The app landscape is not short of free calling and messaging apps. Skype and Whatsapp stand at the top of the list. However, Vonage is trying to crack the market with a new iPhone and Android calling app.
Despite them paying me to talk about the app, I’m actually genuinely impressed. It lacks the existing network that Skype and other apps come with, but the app itself is very nicely executed. It feels more like an iOS first-party app than something that has been ported from desktop. It’s very quick to navigate around, and uses your existing address book (let’s hope they don’t upload it like Path did) to make calls and send messages.
If the person you are calling is a Vonage user, the call is 100% free (excluding data charges). To coax your friends onto the service, the Vonage Mobile multi-invite function lets you invite anyone (or everyone) from your contact list with one simple text. Skype requires you to search for users and invite each person one at a time.
Vonage Mobile doesn’t limit calls to people with the app, or even to people who have a smartphone. You can call direct from Vonage Mobile to virtually any phone number on the planet. You can dial internationally without needing to activate special services with your mobile carrier. And most importantly, you can do this with the address book on your phone and your existing mobile number.
There is a cost associated with calling phones directly, but according to Vonage, the app offers international calling with per-minute rates that average 70 percent less than major mobile carriers and 30 percent less than Skype. This savings estimate is based on per-minute rates to the top 50 countries called. Billing is also more convenient, with payment integrated directly into your iTunes or Android Market account, instead of maintaining billing in a separate login.
To see a demo of the app, go check out the “Magic of Vonage Mobile” video on YouTube at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaRcnY1xZxM
For those of you playing along at home, here is a quick feature recap:
- Free domestic and international calls and texts to anyone with the Vonage Mobile app.
- When calling a landline or phone directly, you get international calling with per-minute rates averaging 70% less than major mobile carriers and 30% less than Skype.
- In-app credit purchases are tied directly to your iTunes or Android Market account.
- Inviting multiple people right from your address book via SMS or email is easy.
- Vonage Mobile automatically identifies contacts who already have the app.
- Your mobile number double as your caller ID (so your friends won’t be surprised by an unfamiliar app-assigned number)
- Works on Wi-Fi and 3G/4G worldwide.
If better call quality to any of your existing contacts isn’t enough to make you try out Vonage Mobile, there’s just one more thing you should know. Vonage is currently offering free calls from virtually anywhere in the world to the United States, Canada, or Puerto Rico. There are a few circumstances where free calling may not work, like business calls, premium and special service numbers, and satellite phones, but for the most part, free really means free. You also need to stay under 3000 minutes per month, but who talks that much anyway?
Download Vonage Mobile now and check it out on your iPhone or Android phone. Invite your family and friends so you have someone to text or call, then let us know what you think.