For the average user the tariffs for iPhone usage, specifically in relation to voice calls, are more than enough to suffice. However, even several hundred minutes included for free per month aren’t enough for some users. And if you are a globetrotter making a lot of long distance and international calls then you’ll know just how costly a call home can be. So what do you do about?
The answer: VoIP for iPhone. With a choice of softphones available now for iPhone, there’s literally no limit to the number of calls that can be made for free or at a massively reduced rate.
Some of the iPhone VoIP solutions we’ve listed below are so slick and well integrated that they’ll blow your mind, while others require a little bit of tinkering. Nevertheless, if you’re looking to save money on your calls with mobile VoIP, particularly if you frequently travel internationally, there’s plenty to get started with!
Having been around since the earliest days of mobile VoIP, you can safely assume that Truphone know a thing or two about providing a quality service on mobile devices. Truphone for the iPhone is a real triumph of design and functionality, providing for easy and cheap VoIP calls from your iPhone. There are many great things about Truphone, but one standout feature is the tight integration with iPhone’s GUI: Truphone lets you see (and search) contacts stored in the iPhone Address Book, you can easily see your Truphone account balance as well as view recent calls and favourite contacts.
But of course, this being VoIP on iPhone, one has to ask how calls on Truphone sound? In our tests using a standard wireless router and broadband internet connection, Truphone performed very well. Calls made and received were clear and without delay. The price of calls is cheap, seriously cheap. Suffice to say that using Truphone to make international calls from your mobile will save you money. There are no roaming charges (because you use the internet) and if you have other contacts on Truphone you can call them for free.
Truphone is a free download from the iTunes App Store, and when you setup your account you’ll get a small introductory free credit so you can test it out for yourself.
If you have contacts on multiple networks, then fring is for you. This innovative app lets you stay in touch via IM and VoIP with contacts on Skype, AIM, MSN, GTalk and Yahoo! Messenger using your WiFi connection. While fring lets you make calls with your SkypeIn / SkypeOut account, it is also (awesomely) compatible with SIP. fring has been updated to allow VoIP calls over both WiFi and 3G.
Without doubt, iCall is one of the slickest implementations of VoIP on the iPhone. iCall, who are fully approved members of the iPhone developer program, can make and receive calls when connected via WiFi and 3G. If a call comes in over the cell network and you are also on WiFi, you can easily transfer the call to iCall and save minutes. iCall is fully integrated with the iPhone, so you can access the same contacts in the iPhone address book.
Unlike iCall and fring, iPhoneGnome is a web app for the iPhone. It lets you call any of your PhoneGnome contacts, anyone using a SIP-based service or on FWD, MSN, Yahoo! and GTalk. PhoneGnome is a niche VoIP service, but having access to your PhoneGnome contacts and being able to make cheap international calls from your iPhone may make the service more feasible.
This is one of the top web-based VoIP clients who were quick off the mark in announcing their support for the iPhone. The JAJAH web app looks just like your standard iPhone dialing pad, but instead connects you and the caller via the internet. Upon visiting the JAJAH web app in iPhone’s Safari browser, you enter your friend’s number and a local telephone number you have access to, then JAJAH will call you and your friend and connect you. This makes JAJAH a compelling service if you are travelling internationally with your iPhone on a regular basis.
This is another web app that works just like JAJAH. You setup an account with Talkety and then visit their website with Safari on your iPhone. You’ll be able to select your current phone number and enter the number you wish to call, Talkety will call you both via the internet and save you money on the cost of calling internationally, nationally or to another mobile. Interestingly, you can easily setup a voice conference with up to 50 participants with Talkety on your iPhone, but you’ll need a pro account. Another benefit of using Talkety is the ability to sync your contacts with the Mac OS X Address Book.
The standards-based sipgate VoIP client for iPhone is an app that can be installed that allows users to make SIP VoIP calls via your WiFi connection. With sipgate you can hook up with any SIP service provider and save money on your calls where WiFi is available. For instance, you can join a free wireless network while on the road in the UK and call a number in the USA at vastly cheaper rates from your iPhone.
Just like JAJAH and Talkety, Raketu is a web app for the iPhone rather than an installed app. When you hit their website you can login to your Raketu account and purchase credits if needed. You enter your number and the number of your friend, Raketu calls both and connects you.
RingFree was one of the first iPhone VoIP services, offering a web-based softphone for the iPhone since the beginning of 2008. The RingFree phone is licensed by PhoneGnome and is also a fully accredited member of the iPhone developer program.
The RingFree dialer uses a GSM voice connection and allows a user to make free calls and IM with contacts on Skype, GTalk, MSN, Yahoo Messenger users and many other IM services. You do not even have to be a registered user with these services to make calls to their users. (In other words, you can make a free call on your iPhone to a Skype user without registering with Skype).
With RingFree you can make calls through the VoIP service provider of your choice (SIP credentials required, of course), including PhoneGnome, Vonage, VoicePulse, Gizmo Project, vBuzzer, ViaTalk, and many others. It is also possible to make calls through an office phone system or PBX, including Asterisk and other standards-based PBX products. SIP URI calls are also supported.