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WhatsApp Voice Calling - So Good and Cheap It Threatens Mobile Network Carriers

Updated on November 15, 2016
janderson99 profile image

Dr. John applies his scientific (PhD) research skills & 30 years experience as an inventor & futurist to review technology, apps, software.

WhatsApp is a very popular messaging application for mobile devices. The Voice Calling tool has been available for Android and iOS mobiles since the beginning of the year. Voice Calling for WhatsApp on BlackBerry 10, was enabled in April 2015, and it is now also available on Windows Phone 8 mobile devices. Voice Calling means that you can call friends and family locally or internationally using your phone’s Internet connection (3G, 4G, or WiFi) rather than your mobile voice connection.

For international calls the connection uses about 1Mb of data for a 3 minute call, much cheaper than international mobile call rates. It is much simpler than Skype and VoiP, which also use the Internet to convey voice as digital signals. International calls are clear and reliable, with only a tiny perceptible delay that is common for standard voice calls.

Surely this will spell the end of the exorbitant charges many people face with 'roaming on' when travelling overseas with their local SIMS, and the very high cost of international calls to and from friends overseas. If nothing else, it may lead to a lowering of the mobile call tariffs. You still need a Phone SIM and an internet connection (3G, 4G, or WiFi) but WhatsApp Voice is worth considering for cheaper rates and convenience compared with the alternatives.

WhatsApp can deliver voice calls as well as SMS at low cost for people who install the app and have an internet connection and smartphone.
WhatsApp can deliver voice calls as well as SMS at low cost for people who install the app and have an internet connection and smartphone. | Source
Voice Calling is very simple and easy to use and has good qaulity
Voice Calling is very simple and easy to use and has good qaulity | Source

Benefits of WhatsApp Voice Calling

► Skype, Facebook Messenger, Viper and many others already offer voice calls. However, one advantage of WhatsApp is that it pairs you with your contacts using your phone number and shows which of them also have WhatsApp. It integrates with your smartphone and contacts, far more smoothly and you get notifications of incoming calls. You cannot make calls to people who do not have WhatsApp installed and internet connections on their phones.

► There is a filter so that you can decide whether or not to accept calls.

► When you send a message, the app displays two blue arrows when the message has been delivered and received by your contact. This is handy because you can send an SMS in advance of the call to check whether the person is available.

WhatsApp Voice Calling works with a 3G or 4G connection provided by your carrier. You don't necessarily need a WiFi connection.

► Costs are deducted via the Internet, that is it uses your carrier's data plan or external WiFi similar to Skype and its many alternatives. You won’t be charged for making a call via the carrier. However, you will be charged for using data, depending on the cost of your carrier's data plan. If you connect to free WiFi the cost will be zero, even for International calls. Currently, you do need a phone SIM for using the device on a Pad or a PC or computer device. But you cannot make a voice call from your computer.

► WhatsApp Call only provides for voice calls, not video chat, though there are plans to add this feature in the future.

You can call any Android, Blackberry, iOS and Windows 8 mobile users with WhatsApp installed. You cannot call users on other platforms.

Making an International call to someone in another country costs the same as calling someone in your own country. The same applies if someone overseas calls you. The data charges are roughly the same regardless of where you are call from or going to. You map local data charge rates rather than international charge rates which can be very high for international SIMS.

► While WhatsApp text chats are encrypted and secure, it is unclear whether voice calls are similarly encrypted.

WhatsApp Voice call costs - There is some variation with this, but internal call require about 300 KB of data per minute, and international calls about 350 KB per minute. There appears to be significant difference between data consumed on 3G or WiFi. For most carriers the cost of these data is less than the cost of a local call and perhaps 5-10 times lower than the lost of an International call. These estimates are a rough guide only and you may need to do some searches and compare prices in your local situation.

Lag delays and echoes are minimal and the voice signal is clear and loud. All you need to do is wait a tiny amount before replaying Call has clear voice output, but it sometimes leads to a slight lag in responses and you even get echoes. It is not as smooth an experience as Viber and is equivalent to using Skype.

To set up a contact, you need to ask someone with WhatsApp Voice calling feature activated to give you a call back. Then, when you add them as a contact their number will be listed in your WhatsApp contacts.

WhatsApp Web

WhatsApp Web for iPhone and Android devices is a convenient way to send messages via your computer keyboard. The software can sync your WhatsApp messages between your mobile device, desktop PC and laptop. The connection is established by scanning a QR code with your mobile device to log in. You can then send and receive messages via your PC, but not Voice. Your mobile device needs to be 'on' and connected to the internet. This is another useful feature of WhatsApp.

© 2015 Dr. John Anderson


Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    Tamara14 2 years ago

    Excellent review. My husband often travels to the States and after using many different (and not always cheap) options of sms, calls and video calls we are now very happy with WhatsApp call. He has iPhone, I have Samsung, he's in the States and I'm in Europe. There's no delay at all, which is actually not the case if two iPhones use the app :)

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

    Very helpful! I've just begun to use it and am still learning. Thank you so much!

  • tirelesstraveler profile image

    Judy Specht 2 years ago from California

    We were just talking about Whatsapp. My friend's family uses it almost exclusively in Mexico.

  • Larry Rankin profile image

    Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

    Very informative. I wasn't aware of this app.

  • diogenes profile image

    diogenes 2 years ago from UK and Mexico

    An especially pertinent article in view of the scandalous roaming charges being applied for UK residents when using their cell-phones overseas and outside the EU.

    Thousands of pounds are being charged by all the major mobile phone networks and these draconian fees often greet users upon their return from vacation.

    Just more of ROB (Rip-Off-Britain). I have no idea if this goes on in the US.


  • janderson99 profile image

    Dr. John Anderson 2 years ago from Australia on Planet Water

    My son has just headed to Delft, Netherlands for a Uni Exchange program. We spent hours setting up international sims etc for cheap calls and SMS. We intended to use WhatsApp for messaging, to set up for Skype and other voice options via international sims. He has 2 phones, one for internal, one for receiving international. We were told that WhatsApp Voice did not work for iPhones but it does!!! The communication is very clear with only a tiny delay - all for 1Mb of data for a 3 minute call. So far this is brilliant. Cheap and very efficient for two way communication - text and voice. Much cheaper than international call rates which can be 75 c per minute and 75c for SMS. WhatsApp is outstanding! We can call him for 12 c a minute using a local call option with the SIM provider, but when he calls us the charges are very high. WhatsApp is much better and simpler.

  • Paul Edmondson profile image

    Paul Edmondson 2 years ago from Burlingame, CA

    I've barely used whatsapp, but today I noticed ESPN had the whatsapp share button integrated. It must be popular among sport fans:)

  • StephanPoe profile image

    StephanPoe 2 years ago

    I do believe WhatsApp and Facebook messenger are the future of messaging. sms will slowly die. It became old technology I guess. Time moves quickly.