Skype vs. Viber

The pros and cons of the popular VoIP apps

Are you looking for a good internet calling app to keep in touch with friends, family, or business associates? Here, we look at two popular VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) apps, Skype and Viber. We compare ease of use, cost, popularity, mobility, data consumption, call quality, and more to help you decide which to install and use.

Skype vs Viber

Overall Findings

Skype
  • Requires a username and password.

  • Free to download and use for Skype to Skype calls.

  • 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 the network for a fee.

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

  • Free to download and use for calls with other Viber users.

  • Developed primarily as a mobile app.

  • Uses less data.

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

Both Skype and Viber are free to download and install on both desktop and mobile platforms. Both let you call other people for free as long as they're also using the app. Calls to a mobile number or landline are possible but require a subscription or fee. While Skype uses more data than Viber, it also allows you to buy a unique Skype phone number for receiving calls and texts.

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 cellphone use.

Both apps are very user-friendly and straightforward to install, but the two apps work differently. Skype requires a username and a password. The username identifies you on the whole network. This means you have to ask your contacts for usernames to call them or message them before using the app.

In contrast, Viber requires no username. Instead, it uses your cellphone number as an identifier. This becomes handy when used with your mobile phone, especially with existing contacts.

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

Cost: Both Apps are Comparable

Skype
  • Free calls within the network.

  • Low-cost calls outside the network to any number.

  • International calling subscriptions are more expensive but include more countries.

  • Can buy a phone number to receive calls and texts.

Viber
  • Free calls within the network.

  • Low-cost calls outside the network to any number.

  • Subscription options are slightly cheaper.

Calls within the Skype and Viber networks 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.

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

Popularity: Other Apps Outpace 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 one billion users worldwide.

  • Usage continues to rise.

  • Most popular in Ukraine and nearby countries.

Calls within both networks are free, so the larger 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 evolves into a 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 the data. With the advent and wide adoption of unlimited data plans, however, this is less of a factor. Still, for those not on generous data plans and who are 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. But, the higher quality of Skype calls offsets this usage.

Reachability: Both Allow Calls to Anyone, Anywhere

Skype
  • Free calls within the 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.

Calls within each service's network are free. Likewise, calls outside these networks to any mobile or landline are possible with a paid subscription or credits.

Features: Skype Favors Business Users

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 use 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 communications are secure in both cases.

Skype offers additional features 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 those with a hearing impairment.

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

Final Verdict: Skype Best for Business, Viber for Fun

Skype and Viber don't work exactly the same way, and each can serve you differently. That's why we suggest installing both and trying each out for yourself.

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 is 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.