The Best Free-Calling Apps for Android [September 2020]

More than ever, your smartphone is an essential part of any overseas vacation. Deciding to travel without your phone on you is like choosing to forgo all the advancements in technology that make it so much easier to manage your itinerary and navigate the world around you. And even though using your phone outside of your home country can be expensive, with the ready availability of public WiFi, it’s easy to disable your network connectivity and simply rely on wireless internet around the city or hotel to help you communicate with your friends and family around the world.

Of course, the one problem you might run into once you’ve disabled your network connectivity is a lack of options for taking and placing calls to outside sources. While some newer devices have the option to place calls over WiFi, this is typically reserved by your device as a backup option, and may not work depending on your location in the world. But luckily, you won’t have to rely on your network to place calls. Android has a ton of free-calling apps available on the Play Store that make it easy to reach out to your friends and family, no matter where they be.

While most free-calling applications still require a small payment when used outside of North America, you can rejoice in not giving more of your hard-earned cash to your cell carrier. Whether you’re headed out into uncharted territory or you just don’t want to use the remainder of your month’s minutes, you’ll want to rely on the best free-calling apps for Android.

Everyone else

Google Duo is the search company’s take on a Facetime-like mobile video chat service, with a simplistic user interface and the ability to easily contact any phone number saved in your phone also using Duo. The app has seen a number of updates over its first year of existence, including the ability to place a voice-only without having to rely on video, making Duo a solid VoIP competitor. Voice quality with Duo is excellent, and calling a friend over audio-only is as easy as turning your app to the “voice” mode and selecting a contact from your phone. Google has created apps for both Android and iOS, meaning any smartphone owner can receive your call on the other end.

In many ways, Duo works like Messenger, albeit without the ability to chat with your friends. That said, the biggest problem with Duo isn’t a lack of integrated messaging—it’s the difficulty in growing a user base. While Duo hasn’t fallen off the Android charts in the same way as Allo, there are hundreds of millions of fewer users on Google’s platform than those using Messenger, meaning it’ll be additional work to get your family and friends to install Duo on their devices.

While Duo might be more similar to Messenger, Talkatone mirrors some of the features we saw offered by Google Voice, including support for a dedicated phone number within the app. This means Talkatone’s dialer can reach any phone number in the world, so long as you’re willing to pay for international calls. Like Voice, Talkatone allows you to send free texts and calls within the United States and Canada over the internet, with international calls costing credits per minute.

The price of the international calls seem to be about on par or a bit more expensive than Google’s prices, but it largely depends on where you’re calling. For example, the United Kingdom is priced at a penny per minute, but Spain is priced at two cents. Strangely, Alaska is featured on Talkatone’s call list (no other states, including Hawaii, make an appearance). The general look and feel of the app is solid, if unremarkable, and voice quality was acceptable. Google Voice is probably a better option for most Android users, but Talkatone is a solid alternative for anyone who doesn’t want to use Google’s own applications.

Most apps on this list are just basic communication services, but Signal adds something that a whole lot of people will find key to the app they choose. Signal offers complete end-to-end encryption on all communication within the app, from messaging to voice and video calls, making it the perfect free calling app for any one worried about privacy. Although the app lacks group calling, Signal supports voice and video calls to and from all platforms the app is supported on, including Android, iOS, and desktop, so you aren’t limited to a single operating system to place calls.

The downside to Signal, of course, is the lack of an actual phone number. Much like Facebook Messenger, you won’t be able to write down a Signal-based phone number on a job application to receive a call back. Still, for contacting people you likely already know, getting them on board with Signal makes for an easy way to communicate across the web without having to worry about your messages or conversations leaking or being intercepted.

When it comes to our final recommendation, LINE is actually pretty interesting, since it manages to work as an alternative to both Google Voice and a Facebook Messenger alternative. LINE users can message, call, and video chat with each other without spending a cent within the app. If you’ve managed to get your collection of friends and relatives on LINE, all you’ll need is an internet connection to contact them anywhere in the world. It’s not the best looking app in the world, but LINE’s interface is easy to navigate and set up, and calling users is a snap.

The more interesting feature, however, is LINE Out, which allows you to contact users that aren’t on LINE by dialing their phone number from within the app. Unlike apps like Google Voice, however, LINE Out doesn’t allow you to call domestically for free. Instead, the app has you view an advertisement before placing the phone call. Following this, you can place a five-minute phone call to select countries, including the US, the United Kingdom, Canada, and even China. It’s one of the cheapest ways to place a free international call, so long as your outgoing call is headed to a supported country, but the time limit is unfortunate, and the pay wall surrounding unlimited calls is relatively expensive. Still, for a quick call, LINE and LINE Out is an excellent addition to your phone—so long as you’re fine with watching ads.

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