Do you pay for text messaging? If you have a smartphone, you don’t have to. There are plenty of mobile messaging app alternatives that you can try at no cost. They work with different types of phones, your computer, and even communicate with your friends’ regular phones. Plus they work over Wi-Fi — great if you’re traveling internationally.


So what’s the difference between mobile messages and text messages? Text messaging is an app that your carrier loads on the smartphones and feature phones they sell you. Mobile messaging is an app you download on to your smartphone, but is not available on feature phones. Both types of messaging let you send text and photos.

Text messaging is billed as text messaging or may be part of a bundle of voice, text and data. And if you’re paying per message, photos cost more than plain text — 30 cents for photos and 20 cents per message. Mobile messaging uses your data network, so you are either using your billed data or Wi-Fi, which is free.

Most important, text-messaging apps use your cellphone number. Mobile-messaging apps use a user name or a phone number generated by the service, which means you’ll have two mobile numbers.


If you own an iPhone, you may already be using mobile messaging. The text app that comes loaded on the iPhone, iMessenger automatically defaults to sending mobile messages rather than texts to other iOS devices. You’ll know someone is sending you a message via iMessenger if it shows up in a blue bubble, rather than a green bubble.

Beyond the iOS universe, an easy way to get started with mobile messaging is to try a service that you know friends and family already use. For instance, I use Skype a lot with my parents and mother-in-law, so it’s a great way to message with them. Skype is available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Macs and PCs.

Read more about free messaging apps that can help you stop paying for texts.