Top apps for free calls and texts
Filed under: TV, Phone & Broadband
Enter the collection of apps that allow users to make phone calls and texts without spending a penny. Here we round up the best on the market and what you need to know before you start downloading.
Shopping with AOL
One of the most straightforward free call apps out there, Viber enables free calls and texts between Viber users worldwide using Wi-Fi and 3G. Install it and it scans your address book, connecting you with other Viber users and allowing you to invite new ones.
While the app works internationally, if you are personally abroad you could get stung with roaming charges, so check your regular calling plan for rates and data allowance.
Viber works on iPhone Models: 3GS and 4, with IOS: 3.1.3, 4. and newer. The latest generations of iPod touch and iPad are partially supported. Viber has so far been successfully tested on various Android devices - the complete list can be found here. Viber doesn't currently work on Blackberry, but a version is in the works.
Shopping with AOL
The free Vonage Mobile app offers free calls and texts to anyone who has the app worldwide, using Wi-Fi. It uses your existing phone address book to automatically tag who has Vonage in your contact list and allows you to invite new contacts to download the app.
Vonage also offers savings on international calls to users that don't have the app and displays the rate to a particular country before you make the call. It claims to be 30% cheaper than Skype and 70% cheaper than most standard calling plans. Credit for these calls can be purchased through iTunes or Android Market.
Currently, Vonage Mobile supports iPhone Models: 3G, 3GS (OS 4.0 and higher) 4, iPhone 4s (OS 4.0 and higher), as well as the iPad (OS 4.0 and higher). It also supports Android phones (OS 2.1 and higher) and tablets (OS 3.2 and higher).
Vonage requires a Wi-Fi connection to operate worldwide, and can only work using 3G/4G for calls originating in the US.
This app seems to be the new favourite. Fring uses your mobile's internet connection to offer users free calls and texts to other Fring users worldwide, in addition to free group video and two-way video chat. It connects with your phonebook to tag other Fring users and allows you to invite new ones.
You can also call regular phones by buying credits so you can talk to landlines locally and abroad, with rates starting from just 1¢ a minute.
Again it supports the major smartphones and tablets (including iPhone/ iPod touch/iPad, Android and Nokia), on any mobile operator, and any mobile internet connection (3G/4G, Wi-Fi, GPRS, EDGE).
This one is solely for text message junkies, with WhatsApp offering free worldwide text and multimedia messages by using the same internet data plan that you use for email and web browsing. Calls are not free and charged at your normal mobile network rate.
WhatsApp Messenger costs 0.99¢ (62p) and is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia. It is multi-platform – which means these phones can all message each other for free. It uses your existing number to route chat messages between you and your contacts, similar to how the regular SMS system works.
An oldie but a goodie - Skype started its service using computers, but has now branched out with many mobile apps. The free to download apps allows you to call almost any computer and any phone worldwide for free provided they also have Skype.
Skype also allows you to call regular phones by purchasing credit, although these calls tend to be considerably more expensive than on more recent additions to the free call app market like Fring.
Skype supports iPhone (iOS 4 or above), iPod touch and iPad; Android (2.1 and above) in addition to some Nokia and Sony Ericsson handsets – view full list here. Providing you have a video enabled handset, the apps for Android and Apple phones also provide free video calling.