I truly cringe whenever I receive my cell phone bill. Usage charges, unlimited data, texting…oof, it adds up. I can see why the search for a good free phone service over WiFi is so important for a lot of people. As for me, my phone is like another appendage, so I reluctantly but willingly fork over the money. But if you aren’t as smartphone-reliant, have a relative who isn’t, or just want a better alternative to the small fortune you have to pay each month in cellular bills, Scratch Wireless is definitely worth a closer look.
This is a completely free phone service that you use over any WiFi network. And by service, I mean service. You can text, search the web, email, Instagram, Facebook and tweet to your heart’s content, at any time, provided you have access to Wi-Fi.
There are no weird restrictions like only being able to make calls between 7 and 9 pm on Mondays and alternate Wednesdays. And since so many stores, public spaces, and even whole neighborhoods offer free WiFi nowadays, you really do everything that you would normally do with a smartphone. And for those random and infrequent times when you won’t have access, like when you’re driving, or when your plane is stuck on the runway for an hour, you can buy cellular day passes starting at $1.99 for data and $1.99 for voice which gives you a half-hour of phone time through Sprint’s cellular network.
So what’s the catch? You have to buy the phone that Scratch Wireless offers. It’s a Motorola Photon Q that’s super sleek with a Bond-like flipout keyboard (it really impresses kids) and great sound quality. It’s pricey at $269, but when you consider that’s a month or two of a regular cell phone bill, it makes a lot more sense.
You buy the phone and that’s it. No hidden charges, no extra fees from what I can tell. You can even port your existing wireless number to your Scratch phone so it can immediately replace what you’re using now.
So am I ready to give up my iPhone? Eliminating the monthly-bill is really tempting, but I don’t know that I could pull the trigger. Still, I could definitely see this being a replacement to our land line and having it stay in the house as a second phone. This would also be a good option for teens, or even older relatives who want the reassurance of having cell phone access, but don’t want the costs.
More information on Scratch Wireless can be found on their website.
[top photo via flickr user mo riza]