Waterloo, Ontario — TextNow Wireless, an MVNO that offers hybrid Wi-Fi/cell service, has begun rolling out phones to brick-and-mortar dealers for the first time, starting with Fry’s Electronics.
The company is also enabling credit-challenged consumers to make monthly payments in cash for the first time to pay for the no-contract prepaid service at retail locations.
TextNow service had been available only through the MVNO’s web store.
Separately, the MVNO added two new smartphones to its selection. They are the Samsung S5 and LG Volt Android phones.
These and other TextNow phones send calls and texts via VoIP through a Wi-Fi network when the Wi-Fi connection is strong enough, then hands off the call to Sprint’s 3G/4G network when the Wi-Fi connection is lost. TextNow keeps plan prices down by defaulting calls to Wi-Fi before handing them off to cellular. The company is working on handoffs from Wi-Fi to 2G cellular.
The phones also support handoffs from Sprint’s 3G/4G network back to Wi-Fi, a spokesperson told TWICE.
The first TextNow phone available through Fry’s is the Moto G. Pricing was unavailable.
The first locations accepting cash for monthly bills include Gates Petroleum, Sunoco, NMart, and Circle K stores, among others.
The two new phones available from the MVNO run on Sprint’s Spark triband LTE network. The S5 is available on the company’s website at $399 for a new model and $299 for a refurbished. It features Android 5.0 Lollipop and a 5.1-inch super-AMOLED 1080p display. The LG Volt is priced at $13.99 and features Android 4.4 and a 4.7-inch screen.
TextNow offers unlimited talk, text and 2G data on all of its plans, which start at $18.99/month for 500MB of 3G and 4G cellular data. Other plans offer 1GB of 3G/4G data at $26.99, 2GB at $39.99, and 4GB for $59.99/month. Data over Wi-Fi does not count against the 3G/4G caps.
The no-contract MVNO offers a mix of refurbished and new phones but also lets subscribers activate their own Sprint-network phones with TextNow service.