We shall call this the era of killing the carrier. Yes, that is a good name for these upstarts that are, frankly, killing the carrier. Some time ago, Republic Wireless broke on to the scene with their Wi-Fi calling hybrid system that changed how some looked at cellular service. Then along came companies like Ting, where you pay small amounts if you use a small amount or larger amounts if you used more. Scratch Wireless is taking this bill cutting a step further than the two aforementioned companies by offering FREE service using their devices over Wi-Fi systems.
Scratch is banking on the fact that their users will be around Wi-Fi most of the time. For some, this wouldn’t be an issue if there is Wi-Fi at work and Wi-Fi at home. It’s even better for one that is using the device as a home phone replacement as the existing Wi-Fi connection is all they need to worry about each month. Scratch publishes on their website that people are around Wi-Fi 80% of the time. This includes being at home, school, work and even cafes. Just in case you were wondering what happens if you happen to be somewhere without that precious Wi-Fi, you can still text anywhere you have Sprint coverage.
Now, if you want to chat while you are on vacation, or don’t have access to public Wi-Fi at some points in time, you can simply purchase a day pass to use your device or purchase a 30 day pass as well. The 24 hour pass is $1.99 and offers either 30 minutes of cellular calling or 25MB of data. The 30 day pass runs $14.99 and is good for 250 minutes of talk or 200MB of data. Note these are not “and” prices, they are “or” prices. You can purchase a voice pass or a data pass or both, but you cannot split them between the two.
Scratch has chosen the Motorola Photo Q as their device of choice for running their software. The Photon Q is a bit aged in design, but still holds it’s own against today’s more advanced handsets. The 4.3” display is powered by a 1785mAh battery pack that provides up to 7.5 hours of talk time. The 1.5GHz dual-core processor hums along nicely. The 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage will keep multitasking people moving as well. The addition of a MicroSD card slot allows for up to 32GB of additional memory for media as well. The last “great” addition to the Moto Photon Q that is often overlooked is the full QWERTY slide out keyboard, that is perfect for messaging and email.
While we continue to check out new comers like this, something to consider is the startup cost. The Motorola Photon Q will set you back $269.99 (or darn near the same price as the Moto X from Republic Wireless) but the monthly service charge of zero is a nice addition to the mix. Taking a look at the overall pricing though, unless you are living in a land of Wi-Fi, those day passes will probably be something you get more often than not – if not for the reason that you need to call someone, but more for the reason that they might need to call you. For that reason, we have to give Scratch Wireless a mid-range recommendation here. The per minute cost while off Wi-Fi is just too high for us.
We give FreedomPop’s 2 year pricing the nod for the value plans once again as the cost is the same as Scratch Wireless’ offering, but it includes unlimited talk, text and 500MB of data each month on the cellular network, compared to Scratch Wireless’ daily or monthly passes at a higher cost. That said, you can only get much older, refurbished hardware from FreedomPop at the moment, but it’s a small price to pay for a $11.25 a month cell phone bill. Of course, the better deal still is FreedomPop’s Basic plan, but not everyone can get by using just 200 minutes, 500 texts and 500MB of data each month.
By The Numbers:
Scratch Wireless – Wi-Fi Calling Plan
$269.99 Device Cost + $0 per month = $269.99 over 24 months
Cost per month over 24 months = $11.25
Republic Wireless – $5 Wi-Fi Calling Plan
$279.99 Device Cost +5 per month = $399.99 over 24 months
Cost per month over 24 months = $16.67
FreedomPop Wireless – Basic
$159.99 Device Cost + $0 per month = 159.99 over 24 months
Cost per month over 24 months = $6.67
FreedomPop Wireless – 2 Year
$159.99 Device Cost + $110.00 2 year service payment = $269.99 over 24 months
Cost per month over 24 months = $11.25