Best App for Free and Cheap Calls

Screenshots

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Skype Screenshot

Call List: Browse or edit Skype users or regular phone numbers in your Skype account's contact list. View them all at once or tap the Online button to see only those currently signed into Skype—those are the folks you can call or chat with for free. Icons show whether contacts are away, accepting calls, or busy. Tap a contact to call her, start a text chat, or view her profile, where you can also add a profile photo with your iPhone camera.

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Skype Screenshot

By The Numbers: Call anyone you want, anywhere in the world. Punch the number into the dial pad, or tap the address book icon to pick a number from your iPhone contacts. Dialing a number instead of another Skype account does cost some coin, but those coins are usually pennies. Check skype.com for rates. To make calls, you first have to add credit to your account balance, which you can purchase from the My Info screen.

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Skype Screenshot

Speech Bubbles: Fire up free instant message text chats with other Skype users. You can run multiple conversations at once, and the Chats icon shows your count of active chats. You can skip running a comb through your hair beforehand: While video chat is a staple of Skype's desktop software, it's not available for iPhone. Your friends and coworkers see only your profile picture and, of course, your clever commentary.

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Skype Screenshot

Your 411: Tap My Info to update your status, mood message, and profile details. Add or change your profile photo by snapping a new photo with the iPhone camera or choosing from your photo library. This control panel also lets you check and refill your balance, buy a local phone number to let others call your Skype account from regular phones, or add voicemail to take messages when you're not online or answering calls.

Skype
Top Pick

Skype

Version reviewed: 1.0.3
Skype Software

Put Skype's popular Internet phone calling service on your iPhone to make free or dirt-cheap calls to anyone in the world when you're connected to a WiFi network. Skype calls don't count against your regular cellphone minutes, so you can stretch your phone time at very little cost. Call other Skype users for free, or dial regular phones for a modest fee. Turn your iPod Touch into a phone, too, with a microphone headset.

The Skinny on Skype

Skype is a bonafide marvel, but it's not a complete phone replacement. In particular, don't expect to use Skype everywhere you go. Your phone company won't let the app make calls over its Edge or 3G mobile networks, so you can talk only when you're on WiFi, although you can do text chats anywhere. (Check out Call Global App for an app that will let you make cheap international calls from anywhere, WiFi or no.)

Also, while Skype for iPhone is terrific for making calls, it's less useful for receiving them. You can catch Skype calls and chats only when the app is running front and center. If you switch to a different app, Skype quits—a limitation of the iPhone itself—and it can't accept calls. To other Skype users, it looks like you're offline. For a fee, though, you can add voicemail to your account so that callers can leave voicemail while you're busy playing that video game.


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