I hate giving out my phone number. It’s not in my email signature, it’s not on my business cards and you sure as hell won’t find it on my Facebook page. Ways people have made me regret giving them my number have included:
- A PR rep who called me at 8pm, while I was eating dinner, to ask if they could send me an email
- A phone shop assistant who must have taken a note of my number while he was helping with my account, then texted me to flirt
- A guy I didn’t want to see again, who left no less than 18 recordings of LeAnn Rimes’ How Do I Live Without You on my voicemail
Wouldn’t it be lovely if you could have a temporary number for Tinder, eBay, Gumtree and all that stuff, that you could easily turn off if people were getting annoying?
Enter Swytch, a London-based startup offering easy alternate mobile numbers on your existing phone using your existing network. You download the app, request a number, and get started straight away. At the moment, you get a free number for six months as a launch incentive, after which it’ll cost £4.99 a month, £14.99 for six months or £24.99 for a year.
You can have up to five extra numbers, not including your existing mobile number, which should be plenty for even the most prolific of drug dealers. You can use the numbers for calling and texting, but not for anything else – so if you’re using them for online dating and your crush asks you to switch to WhatsApp, you can’t. Explaining that one might get a bit tricky, so bear it in mind.
You can log into your Swytch account in a browser and text from any of your Swytch numbers, which is handy. It does voicemail, too, of up to 20 seconds.
Calls that come in identify which line they’re going to (you can give all your lines a name), and if that person’s in your phone contacts, it still comes up as with a normal call:
As for calling and texting, those aren’t included with your normal phone contract because they’re coming from a different line. It’s easy enough to make calls from a Swytch line but you have to pay by the minute, which is a bit old-school. When we tried, a UK number cost us about 6p per minute, with texts also costing 6p – it’s not megabucks but could easily add up if you were using a particular number for work. For the same £5 a month, you could get a basic sim-only deal with a mobile network, which would include some minutes, texts and data – but you’d need either a dual-sim phone or a second handset, which was what Swytch was designed to get around:
“The need for Swytch was born out of my own experience running several companies at the same time. I struggled to separate communications between them, as I always hated the idea of carrying another mobile phone for each business; I couldn’t find a solution.” – Chris Michael, CEO and Co-Founder of Swytch.
In terms of convenience, Swytch is a really easy way to get a second (or third, or fourth) phone number on your existing phone with no hassle. If you’re mostly going to be using it for receiving calls (in my case, so that PR reps can call me if they need to) rather than making calls and sending texts, it’s a cost-effective and convenient way to do that without the need for a second sim or phone – and if you subscribe monthly, it’s easy to ditch the number if someone gets annoying. But if you’re the sort of person who’s likely to use their Tinder Line for lots of texting, or you want the option to use it for WhatsApp etc, you’d be better off getting a sim only deal from a network.
Main image © iStock/Kiuikson