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Tello vs. Straight Talk: Which carrier fits your needs

Tello website on a phone
(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

Tello has only one plan that can be fully customized for each person. Tello lets you order as little as 100 minutes, or up to unlimited everything with 25GB of data. You can also change your plan at any time, so you don't need to risk overbuying data you don't need. 

Straight Talk, on the other hand, has a handful of simple plans with plenty of data for most people. The mid-range 25GB plan is a great value for heavy users and it works with just about any unlocked phone.

Tello vs. Straight Talk: How much data do you use?

Tello's top unlimited plan comes with 25GB of high-speed data on LTE or 5G, which should be enough for the vast majority of people. The people that need more than that will be better served by Straight Talk; with its 25GB plan and unlimited plan with 60GB or more of high-speed data. 

Light users have an option on both carriers such as Straight Talk's basic plan, though Tello's custom plan can go as low as 100 minutes for just $5 per month, and is the best cell phone plan for light users. If you need a backup phone, Tello is the perfect fit.

TelloStraight Talk
NetworkT-MobileT-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon
Minimum dataNo data100MB
Maximum data25GB (high speed)60GB (account review possible)
InsuranceNoneMobile Protection (Asurion or AppleCare+)

Tello has much more flexibility in its plans, but Straight Talk stays focused on the sweet spots that make sense for most people. Heavier users will find more data on Straight Talk, though most people will be more than covered by the 25GB included with the unlimited plan.

Tello vs. Straight Talk: Coverage

(Image credit: Tello)

Tello uses only T-Mobile's network, which provides good coverage to the majority of Americans with LTE and 5G. T-Mobile's 5G coverage is the best in the nation, and delivers solid speeds to more than 305 million people. 

You also get access to the fast Ultra Capacity 5G network, quickly adding coverage. T-Mobile's network is highly compatible, with support for most unlocked phones. So if you've bought one of the best Android phones unlocked, it will more than likely work great with Tello.

Straight Talk lets you use the network that works best for you in your area, or is compatible with your phone. Straight Talk offers SIMS for AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon-compatible phones, making it easy to bring your unlocked device to the carrier.

Tello vs. Straight Talk: Tello's custom plan

Tello's plan is simple with a single custom plan. Tello's plan starts as low as 100 minutes or 500MB of data. You can also skip one or the other if you want. Any Tello plan with calling minutes comes with unlimited texting as well. You can add data as needed up to unlimited, which comes with 25GB of high-speed data. You can also add unlimited calling. With unlimited everything, it comes to $39 per month.

(Image credit: Source: Tello)

Tello has put together a few plans that make good starting points if you're not sure how much you need just yet. Since you can upgrade your plan at any time, it makes sense to start conservatively.

(Image credit: Source: Tello)

Tello includes international calling to more than 60 destinations as well. Tello also allows unrestricted hotspot usage, so if you have any data left on your plan, you can share it with your devices.

Tello vs. Straight Talk: Straight Talk's plans

At first glance, Straight Talk's plan structure seems to be a bit scattershot, but it's fairly simple when you break it down into three main categories. There's the Basic Phone Plan, Bronze Unlimited with 10GB of high-speed data, and truly unlimited plans. Some plans are also available with two lines or with multi-month savings.

The Basic Phone Plan comes with 1500, unlimited texts, and 100MB of data. This is a good fit for a backup phone or someone still rocking a flip phone. At $30 per month, it's not the best value for this level of service, but is still a nice option to have. 

Stepping up to Bronze for $35 per month, you get 10GB of high-speed data with unlimited talk and text.  Bronze also comes with calls to Canada and Mexico as well as 5GB of hotspot data.

Moving up to the $45 Silver Unlimited plan, data is truly unlimited, while everything else remains the same as Bronze. Silver is also available as a 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month plan with some savings for longer terms. There is also a similar Unlimited International plan that comes with unlimited data, 5GB of hotspot data, and calling to up to 15 unique international numbers.

Finally, Gold Unlimited takes hotspot data up to 15GB and includes 100GB of cloud storage. Starting at $55 per month, this plan is also available for two lines at $90 per month. Finally, Platinum is much like Gold with the addition of Mobile Protect, a phone insurance program via AppleCare+ or Asurion.

Tello vs. Straight Talk: Does your phone work?

Galaxy S20+ 5G network with SIM cards

(Image credit: Source: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

Most phones work with either of these carriers. Straight Talk offers SIM kits for AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon-compatible phones. If you bought it from the carrier, make sure you've paid it off and gotten it unlocked from that carrier before canceling your existing plan. 

Straight Talk also sells many phones if you need a new one, including modern Android phones and iPhones. A few of the more expensive models are available with financing.

Tello works with most unlocked phones thanks to the T-Mobile network though, for the best 5G results, you'll want a phone that works with both bands n71 and n41. For the most part, any modern 5G phone will work well with T-Mobile's network. Tello sells a few phones, but they are mainly cheap and mid-range phones.

Don't forget you can also buy one of the best cheap Android phones unlocked if you want to save some money with the ability to switch prepaid carriers at will.

Tello vs. Straight Talk: Which should you pick?

Tello and Straight Talk websites on two phones

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

If you are a very heavy user, Straight Talk has the largest plan with up to 60GB of data usage before being subject to account review. Straight Talk also has a two-line plan for its largest data tier that brings the price down to a very competitive $45 per month. The other plans are a solid value and great for someone not covered by T-Mobile's network.

Under 25GB of usage, Tello is the better value. The T-Mobile network is more than fast enough for most people, with coverage expanding all the time thanks to its vast 5G spectrum. Tello also lets you save a little money by going with a smaller plan if you find out you don't need that much data. With so many people transitioning to working from home, having a plan that can adjust to your needs can be a huge win.

When Samuel is not writing about networking or 5G at Android Central, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.