You have an Android or iOS portable device and you want to use VoIP on it for all its benefits. You are doing the right thing. But which VoIP app to install? There are plenty of them for Android, iOS and BlackBerry. All the lists will show that Skype is the most popular and Viber is among the runner ups. Besides, most of your friends, along with just anyone else, are speaking of these two. Which one to install on your device and which one to use?
If you want my humble opinion, install both, as they don’t work exactly the same way, and they will serve you differently. But if for any reason you want to decide between the two, here is my assessment and comparison, based on the following criteria: ease of use, cost, popularity, mobility, data consumption, call quality, who you can call, and features.
Ease of Use
Both apps are very user friendly and straightforward to install. They work differently however. Skype requires you to use a username and a password. The username will be the identification element for you on the whole network. Viber does not need you to have a user name, as it uses your cell phone number as identifier. This becomes quite handy with your mobile phone, and especially with your contacts. There is better mobile integration. Skype started on the computer and took some time to invade mobile phones, while Viber, which is relatively newer, started exclusively on mobile phones, and only recently launched a desktop app.
Now when you move to the desktop computer, your cell phone number isn’t home, and you realize that a user name would be more appropriate. So, if you are a mobile user, Viber is easier to use, and if you are communicating on your computer, Skype is better. But since most people use their mobile phones for VoIP, Viber gets the mark.
Viber is free. The app is free, the calls and messages are free, to anyone and everyone, unlimited. Now whatever Viber offers for free, Skype does as well. When Skype becomes paid, that is when calling to landlines and mobile phones, it is for services not offered by Viber.
An app itself is not technically better if it is more popular, but the service behind forcibly is. In the sense that when you get a bigger user base, you increase your ability of making free calls to people and saving money. In this sense, Skype wins by far, having more than 5 times the number of users than Viber. This is understandable since Viber just started. A couple of years later this might change, or might not.
Modern communicators want to carry everything along with them when they move. Viber suits well here, as it is primarily a mobile app. Skype on the other hand had quite some pain in dragging itself to satisfaction on mobile platforms.
Since VoIP is her to make us save money on communication, we have to be smart in our use so that we can have maximum saving. Mobile VoIP is more expensive, or should I say less cheap, than desktop VoIP because of mobile connectivity, which costs. Real mobility requires a 3G or 4G data plan, which is billed by the megabyte used. So, VoIP users ought to be mindful of the data their mobile VoIP calls are consuming.
Viber takes around 250 KB per minute of call, while Skype takes several times more than that. However, Skype is offers high quality calls, which are much better than those of Viber. But in the mixture of factors that affect the quality of VoIP calls, even high quality calls can be affected. So, in terms of data consumption, Skype is a hog.
As mentioned above, Skype’s call quality is much better than Viber’s, both for voice and video. This is because it uses HD voice and enhanced codecs. Also, Viber’s video calling feature is, as I write, still in beta, so we cannot expect much in terms of quality, although it does defend itself.
Who You Can Call
Reachability is often a problem with free VoIP, in that the people you can reach for free are only those who are using the same service as you. This is the case with Viber – only those people who are also using Viber can make up your Viber contact list. You can’t reach anyone else, even if you want to pay.
With Skype however, you get to talk for free to other people using Skype, and that’s around a billion, plus other people who are not necessarily using Skype but have a Microsoft ID like Hotmail, MSN etc. Now you can also contact any other soul on earth who has a telephone – landline or mobile, if you pay. Skype rates are cheap compared to traditional landline and mobile rates, especially for international calls.
Winner: Skype, by far.
The features that a VoIP app offers add to the taste and quality, and are often important factors helping users to choose their app and service. Viber has a very limited list of features, while Skype has been accumulating features over a decade. With Skype, you can have multiple participants per call, call recording features, advanced settings and configurations, service plans, premium plans etc. Skype even has hardware especially designed for it like headsets, microphones and web cameras.
Winner: Skype, by far
Overall, Skype is better app and service and if you want quality, huge user base and features, Skype is your app. However, I personally use Viber much more often than Skype on my smartphone. The reasons are: it is easier to get identified by the phone number – it integrates the phone better; I use only the basic call and message features; and more importantly because Viber takes less of my data plan and is more economic, call quality being not a really big issue. Now if you are using VoIP on your desktop, definitely go for Skype. There, Viber does not compare.
Now if memory and stuff are not a problem on your device, install both, and know when to use which for optimal use and maximum savings.