How to Make Free Phone Calls To the US and Canada on iOS and Android

This is a sponsored post written by myself on the behalf of Vonage for Ivy Worldwide. All opinions are 100% my own.

If you’ve taken a look at Web-based phone options, you’ve probably heard of Vonage. Vonage has been a leader in the world of VOIP (Voice Over IP) telecommunications for years, and now they’re making giant strides forward in the world of smartphones. Whether you’re on iOS or Android, you’re you will definitely want to take a look at what Vonage has done now.

No accounts, no logins, no passwords. Vonage Mobile gives you access to its calling service with nothing more than your mobile number and an email address. I was able to download the app, get it set up, and make my first two free phone calls without using my minutes in less than a few minutes. Not only that, but it has a built-in option to make texting to my friends and family free, which really kicks the tail of any of those favorite friends plans carriers limit their customers with.

Here at LockerGnome, we have a morning meeting that can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour each day. Members of our team can participate by phone or by application. There is rarely any need for video during the meetings, so most of our team opt to use phones to participate. The downside of this is that it takes minutes to make calls, and those minutes can add up to hours very quickly over the course of the month. This is where a service like Vonage Mobile can really come in handy.

So, what does this iPhone and Android calling app actually bring to the table?

Call Quality

Call quality is a big deal, especially when you’re communicating over VOIP. Echos, static, lossy sound quality, and just plan unreliable service has given VOIP over mobile devices a bad name over the years. Vonage may not be the the first service to offer free text messaging and calls to mobile devices, but it is has certainly done its due diligence to set itself ahead of the pack.

Vonage offers what it calls “high-def” voice quality. This means that calls made with the service will typically sound better than those made using traditional calling methods.

During a test call to my wife, she noted that it sounded quite good, and she was on a regular line. In the world of audio, a better source typically creates a better output if all other factors are the same, and this is certainly the case with Vonage Mobile. I also did a few more test calls to various users across several carriers, and the results were consistent on the majority of the test calls.

In-App Credit Purchases and Calling Rates

If you want to make an international call (calls to the US and Canada are free for a limited time right now) you can do at comparatively low rates, but what sets Vonage Mobile apart from its competitors is just how easy it is to make in-app credit purchases. Skype currently does not offer this service, making you switch over to the browser and navigate through multiple pages to get to a point where you can purchase more minutes. With Vonage, it’s literally a tap of the screen.

You can purchase credit in increments of $4.99 and $9.99 as often as you need. The amount it taken directly out of your iTunes account.

There is no sticker shock for the per-minute rates being offered by Vonage. At rates as low as $.022 per minute for international calling, Vonage is charging less on average than its biggest competitor, Skype. On average, Vonage has managed to offer 30% lower per-minute rates to the top 50 International long distance countries in the world. It’s hard to argue with numbers, especially when the word free is currently being applied to the US and Canada.

User Experience

User experience is at the heart of any successful app for either iOS or Android. I’d always believed that phone apps are unavoidably bad here as I’ve yet to come across an interface that was truly simple or easy to use. Vonage has done a fairly good job here, and when you compare it to Skype, they’re worlds apart.

Text messages are especially clear and easy to follow with chat bubbles taking the place of the “wall of text” effect so many other chat applications for either platform fall into. Texting with a fellow Vonage user looks and feels natural, especially if you’re used to the iOS platform.

One thing Vonage has clearly kept in mind when designing Vonage Mobile is that less is more when it comes to steps someone needs to take to get something done on their mobile device. Adding people to your contacts list is automatic and based on your phone’s contact list. Vonage detects whether or not that person is a Vonage user, and as such makes special features available to you with a tap of the screen.

Making and receiving Vonage calls and text messages with fellow users is absolutely free. You can invite members of your contact list individually or in a group via email or text message in seconds. By comparison, Skype requires eight steps in many cases.

Overall: The Vonage app features a clean interface that allows you to make a call and go about your day with as little hassle as possible.

Final Thoughts

There are several reasons you might want to consider adding a VOIP service to your mobile phone. Being out of the country, you often have to make the tough choice of either spending money for an International sim card or taking advantage of a VOIP service via Wi-Fi or 3G/4G data. This also saves you the hassle of number changes when traveling overseas which can make it very difficult for someone to contact you when they really need to. Oh, and did I mention that local US and Canada rates still apply, even when you’re calling from the heart of Australia.

When you call someone using Vonage, your friends and family will still see your actual number appear on caller ID. This avoids confusion and makes it easier to send and receive calls, no matter what carrier someone may be going through.

You don’t need to put a penny down to enjoy the perks of the service. I made several phone calls without adding a dime to my Vonage account, and shouldn’t need to in the immediate future.

Over all: Vonage Mobile is a great way to save money. I’ve written time and time again about saving money by bypassing the often expensive bounds of traditional phone plans. After having tried virtually every trick in the book, Vonage may well sit on top of a very short list of recommended tricks to keep more money in your pocket, and less in the pockets of your carrier.

Download Vonage Mobile for your iPhone or Android device today and give it a try for yourself. Make a few test calls and tell us what you think.

Article Written by

Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.

  • DerekMason

    Gunna give it a try on my android phone. Nice article matt

  • Jason Tweed

    I used Vonage for years. They work great on my home telephone, but because I’m disabled I needed to use the PC-based interface. Call quality would be all over the map. Eventually I switched to Skype. Now with Vonage on mobile, maybe they are rededicating themselves to the software, but it still left a bad taste in my mouth. I’ll stick with Skype until they can clearly demonstrate superiority on the PC platform.

    • worldco

      You should just try it out, much better than the old vonage!

  • Jason Tweed

    I used Vonage for years. They work great on my home telephone, but because I’m disabled I needed to use the PC-based interface. Call quality would be all over the map. Eventually I switched to Skype. Now with Vonage on mobile, maybe they are rededicating themselves to the software, but it still left a bad taste in my mouth. I’ll stick with Skype until they can clearly demonstrate superiority on the PC platform.

  • http://twitter.com/_jonathanross Jonathan Ross

    I like Textfree by Pinger (I’ve mentioned this before several times). Free texting and voice for iOS, Android and Online anywhere for Desktop.

  • http://twitter.com/ronknights Ron Knights

    This article interested me, so I decided to pursue it. The result was that I signed up for Vonage last night, and cancelled today. 

    I had thought of using my iPhone 3GS, which has no actual cell-service. It’s more like an iPod Touch for me. 

    After I signed up for Vonage, I looked for the app you mentioned. I found two different apps and couldn’t figure which was the preferred one. There was something called Vonage Extensions?!

    I already have MagicJack, and paired it up with a cordless phone set, with an extra headset. I pay something like $25 a year for the service.  

    I do use Google Voice, mainly for the phone number and the ability to have the calls forwarded to any number, including my MagicJack number and my AT&T GoPhone (Pay as you go.)

    I’ve decided to stick with that combination. It’s simpler than the Vonage Mobile App. Maybe that’s because I’m already familiar with what I have.

  • http://twitter.com/BottomFisher123 T

    Very nice article.  I downloaded the app and love it.  Got a bunch of my family to download it too.  Always wanted to get them all on yahoo im with me but they’d never take the time to create an account.  So this is much easier, they all have it on their iphones and i rock the android and it just works.  The call quality is excellent too. Will probably reduce my AT&T minute package to the minimum level thanks to this.

  • Sorry

    Talkatone is my favorite.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/E-Douglas-Jensen/100000128589029 E Douglas Jensen

    I’m sticking with Skype for now at least, because it does not require me to have a smartphone in the foreign country (which normally I do not), I can just use my laptop.

  • http://www.youtube.com/whiterazor White Razor

    I’ve used this for the past few months and never paid for a call since. It’s great. My phone plan still costs the same $70 a month, but that’s okay because I’m not paying for phone calls so I can save prepaid credit that expires. Also, instead of having about $30 of calls remaining on the plan each month, I have $500. As well as a huge charge for overusing my internet. It’s neat.

  • http://theendresult.tumblr.com/ Aaron Couch

    You may want to look into Republic Wireless. They are in beta right now and are currently at full capacity for users, but they will be opening back up to everyone early to mid-2012.

    They are contract free. $20/ month for unlimited EVERYTHING. They mainly work off Wi-Fi and then if you’re out of range of a network, they’ll switch you over to 3G.

    Seems pretty cool to me! And you have nothing to lose because you can try the first month for free.

  • http://theendresult.tumblr.com/ Aaron Couch

    You may want to look into Republic Wireless. They are in beta right now and are currently at full capacity for users, but they will be opening back up to everyone early to mid-2012.

    They are contract free. $20/ month for unlimited EVERYTHING. They mainly work off Wi-Fi and then if you’re out of range of a network, they’ll switch you over to 3G.

    Seems pretty cool to me! And you have nothing to lose because you can try the first month for free.

  • Stan

    ‘$.010 cents’ has no meaning as you’re defining your units as both dollars and cents.
    .010 cents is 1/10 of a cent.
    $.001 is 1/10 of a cent.