Everyone knows the top-tier wireless service providers in Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. What about lesser known, or newer, brands like Tello, Mint Mobile, or Net10?
Some of these companies might be a better fit for US consumers as they provide a more specialized package that fits their needs or budget. Let’s take a look at a relatively unknown carrier, TextNow.
This guide will serve to help you understand what the MVNO offers and how it competes in the mobile arena.
TextNow is a somewhat newer player in the mobile space, having gotten its start back in 2009 as a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) for making Wi-Fi calls. Today it operates as Mobile Virtual Network Operator that piggybacks on other cellular networks for coverage. It employs Sprint’s network for CDMA and T-Mobile for GSM but it operates with its own plans and features.
TextNow uses Wi-Fi for its preferred coverage, falling back on GSM or LTE for calls, text, and data. By going this route, it is able to offer much more competitive rates than traditional carriers. According to TextNow, its average consumer rate plan is just $19 per month.
TextNow rate plans are no-contract, meaning you can go month-to-month with no long-term agreement, cancellation, or activation fees. It also offers a 30-day money back guarantee. TextNow does not charge for going over your allotted data. Hit your threshold and you’ll find your speeds slowed for the remainder of the billing cycle.
TextNow has three of plans which use Wi-Fi only with unlimited calls and text to US and Canada. One of the plans, the Basic, is actually free, and is supported by ads in an app. Indeed, it does include features such as conference calls, group texting.
The Premium plan is $2.99/month and adds in caller ID, voicemail transcription, call forwarding and other perks. For $9.99/month customers can also enjoy unlimited calls to US and Canada on traditional towers.
The main plans, however range from $20 to $40 per month, and include a set amount of high speed data with unlimited 2G access. Devices that utilize CDMA (Sprint) can also take advantage of mobile hotspot or data sharing.
- $10/month: Unlimited Talk and Text
- $20/month: Unlimited Talk and Text with 2GB of high-speed data
- $30/month: Unlimited Talk and Text with 5GB of high-speed data
- $40/month: Unlimited Talk and Text with unlimited high-speed data*
Those who go over 23GB of high-speed data in one month may see their speeds slowed for the remainder of the billing cycle. This is a small segment of users, to be sure, but still worth noting.
TextNow makes it easy to add more lines to a plan, with each one receiving its own data allotment. Going this route saves up to $10 per month for each additional line. Here’s a quick look at how that shakes out today.
Other TextNow Features
TextNow offers affordable international calling to a wide array of countries. Examples include 2.2¢ per minute to China and 1.8¢ per minute to India. Calls to Mexico and United Kingdom are free.
Customers can add credits to their account by completing an offer, installing other apps, sharing to social media, or watching ads. Credits vary but an example might be 2¢ credit for viewing a 30-second advertisement.
Taking a look at the current lineup of phones offered through TextNow we find just over one dozen models from brands like LG, Samsung, and Motorola. The handsets definitely skew toward the lower end of performance but that doesn’t mean they are not capable devices. There are also a few standout devices, too.
- Boost Mobile Buyer’s Guide (June 2019)
- Cricket Wireless Buyer’s Guide (June 2019)
- Consumer Cellular Buyer’s Guide (June 2019)
- NET10 Wireless Buyer’s Guide (June 2019)
Some of the more reputable models included the Samsung Galaxy S9, Galaxy S8, Motorola Moto E4, and LG Tribute Dynasty. A few of those listed are refurbished phones, or “gently used”.
TextNow does offer financing options on its phones through Affirm with 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month plans.
Bring Your Own Device
You can use any existing Sprint or T-Mobile phone just so long as there’s no unpaid balance on another network. You can also, of course, bring an unlocked device, too.