With all honest, a little while ago I thought that VoIP on a mobile device was quite simply too much effort, and would ultimately cost more in maintaining it than the savings you would get. Whilst I still think there is some truth to this, I did start to take a serious look at getting VoIP on my Android handset.
Why? Well, my contract with Optus expired yesterday, and I thought it’s time to move. Currently, I haven’t made a switch (though have changed from the grandfathered $59 cap that was quite bad value these days to a new $29 cap) to another provider, but do plan to. Basically, I want more data (on the $59 cap I had 500MB, remembering that it was an old plan and $350 calls, and on the $29 I get 200MB and $180 calls), and I don’t care as much about calls, though I at least want to be able to make some calls. So I had a look around, and saw that Virgin Mobile (who use the Optus network) have a $29 cap with 1GB of data, though only $60 worth of calls and unlimited texts, and they have a special on at the moment where you get $10 off for the first 10 months (and it’s not on contract, but if you leave before the 10 months you have to pay the discount back, or at least that’s the way I read the conditions.) I thought, with that much data, it’d be more viable to use VoIP for outgoing calls most of the time, and it has it’s advantages because I can put $10 on, and it won’t expire after a month (maybe 6 months or a year, depending on the provider.) So, I played around with VoIP applicatons on my phone
Unfortunately, I didn’t really get anywhere with any of the VoIP. I tried to use sipdroid to link in with my home VoIP provider PennyTel, and whilst I could make a call, there was no audio (apparently a known issue of sipdroid, but it doesn’t really help me that it’s just known, if it’s not fixed then it’s no good to me.) Sipdroid would have been really nice, as it integrates nicely with the dialer: dial the number as you normally would, if VoIP is available, it will intercept the call and make it using your VoIP service, otherwise it will just use the normal mobile service.
The second application I tried was fring. A bit like Skype, but cheaper, and no desktop app. They had a test call service (very similar to skype test call,) so I thought I’d give it ago. It worked, not heaps well, but well enough that I’d be happy to pay for fringout credit and give it ago on a real phone. Bad move it was, fringout did not work well at all. When I did some test calls at home, I could sort of hear the other person (though there was a lot of echo, even when we were in different rooms,) but they couldn’t hear me at all. Definitely a lot worse than the test call that I made, and a waste of $10 as I have nothing to do with the fringout credit now.
Finally, the last thing I tried was to use my SIP provider that I used with sipdroid in fring, as the fring app supports other networks. This was the most successful I’ve been. I got it working with a friend at Uni, but with a 3 second delay (at least,) and sub-par voice quality. What was worse, was that it would only work with his phone, and calling other people didn’t get any audio at all.
So, here I am, $10 poorer from purchasing practically useless fringout credit, and still no VoIP on my phone. It was worth a try, but on the other hand, I actually probably wouldn’t use $60 in a month for voice calls if I went with the Virgin cap with 1GB of data, and that particularly cap rolls over unused credit (except data) to the next month, which is quite unusual for mobile caps.