Target and Walmart compete in almost every area so it’s only natural that Target ventures into the wireless world to take on Walmart’s Straight Talk. Target has just announced that starting October 6th they will be unveiling their cell phone service called Brightspot which will be powered by the T-Mobile network.
The plans available for the phone are very similar to what you get with other prepaid carriers. The Brightspot plans start with an unlimited talk and text option for just $35 with no data whatsoever. The most expensive plan they offer is $65 for 4 GB’s of 4G speed (with throttling thereafter) along with unlimited talk and text. The other middle of the pack plan which will probably be the most popular is $50 for 1GB of 4G speeds (throttled thereafter) with unlimited talk and text.
Available Brightspot Plans:
- Unlimited Talk and Text: $35, no data
- Unlimited Talk, Text and Data: $50, 1GB of 4G speed (throttled thereafter)
- Unlimited Talk, Text and Data: $65, 4GB of 4G speed (throttled thereafter)
- International Texting: Additional $5
- International Calling and Texting: Additional $10
Since Brightspot is a prepaid plan you will have to purchase your phone at full price. There’s no exact word on what phones they will be selling direct but most phones you can purchase for a T-Mobile account should work. This includes everything from the more affordable Samsung Galaxy S3 pictured on their promotional papers to the iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 which are going to be more expensive.
Another aspect of the service is that you need to make sure that T-Mobile has good coverage in your area. You can take a look at the T-Mobile coverage map to see if 4G speeds are available in your area as not every area where there is a Target store has great coverage in their network.
Target doesn’t shy away from going right after Straight Talk with a comparison graphic that was leaked that also compares it to post-paid services like Verizon. In the key differentiation they go through with Straight Talk they show that they are $5 more per month at $50, compared to the $45 per month at Straight Talk. Both plans offer unlimited data, text, and minutes with the Brightspot plan offering slightly faster speeds since they’re powered by T-Mobile’s 4G speeds where available. They come out looking strong in this comparison, especially once you figure in the $25 gift card you receive for every six months of service.
When it comes to the comparison with Verizon Wireless plans they show that for 1 GB of data along with other comparable voice and messaging specs that it will run you around $90 per month. This is of course compared to the $50 per month plan from Brightspot. You of course do not have to pay full-price for your phone with Verizon as it’s subsidized, but if you’re wanting a new, more popular phone you will still usually have to pay anywhere from $50 to $199 extra. If you’re looking at this comparison it will only save you money if you’re looking more to the long-term where you will receive savings over time. Also if you’re a price conscious consumer who strays towards the prepaid options you are probably better off going with a cheaper Android phone than eating up your savings by purchasing an unlocked iPhone for nearly $700.
While these plans look solid enough, I’m not sure they provide enough incentive to make prepaid users switch from competitors such as Straight Talk, Virgin Mobile, Metro PCS and the new AIO Wireless. Those who are average cell phone users and Target customers will also be hard to switch over as the $25 gift card won’t be too exciting when they have sticker-shock from seeing the new iPhone is $649 to $849 without subsidies compared to $199 with their current Verizon, Sprint, or AT&T plans. So while it’s too early to tell whether these plans will gain any sort of traction I don’t think there’s any major incentive to be switching your plan over unless you do most of your shopping at Target where you can take advantage of the gift cards and other credit card based incentives.