TextNow Free Service

"By now, you’ve heard our big news: We’re now offering our talk & text service nationwide. For free. You read that right. No more paying for basic phone plans. No more asking baristas for the WiFi password. You can use your TextNow number anywhere over Sprint’s Nationwide Network without the dread of receiving your bill at the end of the month."

The Catch? "The truth is, there is no catch. If you’ve used our free app before, then you know that it’s able to remain free supported by the ads served within the app."

How innovative, but maybe things will work out this time.


Well might as well put a phone on this. Thanks.

Not sure why you wouldn't still need to ask barristas for wifi passwords though since there is no data included.

I wonder if these numbers will be voip numbers still. Those aren't as useful as proper numbers for verification, 2fa etc.

You don't need to buy an activation kit if you already have a sim. Says you can activate via the app.

I think that's because previously, you needed to be on wifi just to be able to talk/text using the TextNow app.

Since they're saying Sprint sim is needed, my guess is that it will be a Sprint number, not a voip number.

In which case, wow. Thanks Isamorph, I have old phones from RingPlus that I didn't want to activate on Sprint's free year because of the post-paid requirement. Those have found a purpose in their electronic life!

I have a TN phone as a sort of desk accessory here, been on wifi only + airplane mode forever.
Call or text with it once in a while & also have it mining Pi 24/7.

Just took it off AP mode & watched - amazingly it found some sort of cellular signal & got a totally bogus number assigned somehow too.

Opened the native dialer & made my usual test call to the NOAA weather number - it switched on its own to the TN app & used wifi for the call.

So, either the cellular was too weak to use, inoperative or whatever - whilst seeming to confirm that it is still using VOIP rather than true cellular, at least here & now.

As with all the time using TN - the ads are quite imposing & constant.

I'm thinking maybe TN defaults to wifi calling, rather than cellular, whenever wifi is available. But in your area, Sprint might be a no go for sure. My Sprint compatible phones are currently on services, so maybe someone who has a non-tied up Sprint phone will test and report soon.

I signed up an old R+ phone. It was quick and easy.

Made a test call over cellular and sounded like cellular voice.

Curiously, some random phone number was signed to the SIM in "About Phone" but the correct number shows up in the app and on the phone of people I call.

I wonder if they are piggybacking that random sprint cellular number a bit like how google voice does it. Have you tried calling that random number from another phone to see if it rings?

Okay, I kicked the tires a little more.

It's VOIP. It doesn't work if you turn off mobile data.

One neat thing is that 2g data is enabled in order to let the VOIP work. I'm able to use Hangouts for SMS.

If you call the phantom number it says that it's "Temporarily not in service."

Oh well thanks for trying!

The voice quality seems to be crystal clear, so far.

You can add LTE data. $19.99 for 2GB and $39.99 for unlimited.

I wish they had 500 MB so I could throw them a few bucks each month without making a big commitment.

A bit misleading that they use cellular in descriptions and provide a cellular Sprint voice coverage map when it is VOIP.

"Order a SIM Card Activation Kit to get free
texting and calling nationwide over the
Nationwide Sprint Network and never pay
for phone service again. Bring your unlocked
CDMA phone to TextNow to experience our
unique hybrid of Wi-Fi + cellular service."


Anyone ever port in a # to TN? Free? Paid?
Thinking of keeping a low use Tello #, maybe port to TN instead of waiting for the axe to fall at Tello. Was contemplating porting to GV until this came along, probably a better idea but wondering if TN would now be an option.

I can send/receive texts via hangouts but calls have no sound. It seems like textnow/sprint has blocked it as it works fine over wifi. Browsing gets routed to the textnow website.

Google let me verify a google voice number with my new textnow number. Normally that isn't possible. I either got lucky or the number is recognised as a cell number with this new textnow service.

Thanks for the early testing, Chelle! That did not meet my first guess as to how it would work, but the google search I did, reading multiple versions of the press release, didn't really clarify much.

I was amused, however, that the CEO of TextNow is Derek Ting. I thought it was a reporter's error when I saw \ a paragraph starting with "Ting says..."

I'll be giving this a try as soon as I have a chance to dig out a phone and sign up.

Okay so I uninstalled the textnow app and enabled sprint callingplus on my phone for lte calling and I was able to make calls out. It came up with the phantom number as the caller id. So it seems the phantom number is set up for 2g data only and textnow piggybacks on top of that for textnow voip calls.

One other thing I should have mentioned is that when I signed up I was able to choose from a short list of phone numbers. I was able to get one that I really liked.

I'm not familiar with that app. So does it use VOIP, cellular voice, or VoLTE?

Must be like Freedompop where stuff routes through them. The app seems to be VOIP and does work on cellular connection only. Tried to see if normal apps work, but what I've seen is:

Chrome - browsing gets redirected to Textnow website
Google Maps - Can't search to get directions. Interestingly, I was able to switch to satellite view and it does display map when I scroll around, just can't create a route
Google Voice - No calling, but texting worked
Google Play Store - Wow this one is interesting. I can search for apps, but it won't download or display icons/pictures.

I wonder what would happen if you use a VPN while connected on cellular network...

Looks as if it's what's called "Elastic Calling".


Edit: Oops, with elastic calling you are charged by your cell provider for Carrie minutes used, so it looks like the "new" program only uses some features of this technology.