If you've been reading this website for a while, you may have noticed that I value data as being more important than the number of minutes or texts included in a plan. Today, more than ever this is true as you can now make free voice calls via Google Hangouts on Android phone to any number in the USA regardless of if the user has Hangouts installed or not! Calls made this way do not use your plans minutes.
This capability has also been available for iOS users for some time as well. This features works regardless of whether or not you have a cellular connection, as it can route calls through your wi-fi network or your cellular data connection. To get the most out of the app, and to be able to make calls without using your plans minutes, you will need to obtain a free phone number through Google Voice, otherwise you'll only be able to call others who are using Hangouts.
If you use the app to make calls to someone else using hangouts, you will experience HD voice quality, which is also a feature carriers are starting to implement in their own networks. Of course, if you have some reservations about using hangouts or Google products in general, there are alternatives out there such as FreedomPop's app which also allows unlimited calling and texting over wi-fi and cellular networks without using your plans minutes.
On somewhat of a side note, I have to say I was a little disappointed with T-Mobile’s Uncarrier 7.0. If they
really wanted to shock today, I would have like to see them offer unlimited calling and texting over wi-fi that does not involve using your minutes. That is a feature that would really benefit their prepaid users such as myself. For the reasons listed above and a few others, I see a future several years down the road where cell phone plans are essentially sold data only and the idea of included texts and minutes will become obsolete. All of your calls and texts will be routed over the various data/internet networks available. At the moment, as it is now all the major carriers offer unlimited talk and text with data allotments being the thing that ultimately determines the cost of your plan. Many MVNO’s and prepaid cell phone plan providers though still offer plans with limits on the amount of texts and minutes you have. One carrier, Republic Wireless, has a heads up on everyone else though as their plans all include unlimited wi-fi calling and texting. In fact, their phones use wi-fi first and only transition to cellular networks when wi-fi is unavailable.