Cell phone plans can get expensive, but if you aren’t looking for the latest and greatest phone and don’t need loads of high-speed data, you should check out TextNow, a cell phone service that can save you a lot of money.
TextNow is a low-cost service that gives you unlimited calls, text messages and data. The service available in the US that works especially well for those who are connected to Wi-Fi a lot. The company has four types of plans, ranging from $19 to $60/month based on your high-speed data usage. You don’t need to enter into a contract, you can use TextNow month-to-month.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive cell phone service for yourself, your parents or your kids, TextNow is worth a look. Make sure to read about the text message dashboard feature, discussed below, that may be an important feature for you as a parent.
I recently spoke with Derek Ting, CEO of TextNow Wireless, about the many advantages of TextNow. “TextNow is the world’s first all cloud-based phone service. That means it’s lower cost and you get features and functionality that you wouldn’t otherwise get from a traditional plan. You can actually use your phone number on any device that has Internet. We give you visual voice mail and call forwarding for free on all of our TextNow Wireless plans.”
What Makes TextNow Different
TextNow uses Wi-Fi networks for calling and texting, where available, as well as the Sprint network when you’re away from Wi-Fi.
“Because we’re using Wi-Fi as much as possible, you have a lower cost,” explained Derek. “The beauty is we did a lot of engineering to make sure there is no quality trade-off. Behind the scenes we test to see if your Internet connection is good enough to make a voice call. If it is, we use Wi-Fi. If it isn’t, we fall back to Sprint’s network. The customer doesn’t have to do anything. The call is connected seamlessly.”
When you’re out and about, away from Wi-Fi, your data plan kicks in for everything, including calls and text messages. Because your high-speed data are limited under TextNow, this service is best for those who are around Wi-Fi most of the time or who aren’t looking to use a lot of high-speed data when away from Wi-Fi networks.
As of yesterday, TextNow began offering unlimited calls, text messaging and data to both new and existing customers. TextNow uses the Sprint network to give you unlimited calls and text messages to the US and Canada, and 500 MB of high-speed data, with unlimited lower speed data, for $19/month. Three other plans are available if you need more high-speed data:
“We didn’t want to make the plans really complicated,” said Derek. “The consumer can get overwhelmed. Our goal was to make the plans really simple.” He explained that you just have to figure out how much non-Wi-Fi usage you need for high-speed data.
After you exceed your high-speed data limit you’re not charged extra. Instead, you’re switched to a lower speed data connection for the rest of the month.
Many low-cost phone services require you to buy a phone from them. TextNow offers a variety of new and refurbished phones, including the refurbished Motorola Moto G phone, currently on sale for $14. This full-featured Android smart phone may not be the latest or greatest model but can do many of the same tasks as more expensive Android phones. Plus you won’t panic if you (or your child) breaks or loses the phone.
The Moto G phone is Derek’s favorite phone and TextNow sent me one for testing. The call quality was excellent, the apps were responsive and the camera took sharp pictures inside and outside.
TextNow also sent me another phone, a Samsung Galaxy S4 to test. This refurbished phone currently costs $199 and would be a good fit for those who want a larger screen and higher specifications for their phone.
Text Message Dashboard
TextNow lets you read your text messages from your dashboard, using the app on your phone, tablet, or from the TextNow website on any computer where you’re logged into your account. Derek explained, “All your messages stay in the Cloud so you can access your messages seamlessly from any device.”
Derek pointed out that this feature could be used by parents who want to keep track of their children’s text messages. “If you know your child’s login information, you can go online and see who they’ve been texting. You can spy on your kids. You can also see how much data they’ve used because we tell you that right from the app.”
TextNow also offers an app that gives you calling and text messages over Wi-Fi using your existing device. If you don’t want to sign up for a TextNow Wireless plan you can use the app from your current phone to make and receive phone calls and text messages. You can also use the TextNow app to try out TextNow before you sign up for a TextNow Wireless plan. Derek pointed out that some people start out using the TextNow app then switch over to the TextNow Wireless plan.
The app gives you a dedicated phone number you can use with the app. “You can just download our app for free and turn a device into a phone as long as it has Wi-Fi. For example, you can turn an iPod Touch into a phone for free over Wi-Fi,” said Derek.
You can make phone calls and text within the app using credits. Credits can be purchased or earned through tasks such as watching video advertisements or sharing news of TextNow with your friends via social media.
The TextNow app is available free (with ads) for:
The app doesn’t have a data plan and you can’t use the Sprint network when you’re away from Wi-Fi. But for those who are around Wi-Fi most of the time, the TextNow app could be a good fit.
Have you been looking for an inexpensive cell phone plan? Are you around Wi-Fi most of the day? Would you use the Text Message Dashboard? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section below!