Considering that many mobile phone carriers practically give away truckloads of minutes there wouldn’t be much reason for using the Internet to make calls on your handset, right? If you’re looking to do some belt tightening, one method might be to look for options that use Wi-Fi hot spots or even the traditional Web browsing to make Voice Over IP (VOIP) calls rather than using those precious minutes.
In fact, many carriers offer unlimited data plans for a flat rate, so if this is the case you could reduce your minutes to the minimum and then use VOIP for those calls. Likewise, while coast-to-coast calling can be extremely affordable on your stylish mobile phone, it isn’t quite the case when you’re calling across the pond (as in to Europe or other international destinations). Those international calls can cost a pretty penny and then some on a mobile.
Here is where VOIP can let you make the calls for rates that are comparable with traditional computer VOIP calls. The downside, however, is that some applications and handsets require you to be within a hot spot to make the calls. You might not be tethered to a desktop to phone a faraway friend, but you’re tethered to the Wi-Fi signal in your home or worse at the local Starbucks.
The other good news is that there are several handsets that now offer seamless Wi-Fi calling, with an option to switch to the traditional cells so you can still do some roaming. Obviously, this is a better option for domestic calls, where you might only burn minutes. But if you’re going to stop in to fuel up on caffeine you can start the call using Wi-Fi or VOIP and then make the switch when you need to get going.
Here is a list of some VOIP options to consider:
Fring (www.fring.com) — this free application can be downloaded and installed on mobile phones, with calls to other Fring users being free while other calls, such as landlines and mobile phones, can be far more affordable than most international mobile rates. Fring requires a data service plan, such as Wi-Fi, 3G or GRPS among others, but Fring also allows instant messaging with services such as Skype, MSN, ICQ, Google Talk, SIP, Twitter, AIM and Yahoo.
Jaxtr (www.jaxtr) — this service requires users to create an account and to supply a phone number. All calls are made through a Web interface as well, but once done you can make calls to other users who have done the same, and international calling is also supported. Best of all you can use this service without the need to worry about using your own number, and instead you’ll use a virtual number — for a bit of the James Bond thrill if you like.
Yackie Mobile (www.yackiemobile) — here is a twist. This one doesn’t require a data plan or even Wi-Fi connection, and instead you can buy VOIP on a SIM card where you can insert the card and use your same mobile phone. The calls aren’t free, but are comparable to basic VOIP calls and the international rates are decent.