Skype vs. Viber

Women video chatting with man

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Here, we look at Skype and Viber—the popular VoIP apps—for ease of use, cost, popularity, mobility, data consumption, call quality, who you can call, and features to help you decide which to install and use.

Overall Findings

Skype

  • Requires a username and password.

  • Free to download and use for communication within network.

  • Developed first as a desktop app.

  • Higher-quality calls require more data.

  • Can buy a number on which to receive calls and texts.

  • Can call any mobile and landline outside of network for a fee.

Viber

  • Uses your phone number to identify you on the network.

  • Free to download and use.

  • Developed primarily as a mobile app.

  • Uses less data.

  • Can call any mobile or landline worldwide with paid Viber Out plan.

Ease of Use: Differs by Platform

Skype

  • Easy to install and use.

  • Requires a username and a password.

  • Best for desktop computer use.

Viber

  • Easy to install and use.

  • Uses your phone number as an identifier instead of a password.

  • Best for cell phone 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 serves as the identification element for you on the whole network. In practice, this means you have to ask your contacts for usernames to contact them before using the app.

In contrast, Viber requires no username; instead, it uses your cell phone number as an identifier. This becomes quite handy with your mobile phone, especially with existing contacts.

This difference is largely attributable to the apps' relative origins. Skype started on the computer and took some time to invade mobile phones. Because a computer doesn't revolve around a cell phone number, Skype is the winner there. Viber, which is relatively newer, was initially a mobile phone app and only recently joined the ranks of desktop apps. If you're a mobile user, you'll likely find Viber a bit more intuitive because of the integration with your phone's functions and number.

Cost: Comparable

Skype

  • Free calls within network.

  • Low-cost calls outside network to any number.

  • International calling subscriptions more expensive but include more countries.

  • Can buy a number on which to receive calls and texts.

Viber

  • Free calls within network.

  • Low-cost calls outside network to any number.

  • Subscription options slightly cheaper.

Calls within the respective networks of these apps are free and secure. Viber's Viber Out feature allows international calls to landlines and mobile numbers outside the network at reasonable rates. You can pay for such calls on a per-call basis, or subscribe to a monthly plan that allows you to call any of 50 countries for less than $10 a month as of October 2019.

Skype offers a similar pricing structure insofar as you can call any number internationally for a fee. However, the service offers various subscriptions depending on where you want to call—for example, North America. A subscription that allows you to call 63 countries runs less than $15.

Popularity: Other Apps Outpacing Skype

Skype

  • An estimated 1.3 million users worldwide.

  • Not as popular as in years past.

  • Trending more toward business than personal use.

Viber

  • More than 1 billion users worldwide.

  • Usage continues to rise.

  • Most popular in Ukraine and nearby countries.

Calls within both networks are free, so the bigger the user base, the more opportunity for free calling. Viber and other communication apps have chipped away at Skype's once-formidable market lead as Skype appears to be evolving into a more business-oriented app. As of 2019, Viber counts more subscribers than Skype worldwide.

Data Consumption: Does It Still Matter?

Skype

  • Higher data consumption.

  • Better-quality calls.

Viber

  • Lower data usage.

In years past, much of the cost of VoIP depended on the cost of your data. With the advent and wide adoption of unlimited data plans, however, this has become less of a factor. Still, for those not on such generous data plans and outside 4G-served areas, data consumption might be a consideration.

Viber takes around 250 KB per minute in a call, whereas Skype takes several times more than that. The higher quality of Skype calls, however, offsets this usage.

Reachability: Both Allow Calls to Anyone, Anywhere

Skype

  • Free calls within network.

  • Calls to any mobile or landline for a fee.

Viber

  • Can call anyone in network for free.

  • Viber Out plan allows calls to any mobile or landline for a fee.

As mentioned above, calls within each service's network are free. Likewise, calls outside these networks to any mobile or landline are possible but will incur fees.

Features

Skype

  • Audio and video calling.

  • End-to-end encryption.

  • Screen sharing.

  • Group video, chat, and messaging.

  • Live captioning.

  • Call recording.

Viber

  • Audio and video calling.

  • End-to-end encryption.

  • Screen sharing.

  • Group video, chat, and messaging.

  • Instant voice and video.

  • Chat communities.

  • Chat extensions.

Both Skype and Viber offer a wealth of features. Which ones appeal to you depend in part on whether you're using the service for business or personal purposes.

Both allow audio and video calling, messaging, screen sharing, group communication, and other features. End-to-end encryption means your communications are secure in both cases.

Skype offers a couple of additional features that are geared mainly toward business. One is call recording, which is useful for those who need to recall details of an audio or video meeting. Live subtitling allows you to read the words being spoken—an essential feature for the hearing-impaired.

On the Viber side, users enjoy lots of ways to spice up their communications with stickers and GIFs. Chat extensions let you access websites from within chats, so you can look at and discuss external content—useful, for example, if you're planning an outing with friends. You can create chat communities, too, to connect large groups who share common interests, like a club, family, or sports team.

Final Verdict

Skype and Viber don’t work exactly the same way, and they will serve you differently. For those reasons, we suggest installing both and trying them out for yourself with this review in mind.

Both apps work across all common devices and platforms. Skype began as a desktop app, and its roots show; it's typically a good choice for those using desktop computers. On the other hand, Viber has always been primarily a mobile app, so it's better integrated with mobile devices. As for features, you might find Skype a great choice for work. Outside of the office, though, Viber takes the crown for fun.