LINE App Review

Free calls and messaging are only a few of LINE's offerings

LINE app logo
line.naver.jp/Naver Japan Corp./Wikimedia Commons

LINE is an app for smartphones that offers free VoIP (voice over IP) calls, video calls, and instant messaging, along with many other features. It has earned a strong reputation in many countries in Asia as well as the West as a WhatsApp alternative. It has even overtaken apps like Skype in terms of the number of users registered and using it, with around 200 million LINE users.

Like WhatsApp and Viber, LINE registers users using their mobile phone numbers and offers free instant messaging, free voice calls between LINE users, as well as other features. It also offers paid calls to mobile devices and landline users. LINE is also developing a social network around its service. The LINE app is often used in countries where WhatsApp and Viber calls are restricted, often to protect the financial interests of local telcos or for governmental control of communications.

Pros of LINE

  • Free calls between LINE users.
  • Offers an interesting list of features, including stickers, video games, merchandise, and more.
  • Has a huge number of users. 
  • Allows paid but very cheap calls to landline and mobile users.
  • Video calling.
  • Integrates a social networking service.
  • Easy to set up and use with your mobile phone number for registration.
  • Versions for Windows PC and Mac are also available, along with devices running iOS and Android.

Cons of LINE

  • Still unknown in some countries. 

Review

LINE has become one of the most popular VoIP and messaging service in Asia and in other parts of the world. It is a neat and well-made app with some good service behind that is serving more than 200 million users worldwide. This huge user base makes it easier to make new friends through the social media aspects of the app and call them for free.

With LINE, you can make unlimited free calls to other LINE app users who also have LINE installed on their portable devices. You can also send and receive text messages with them for free.

LINE is a free app. To use it, you'll need an internet connection, which can be through 3G or 4G data plans, or Wi-Fi.

Supported devices and setup

You can install LINE on iOS (the iPhone, iPad, and iPod), Android, and BlackBerry devices. It is also available for Windows PCs and on macOS.

Setup is simple on all devices. Once installed and launched, LINE registers you by using your phone number, which it can fill in automatically. Double check that the number is correct. Then you verify using a code that is sent to your mobile phone through SMS.

During the registration process, LINE will ask to access your contacts; you can disallow this if you choose. This allows LINE to peruse your device's contacts and build a friends list in the app based on those contacts, showing which of your contacts are on LINE.

On Windows and Mac systems, LINE will ask you to register your email address. A code will be sent to your email address to verify this. If you change your phone number or mobile device, you can use your email address to login in and access your account information. The next time you want to log in, click Email/QR code login beneath the login fields to access your account using email.

LINE will ask you for a display name for yourself (up to 20 characters) during registration, and if you want others to be able to add you as a friend—if you don't want others to add you, uncheck the box at the bottom for this.

Using the QR Code to Log In

The QR code option allows you to log into your Windows or Mac app by using your phone. At the login screen, click the QR code login tab to be presented with a custom QR code (not that QR codes expire after a period of time). On your phone, tap More in the lower right of the screen, and then tap Add friends. Tap QR code at the top of the screen (it may be prompted to allow LINE to access your camera, which it will need to scan your QR code), and center the QR code on your computer screen in the camera view on your phone app. You will be prompted to allow the login by your other device. Tap Log in to unlock your computer LINE app.

Official accounts terms of use

Official accounts on LINE are run by organizations and businesses, and interacting with these requires acceptance of the Official Accounts Terms of Use. When you add an official account as a friend or interact with one, the official account will be granted access to view your profile information, which includes your display name, profile media, status message, and your internal identifier (which is a unique character string each LINE user is given when they sign up).

You can click Cancel and thus not agree to this. However, you will not be able to interact with or add official accounts, which include news accounts like CNN, TechCrunch, Wikipedia, celebrities, and others. Each time you attempt to, you will be given the official account terms of use verification prompt. The LINE system is considered an official account, so any messages from LINE will prompt you to accept this additional terms of use.

Calls to numbers not in LINE

You can use LINE to call those people who are not on the LINE app using their mobile or landline numbers, but the call will not be free. Instead of paying for expensive mobile minutes, you can use your LINE (prepaid) credits to call on VoIP. This service is called LINE Out. Rates are generally affordable, but they vary depending on where you are calling.

You can make calls using LINE Out for free by viewing an ad. The time available for the call depends on where you're calling. These can vary and are often from 3–5 minutes.

Line app features

LINE offers several features beyond the ability to make calls that expand the app into the social networking field. They are known for their stickers and emoticons, many of which are available to purchase through their Theme Shop and Sticker Shop. There is even a timeline feature that works much like Facebook and Twitter timeline functions.

You can share multimedia files among LINE app users. The files you send can be recorded voice files, video files, and pictures. The voice and video files you send may be recorded on the spot and sent. There is a free LINE camera photo editor app that allows you to snap pictures and add filters, add effects, crop, and other ways to spruce up photos.

You can organize group messages with up to 100 people at once. There are many ways of adding friends, among which are the traditional search, but also by shaking the phones close to one another. You can also use QR codes to quickly add friends.

LINE compares favorably with direct competitors WhatsApp and Viber, all offering similar features. WhatsApp's advantage over it is its popularity, with its nearly a billion users. Compared to Viber, the LINE app is more popular in certain markets. LINE offers a lot of features and many find the interface more appealing than the two others.