April 13, 2023

TextNow SIM Cards: How do they work?

Written by kevin-c


Some of the biggest sources of confusion in the mobile phone world are SIM cards. Most people understand that you need a SIM card to access a wireless network**. But** how they work is still mostly a mystery to most smartphone users. So let your friends at TextNow give you a little explainer:

What’s a SIM card anyway?

For most people, their SIM card is a physical rectangular plastic card, with a circuit printed on it, that inserts into their phone’s SIM card slot.  This card has an ICCID number printed on the card itself. (Think of the ICCID as the card’s name) This ICCID number is unique to the card.

How does a SIM work?

SIM cards hold important information about your phone’s network connection. Essentially a SIM card tells our wireless network you’ve activated this SIM and is allowed to use TextNow off Wi-Fi. If you try to connect the phone with a SIM card locked to another network, it won’t work, because the SIM card isn’t registered on that other network.

Locked phone vs unlocked phone

A phone bought from a carrier or mobile provider may be "locked" to their network. Meaning the phone will only work with that specific carrier, and you won't be able to use it with another carrier unless you "unlock" it.

An unlocked phone, on the other hand, is not tied to a specific carrier or network. So you can use it with any carrier that is compatible with the phone's technology such as TextNow. This is what we mean when we say our SIMs need to be used on an unlocked phone, “unlocked” refers to a phone that is no longer activated with a specific network.

TextNow SIM Cards

Because TextNow isn’t like other carriers, there are quite a few misconceptions when it comes to us and SIM cards. Here’s a quick Q&A to answer some of those misconceptions.

Doesn’t TextNow only work over Wi-Fi?
No! That’s what the SIM card is for. The SIM allows you to use TextNow for calling and texting without the need for Wi-Fi.

Is calling and texting still free if I use the TextNow SIM card?
Yes! Our SIM cards come bundled with free Nationwide Calling & Texting over a 4G/5G cellular network

If I get a TextNow SIM card, does that mean I can use TextNow from any phone I log into with my TextNow account?
Yes! If you have another compatible device, you can put your activated SIM into it, sign into your account on the TextNow app, and your messages and call logs will be there waiting.

Can I get data for the SIM card?
Yes! Our SIMs come bundled with Nationwide Talk & Text, so you can send calls and texts wirelessly through the 4G/5G network completely for free, but if you need data to go with your SIM, we have several affordable options in the Store section of your TextNow app.

How does the SIM work for calling and texting without using data?
Just like any SIM card from any other carrier, the TextNow SIM provides a cellular connection to the phone you’ve activated it on. You can call and text without needing a data connection (either mobile or Wi-Fi) using the TextNow SIM.

How are you able to offer calling and texting for free?
Our unlimited Nationwide Talk & Text offering, included with every SIM card purchase, is supported by ads, which cover the cost of calling and texting.

Can I turn the ads off?
You can turn the ads off! We have add-ons in the Store section of the app that will remove ads and add more functionality.

So, to sum up: If you want to use TextNow without Wi-Fi, you’ll need an unlocked compatible smartphone, and an affordable TextNow SIM card!