Android is the world’s most popular mobile operating system. With over 2 billion active devices around the globe, there is a good chance you or someone you know own an Android.
Navigating Android’s app store – Google Play – is not for the faint of heart. With an overwhelming number of apps and options to choose from, it’s easy to get lost in the details. However, when it comes to finding the best international calling app for Android we’ve got you covered. Let’s look at the various options out there and compare their pros and cons.
Regular Phone Plan
From the moment you bought your Android and signed up for a cell phone plan, you could immediately do one thing – make phone calls using your cellular carrier. No extra apps, no browsing the Google Play store, just dial and call.
Your cellular carrier most likely allows you to make international calls, if you so choose. On the vast majority of cellular plans, you just dial the foreign number you want to call, starting from the country code, and that’s it.
Well, that’s it only until you get your monthly bill… Unfortunately, cellular carriers charge extreme surcharges and fees for international calls. Part of it is because they need to recoup the cost they incur from routing your call across the globe, but part of it is just because they can.
Using your cellular carrier to make international calls is definitely the simplest way to do it (no apps needed) but also by far the more expensive. Avoid it unless you want to double, triple, etc your phone bill. Android international calling apps would be a far better option to avoid high costs.
The first alternative for Android international calls – and one of the most widely used apps worldwide – is WhatsApp. Originally just a text messaging app, WhatsApp now allows you to make voice calls using an internet connection.
While this app is absolutely free, it significantly limits your international calling on Android (and iOS) due to only allowing you to make app-to-app calls. This means that your WhatsApp can only call another smartphone that has WhatsApp installed. As a result, you cannot call a non-WhatsApp cell phone or any landline.
If you’re looking mainly for an international text messaging app and do not plan to make international voice calls frequently, if at all, WhatsApp is a good option to consider. Otherwise, look elsewhere.
A similar app to WhatsApp is Telegram. This is also a text messaging app which gives you the ability to make free app-to-app calls (i.e. calls to smartphones which have Telegram installed). In many ways, WhatsApp’s and Telegram’s features are almost identical. Telegram’s main claim to fame is their focus on security. Born out of concerns that services such as WhatsApp may be vulnerable to very experienced hackers, etc, Telegram offers a higher level of encryption and security than most competitors.
If you just want international text messaging and app-to-app calls, WhatsApp or Telegram are both solid options. If you are looking for the cutting edge in security, Telegram may have a slight edge. But they are not truly Android international calling apps since you cannot call to regular mobile or landline numbers abroad.
Viber is WhatsApp’s main competitor. It is divided into two offerings – a free and a paid option. The free part of Viber is eerily similar to WhatsApp – free international text messaging and voice calls but only to smartphones that have Viber installed.
If you would like to call non-Viber cell phones or a foreign landline, Viber offers a paid service called Viber Out. Using this service, you pay for “minutes” (rate varies depending on the destination country of your call) but at a rate significantly lower than that of your cellular carrier.
While not a truly free international calling app for Android, Viber Out is quite affordable and, in that sense, is definitely superior to your regular cellular carrier. It does, however, come with its own limitations. First, it is not supported in all countries (such as Belgium and Austria). Thus, you should always double check that both your origin and destination countries are supported before signing up.
Secondly, Viber Out does not preserve caller ID. When you call someone, their caller ID shows a call from a random number. The person does not see your cell phone number and has no way of knowing who is calling. Some people are okay with this and some people are not. Given that an overwhelming portion of phone calls made globally each year are telemarketing calls, many people simply ignore calls from unknown caller IDs. Additionally, many organizations such as banks, credit card companies, utilities, and some airlines use caller ID to identify client accounts. While not insurmountable, this issue will make your calls to such landlines more difficult.
Yolla is an Android international calling app that solves this problem by preserving your caller ID. Whether you call a cell phone or landline, the recipient always sees your phone’s original caller ID and knows it’s you.
Similar to all the aforementioned apps, Yolla offers unlimited free app-to-app calling (local or international). Yolla also offers international calling to any cell phone or landline, even if they do not have Yolla installed. Just dial the number you want to call using the Yolla app and it does the rest – unprecedented connectivity at your fingertips. And no limitations for countries like in Viber and some other apps: you can call from any country to any country, even to North Korea or Antarcrica (though the latter is not a country).
Calls have HD voice quality and international calling rates are some of the cheapest on the market. More importantly, all rates are transparent with no hidden fees or surcharges (such as the sneaky “minute rounding” you may see with international calling cards). You get 24/7 customer support, along with a balance that doesn’t expire, and chances to earn free calling minutes by referring friends.
Yolla’s flexibility makes it the ultimate truly cheap international calls app for Android. It is the perfect solution for anyone who has family, friends, or business contacts abroad, as well as for the frequent traveler who would like to have phone connectivity anywhere they have an internet connection.
Overall, there are three tiers of international calling apps for Android. The first are the barebones apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram which are entirely free but limit calling exclusively to smartphones that have that app installed (no landlines or other phones). The second is the intermediate tier of apps such as Viber which offer a paid option to call international cell phones or landlines but with some important limitations and restrictions to keep in mind. The final tier is Yolla, with all of the calling abilities of the aforementioned apps but also additional flexibility and features.
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