TextNow Wireless is one of a number of hybrid cellular/Wi-Fi service providers that have turned up in recent years, but what sets it apart from the rest is its price. A mere $18.99 each month gets you 500MB of 3G/4G information and limitless 2G, talk, and texting. That’s lower than you’ll find on Google’s Project Fi, Republic Wireless, or Ting. But TextNow experiences dull voice call quality, which holds it back from being a better alternative to the affordable arms of traditional wireless carriers.
Service, Protection, and Network Performance
I checked TextNow Wireless with a carrier-provided Samsung Galaxy S5 on a 2GB strategy ($ 39.99 per month), primarily in midtown Manhattan. Setup is basic; the two TextNow apps come preinstalled. The account management app provides you a look at your plan, the information you have staying, and enables you to increase your 4G data if you strike your limitation. From the account app, you can also access the dialer, call history, contact search, and the messenger. The second one is the texting and calling app, which is offered for free on a wide variety of devices.
I had the ability to make outgoing Wi-Fi calls with no problem. They were mainly stable and of great sound quality, although there were some obvious pops on the getting end.
Moving outside the series of a Wi-Fi network, nevertheless, puts you in problem. When there’s no Wi-Fi, TextNow defaults to making voice-over-IP (VoIP) calls utilizing Sprint’s information network. The provider states it will fall back to conventional cellular calling if quality isn’t good enough, however that wasn’t what I found.
In general, VoIP call quality over Sprint’s network was bad. There were repeated skips that separated my words, making it difficult to comprehend on the receiving end. Outbound calls went through without problem, however Amtrak’s automated voice acknowledgment system struggled to comprehend what I was asking it. In one outright case, it misinterpreted, “New Brunswick, New Jersey,” for “Baltimore, Maryland.” This wasn’t the fault of the phone, since our reviews of the Galaxy S5 on all of the major providers noted exceptional voice quality, with great sound cancellation.
TextNow never ever chose to use the cellular network on its own. I needed to manually force it by turning data off. The exact same was true of Wi-Fi. Even when Wi-Fi connectivity was bad (cellular handoff likewise works for Wi-Fi), the service never decided to use cellular instead. If you’re a TextNow user in a location with shaky Sprint data connection, then this is going to be an inconvenience for you.
On the plus side, when I strayed from Wi-Fi, the phone didn’t drop calls as it changed to Sprint. There was some avoiding and breaking up when Wi-Fi was at first detached and the handoff to VoIP occurred, however the connection was preserved. I had the ability to keep a 3G call linked for a number of hours with no issue, although the quality was bad.
The unequal voice quality on Sprint’s data network, as well as the trouble of having to force cellular alternative, used TextNow far from Wi-Fi a second-class cell phone experience.
Device Options and Comparisons
The Galaxy S6 is the newest phone on TextNow, and also incredibly affordable at $249 off-contract, though it comes reconditioned rather than brand name new. The carrier’s non-refurbished phones are the Nexus 5$ 189.99 at Amazon, the first-generation Moto X, and the LG Homage– all the rest are refurbs. You can bring your own (Sprint) device, but TextNow recommends versus it since you won’t be able to use the cellular network alternative. However, given that automatic cellular handoff was flaky in my tests, you may be much better off bringing a more recent Sprint phone over.
To compare, Republic Wireless’ alternatives are much more minimal. You have the most recent Moto E, the current Moto G$ 108.95 at Amazon, and the 2014 Moto X, so it’s not an extensive lineup in general. You do not have the alternative of bringing your own device. That said, our evaluation of Republic Wireless revealed that it had much better call quality, and its phones are more trustworthy at switching to the cellular network when necessary.
Project Fi provides much better protection, combining the Sprint and T-Mobile networks, and deals with a couple of high-end phones: the Nexus 6P$ 499.00 at Google Store, the Nexus 5X$ 379.00 at Google Store, and the older Nexus 6. But it’s more costly than TextNow and Republic, and it’s likewise still an invite-only beta.
Ting, on the other hand, enables you to bring your own device, which gives you a wide range of opened phones to choose from.
On the other hand the senior-focused Customer Cellular provides some of the current phones consisting of the iPhone Sixes$ 649.99 at T-Mobile and the iPhone Sixes Plus$ 749.00 at Verizon Wireless, though its Android device choice is more dated.
Prices, Plans, and Conclusions
TextNow is more affordable than its rivals with its 500MB strategy, but has more competition at higher data quantities. The carrier offers 1GB of information for $26.99 monthly. That’s on par with the 1GB from Republic Wireless at $25/month. Task Fi begins at $30 for 1GB a month. Ting and Customer Cellular are considerably more pricey at this usage level. TextNow does have built-in subsidies for much of its devices, which might make it more affordable to use if you do not have your own phone to bring.
At $59.99/ month for 4GB of data, TextNow fares well versus Republic Wireless, which charges $70/month. Task Fi matches TextNow at $60/month for 4GB, and like Republic Wireless, it offers refunds for unused information. However, Job Fi doesn’t use unlimited information, so you’re most likely to be hit by excess compared to TextNow.
Given TextNow’s bad VoIP quality, a lot of customers will be much better served by another carrier. You might have the ability to discover a bargain at one of the low-priced arms of among the major carriers such as Cricket Wireless (AT&T), Increase Mobile (Sprint), Virgin Mobile (Sprint), or MetroPCS (T-Mobile). MetroPCS uses 1GB of high-speed information for $30 each month and unrestricted everything else. Cricket similarly uses 2.5 GB for $40/month.
Additionally, Customer Cellular and Republic Wireless are extremely ranked at the top of our Readers’ Option Awards and we have both in our list of The Best Prepaid Phone Plans. At present, TextNow simply doesn’t use the service quality to contend.