I travel internationally a lot for work. My day-to-day phone while in the States is the iPhone 4S. When overseas I take that with me, but also take an older, unlocked Android phone that I put a local GSM chip into. This gives me the ability to have a local number to use and it also ends up being less expensive to call back to the States if I’m not on wifi, in which case I use Skype/Viber/Tango/etc.
I heard about Hushed and how it would give me the ability to have “burner” phone numbers. While I don’t have the need for the anonymity of a burner number, I was interested in having a temporary, local number in whatever country I was visiting, without the hassle of searching out and buying a local chip.
I had a trip to Mexico City coming up, which would keep me there for a week. I chose a Mexico City number and chose a 30-day package, which cost US$6.99. It was pretty straight forward to set it all up. One feature I really liked was the ability to name the number and I gave this number the name of the job I was working on. This comes in handy as you can have multiple numbers at one time, so by naming them, you can keep track of them easier and make sure you give out the right number to people. Another thing that I liked about Hushed is that it’s cross-platform. I also have a Nexus 7 tablet. I installed the Hushed app on that and was able to use the Mexican number on both devices (the iPhone or the Android tablet) as, once I was signed in, my account info showed up on both.
The rates for using the app for calls were very reasonable. It cost only a few US cents per minute to use the Mexican number. I was able to dial out and receive calls on that number.
I did have some difficulty with connectivity, though. I used the app while using both wifi and when I was just using my data (I had set up a roaming data and calling plan for my time in Mexico through my provider AT&T). I found that while I could hear the other person on the line, they often could not hear me. They said I was cutting out a lot or that they just couldn’t hear anything. This happened whether I was on wifi or not. It was frustrating and a few times I had to resort to hanging up and calling the person back using either Skype (if I was on a wifi network) or my AT&T US number (which, while not too expensive, was more expensive than Hushed’s rates).
Once I got back to the States I bought a 30-day number for North American calling (you can choose from any state and area codes). This cost US$5.99 and gave me 50 minutes of call time and 150 test messages. This number worked fine. I never had any drop-outs, bad connections or difficulty with people not hearing me.
I saw that Hushed was quickly expanding its international list of available countries and numbers. I put the problems I had with calls in Mexico down to “growing pains” and will be trying their app again when I go overseas. It’s still a new app and, hopefully, things will get better as they mature.
I am going to be purchasing an overseas number that I probably won’t be using at all. I lived overseas for 10 years and still have a business registered in that country. Unfortunately, I don’t have a local number associated with it anymore. With Hushed, I can have that number now. While it is a bit pricey (about US$144/year), it’s a worthwhile business investment for me. Should anyone need to contact me, they’d call that “local” number, it would ring through to my US phone and they’d never know that I was 6,000 miles away.
I would not recommend Hushed as a the service to use if you just needed to call back to your home country. Skype, and other services like it, are free to use. Also, if you have an unlocked phone and can get a local GSM chip, that often is cheaper and will provide you with a local data plan. But, if you don’t have a second, unlocked phone and need a local number for a time or if you need a number for privacy reasons (Craig’s List, web signups, etc), Hushed is an interesting alternative.
Disclaimer: A free Hushed phone number was given to the volunteer to test the app with the expectation that a fair and honest review would be written