With four providers and a smaller selection of phones, the discount chain is luring customers with a low price. StraightTalk, a subsidiary of TracFone, is exclusive to Walmart and offers a limited plan at $30 a month and an unlimited plan at $45 a month.
The real deal is the less-hyped Walmart Family Mobile, which is the cheapest plan around — unlimited talk and text at $24.88 a month and phones starting from just $19.88.
Service with a smile
No-contract plans from T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T’s are pricey but reliable. At first, I fretted about signing up with a Walmart plan because I feared I’d save money but spend more time trying to overcome poor service.
But when I dug deeper, I learned Walmart Family Mobile is powered by T-Mobile, the nation’s fourth-largest provider. In 2011, J.D. Power and Associates declared T-Mobile had the highest overall customer satisfaction in the industry.
Convenience is king
Another nervous moment was deciding to surrender a smartphone for a dumb one. But there’s an upside.
While the average battery life reported by iPhone users is about 6-7 hours, and Samsung Galaxy S3 users report 8.5 hours, my Samsung T139 averages 52 hours. It’s also the cheapest phone on Walmart Family Mobile, at only $14.88.
So while I lose out on many smartphone functions, I’m saving so much that I have no regrets with Walmart cell phones. And I’m learning that life without a smartphone is like life without soda — hard to kick the habit at first, but so much better after that.