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Completely Free Texting on Your Smartphone

Updated on June 6, 2010

If you own an iPhone or Android smartphone, and are still paying between $10 and $15 extra a month for texting on top of a data plan, you're crazy. If you purchased a data plan for $30 a month, why pay $10 just to send text messages? It's because the phone companies are ripping you off, and forcing you to pay for something that is very overpriced and unneeded assuming you have a data plan.

Let's first understand why texting is so overpriced. Let's say you send and receive 1000 text messages a month. If you pay $10 a month for those messages, that equates to 1 cent per message. If you send the standard 160 character text each time (which is a gross overestimate, but nonetheless), then that means you are paying about .006 cents per character. This might not seem like a lot. But, if you were to send a image file to someone with the same reasoning that the texting pricing undertakes, it would cost you $30,000. These calculations were done by figuring out how much per "byte," or piece of data, the phone company charges you to send a text.

But many people have unlimited data plans, and they pay quite a bit of money per month to have them. Yet still, the phone company tries to charge you another $10 just for texting. Well it's time to stop paying these extra charges and cancel texting all together. But how will you text your friends? You will use free services that work by sending text messages over the data plan instead of the texting plan. This can save you a lot of money.

Google Voice

I've talked about Google Voice before, but one area it can really save you money is with texting. Essentially, Google Voice will give you another number that you set up to route to your phone. You can make calls through it and receive calls as well, but that is out of the scope of this article. For now, we'll be looking at texting. If you have an Android-based phone, you're in luck. Google released a mobile application for Google Voice that integrates very well into your phone. When people text your Google Voice number, it will instantly ring / vibrate your phone as if you received a text message. You can then reply to it.

Another killer feature is Google Voice's ability to let you send and reply to texts from any computer with an internet connection. Just go to google.com/voice and log in.

If you have an iPhone, Google Voice isn't going to work as well for you. Apple decided to ban Google's app from its App Store, so in order to get the same functionality, you have to navigate to Google Voice's website inside the browser. Also, you won't receive notifications. But for those with Android, Google Voice is an excellent texting replacement app. You need an invite at the moment in order to use Google Voice, but it's not hard to find them online. Or, you can sign up at google.com/voice and wait for Google to contact you.

textPlus

TextPlus is another free application that gives you a number and lets you text for free. It works on both the iPhone, and Android, so almost anyone can use it. It is free and unlimited so don't worry about going over your texting limit. The only drawback of using it is that you have to give all your contacts another number: one to call you at, another to text you at. But, it's worth it when you see how much money you'll save.


With these applications there is no need to keep your texting plan. However, be forewarned that you will not be able to send or receive picture messages through these numbers. However, you can use email or another app to send them for free through the data plan. Also, you will not be able to receive texts from shortcodes such as Facebook. But, with a smartphone, you can get those notifications in other ways for free. So unsubscribe from texting today and save $10 a month for the next few years of your contract.

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