One of the main advantages of traveling with a smartphone are the apps – be it location based apps, travel apps, cloud apps and all sort of other. One of the best ways to utilizing apps abroad is using them for communication. When traveling abroad, KeepGo is dedicated to providing a one-stop solution for all your online access needs.
As Apple allowed for VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) about two years ago, there was an explosion of apps that allowed you to call for free over the internet to any number in the world. So the next time you are going abroad, read this article and download any one of these apps to save you some cabbage when calling back home.
There are four main platforms now (as far as I know, although tomorrow there may be many more) that support calls over data networks: Skype, iCall, Fring and Viber.
So… what options for making calls over 3G data networks are available for iPhone users?
Let’s take a look at the iCall app that allows VoIP over 3G: iCall for iPhone.
First of all, you can download the iCall App for free from the Apple Store.
iCall offers three packages: Total Access, Pay-as-you-go and ad-supported free USA and Canada calls.
iCall’s Total Access package includes free and unlimited VoIP calls over 3G to the US and Canada and dirt cheap rates for all the other international calls. The package costs $9.95 per month and includes a customizable voicemail.
Pay-as-you-go plan call rates are slightly more expensive, but are still very cheap.
Ad-supported Free Calling is great for those who need to call the US and Canada most of the time. As it says – it’s free, but is limited to 5 minute calls. However, you can’t make calls over 3G networks to the rest of the world using iCall, unless you subscribe to either Total Access or Pay-as-you-go. And if you subscribe to the Pay-as-you-go plan, your calls to the US and Canada won’t be free any more. So… it’s kinda tricky.
Tough decision to make
Just to sum up the features offered by iCall for making calls over 3G:
- Free ad-supported USA and Canada calling (with a 5 minute limit)
- Possibility to receive VoIP calls even when the app is not running
- Option to switch cell phone calls to VoIP
- Those calls don’t count towards your cell-calling plan
- Cheap international rates, especially for those who choose Total Access Plan
- Compatible with Apple devices… and more.
Now let’s see how Fring’s VoIP over 3G works
Another solution for making free calls is Fring, which is also free.
Here is the detailed explanation on how Fring works over 3G:
With Fring you can pretty much call anyone in the world – VoIP calls through 3G or WiFI, Video chat with up to 4 people who have Fring installed, and even call people on their mobile or landline through FringOut. Also, since the app is available on almost every other platform (Android, iPad, Symbian and more) you’ll be to talk to quite a lot of people, not just iPhone users.
Also, If you have an SIP account (like Vonage, perhaps) you can set up your Fring account to use your SIP setting while you’re going abroad and avoid those 3G roaming charges.
- VoIP calls on 3G, 4G and WiFi
- Free calls to other Fring Users.
- Cheap calls to mobile and landlines around the world with FringOut
- iPhone phonebook integration
- Free video group chat, with up to 3 other Fring users
- Free unlimted IM with Fring, MSN messenger, GoogleTalk, AIM and ICQ users
- Detailed call history and more…
Probably the most popular app at the moment (and has been for the last few years) is Skype.
Since Skype has been around for so long, their strength lies in their user base, which has crossed the 500 milions a few years ago. Going abroad? chances are your friends will have you use Skype to call them while you’re there.
But what about the feautres for the iPhone user?
Skype offers free Skype calls between Skype users over 3G and WiFi (pc-to-pc, phone-to-pc and phone-to-phone), cheap VoIP calls to any phone number in the world with SkypeOut, free Video calls between Skype user and free IM. Keep in mind that any free service from Skype has “Partner advertising”, while only the paying programs are ad-free.
Skype also offers some premium services that are aimed at heavier users, like: unlimtimed calls to any U.S number for $6.99 per month, unlimited calls to landlines in 20 european countries for $8.99 per month. Their top-of-line plan, which allows calling any landline in the world for $13.99 per month.
- Free VoIP calls on 3G, 4G and WiFi to other Skype users
- Cheap calls to mobile and landlines around the world with SkypeOut
- Unlimited call plan to the U.S for $6.99 per month
- Unlimited calls to landlines in Europe or the world for a fixed monthly fee
- Free unlimited Video chat with other Skype users
- Free unlimted IM to other Skype users
- PC/Mac client available, allowing for Phone-to-computer video and VoIP calls
Another worthy contender is Viber
Unlike Skype, and like other apps, Viber is smartphone only client. It’s available both on iOS and on Android platforms.
Though most other clients allow video calls as well, Viber is focused and dedicated to voice calls and text messages using your 3G data plan or WiFi, bypassing your providers voice and text-messaging networks. Viber offers these services free of charge with no advertisements, with no hidden fees and no premium services – all services are free.
But the biggest benefit Viber offers compared to the other apps is the “push notifications” feature – even if you have Viber off, or in the background, you will be able to receive calls and messages, and be notified of missed calls from other Viber users. It does so by “pushing” the info straight to your phone, the only thing you have to make sure is to not turn off the data connection.
- Free VoIP calls on 3G, 4G and WiFi to other Viber users
- Free unlimited IM to other Viber users
- A unique “push notifications” feature allowing you to receive calls even when the app is off
If you’re planning to travel abroad with your iPhone and use the VoIP over 3G, beware of data roaming charges. The solution is to rent an 3G Internet SIM card from KeepGo and enjoy free data roaming (i.e. free Internet access anywhere you go, free emails and now – free phone calls over 3G as well).
If anyone knows about any other apps that support VoIP over 3G, please let us know.
and… Enjoy 3Ging
(Updated on 11/16/11)