TextNow Versus TextFree + Voice

I’ve done reviews on TextNow and TextFree separately before. But now that TextFree has Voice, I will do a comparison. Their texting services both work perfectly fine; to be honest, when it comes down to just a texting app, between those two, it’s just which interface you like, really. Both now have the ability to send and receive both SMS and MMS, so I will only do a comparison on their calling features. :)

Having your own number:

  • TextFree + Voice: TextFree has an advantage in that they’ll provide you with a local area code simply by asking for your zip code. After doing so, you’re given a list of numbers with that same area code to choose from. Simple as that; just choose the number that tickles your fancy. Not that the area code matters since everything is done over WiFi, but it does make it more convenient since I believe that your friends would be more likely to pick up your phone if it were a local number.
  • TextNow: It was a little confusing selecting my number since it was all over the place. It may have changed since I first started using TextNow, but when I had first gotten it, it was one long list of randomly placed area codes and numbers. It looked something like this: California (949), Texas (xxx), Florida (xxx), California (626), California (312), Texas (xxx), etc. There was no order to it.

Winner: TextFree + Voice
Interface:

  • TextFree + Voice: It’s got the same simple interface as ever. I don’t really like their choice of backgrounds or alert messages. I do like the ability to have “favourites” saved though. Overall, the interface kind of just looks too simple and tacky. 1990’s tacky.

  • TextNow: I love TextNow’s interface and all. It looks simple, yet sophisticated. I think overall it’s more user friendly as well.

Both have the ability to use your contacts, which is cool (it didn’t use to, before; had to add them in separately). You can also assign photos to your contacts. Both apps have a great team constantly updating. However, I think TextNow’s team is nailing it with their support. TextNow used to constantly crash, but since the last update, I’ve had no problems. TextFree’s team is doing alright, as I’ve never had problems with the app crashing, but have been having problems with their service overall. I’d constantly get messages saying that the service is unavailable and such.

Winner: TextNow

Call Quality and such:

  • TextFree + Voice: The calling is pretty good on this one. It’s pretty clear if you have a decent WiFi signal. I love that in the upper corner, you’ll see the little “light” that tells you if it’s Excellent (green light), HD (green light), Good (green or yellow, I don’t remember which), or Poor (red light).
  • TextNow: I haven’t had a bad call with this app either. Sometimes though, the person on the other line might fade out for a second. I don’t know how to explain it. Overall, it’s good. I’d wished that they’d have a call quality indicator like TextFree’s though. Right now, you’d just have to hope that you’re in a damn good WiFi area. But it’s good.

Winner: I’ll say it’s a tie. Both call qualities are good, though I’m leaning a slight bit toward TextFree + Voice for its indicator “light” as well as not having the weird “fading” problem of TextNow’s. But hey both do have good service and TextNow’s fading problem is minute. Cost: (just for minutes) I’m only going to evaluate the cost of the minutes, as you’ll have to determine for yourself whether or not you want the apps to be ad supported. Both have the option to buy calling minutes.

  • Paid TextFree + Voice: 100 minutes for $1.99, 250 minutes for $4.99, and 500 minutes for $9.99.
  • Paid TextNow: 100 minutes for $1.99, and 500 minutes for $9.99.

Both apps also have the option to “earn” calling minutes by downloading apps. (I’m focusing on only the free apps.)

  • TextFree + Voice: This one varies. Depending on the app you download, you get a different amount of minutes. It averages about 12 minutes per app though. Be forewarned, the amount of minutes it tells you you’ll earn isn’t always the case. I’ve downloaded apps that promised 15 minutes but only gave me 10, apps that promised 24 and only gave me 20… It’s not a major difference, but they add up. It’s not a major deal since they are free minutes, but it is a minor inconvenience. At the rate of 12 minutes per app, you’re looking at downloading 8 apps for 100 minutes.
  • TextNow: TextNow’s is a little more straightforward. Each free app earns you 3 credits. With 30 credits, you can redeem a month’s service with 100 minutes and then 20 credits for 100 minutes thereafter. Every time you redeem your month of service, all of your minutes rollover to the next month. At that rate, you’re looking at downloading 10 apps each month including the 100 minutes that comes with the service, and then 7 apps for every 100 minutes thereafter if you need more minutes that month.

One thing to add is that both apps will be slightly delayed in getting you your credits. Sometimes it’s almost instantaneous as you open your newly downloaded app, but other times, it can take at least a half hour. Sometimes you won’t even get your credits… but they’re free and only take up so much time. Do it while you’re watching TV or something.

Winner: TextNow. TextFree + Voice has this little disclaimer saying that your minutes will expire after (x) amount of days of non-use, but doesn’t give you an expiration date for when and how many minutes will expire. TextNow’s on the other hand,rolls over their minutes to the next month as long as you continue redeeming your monthly service and gives you an exact date as well as a reminder text as to when your service will expire. Overall winner is TextNow for subtle reasons, really. The major tie breaker for me in this case would be TextNow’s “calling plan.” I like the idea of rolling over minutes, even if it means having to redeem credits for the month’s service. But from the looks of it, it’s almost the same amount of apps downloaded for the same amount of minutes. TextNow’s service and interface is a little better in that they have a team working on their users’ wishes all of the time. Plenty of updates to come.

I still would keep both apps, however. At my office, I make lots of phone calls (long distance!) and the
reception for my cell phone is spotty. 99% of the time, I have no signal there. The other 1%, I get cut off. When it’s raining, I don’t even bother with the cell phone. So by all means, I resort to using VoIP phones (the office doesn’t supply me with a landline phone, unfortunately). Having both apps makes it so that I can have a couple hundred minutes each month for business reasons. ;) And having 2 separate phone numbers allows me to remain a little more anonymous.

Update: (27 December 2010)

After using the apps for about a week at the office, I’ll have to say that the call quality of TextFree + Voice is a whole lot better, even with the same WiFi strength. TextNow’s has a tendency to fade in and out and break up a lot too; no dropped calls, but plenty of breaking and static. TextFree + Voice is quite clear and with the signal indicator, you’ll know where the problem lies. TextNow’s calls are only clear in EXTREMELY high WiFi service. Lately, it seems as though TextFree + Voice is actually updating their downloads section for free minutes quite frequently. TextNow’s hasn’t changed much,which makes it kind of hard to earn credits toward minutes.

Update: (28 December 2010)
Hmm. WordPress app needs to quit changing titles andsuch on me. This title for this wasn’t ever supposed to be Platypus.

Back on topic. I was downloading apps like mad last night in order to make up for over 70 minutes used after a session with customer service. TextFree + Voice is the only one giving me minutes. Delayed by about a half hour as Pinger had mentioned, but I’d received them nonetheless. TextNow, on the other hand, hasn’t been crediting me at all. And they haven’t updated their list either. Boo. :(

I apologise for how my  blog has been looking.  I’d finally just gotten on the laptop to fix a couple of the entries.  WordPress really needs to work on their WordPress iDevice app.  :(  From changing my titles to messing up the entire entry’s formatting… it’s not worth the hassle.  Maybe it’s time I paid for a blogging app.

Update: (07 February 2011)

At the time of this writing, I’ve come to the conclusion that for voice, I prefer TextFree + Voice.  TextNow’s server takes forever to give you your credits (IF they give you your credits).  TextFree’s gives your your minutes almost immediately upon opening up the downloaded apps.  I’d realised now that the 180 days is a great time span for you to use up your minutes.  Even if you don’t, just give yourself a quick call every now and again to make sure that they don’t go to waste/expire.

I still keep TextNow since all of my friends text me at that number though.  And because I like the interface.  But that’s probably all I’ll be using it for.  I don’t think I’m going to waste my time and effort downloading apps for their almost non-existent credits any more.

I’ll admit that my opinions may change again, as both companies are trying their best to outdo the other.  They’ve both have had some updates in the past few months that have greatly enhanced their service.  Unless something big develops, this will probably be my “final” conclusion.  TextFree + Voice > TextNow.

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2 comments so far

  1. Greg Vergho on

    I agree that TextFree + Voice has great voice quality. My only question is why are you bothering with outbound calling minutes? All inbound calls on TextFree + Voice are free. So couple TextFree + Voice with Google Voice and all your calls through TextFree end up being inbound calls. Just initiate your calls from Google Voice, GV will call your TextFree number and then make the connection when you pick up.

    • Moo on

      Oh sweet. :D Thanks for the tip. I’ll definitely look into it. ^^


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