Ringo Review: Cheaper International Calls

Man on phone call with family
Artur Debat/Getty Images

Ringo is another one of those app-service duos that make phone calls cheaper, but Ringo is different. It is not VoIP and as such does not require you to have an Internet connection. It uses your cell phone number to make the calls. The rates are quite cheap, at least much cheaper than traditional cellular and PSTN calls, also cheaper than Skype, but not the cheapest option compared to other VoIP services. It is a decent option for heavy international callers, as it brings call quality along with it.


  • Cheaper international calls to landline and mobile phones
  • No need for 3G and WiFi Internet access
  • Good call quality, better than the quality of VoIP apps


  • Available only for iOS, Android and Windows
  • Not the cheapest on the market, although a considerable improvement over traditional telephony
  • Currently available only in some countries

How it Works

One may get confused trying to understand how it works and where the trick lies – more nicely put, how they make a living. As a user, you need to register for an account, with which you will attach your phone number, that is your mobile number. You will then be assigned another number local to where you are, given by Ringo. When you can someone abroad, you use your mobile minutes to channel the call in your area, and the journey outwards to your callee is done not via the public Internet, but in dedicated lines used by telephone companies. It attaches a local number in your area to the callee, thereby causing the call to be just local. It then channels the call across the ocean in dedicated line, and once in the callee’s area, it switches back to the local telephone network. This makes the call quality much better as, unlike VoIP, it is not using the potentially unreliable Internet.

What it Costs

There are no hidden costs, as for example the connection fee that applies for Skype. There is also no monthly fee or registration fee. The app as well is downloadable and installable for free. You pay through your credit whenever you make a call, at the rate set for your destination. Note that you need to add to the cost what your local mobile carrier would charge you for a local call.

This total cost makes the service slightly more expensive than many VoIP services offering international calling service, but it makes a difference on the quality of the calls, which can be compared to the PSTN and cellular call quality. Also, it frees the user the hassle of having a decent Internet connection. Thus, there is no fear of having dropped calls, flaky voices etc.

Concerning the rates, just as with VoIP, they are better for popular destinations only. For instance, calls to the US cost a little less than 2 cents per minute, excluding your local phone cost per minute. For other destinations, the price is considerably higher, and not always more beneficial than other communication means. At the time I am writing this, Ringo is not available for all countries; in fact, it is available only in a handful of countries. This list is expected to lengthen.

Getting Started

First, you need to download and install the app on your mobile device, which has to be either an iPhone, a Windows phone or an Android device. There is no service (yet?) for BlackBerry users and users of smartphones running other platforms.

You don’t need the Internet for making calls, which means that you need not worry about 3G and 4G data plans and their costs and limitations. But you need to register online, using a browser or your phone itself.

You need to credit your account before being able to make calls. You need to have sufficient balance before any call can be initiated.

Why would you use Ringo rather than Skype, or any other VoIP app like Skype? My advice would be to use both. Skype and the likes allow you to communicate over the Internet for free, provided you are contacting your correspondent on Skype itself, that is the same service. Ringo can come into play when you have to call a landline or mobile number. 

Download links: Android, iPhone, Windows Phone