July 16, 2020

My Day Without a Phone Number

Written by valeria


At TextNow, we talk a lot about the necessity of a phone number, specifically about the unfair reality that most of us will have to pay for such a basic need. Truth is, nowadays, buying a phone with a phone plan has become so commonplace, that we simply don't think about what it truly means to be without a phone number. So to put myself in the shoes of someone who isn't as privileged, I spent one day without one. And it went a little something like this.

Opening Up Accounts

To make it as realistic as possible, I traded in my working phone with a Moto E5 from TextNow, so that I wouldn't have access to any of my already active accounts. I could only use this phone over WiFi, as it wasn't in service with a plan. The first thing I proceeded to do was create a Google account, so that any information I save on this phone could also be backed up for future access. Thankfully for me, the step to add a phone number to my account was optional, so I was able to get past that with relative ease. Now that I had a Google account, I could use the PlayStore to download all the apps that I would need.

I was two-for-two creating a Facebook account, which also did not require a phone number. Same went for Instagram and Twitter. Hell, I even downloaded TikTok. So far, things were looking pretty good. That is, until I wanted to directly message someone on TikTok. Finally, I got the dreaded message that I had to add my phone number to be able to complete that action. But no matter, I could always download the videos and send them to the appropriate contacts on Instagram or Facebook if I had to, as annoying as that was.

I became curious about other popular apps as well, so I tried to download a few of them dating apps. It was a mix of hits and misses, as Bumble let me sign up with just my Facebook account, but Hinge sadly did require a phone number.

So all in all, it would seem that using apps on your phone is largely possible to do without a phone number, though it can limit you quite a bit to either what you can do on those apps, or which apps in particular you can even gain access to.

Staying Connected

Now, the most common use of a phone number is to stay connected with friends, family, peers, employers...anyone you may have a relationship with. So I was curious to see how far I could go without a number.

For family, I found the easiest workaround was to add them all on Facebook and message them through Facebook's Messenger whenever I needed to. This also gave me the freedom to be able to share photos and videos easily. The only catch? Try getting your technologically limited relatives to learn how to use Facebook while teaching them over Facebook. I must admit, it made my so-called "victory" feel a little less victorious.

My friends at least were able to cooperate with me in a more seamless manner, however, I did run into a few snags with a couple of contacts who did not buy into the traditional social media apps, and asked if I had WhatsApp instead. I tried to register for an account, but found that I could only do it with a phone number. So those few friends got the immense pleasure of talking to me over e-mail, the world's most inefficient way to respond to "wyd?".

Overall Experience

I'd be the first to admit that modern technology has come a very long way in keeping people connected to the outside world, no matter what their situation may be. But despite all of these technological leaps, I still found it a nuisance to navigate through the day without a phone number. I've been periodically forgetting to make a doctor appointment for the past two weeks, and the day I finally remembered and wanted to make one, I couldn't. Which then led me to think about people who may be looking for jobs, but don't have a phone number to be reached at for an initial interview, or have children, but don't have a phone number to be reached at in case of emergency. While most of the world can now be navigated online, real life still happens outside of it. And for that, you need a phone number.

So I did what I imagine all of our Android customers do: Went on PlayStore and typed in "phone number." I found TextNow, downloaded it and created an account using my email. Once I was signed in, I was immediately asked to choose a preferred area code for my phone number, and was assigned one within seconds. And that was it. I now had a number to start sending texts, making calls, and signing up for some of those apps I didn't have access to before. I was even finally able to make a group family chat that didn't make me want to rip my hair out. But the best part was that it was free, with no strings attached. I was able to go on about my days, without ever having to worry about paying for something that I now consider a necessity. And if you're thinking about doing the same, you can try it out for free right here. You have nothing to lose, but entire new opportunities to gain.