Can you imagine a world in which you don't pay for your wireless phone service? You buy your phone and then make calls, send text messages, use apps and browse the web to your hearts content without any monthly bill at all? A company called Scratch Wireless
is out to make your dream come true and their business model is built around the premise that most of us have access to WiFi 90% of the time.
Let me start with the end in this review. If you purchase and activate a Scratch Wireless phone you may send and receive text messages anywhere and also make and receive phone calls as well as use unlimited data while connected to WiFi; all for free. No strings attached at all. For those times when you do not have access to WiFi but need to make or receive a call you can purchase service called a “pass” per day or per month. The monthly pass is $14.99 for phone and $14.99 for data. So worst case scenario you could pay $30 per month for your phone service if you felt so inclined. Keep the phone calls and data to WiFi only and your service is free.
I admit I was skeptical. Let me share my experience over the last two weeks.
When I received my phone in the mail and powered it on I was expecting it to ask for a credit card or other form of payment to have on file to charge me whenever I accidentally made a phone call or connected to the Internet off of WiFi. That is not the case. The Android phone (more details to come) comes pre-installed with a Scratch Wireless app that manages the balance between WiFi and mobile data and helps you decide what your own boundaries are so that you don't accidentally incur any costs you don't mean to.
The Quality of the Service:
Scratch Wireless lives on top of the Sprint cell network. So, essentially the reception and service is as good as any Sprint phone. I was most skeptical about the idea of making all my phone calls via some sort of WiFi connection. I've had my Scratch phone now for about 2 weeks and every call I make is clear and without any call quality issues. Its impressive really.
Scratch Wireless currently has just one phone available but they are planning on introducing more phones later this year including some that run kit kat. For now you may purchase a Motorola Photon Q. This phone runs Android 4.1 and features a beautiful full slide out keyboard. It has a 4.3″ ColorBoost display and a 1.5GHz Dual-Core processor. The 8 megapixel camera is nice and all around its a solid phone.
The Most Obvious Applications:
This is a perfect fit for anyone who is surrounded by WiFi every day. Honestly… considering the cost even if you did pay for the non-WiFi service this is still cheaper than most of the cell phones available on the market today.
I immediately thought of this as a great solution for students both young and old. They mostly communicate by text message and they are almost always somewhere with WiFi. This is a low cost solution to keeping them happy.
In short I'm impressed by the business model and the service. It will be interesting to see how the consumer market and the big carriers begin to change based on the great availability of WiFi. This could the first of many to take a big step in the right direction.