May 20, 2022

Anatomy of phone service

Written by kevin-c

Tips & Tricks

TextNow exists to make phone service free, but we also want to make it easy. Get a SIM card, pop it in your phone, and get calling.

Making phone service easy is made somewhat more difficult by the jargon and tech terms tossed around. It's a lot for anyone to remember, but it doesn't matter if you don't know 3G from a cup of coffee. Luckily, TextNow is here to help demystify the terms for you.

GB (gigabyte): A unit of measurement for computer storage. The higher the number of GBs your phone the more it can store. More GB equals more apps, photos, music, etc., that you can keep on your phone.

4G: The generation of mobile network the phone supports. When you see a number followed by “G” on a phone’s specification list (aka 2G, 3G, 4G), the G literally just means “generation.” The generations get faster as the numbers get higher. So 5G is faster than 4G which is faster than 3G, and so on.

LTE: Stands for (Long-Term Evolution). LTE is the step between 4G and 5G – sort of like a 4.5G. It’s faster than regular 4G and is sometimes referred to as “4G advanced.”

Wireless: As opposed to “wired,” i.e. home phones. “Wireless” is a short way to say a mobile phone that connects to cell towers and/or mobile networks.

GSM: One of two types of mobile wireless networks used in North America, the other being CDMA. In the US, GSM is used by AT&T and T-Mobile; outside the US, GSM is the de-facto mobile standard used by every other mobile carrier across the world.

MEID/ESN/IMEI: Three terms that are, for all practical purposes, interchangeable. MEID is a mobile equipment identifier, ESN is an electronic serial number, and IMEI stands for international mobile equipment identity. In all three cases, it refers to a unique number assigned to your specific mobile device, used by networks to identify valid devices that can be used with their systems.

Android: Operating system owned by Google, used by many smartphones and other devices. If you have a smartphone and it isn’t an iPhone, you’re almost certainly using Android.

iOS: Operating system used by Apple for their mobile devices (iPhone, iPad).

Talk & Text: Term used by many mobile providers (like us) for a phone plan without mobile data. In other words, a plan that lets you talk and text wirelessly off Wi-Fi. Something TextNow gives you for free.