Talkatone vs TextNow

By Husain Sumra|Tuesday April 21, 2020

Millions of people are saving money using free calling and texting apps. But that’s not all. These apps are going above and beyond traditional phone service to provide communication tools like the ability to easily change your phone number.

The Talkatone and TextNow app have both caused a buzz for providing free calling and free texting. When considering the number of people who have used these apps to cut the cord on traditional mobile phone plans, the total cost savings is likely to be in the billions.

But which service is better for you, Talkatone or TextNow? Let’s compare the two mobile apps on their performance, user experience and calling features.

Cutting the cord on high-cost phone bills.

Free calling apps are changing everything. We’re all familiar with traditional phone service that uses either copper landlines or cellular voice connections to transmit calls. In contrast, Talkatone and TextNow both use your device’s internet connection to transmit calls.

This category of technology is called VoIP, or cloud-based phone service. Just as you don’t have to pay to use Gmail, a cloud-based email service, calls or texts made with these two apps are also free. Note that not all VoIP apps are free to use, however.

Using a VoIP phone system line can be more affordable than traditional phone service. You can also access your phone line wherever you have internet service. That includes being able to use your phone line during international travel without having to swap your device’s SIM card.

Free calling apps can be used as your primary phone number to avoid cell minutes altogether. You can also use the apps alongside your wireless phone service as a secondary phone line. Either way, you’ll be able to use a smartphone or tablet to make free phone calls. You can send free text messages, too!

An affordable second phone number.

Establishing a secondary phone line is one of the main benefits of apps like Talkatone and TextNow.

Free calling apps exist alongside your primary phone line. This means that you’ll be able to make and receive calls on both your device’s primary line and via the second phone line that you established with the free calling app.

Having two phone lines can be a way to add a level of privacy to how you connect. You can use the second phone line when registering for websites or when interacting with businesses. The phone line can also be used for interacting with people online, such as when you’re selling something on Craigslist.

Second phone numbers can also be used as a cheap way to separate and organize your communications. For example, if you’re a solopreneur, free calling apps can give you a cheap business line. It could also be used in an advertising campaign or to manage RSVPs for an event.

Talkatone vs. TextNow: Calling app basics

Even though Talkatone and TextNow fall within the same category of communication technology, there are several notable differences which can make a big impact on how useful the app is or how frustrating it can be.

Let’s start by looking at the similarities between Talkatone and TextNow:

  • Both offer free calls and texting to most U.S. phone numbers.
  • Both give you a free number when you download the app.
  • Both allow you to change your phone number.
  • Both offer contract-free service.
  • Both messaging apps allow you to send picture messages.
  • Both offer affordable international calls.
  • Both apps can be downloaded via Google Play or the iTunes app store.
  • Now let’s look at how the apps differ.

    Talkatone’s focus is free calling and texting. Your communication is transmitted via your device’s internet connection. It can use both an existing cellular data connection or Wi-Fi. There’s no need to subscribe to another service. It just works.

    There’s more complexity to TextNow, which can make it harder to use in day-to-day life. The basic plans for the TextNow App say they’re Wi-Fi Only. So if you’re not using Wi-Fi, your calls and texts may not be transmitted via a cellular data plan that’s obtained through another provider.

    TextNow also offers its own wireless phone subscriptions that offer a combination of WiFi calling, calls over TextNow’s cellular data network, and calls using cellular voice. When PC Magazine reviewed TalkNow’s wireless plan, it gave it just 2.5 out of five stars.

    Also read more about the Android free WiFi calling app.

    The review explained, “Moving outside the range of a Wi-Fi network, however, puts you in trouble. When there’s no Wi-Fi, TextNow defaults to making voice-over-IP (VoIP) calls using Sprint’s data network. The carrier says it will fall back to traditional cellular calling if quality isn’t good enough, but that wasn’t what I found.”

    TextNow says it will transmit your calls using the method that provides the best calling experience: Wi-Fi, 3G/4G or cellular voice. However, the PC Magazine reviewer said that although these three transmission methods were possible, the app never used the cellular voice network on its own, even when there was poor call quality through a cellular data transmission.

    The reliance on Wi-Fi or the data network may be by design. Derek Ting, TextNow’s founder and CEO, said the company can “optimize cost by sending more calls to Wi-Fi than the cellular.”

    Is cheaper call transmission prioritized over call quality? Based on the PC Magazine review’s experience, a phone call using the TextNow app to book a train to “New Brunswick, New Jersey” could be mistaken for “Baltimore, Maryland.” Audio quality issues could make the phone service less useful.

    Talkatone vs. TextNow: Call Quality

    TextNow’s call quality issues were mentioned by both tech reviewers and online user reviews. PC Magazine noted: “There were repeated skips that broke up my words, making it difficult to understand on the receiving end.”

    A review of TextNow on Tom’s Guide reiterated the call quality issues. “Trying to call someone on a TextNow phone was hit or miss,” said the review. “Out of the nine phones in our office that I tried calling, three failed to ring, even though I heard the ringing tone in the TextNow phone. Two phones took between 15 and 20 seconds to start ringing. The other calls connected immediately.”

    Plus, after the call connected, there were additional quality issues. The review said voices were distorted, would drop out every few words, or in at least one case, “It was like I was talking to someone from the bottom of a well.”

    In comparison, both Engadget and Wirefly had positive things to say about Talkatone’s call quality. Wirefly noted that call quality changed after the app was acquired by the communications company Ooma. “As Ooma has made a lot of investments in their calling service, these issues are now largely a thing of the past.” Engadget said of Talkatone: “Current versions have enhanced audio compression and redundancy, thus improving the quality of voice calls and reducing background noise.”

    Talkatone vs. TextNow: Text Message Quality

    Text messages are a fast and easy way to communicate.

    With Talkatone, reviewers note that texting just works. Messages are sent and received as expected. Plus there’s more than four million emojis and stickers available to add expressive visuals to your messages.

    However, TextNow users have experienced significant problems when texting.

    One TextNow user noted that sometimes messages have a lag: “I’ve sent texts to my usual group of friends where they either didn’t receive it or arrived an hour or so later. Same on my end. I have unlimited data. When I get home and hook into the Wi-Fi, suddenly a few texts show up. I don’t know why that is, but it can be annoying.”

    Another recent reviewer said: “Lately (even after the update) I will send texts, it says it’s been sent and the recipient NEVER gets it.”

    We expect our text messages to transmit, and when the technology fails there are human consequences. “It’s cost me a relationship so far,” explained the TextNow user.

    Talkatone vs. TextNow: Features and Support

    One great feature to consider is that both Talkatone and TextNow allow you to burn your number. By changing your phone number, you’ll be able to avoid unwanted phone calls or even stay one step ahead of robocalls. It’s easy to burn your existing number and get a new one. Plus, when you change your phone number, you’ll still have access to your text messages and history of calls.

    Yet, the apps differ in other ways.

    The free version of the TextNow app is ad-supported, but users have called the ads “aggressive” and “intrusive.” One user explained they “have picture ads in the middle of text conversations now. Not cool. Very hard to distinguish if it’s a link or picture someone sent you. It can be easily clicked on, and then you are redirected to [the] advertiser.” It would cost about $36 per year to remove the ads.

    Talkatone Free is also ad-supported, but the ads aren’t intrusive, so there has not been the same user response to the ads. You can remove the ads for just $1.99 per month. That’s only $24 per year which is 33 percent less than TextNow. Additionally, Talkatone Plus offers features such as Call Forwarding, Voicemail Transcription and more for just $3.99 per month.

    A comparison from selected Talkatone as the better app because it shows when someone is typing, and it uses less memory on your phone.

    Also read: How to get free internet calls to cellphones.

    Another significant difference between the two apps is customer support. TextNow only offers support via online articles and video tutorials. In comparison, Talkatone offers a full online knowledge base plus support by email or message.

    Talkatone vs. TextNow: Conclusion

    Now that you know what sets Talkatone and TextNow apart, you can determine which one is better for you.

    With Talkatone, it’s free to make calls or send text messages to most U.S. phone numbers. The app lets you add another phone line onto your cell phone or cut the cord on your wireless phone service and go Wi-Fi only. It offers full customer support, and reviewers have talked about how the app has invested in high-quality audio.

    TextNow users and tech reviewers have both commented about the app’s problems transmitting calls and text messages. Outgoing calls don’t always go through, and VoIP audio can be very poor. Similarly, text messages can lag for hours, and in some cases, not be delivered at all. Plus, TextNow doesn’t offer customer support via phone or email, so you may have nowhere to turn if you’re having problems.

    Learn more about what makes Talkatone a great calling and texting app.


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    Talkatone is the best option to call and text for free to and from most US and Canadian phone numbers. By contrast, Skype, Viber and Facetime are only free if the recipient has also already installed the app. Download the app on App Store or Google play.

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