With news of Straight Talk officially offering the iPhone 5 under its unlimited no-contract service for $45 a month, it’s hard to not be tempted by such a low monthly payment. And with no contract, there’s nothing stopping you from switching teams if the service isn’t up to snuff.

Well, the one thing that may prevent you from switching to a prepaid service like Straight Talk in the first place is the high price you’ll pay up front for high-end smartphones, like the iPhone 5. Because unlike the major carriers who subsidize the price your phone through a contract, you’re paying the full retail price for your phone. For the iPhone 5, the lowest-end model is $650.

That’s no chump change and a lot of people may turn away from a prepaid iPhone because of that. No matter what though, you’re going to pay for the phone in the end. The major carriers may be selling you a $200 iPhone, but as you’ll find out below, the price of service under a contract weighs heavily on your wallet over the course of two years compared to a prepaid service.

Let’s take a look at the comparison chart to get a real look at the features you’ll get through major contract carriers and Straight Talk and at what cost.

Best  iPhone 5 Unlimited Plan

As you can see from the total price, the major carriers are hovering near $3000 (or over $3000 in AT&T’s case) for your phone and two years of service. Straight Talk on the other hand is sitting pretty at $1730 for the same. And the difference, well over $1000, is a large amount of money to a student or working-class person. Does this make Straight Talk a better bargain for those looking to own the latest iPhone? Of course it does. Does it make it the best iPhone 5 plan? That’s up for debate.

Now, Straight Talk isn’t like the major carriers. The company buys access to the networks of actual mobile carriers while setting its own price for service. So, depending on the phone you purchase, you may be using AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon’s network. In a way, it’s sticking it to the major carriers. There is a catch, of course. While using AT&T’s network under Straight Talk, I never noticed any difference in cell reception from when I was actually under AT&T’s banner, however, the benefits of the major carriers come from access to high-speed 4G data.

Since Straight Talk does not have access to carriers’ 4G networks yet, phones such as the iPhone 5 that have 4G LTE capability are not being used to their full potential when under a service such as Straight Talk. However, each consumer has different needs. Heavy data users with an on-the-go lifestyle may find 4G extremely useful. Others, like myself, may be satisfied with 3G speeds, despite those being 5-10 times slower than 4G speeds in many areas.

To finally decide which company has the best iPhone 5 plan for you, it’s best to do your research. If you have friends who own the iPhone 5, ask who their carrier is and how they like the service. You could even ask some strangers about that. They may slowly tuck their precious iPhone away when you start inquiring about it, but you’ll probably be doing the same thing soon enough.

A good site to check out is CellReception.com, they collect reviews on cell service quality and even have a map of cell tower locations. It’s a great resource to find out who has the worst service in your area (since most of the reviews are complaints about reception).

Once you’ve tallied up the pros and cons of each service provider, I’m sure there will be a clear winner. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below on the best unlimited plan for the iPhone 5, or give a shoutout to your carrier. And by shoutouts, I mean complaints.