iPhone VoIP is now a broad term with many options for the consumer. With the freedom of VoIP and the flexibility of a smartphone, mobile communications is no longer tied down by your cell phone company.
VoIP on the iPhone can be accomplished in many ways, and there are so many VoIP providers that offer iPhone VoIP apps that it's difficult to list them all here.
VoIP providers may supply an iPhone app with their service plans, or they may only offer service with their app, essentially a softphone. If you already have VoIP home phone service, you can probably get an iPhone app for VoIP to extend your service. See more about softphones.
iPhone VoIP apps are cheap or free to download, and you can make calls on an iPhone VoIP app for little to no extra charge.
Like all mobile VoIP, iPhone VoIP is great for international calling. International rates through VoIP are much cheaper than through cellular networks.
Keep in mind that if you are not using free Wi-Fi, you will use data on your mobile plan. We recommend a flat rate or unlimited data plan for use with VoIP. Note: When traveling, use Wi-Fi. Don't use 3G. Emailing one photo can cost $50 with international roaming.
Free (or Mostly Free) iPhone VoIP Apps
- iCall (ad-supported)
- Talkatone (ad-supported)
You may recognize some of the above iPhone VoIP apps. Skype, for example, is very popular.
Fring is a free video conferencing system, much like FaceTime. You can also call regular phone numbers with fringOut via VoIP starting at 1¢ a minute. Like other mobile VoIP apps, fring uses data (Internet) rather than the cell phone provider's network. Fring works with 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi, GPRS, and EDGE.
If you're concerned about how much data a 4-way video conference or VoIP conversation takes up, refer to fring's handy estimate chart:
- Connectivity - 10-15 KB per hour
- Chat – up to 15 KB for 200 characters
- Calls – ~8-10 MB per hour
- Video calls – ~1 MB per minute
iCall is a limited iPhone VoIP app that gives 5 free minutes of phone time to any number. After the 5 minutes are up the call drops, but you can always call back. Beware, you have to listen to a 15-30 second advertisement before your call connects.
JaJah is focused on international calling. The iPhone app lets you dial a local access number and then your international contact's number. You pay the lower VoIP rate per minute for the call and for the data used. Note: US calls are not free either.
JaJah also offers free calls to Facebook contacts, though your mobile phone service provider may charge you for a local call.
nimbuzz is an iPhone VoIP app with free calls, chat over multiple platforms, and messaging. There is also low rate international calling.
MO-Call is a British-based iPhone VoIP app that advertises cheap international calls. You can make Wi-Fi VoIP calls or use its callback mode (much like Google Voice).
Skype is another free-download pay-to-call iPhone VoIP app. It's free to call anyone else with a Skype username. If you want to call a regular phone number, you are charged per minute, and you need to pay for Skype credit. Skype also has video chat among Skype users for free.
Talkatone uses Google Voice and Gmail Talk in its iPhone VoIP app. You're required to have a Google Voice account set up with its own phone number. Calls are free within the US and Canada. Talkatone only works with iOS 4 devices.
TruPhone is similar to the other VoIP apps for iPhone. You get low cost calls out to regular numbers, and it's free to call other Tru users.
Vopium is similar to JaJah or TruPhone. While the iPhone app is free, calling locally or internationally is not free.
There are also home and business VoIP service providers that supply iPhone and mobile apps.