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Truphone Review

VoIP Service For Mobile Phones, iPhone And BlackBerry

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating
User Rating 2 Star Rating (4 Reviews)

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Truphone Review

iPhone 3G (c) apple.com

Truphone is a mobile VoIP service that allows users to make cheap local and international calls from their mobile phones. Calls between Truphone users are free. Truphone has cheap rates as strong point, but the service is also quite limited, mainly in terms of phone models it works on. Truphone service targets iPhone users, BlackBerry users and also those using high-end business phones or smart phones. Truphone is one of the first services to offer VoIP for the iPhone. It also brings VoIP to BlackBerry, which has somewhat been left apart by other VoIP services.

Pros

  • Cheap mobile international rates
  • Usability everywhere, even where there is no Internet connection
  • Easy to install and use
  • Free calls between Truphone users, using Wi-Fi or 3G
  • Works for iPhone and BlackBerry
  • Possibility to make cheap calls even outside a Wi-Fi hotspot and without a data plan

Cons

  • Service only supports a few high-end phones
  • Does not on wireless networks other than Wi-Fi

The Cost

Calls through Wi-Fi between Truphone users are free and unlimited. Charges apply when you make calls to other landline and mobile phones.

The rates are relatively low. Calls start for as low as 6 cents per minute, and prices hover around that for a set of common locations, known as the Tru Zone; but prices may go up to above a dollar for remote locations. For heavy international mobile callers, this can represent a save of around 80%. Truphone's rates are not the lowest on the mobile VoIP market - there are services that charge as low as 1 cent per minute, but these services have some rather consequent initial investments, such as a device or a monthly subscription. Truphone operates mainly on a pay-as-you-go basis - you top up and control your credit through their web site. This makes it therefore very competitive.

Truphone Anywhere allows you to use the service even outside a Wi-Fi hotspot, using your GSM network partly, the cost including the Truphone cost and that of the local GSM call. This small price addition gives perfect mobility anywhere.

The American TruSaver bundle gives 1000 minutes for calls to the US and Canada for $15. Anyone in the world can register for this bundle, but they can only make calls to the US and Canada with it. That's 1.5 cents a minute, but only if you use all of the 1000 minutes a month. Monthly leftovers are gone.

Guide Review

To get started with Truphone, visit their site, where you select your country and enter your phone number. You will be sent an SMS containing your download link, through which you will download the application on your compatible mobile itself and install it there. Once installed, you are already able to make a first free call with the free dollar credit you get. You can then carry on with your account for topping up credits. The installation process is really simple and easy. Using the application is also quite easy.

The Truphone application installed on your mobile phone integrates the phone well and works alongside the mobile user's GSM service. The application is kind of smartly versatile - in case you are out of Wi-Fi connection, you are asked whether to use your GSM service or that of Truphone for making calls and sending SMS.

If you are within a Wi-Fi hotspot, your phone uses the Internet connection to make and receive calls through the Truphone application. If you have no Internet connection, Truphone uses a mechanism called Truphone Anywhere, whereby your call is channelled partly through your GSM network until it reaches an Internet access point, from where it is routed to your callee over the Internet.

Truphone has been the first to develop an application and service for the iPhone, so most iPhone users who want to save money on phone calls have to consider it as a first option. Using VoIP over BlackBerry isn't very common as well, and as I am writing this, very few ways of doing so exist. Truphone service for BlackBerry comes to fill a large gap.

On the other hand, users of 'normal' (not to say low-end) mobile phones cannot use Truphone service as only very few models are supported. At the time I am writing this, only iPhone, BlackBerry and Nokia phones are supported. Would you believe they don't have an application for Sony Ericsson? Moreover, only a very small subset of phone models in each of these makes are listed in the service's list of supported devices. The supported phones are mostly business phones, like the Nokia E and N series. The Truphone web site says they are working hard on including other phone models into their list. So keep checking, specially if you have a high-end phone like a Sony Ericsson, HTC or Google phone.

In terms of connectivity, Truphone is limited to Wi-Fi. There is no support for 3G, GPRS or EDGE networks. But 3G support is coming soon.

Bottom Line

Given the fact that Truphone favors sophisticated phones like the iPhone, BlackBerry and Nokia N and E series phones, I am tempted to say it is a niche VoIP service. But it seems they realized that they are leaving out the great majority of mobile users to the competition. On ther other side, the so-far-deprived will surely find it too bad, thinking of the strong points of this service and specially its low rates. So watch out for considerable improvements in this good service.
User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 2 out of 5
, Member sirnap116

For a US based user, initiation of this service for use in the UK was easy and service was good. However, when you ""unlock"" your phone from the US carrier, you will incur a hefty early termination fee (mine was $350). Costs with Tru service are lower than US carrier's roaming charges while in the UK and Ireland. The problem begins with the end of your time with Tru. The week before re-entering the US, Tru customer service told me that once back in the US, when the phone was turned back on, it would automatically find the T-mobile signal and reconnect. It didn't. After 2 calls to support, they said that my original US carrier still had software on the completely unlocked phone that was ""preventing any other carrier from providing service"". I still had $75 worth of service that I had loaded into my Tru account, so I asked for a refund. They said ""no"". I presented my case a second time...they said ""no"" again. Two weeks after stopping all service with Tru, they charged my credit card the monthly rate to have a local # in whatever country that your service was in ($8). I had already stopped this...twice, with the other Tru reps that I talked with upon re-entry to the US. Also, whenever they try to contact you by phone, their # shows up as ""blocked"" or ""unknown"" so you have no way of knowing that it is them calling. Sometimes, but not always, they will email you. I would not use this service again. For any amount of time more than 2-3 weeks, I would just buy a local, pay as you go phone.

10 out of 11 people found this helpful.

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