Customers with current AT&T original iPhone contracts get 200 free text messages or SMSes a month. However, the text messages freebie privilege no longer valid for the new heavily subsidized iPhone 3G. Instead, subscribers have to pay $5 for 200 SMS messages ($20 for unlimited text messages sending and receiving), or 20 cents a text message if no plan is selected together with cellular service.

The price or cost of text messages is expensive by any standard. However, there is plenty of free SMS sending services that allow users of iPhone and iPhone 3G to send free text messages. Some even offers unlimited number of free text messages, and support recipient’s replying. Here’s a guide on how to use iPhone and iPhone 3G (and also other Internet-connected device such as iPod Touch, Windows Mobile smartphone, and even PC or MAC) to send free text messages or SMS, primarily to cell phone numbers in US and Canada.

txtDrop.com

txtDrop offers free web based text messaging for free to various carriers in US and Canada such as Verizon Wireless, AT&T formerly Cingular Wireless, Sprint PCS, Nextel, T-Mobile, Alltel, Cellular One, Fido, Rogers Wireless, Bell Canada, Dobson, Unicell, Boost Mobile, Cellular South, Edge Wireless, Metro PCS, Suncom, Virgin Mobile and Centennial Wireless. To use texDrop to send text messages for free, run iPhone or iPod Touch browser, and browse to the following URL:

http://www.txtdrop.com/iphone

Text recipient can replies, and the reply will go to sender’s email address entered. Note that the device must have Internet connection to use this trick, either via WiFi, GPRS, Edge, 3G or other data plan.

textPlus by Gogii

A free text and SMS app for iPhone and iPod Touch which support group text chat feature. More details here.

DurgleSender

DurgleSender is an iPhone webapp that allows user to send text messages to anyone on any US network. DurgleSender send texts using WiFi or EDGE and does not take away from the monthly iPhone text allotment. Enter the 10-digit mobile number of whomever you want to text, pick their carrier, your return info and send a text.

Access DurgleSender at http://iphone.durgle.com/apps/sender/

TeleFlip

The privacy policy of TeleFlip says plainly that it may sells your information to third party such as partners, bankers and advertisers for spamming purpose, and numerous users complain that the service is unreliable. If you don’t mind about service quality (it’s free after all) and spam (well, they pays for free text service after all), TeleFlip offers a more text messaging-like interface, using Mail HTML rich email client interface in iPhone and iPod Touch.

Note that to send and receive email in iPhone and iPod Touch, user has to set up an email account on the device first. Apple has a guide on how to doing the setup. If you don’t have any IMAP or POP3/SMTP supported email server, AT&T subscribers can use the free AT&T outgoing mail server (cwmx.com without any user name or password on standard port of 25 and no SSL), although user won’t be able to receive any reply of SMS text message via email, and it works only while using an EDGE connection.

  1. Create a new email message.
  2. In the To: box, type recipient_cell_number@teleflip.com in 10 digits including area code. For example, 1234567890@teleflip.com.
  3. Type a message to send to your friend, colleague or family member.
  4. Tap on Send.
  5. The email sent will be delivered and routed through TeleFlip Email-to-Txt gateway to recipient cell phone, and any reply will be sent to sender as an email.

AIM Instant Messaging Client and iChat

AOL offers users of AIM free SMS services to US cell phones. So with AIM client for iPhone and iChat, it’s possible to send free text messages directly from AIM client.

Mobile Network Operator or Carrier Free Email to Text Service

Some mobile network operator or cellular service carrier offers free service that deliver any email sent to the mail alias of the cellphone number as text message to the mobile phone, in service commonly known as MobileMail or SMSemail. Here’s a listing of mobile service operator that supports free email-to-text delivery, with the format of recipient email address. Again, to send free unlimited text messages via email, an e-mail account has to be configured in iPhone, iPod Touch, desktop PC, notebook/laptop computer, Windows Mobile device, smartphone and etc.

Alltel: number@message.alltel.com
AT&T: number@txt.att.net
Verizon Wireless: number@vtext.com
Nextel: 10digits@messaging.nextel.com
T-Mobile USA: number@tmomail.net
US Cellular: number@email.uscc.net
Virgin Mobile USA: number@vmobl.com
Metro PCS: number@mymetropcs.com
Unicel: number@utext.com
Cellular South: number@csouth1.com
Cincinnati Bell: number@gocbw.com
Southern Linc: number@page.southernlinc.com
Bell Mobility Canada: number@txt.bellmobility.ca
Telus Mobility: number@msg.telus.com

Some of the network operators also provides web interface or WebSMS or InternetSMS services, however the page may not be optimized for iPhone, iPod Touch or other mobile devices. For example, Centennial Wireless.

There are more operators’ free SMS or Web SMS list.

Instead of remembering all the @address for all cellular network, if you opt to send free SMS via this method, it’s recommended to add additional email address just for the purpose of sending text messages to contacts in the address box.

Update: How to Send Free SMS Text or MMS Picture Messages

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