Scratch Wireless review

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A cell phone is the one tech item that almost everyone has.  It’s the most useful daily tech item that everyone uses, but it’s also one of the most expensive items to own.  A decent voice+data service will cost over $1,000 every year per person.  There are cheaper cellular services out there that can get you down to $35/month, but how about a service that’s absolutely FREE?  What’s the catch?  I’ll tell you about a new service provider called Scratch Wireless.

Before we start, let’s talk about the prices. Currently Scratch Wireless only works with one phone which you must get directly from Scratch Wireless. You will be getting the Motorola Photon Q. I’m not going to get indepth with the phone since this review is all about their service. But the phone is a slider phone with a qwerty keyboard, runs on Sprint’s 4G LTE, 4.3″ display, and runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The Motorola Photon Q will cost you $269. After the phone purchase, the service is technically free for the life of your device.

Free? What’s the catch? The catch is that voice+data+texting is 100% free when you’re connected on a wireless network. But texting is ALWAYS FREE even when you’re NOT connected to a wireless network.

So the question is: What type of cellular user are you? If you mainly use your phone for texting and the occasional phone calls, then definitely get this phone. If you’re always by a wireless network, then get this phone since even voice calls are free if you’re on the wireless network.

But what if you want to make calls when you’re away from a wireless network? Scratch Wireless offers a 24 Hour Pass or a 30 Day Pass plans for you to purchase and use.

24 Hour Pass
Data pass: $1.99
Voice pass: $1.99

30 Day Pass
Data pass: $14.99
Voice pass: $14.99

A 24-hour data pass offers up to 25 MBs of cellular data, and a 24-hour voice pass offers up to 30 minutes of cellular calling. A 30-day data pass offers up to 200 MBs, and a voice pass offers 250 minutes. The passes don’t seem to be a great value, but it’s useful for emergency usage. Plus most users are on WiFi 80% of the time. And of course texting is free on WiFi and cellular, and voice and data are free on WiFi!


There’s a Scratch Wireless App that comes preloaded with the Photon Q.


The app allows you to view your remaining usage for the data or voice passes.  It also allows you to purchase passes directly from the app.


The app also makes it convenient for you to add a credit card to be associated with your Scratch Wireless account.


On the dialer screen, you’ll see 2 buttons which allows you to switch between WiFi or cell calls.

Scratch-Wireless-7 Scratch-Wireless-8

Under Call Settings, you can see that Scratch Wireless is using SIP (Software Internet Phone) for WiFi calls.

Call quality is extremely clear on both WiFi and cellular calls. The cellular service part is provided by Sprint, and I got full 5 bars in Northern NJ and in Manhattan. Scratch Wireless also allows you to port over your old existing phone number. Another great thing about Scratch Wireless is that there are no ads and no contracts at all. I definitely recommend Scratch Wireless if you’re a heavy texter or always near WiFi areas.


Product Information

Price:$269 for the phone
Manufacturer:Scratch Wireless
  • Keep your old number or get a new one.
  • Take full control of your service.
  • Unlimited free texting on Wi-Fi and cellular.
  • Unlimited free voice and data on Wi-Fi.
  • No contracts, no ads, no catch—just free wireless service.
  • A bit expensive on the paid passes

15 thoughts on “Scratch Wireless review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. Not too bad – competitive with T-Mobile prepaid plans, really. (Although T-Mobile will allow you to bring your own device.)

    Note the free voip phone service they have can be duplicated on any Android phone using Google Voice.

  3. Jackie:

    I know it isn’t using google voice for SIP. I was responding to Dstall’s comment that the same “Free” service could be achieved using google voice on any android phone.

    That may be true now, but it wont be true in May of this year.


    Your cell phone SHOULD work — just with the app Hangouts. But it won’t be as reliable. At least in my experience. Hangouts is not well written in my opinion (at least as a simple PHONE app).

    You may wish to switch to callcentric (for sip). Free NY number (which you can have GV forward to), free incoming calls (~$1.50/mo E911 fee, though) and modest plans for outgoing calls. With GV, you COULD force your outgoing calls through GV call-back. Yes, you’ll need to jump through hoops, but you can “make it work”.

    Hope that helps.

  4. I live in rural New Hampshire and got this to use in lieu of Verizon. Forget it. Can’t make calls on it. VErizon has good coverage in rural New Hampshire, but there is some Sprint and TMobile areas. Not as widespread as Verizon, but thought I’d be able to use it. I have cable internet with a 5g network. I can surf — but I can do that on my computer, so why do I need a phone to surf at home… To make a call, well, I have to buy a supplemental plan from Scratch Wireless. So no, this won’t work on any internet service, nor will it work everywhere.

    I hate paying for returns when things don’t meet their up to their sales pitch. It shows you how much faith a company has in their product when the fine print says you have to pay for shipping and returns — I guess they know they’re going to get returns, so it cuts down on their losses.

  5. @ Geraldine – So for Scratch to work for you to make wifi calls at home using their smartphone you need to pay extra because of where you live? I thought the whole point is to buy the phone to make free wifi-connected calls.

    That sounds like false advertising on scratch wireless’ part. If you can, please confirm since I have been looking at them as an alternative to republic wireless, although I want to use their wifi phone service for travel! Also, did you try them at wifi hotspots and such?

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

  6. @Craig – The phone and text services are always FREE on wifi. Text service is also FREE on cellular (Which runs on Sprint). Phone calls on cellular service REQUIRES a paid plan.

    If you’re always near a wifi area then this is the phone for you! I’m the reviewer of this and I’ve given this to my cousin to use. He loves it! And costs nothing at all for him.

    If you have any doubts then you can always give Scratch Wireless a call and ask them questions.

  7. I tried scratchwireless and mailing and after support said it was decided the phone was faulty and could could only be fixed by factory reseting the phone
    no offer to renew deal

  8. Show me something free, and I’ll show you something you haven’t paid for yet. All of the information available about Scratch Wireless is EXACTLY the same information about Freedom Pop–a service which managed to provide plenty of customer DIS-service to me, but zero customer service. I will never again make the mistake of using a “free” provider of anything. Businesses can’t stay in business if they don’t charge you for what they are offering. This would seem like common sense, (and it is), but I’ve found that common sense is more like a rare bird; it’s not common at all. Yup, I’m cynical. And perhaps it’s unfair of me to make negative statements about a company I’ve never used, but there you go: life isn’t fair. I’ll pass on another lesson in inconvenience and overpriced spotty “service” from these folks, and watch how the guinea pigs report. Take a look at Ting or Cricket if you need a low priced plan that offers some wiggle room on what kind of phone you need in order to use their networks. A quick search on BYOD wireless providers will provide you with more information about companies that allow you to bring your own device.

  9. My mom and cousin are on Scratch Wireless. Haven’t spent a single penny except for the purchase of the phone. Been using it for over a year now. Love it!!

  10. I bought a Coolpad Arise from Scratch in July. The service is subject to constant interruption. Customer service is non existant. They are currently out of stock with phone and have no clue when they will be getting more in. Despite the fact, that a month ago they were saying new devices would be added in the fall. They have recently stopped allowing number to be ported, but cannot say when/if it will resume. You get what you pay for… nothing. Stick with a prepaid provider.

  11. @Stephanie – I got the Coolpad Arise as well as the original Photon G. Both are still working great. No complaints from my cousins and mom that uses it. Just make sure you’re in a strong wifi area if you want all the free features. My cousins text a lot on the road as well and have no problems with the service so far.
    I agree they don’t really have a phone number to call customer service but they reply to emails within a day.
    Do you have good Sprint coverage in your area? Maybe it’s just bad coverage?

  12. This is no longer a good deal. You cannot use even wi-fi to make phone calls without paying them, clearly going against everything they advertised. I would suggest you stay clear of this company.

  13. BE FOREWARNED!! These guys customer service is the WORST ever! I bought one and sent it back for 30 day refund promise and rarle hear back from them.after about a month they emailed me “Have not received phone yet.” They received it as delivered by USPS tracking a month before! ABYSMAL! Customer service! The WORST I have seen!

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