You might not be paying anything for the free version of OpenAI’s ChatGPT generative AI software, but OpenAI spends money operating it. That’s why the free ChatGPT version won’t give you access to the best ChatGPT experience.
If you want every feature, you have to pay $20 a month for ChatGPT Plus. The premium version provides access to the faster, more sophisticated GPT-4 language model. The ChatGPT Plus subscription also gives you early access to the new ChatGPT features that OpenAI keeps releasing.
However, if you don’t want to spend $20 per month on ChatGPT Plus but still want access to GPT-4, there’s an app for that. It’s called Pal – A ChatBot Client, and it’s available on the iPhone right now. The app will help you save money, as you’ll only pay for the GPT-4 access you consume. Also, the app keeps all the conversations on-device rather than sharing them with OpenAI.
You only need one thing besides installing Pal – A ChatBot Client from the App Store. That’s getting an API Key from OpenAI. This is how you’ll pay for your GPT-4 access inside the app. Again, GPT-4 access isn’t and can’t be free. Apps like Pal might be a better solution for ChatGPT users who are on a tighter budget.
The developer announced on Reddit that the app also supports conversation history, something you might be using on the official ChatGPT apps. However, the history of the chats is stored only on the device.
You also get to save prompts and system messages, edit your questions, and copy entire conversations. Pal comes with full Markdown and Syntax highlighting support.
In addition to access to GPT-4, Pal will let you use GPT-3.5 (the free ChatGPT) and Google’s PaLM chat model (similar to Bard). You also get support for Dall-E image generation.
Furthermore, the app will show you the token length and the cost of each conversation. That way, you’ll know whether you’re staying within your budget. That’s actually the feature you’ll want to pay attention to. There might be cases where the ChatGPT Plus subscription is cheaper.
A different Redditor gave the following examples when trying to compare ChatGPT prices between GPT-3.5 and GPT-4. This indicates that heavy GPT-4 use might make the Plus subscription a better deal than API payments:
None of their models are free via the API (ignoring a free trial month). But 3.5 is very cheap via the API.
Calculating exactly how much requires a lot of assumptions, but let’s say you wanted to ask it 1,000 questions a month (33/day) against the 16K 3.5-Turbo context with 1K average response token length and 500 average request token length, you’re looking at roughly $6/month. Most people won’t spend $20/month using the 3.5-Turbo API.
That’s why if you’re paying $20/month you better be using the ChatGPT 4 model(s) where the same 1,000 questions may be $150 via the API!
Finally, I’ll also note that the iPhone app doesn’t collect any user data. If you have a Mac with an Apple chip (M1 or later), you can run the app on the PC as well.
With all that in mind, Pal looks like an app you should have on your radar, especially if you plan on taking your ChatGPT use to the next level.