Chatsim offers unlimited messaging in 150 countries for $20 a year

Chatsim has a different take on mobility, offering a messaging-focused service for only $20 CAD a year.

Interestingly, SMS is one of the few kinds of messages you can’t send with a Chatsim. Instead the company offers a data-only service for use with a list of popular messaging apps, including Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, QQ International, WeChat, LINE, Telegram, BBM, Hike and Kakao.

By default, only text messages and emoji can be sent, but users can also purchase credits to send photos, videos and calls from supported apps. The company’s website offers 2,000 credits for $20. One megabyte of data uses up 50 credits, which Chatsim’s website suggests is enough for sending up to 200 photos, 40 videos, or 80 minutes of talk. After doing the math, this suggests that voice calling is 25 cents a minute, videos are about 50 cents each and photos are approximately 10 cents each. However, those costs would only kick in when using the mobile network, as no credits would be consumed when using Wi-Fi.

The list of supported countries is impressive, with 250 carriers spread across 150 nations, a full list of which is available on their website. Impressively, Chatsim seems to be affiliated with at least one big network in each territory, such as the Bell/Telus network in Canada, and both AT&T and Verizon in the U.S.

Chatsim specifically calls out support for iOS, Android, and Windows tablets and phones. However, there’s no special client software so it should work on any device with a supported app, meaning it should work on BB10, Tizen, and other mobile OSs.

This is an interesting option for people who want to be connected, but don’t need a lot of talk and satisfied with WiFi for their mobile data. I can see parents using this as a cost-effective way to give a child their first mobile service, or as an inexpensive way to stay in touch while roaming.

Watch for a full review of Chatsim in the future.