Once upon a time, Skype was a must-have for any Singaporean heading to an overseas university. It was the only way their parents could continue to nag them without having to pay astronomical phone bills. These days, there are a lot more options thanks to the many free calling apps and chat apps.
For the most part, you can call someone for free as long as you both have the same app installed on your phones.
If you need to call a land line number (or someone who doesn’t have the smartphone app), some of them offer you the option to call them for a fee. Although chargeable, the fees are usually still cheaper than calling long distance on your mobile phone.
The rates always depend on which country you’re calling. For the sake of easy comparison, we’ll be checking the Singapore rates, but obviously you should check your country of choice.
|Calling/chat app||Free calls to…||Best rates calling rates (Singapore)|
|FaceTime||Apple iPhone users||–|
|FB Messenger||Facebook friends||–|
|Google Hangouts||Gmail/Gchat contacts||–|
|LINE||LINE contacts & up to 5 mins for selected countries||US$0.05/minute|
1 month free trial
US$3.99/month (400 minutes) or US$6.99/month (unlimited)
|Viber||Viber contacts||US$2.99/month (400 minutes)|
FaceTime is a default app in all iPhones that allows users to make voice and video calls to other devices in the “i” clan. Yup, you can call other non-mobile devices like your iPad and iPod touch because it’s linked to your Apple ID. You’ll need the other person’s mobile number or email address to make a FaceTime call.
In the newer iOS (iPhone X or later, iPad Pro 11-inch or iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd gen)), you can use an animated Memoji avatars and capture live photos during video calls too.
Rates for calling non-FaceTime users: not available
Together with WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger is the most-used instant messaging app in the world.
The biggest advantage of this app is that it lets you call any of your Facebook friends without having to have their actual phone numbers, which is handy when you lose your entire phone contact list.
Rates for calling non-FB users: not available
While Messenger lets you call your Facebook contacts, Google Hangouts lets you do the same with your Gmail contacts.
Hangouts lets you chat with, video call or voice call anyone with a Gmail address. If you’ve had a conversation with someone on Gchat, it means they’re contactable on Hangouts.
Rates for calling non-Google users: not available
Unless you don’t own a smartphone, you definitely have Whatsapp, which is the most popular messaging app in Singapore and possibly the world.
Whatsapp doesn’t let you make calls to non-Whatsapp users yet. But you can voice call or video call any other user so long as both are you have a data or wifi connection. In fact, if you have one of those mobile data plans with zero talktime, you are probably already using WhatsApp to make all your calls.
Rates for calling non-Whatsapp users: not available
Many mobile users see Telegram as a more secure alternative to Whatsapp.
Let’s hope this number grows, since you’ll need whomever you’re calling to be on Telegram as well in order to speak to them for free using their voice call function.
Rates for calling non-Telegram users: not available
The next few apps allow you to make calls to landlines and other mobile phones that don’t have the app installed.
LINE is a popular messaging app that’s often used in K-dramas. While you can call all LINE users for free, calls to non-LINE users in certain countries for free for up to 3 or 5 minutes. Countries on the free list include China, Hong Kong, India, Australia, Korea, the UK, Germany, the US and Canada.
The rate for Singapore calls is US$0.05 (S$0.068) per minute.
Rates for calling non-LINE users: Free for up to 5 min for certain countries, otherwise rates vary depending on country. For Singapore, it’s US$0.050 per minute.
Microsoft has left Skype to the dogs. It has to be said — the once-great service is not as good anymore, with dwindling audio quality.
But Skype still offers some of the cheapest rates for overseas calls, and also allows you to get a Skype number for yourself so your friends and family can call you without having to go through the Skype app.
You can make calls to landlines and mobile phones by buying Skype credits. Rates vary with the country – for Singapore it is US$3.99 (S$5.42) monthly for 400 minutes or US$6.99 (S$9.50) monthly for unlimited calls. There is also a 1-month free trial, which is handy for those who need the service for a one-off thing.
And of course, if you have someone on your Skype contact list, you can chat with, voice call and video call them for free.
Rates for calling non-Skype users: For calling Singapore, it’s US$3.99 (S$5.42) monthly for 400 minutes or US$6.99 (S$9.50) monthly for unlimited calls (<S$0.01 /min).
Viber is more than just a messaging app that lets you send cutesy stickers. Using the “Viber Out” function, you can now make international calls to landlines or mobile phones without the Viber app.
You will need to pay to use Viber Out, but rates are reasonable. For US$2.99 (S$4.06), you get 400 minutes of talktime in Singapore. The number of minutes varies by country.
And of course, if you are communicating with someone who already has Viber installed on their phone, you can talk to them for free via normal call or video call.
Rates for calling non-Viber users: US$2.99 (S$4.06) for 400 min (US$0.02/min) for Singapore (S$0.01 /min).
The Chinese messaging application has always been one step ahead of the pack… or at least Whatsapp. They were one of the first to introduce free voice calls and then video calls to other WeChat users.
Since 2016, WeChat Out has enabled users to make calls to non-WeChat users and landlines anywhere in the world. The rates for calls to Singapore are approx. S$0.056/minute.
Rates for calling non-WeChat users: Rates vary depending on country. For Singapore numbers, approx. S$0.056/min
Which is your favourite calling and chat app? Share your recommendations in the comments!