Opinion

Published on February 20th, 2012 | by Gerald Chan

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Quick Look: Vonage Mobile – Free Calls & Messaging for Android and iOS

Vonage is yet another application for your iPhone of Android phone that allows users to make calls for free!

And of course there is a catch.

In order to make calls for free, the person that you are dialing to would have to download the application as well. It’s a small catch in order to enjoy the benefits.

But why use Vonage? Doesn’t Skype already have such a feature and includes Video chat as well?

The cool part about Vonage is that it uses your contact book to dial your friends directly without having to ask them prior their user name ala Skype. The Vonage application would show users who have Vonage installed and if your friend doesn’t, you can send him an invite to download the application right away.

Vonage goes one step further to allow users to call friends who refuse to download the application even after an invite (those lazy buggers). From what I’ve checked, it costs a low, low $0.022 per minute to call someone in Singapore and Malaysia. This rate is cheaper than what Telcos in Singapore offer for postpaid users (16.05 cents per minute). I had tried purchasing call credits via my Android phone and the process is pretty seamless. Your credit card would be billed directly from the one tied to your Android market account. For iPhone users, the process is similar.

Many a time, such applications which offer ‘free’ calls and messaging often fail to deliver, leading users to stick to paid options. Vonage, thankfully, does not disappoint. The call quality, in all my tests, were very clear and crisp. But there is a lingering issue that affects calls using such technology – the presence of lag. Users have to make the conscious effort to speak slowly and allow time in between to allow the other party of respond.

I had tried making calls in both Wifi and 3G and found little difference in both. In each test, the signal bar was full. I do foresee that Vonage will take much of the blame instead of the network that it is riding on. In countries like mine, Singapore, where there are a great density of users in any one area, the bandwidth required to make calls over mobile data would be severely crippled leading to poor call quality or dropped calls.

In my opinion, perhaps the best way to maximize Vonage to the fullest would be to send someone a SMS before placing the call over Wifi.

Looking at the rates offered by Vonage and the quality of the call, I can’t wait to give it a shot in my upcoming trip to Europe.

For the time being, calls made to the US, Canada and Puerto Rico are free so make the best of it while the offer lasts!

One point to note is the battery drain when using such applications. In order to receive calls and messages, the application would be backgrounded for the entire duration. In my tests, the application took up an additional 2% of battery consumption in a 12 hour window. Do note that calls made via data would also work your battery harder as well. Plan on carrying a spare battery around if you choose Vonage as your preferred calling application.

Do check out the application (it’s free anyway) for Android or iOS.

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About the Author

Thanks for visiting my blog! If it's video game related, I'm pretty much all over it! I'm Singaporean and in real life I'm involved heavily in social media.



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