With the proliferation of VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) apps, phone calls are becoming a thing of the past. Applications like Skype essentially turn the internet in your own telephone line. making keeping in touch much easier without the expense of telephone bills. But which is the best free VOIP app?
For travellers and tourists, these apps are a valuable option to consider if you have unlimited data plans, or will be around WiFi connections. Bear in mind that some providers block access to VOIP apps on mobile data, so check this with your operator.
Smartphone – Smartphone Those that allow you to make calls over the internet with your mobile phone to other people with the same application – like WhatsApp, Messenger etc
Smartphone – Mobile/Landline Those that allow you to call people on landlines or other mobiles from your application. Like Skype, Worldphone etc
On this page I take a look at the main competitors, comparing them in terms of costs and user experience. Note that increasingly other messenging apps like facebook messenger and whatsapp are incorporating video calling into their apps – but I haven’t found these to offer a particularly good service.
‘Our top pick for good quality calls on a bad connection’
If you are having trouble connecting with other services, then you can try using viber, which aims to be able to provide quality calls even on a 3G connection. Rapidly growing with a good reputation, Viber is the underdog of Skype.
Included with Viber is the Viberout service, which allows you to make calls from the app to landlines and mobile numbers. Bear in mind that along with the minimum £0.02gbp per min charge you will pay the cost of data unless you are using a wifi connection.
Reputation for providing good quality calls, even on a 3G connection.
Limited user base. Not as widely known as skype, messenger or facetime.
Call Phone Numbers?
From £0.02 per min
‘Most popular option, but not necessarily the best’
The word Skype has become synonymous with VOIP, it offers calls to mobiles and landlines along with desktops and smartphones, and provides monthly subscriptions with unlimited minutes for those who make alot of calls.
You can even sign up for a Skype Number, that lets you receive calls in skype, from people calling you on their mobile or landline. This is a very convenient option for those who are more comfortable making phone calls, or don’t have access to skype.
Skype rates for calling landlines and mobile numbers are remarkably cheap, from less than a penny a minute.
By purchasing ‘Skype credit’ you can access Skype wifi hotspots, of which there are over two million worldwide. Be careful as this access is charged at variable rates – determined by whoever is running the hotspot.
Skype to go
This service enables you to use landline phones to make calls at skype rates. Skype provide you with a number to call from your home or mobile phone, so you will incur only local charges – and then an operator prompts you to dial the number you wish to call. This service is protected by PIN access.
Easy to install, even for less tech-savvy individuals, and has a host of bonus features.
Large user base and commonly used in personal and business situations.
Bad customer service reputation
Call Phone Numbers?
From £0.09 per min
‘Simple international calling solution that combines low rates with good call quality’
Nymgo is very cheap for calling internationally, particularly to Asian countries. In fact rates can often be less than half the price offered by Skype. However, Nymgo does not allow you to call from desktop-desktop, only from desktop-phone and vice versa. This makes it a good option for those who need to make a lot of international calls and are not concerned about video.
Nymgo also have a good reputation for providing excellent customer support; and claim to refund the first two minutes of a call if a customer encounters poor audio quality due to a network error.
PC to phone
Call Phone Numbers?
‘Simple, reliable and fun’
Google Duo is designed to be a competitor to facetime, in that it makes video calling as simple and integrated as possible. It is trying to be as instantaneous as a phone call, and as such has two critical features: Adaptability to your connection speed – i.e quality drops on a low connection, but this is nothing new, and a seamless user experience.
There is no facility for group calls, but it could be a good choice for areas with dodgy reception.