Pros: Supports Facebook profile pics; Nice customization options; Well-priced
Cons: No MMS
Verdict: TextNow offers unlimited text messages and a slew of sweet personal customization options for a very good price.
This SMS application works almost exactly like TextFree Unlimited. To get started, you just add your phone number and choose a username your friends and family will easily recognize. Messages are threaded on the main screen just like the native SMS application on the iPhone, and when you select the contact you want, the app takes you into the conversation. The text input box and keyboard mimic the native SMS app's interface, but where the camera button would normally be there is a smiley icon indicating an emoticon selector; there is no MMS option.
TextNow allows for push notifications, so you won't miss any messages while your phone is in sleep mode or while you're using another app. The notification sounds just like the default SMS tone on the iPhone. When you unlock the screen while the notification is up, TextNow will take you straight into the active conversation. We also like this app's customization features, such as the ability to change your background picture and import profile pictures from Facebook. TextNow lets you send and receive messages only within the U.S., but it's a bargain at just $3.99 per year ($.99 for 3 months and $7.99 for a lifetime), and $2 less than TextFree for the same experience.
Want to read about more apps that dash your text messaging costs? Check out Text Message for Free: Apps for Android, BlackBerry, and iPhone OS.