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5 free text apps for Android that send real SMS messages
Searching online for free texting apps is a pain in the rear end. There are free apps that work with your existing SMS service and messenger apps that send messages but not real SMS. This is a problem we hope to rectify with this article. Every app on this list can send free text messages to people one way or the other. The list isn’t very long, though, because this is a niche option. Most cell phone plans have unlimited texting now, and many people have switched to messaging services like WhatsApp or Telegram. With all of that in mind, here are the best free texting apps for Android.
Please note that these apps send texts as a service, not a replacement for the stock SMS app on your phone like Textra or QKSMS. You can find our list for that here.
The best free texting apps for Android
How do free texting apps work?
Free texting apps send texts the way any other service does. You send the text, and the other person receives it. However, these services work separately from your phone, and often have a data component. That means you can send texts from a website or mobile app, and it’ll still show up on the recipient’s phone as a regular text.
None of these services are entirely free. Most free texting apps use two different business models. The first is a monthly allotment of free texts where you have to buy more once your allotment runs out. The second lets users watch or view advertising to earn credits, and those credits let you send texts. These apps are still services and still have to generate revenue, so it’s not surprising to see such systems in place.
Price: Free with in-app purchases
Google Voice is an excellent free texting app and easily one of the most popular. It lets you send free SMS messages and make free phone calls in the U.S. or Canada. Those who are outside of those areas have spotty coverage at best. In any case, you do get some extra perks, like a decent Google Chrome extension for computer use, a nifty app with Material Design, and some really nice voicemail options for calls. The SMS and MMS support is good, but nothing too different from what we’ve seen on this list. It’s a rock-solid option and probably the one you should try first. Please note that you do need a Google account for this app.
Price: Free / $2.99-$4.99 per month / $1.99-$18.99
Text Free is one of the most popular free texting apps on Android. It also works on iOS where it is very popular. The app does what it says. You sign up for an account, claim a phone number, and start texting people. This one also features free calls. However, you are limited to 60 minutes per month for free. You can watch video ads or purchase more minutes if you need to. The subscription services include $2.99 per month to remove ads or $4.99 per month to remove ads and reserve your phone number. Apparently, the service reclaims inactive numbers after a while, so you can reserve yours for a monthly fee. In any case, this app does work. The app boasts International support as well.
Price: Free / $4.99-$7.99 per month
TextMe Up isn’t a lot different from Text Free. The app gives you a phone number. You send text messages and receive them. The app has fewer ads per page, but there are ads in more places. It’s really just a matter of preference. This one also supports phone calls with a credit system. You do get a few to start with. The subscriptions include $4.99 per week for a week of full access (including free calls), and $7.99 per month for full access, period. Both subscriptions remove ads and include free phone calls. This app only has free SMS to the United States and Canada. The UI is Material Design, and that’s kind of nice as well.
Price: Free / $2.99-$39.99 per month
TextNow is another popular option for free calls and free texts on mobile. It has the cleanest UI of all the apps on the list. It sent texts and made phone calls without any issues during our testing. As it turns out, TextNow also operates as a sort of MVNO. You can purchase a call and text plan for $9.99 per month (no WiFi required for this plan), and plans range up to unlimited everything, including data, for $39.99 per month (on CDMA phones only). There is also a $2.99 per month subscription to remove ads and allow for free calls and texts over WiFi. This is a seriously solid experience. However, free texts are limited to only the United States and Canada.
Price: Free / $0.99-$29.99 per month with in-app purchases
TextPlus is our last pick, and it’s another solid option. It offers free SMS texts to U.S. and Canada. It also offers free phone calls. However, it works on a credit system. You earn credits by watching ads, basically. You can add non-data SMS and calls for $9.99 per month (GSM phones only). There is also an option to remove ads for $0.99 per month, and that’s the cheapest on this list. Finally, you can buy just credits for calls if you want to. The free texting worked just fine in our testing, and the UI is fairly clean as well. It’s certainly another good option if the previous three didn’t work for you.
Bonus: Pulse SMS and others
Price: Free / $99.99 / $1.99 per month
A lot of people look for free texting apps so they can text on non-connected devices like tablets. Pulse SMS, Android Messages, AirDroid, Pushbullet, etc are all excellent options for this. These apps don’t provide free text messages. However, they do let you use your existing text plan on basically any other device you own. Our favorite is Pulse SMS. It’s clean, and it’s one of the few with a single up-front cost instead of a subscription.
You basically get the app, install it on all of your devices (including your computer), and it all sends and receives real texts from your normal phone number. Microsoft has an up-and-coming app that is doing better at this as well. These apps don’t send texts for free (you still need a carrier plan), but they let you send your texts on all of your devices.
If we missed any great free texting apps, tell us about them in the comments below! You can also click here to check out our latest Android app and game lists.
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