7 Apps To Make Free Phone Calls Online

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When Skype emerged several years ago, it was all the rage.  The possibility of making free high quality phone calls excited our ultra-connected world.  Faster internet connections meant you could clearly and instantly transmit your voice from one computer to another.  Along with Skype, programs like iChat, Google Talk, and various other Messenger services emerged to turn your computer into a telephone.

Simultaneously, smartphones became more advanced and gained popularity.  We realized that it might be possible to combine these two technologies to create an incredible new service.  If we can put these programs on our cellphones, then connect to Wi-Fi Internet networks, we should be able to make free calls from our cellphones to anyone.

Unfortunately, if you’ve spent even a brief time navigating the world of free Internet phone calls, you know that it’s just not that simple.  The technology is rapidly changing and programs that allow internet calling differ in what they offer.  I’ve sifted through some of the most popular and lesser known Internet calling programs to give you an idea of the benefits and drawbacks of each.  I will also explain how to make free phone calls on your iPhone or Android by tapping into the Internet on your cellphone.

Skype – This is probably the most well-known Internet calling service, with an average of 124 million users per month.  On a fast Internet connection, the sound quality can be incredibly impressive. You can call other Skype users for free, but if you want to call regular phone numbers within the U.S., you have to pay about 2.3 cents a minute (lower with a subscription option).

Google Voice – I’m a big fan of Google Voice because of its integration with Gmail and other Google services.  It offers free text messages. It also provides a voicemail box, creates a transcript of any voicemail, and forwards it to your Gmail account.  Unfortunately, it does not save you money on cellphone calls because it uses your regular cell phone network to place calls.

FreePhone2Phone – If you can put up with listening to a 10-12 second ad before making your call, you can get a free 10-minute call to landlines in 55 countries.  How it works is you dial a local number found on FreePhone2Phone.com.  You listen to an ad then place your call.  The sound quality is very good.

Line2 – This gives your phone a second line with its own phone number.  For $10/month, you can call over Wi-Fi when it’s available. One downside is it takes about 15 seconds for the program to recognize the available Wi-Fi.

The programs mentioned above all provide helpful services with differing benefits and drawbacks.  If you are looking for free text messaging on your phone, perhaps download Google Voice.  If you only need to make short phone calls and can bear listening to brief ads, perhaps go with FreePhone2Phone.  However, none of these programs by itself allows you to tap into a Wi-Fi network on your cellphone and make a free call to regular phone numbers.  If you have an iPhone or Android, there is a way to accomplish this feat, but it requires a slightly more tedious setup.

Talkatone – Once you get through the tough start up routine, this app allows you to use your cell phone to make free phone calls when you’re in a Wi-Fi hot spot.  The interface looks a bit strange, resembling more of a chat program than a phone application.  It works by tapping into your Google Voice and using the free calling feature offered by Gmail.

netTalk – Setting up this application requires even greater technical prowess.  It requires you to have a valid SIP account.  It doesn’t tell you how to get an SIP account or even what an SIP account is.  If you can overcome this hurdle, your phone will be able to call regular phone numbers for free, just like Talkatone.

Whistle Phone – Similar to netTalk, you need an SIP account to use this app.  Luckily, the app explains how to get one.  Before making a call, you have to listen to a quick ad, but it provides the same service as Talkatone and netTalk.

After touting all the brilliant features that these Internet phone services provide, I feel compelled to provide some words of caution.  Like most new forms of technology, Internet calling has its negatives.  Calls generally take longer to connect than regular cell or land-line phone calls.  Sound quality also tends to be inferior and voice delays are worse on Internet calls than cellphone calls.  Lastly, Internet calling programs lack much in the way of tech support.

Nevertheless, Internet calling offers an alternative to more expensive cellphone calling plans.  If you can navigate these crowded and complex waters, there are significant savings to be found.

Published or Updated: August 29, 2012
About Rob Berger

Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

Comments

  1. MJP says:

    Your comments about Google Voice are not 100% correct. Google Voice can send and receive calls directly to your PC using your Google Voice number and account. I do it often. All you need is a browser with Google chat installed, a microphone, and speakers. You don’t need a landline or cell phone to use that calling option. You can also install a Google Voice app on many smartphones and use WiFi to make and receive calls.

    • terrellterp says:

      Yes, I’ve been using my Google account to make and receive phone calls via my laptop. I leave my inbox open to hear when I have an incoming call (my home and cell phones are also set to ring). I haven’t heard any complaints about clarity from the other end. I love it!

  2. Marisa says:

    You can also call for free when you invite friends to join stanacard. They buy some calls, and get bonus time, and you get fre calls too.
    You can sign up for free, or start buying 5 or 10 dollars worth of calls, but they will double that, and if you keep inviting people, you can pretty much keeping calling for free, even internationally, from your home or cell phone.

  3. These are all great apps. I definitely have used skype more often than the rest, though. I find skype works better without video chat.

  4. Oscar R says:

    I canceled my home landline phone in Nov. 2011 when a friend of mine told me about the MagicJack Plus internet phone. I researched the product on the Internet. What I did was to go to Wal-Mart and found the MagicJackPlus for $65 plus tax. I was satisfied so I canceled the landline phone.

    I do not pay monthly bill for my MagicJackPlus. Before, I was paying Cox Communications $40 every month, excluding long distance calls.

  5. Oscar R says:

    I canceled my home landline phone in Nov. 2011 when a friend of mine told me about the MagicJack Plus internet phone. I researched the product on the Internet. What I did was to go to Wal-Mart and found the MagicJackPlus for $65 plus tax. I was satisfied so I canceled the landline phone.

    I do not pay monthly bill for my MagicJackPlus. Before, I was paying Cox Communications $40 every month, excluding long distance calls.

  6. Vern says:

    Thanks for the summary of available services. I’ve been without a land line for years and I’ve always found skype to be a reliable replacement for most online calling and chat. They continue to improve functionality with things like video chat, etc.

    Anyway, three cheers for online calling…

  7. Ferdinand says:

    I haven’t heard of most of the apps you listed above since i was only familiar with Skype and Google voice. I would very much like to try the other ones on the list, to see if they’re any better than my usual Skype and Google. Thanks a lot for sharing this post. Deeply appreciated.

  8. I blog quite often and I truly appreciate your content.
    This great article has really peaked my interest.

    I am going to take a note of your website and keep checking for
    new details about once a week. I opted in for your RSS feed as well.

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