WhatsApp vs. Skype Free Voice Calls

Comparison Between Two Leading Voice Communication Apps

Social Media Apps on Apple iPhone 4
temizyurek / Getty Images

Whether you know what VoIP means or not, there is a great chance you are already using it. Skype has contributed enormously to allowing people to use VoIP - the technology that allows you to make free voice calls worldwide - on their computers. WhatsApp has done the same job for smartphones.

Which of the two is best and which one to install on my computer and on my smartphone? Here is a comparison to shed some light on the issue.

The Mobility of Skype Vs. WhatsApp

WhatsApp was born on mobile devices, while Skype was mainly a computer-to-computer app that could call other phones as well. When the world started getting more mobile and when communication ground shifted from the office or home desk to the pocket, Skype somewhat lagged behind.

For instance, the apps released had limitations and some platforms were left in the dark for many years, as was BlackBerry. So, Skype is more for the computer user, who wants quality, stability, features and added sophistication to their communication experience. WhatsApp is the app for mobile users. True, you can have Skype on mobile devices and WhatsApp on your desktop, but each is king on its territory. The case is clear here - if you want free calls on your smartphone, go for WhatsApp. On your computer, go to Skype. 

Number of Users

The number of users on a service is an important parameter in free calling - the more people there are the better are your chances to communicate for free because free VoIP communication is offered only between users of the same service. 

Skype has been around far longer than WhatsApp. There was a time when nearly everyone who had a computer could be contacted on Skype, but now times have changed and presence has shifted from the desk or the lap to the hand and pocket; and on smartphones, WhatsApp rules, with nearly a billion users. This is around 5 times the number of Skype users. For this reason, it is interesting to know the popularity of the leading communication apps based on their user base. 

Access to Contacts on Skype and WhatsApp

How easy is it to contact and reach a person you want to talk to? Skype requires that you get the person’s Skype name, which requires a prior sharing to have taken place. Skype uses a nickname to identify each user. WhatsApp uses your phone number, the element around which your mobile communication revolves. This means that if the person’s phone number is in your phone's contact list, you can contact them directly on WhatsApp. No username or ID is required, and no prior sharing of details. This makes access to contacts much easier. You don’t need to have a separate contact list for WhatsApp; the phone’s list serves the purpose; while for Skype, you need a separate buddy list.

Call Quality

WhatsApp does give calls of decent quality, although many users have been complaining about dropped calls and especially echo. On the other hand, Skype’s call quality is among the best, if not the best, on the VoIP market. This is because Skype has its own codec for call encoding, and has been refining this part of its service for the last ten years. It even offers HD voice.

So, as at today, you are sure to make calls of much better quality with Skype than with WhatsApp, given that all the basic factors that affect call quality are favorable. Even then, you can take some simple troubleshooting steps when Skype won't work.

Data Consumption Cost

Both Skype and WhatsApp offer free and unlimited voice calling. Both apps are free to install. The price battle needs to be fought on another ground – that of data consumption. The great call quality of Skype comes with the price of higher data consumption. A minute of a voice call with Skype will consume more than a minute of call with WhatsApp. While this would not matter on WiFi, it does matter a lot when you are using your 3G or 4G data plan to talk on the go. So, for mobile users, WhatsApp calling costs less, if cost matters more than quality.


The two apps cannot compare on features – Skype is the clear winner. The following are some of the features Skype has more than WhatsApp: the ability to call people on other platforms and outside the service, screen sharing, sharing of files of numerous formats, collaboration tools, conference video calling, advanced presence management, business features, advanced managing tool etc.

It is worthwhile to mention here the ability to call people that are outside Skype. With Skype, you can call anyone that has a phone number, be it landline or mobile worldwide. The service is paid, but it is here, and it allows you to call certain destinations at a much lower price than regular telephony options. You can also bring your existing phone number to be used with your Skype account.

Business and Services

This section seems to be only for Skype, as WhatsApp has no provision for either business or added services. Skype has a greater structural business model, with plans for businesses, international calling, education etc. But as an individual, you might want to have a look at the Skype Premium account, which comes with added features. ​

The Bottom Line on Skype Versus WhatsApp

The days of Skype as the king of daily buddy talk apps seem to be over. It has had its glory days, and most probably will still see great days ahead as a pioneer and as a strong VoIP service.

Skype has even secured itself a place in the English vocabulary (although not official yet) among those who like to "skype" each other. However, for mobile communication, WhatsApp seems to be the app to go with. Put simply: Skype is for the desktop and the office, while WhatsApp is the daily mobile communication app