A Brief Guide to the Top 5 Alternatives to Skype VoIP Services

Easy VoIP Voice and Video Calls

Desktop Microphone With Cable And Jack
(c) by Cristóbal Alvarado Minic / Getty Images

Skype is a VoIP tool that vastly improved the way people communicate by enabling free calls regardless of a person’s location. Callers use Skype to communicate with family, friends, and work colleagues at no cost or at a very low cost, which is why Skype has become such an important business tool.
However, Skype isn't the only game in town for internet voice and video calling. If you want a backup plan or if you’re looking for a great Skype alternative, check out these five popular services that are similar to Skype. 

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What We Like
  • No need for username (account tied to phone number).

  • Compatible with most devices and platforms.

  • Free international calling.

  • Group chat, file sharing, and many other useful features.

What We Don't Like
  • Calling free only to other WhatsApp users.

WhatsApp was one of the best internet messaging applications even before Facebook bought it. Now, with free voice and video calls, it is a solid alternative to Skype. You'll need to register a phone number before you can start to use the app, which is available for PC, Mac, Android, and iOS operating systems. You sync all the information from your smartphone to your desktop application; you can't use the desktop app separately.

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What We Like
  • Can be used on desktop.

  • Registration tied to phone number, not username.

  • Can send locations, audio clips, emoticons, and stickers.

What We Don't Like
  • Connects only with other Viber users.

Viber is similar to WhatsApp and is wildly popular with its more than 900 million users worldwide. It offers one advantage over WhatsApp, though—a standalone desktop client—so you aren't tethered to your smartphone. You register with a phone number before using the app on Android, iOS, Windows, or Mac operating systems. Viber doesn't offer any way to block callers, and it isn't possible to use the service to contact people who aren't signed up to Viber.

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Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts
image copyright Google Hangouts
What We Like
  • Can connect with any number in North America, not just Hangouts users.

  • User-friendly interface.

  • Chat, call, and video call from one interface.

  • Can use on desktop.

  • Available from within Gmail app.

What We Don't Like
  • No status messages.

  • No confirmation that recipient has seen message.

Google Hangouts lets people voice or video call other people who are signed up for Google+ regardless of their location. The service offers free video conferences for up to 10 users. The video quality is superb, as is the sound quality. It’s just as easy to start a hangout as it is to place a Skype call. Only one small plugin installation is necessary, which is quick and easy. Use the Hangouts apps for Android or iOS to make free calls to any number in North America via a Wi-Fi connection.

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What We Like
  • Compatibility with a variety of devices.

  • Supports HD video calling for up to eight people.

  • Automatically connects to Facebook friends.

  • Can share screens, upload videos to YouTube, save conversation snapshots, record calls, and more.

  • Can live-stream on YouTube within group video call.

  • Nonusers can answer calls on Facebook.

What We Don't Like
  • Free version is ad-supported (but paid version is only $1/year).

  • Offers in-app purchases.

OoVoo offers high-quality one-on-one video calls and group video chats for up to 12 people. Although it is less well-known than its competitors, it claims 185 million users. It is compatible with PC, Mac, iOS, and Android systems and offers a dedicated desktop application. OoVoo is free to all account users.

OoVoo's Chains feature sets the service apart from its competitors. Chains are collections of short videos created by users and their friends or family members. 

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What We Like
  • Widely used.

  • Excellent HD video-call quality.

  • Easy to set up and use.

  • Receives calls on iOS even if app is not running.

  • Now offers group video calling.

What We Don't Like
  • Limited to Apple computers and devices only.

  • Must load contacts via iOS or MacOS Contacts app.

  • No clear way to turn off video for a call.

For anyone with an iPhone or iPad, FaceTime is the go-to app for calls and one-to-one video calling. The video quality is superb, and the service is free between Apple-product users. FaceTime ships on Apple's mobile devices. A desktop client is available for Macs, but it requires a connection to an Apple mobile device. It is not available for Windows or Android users.