Yes You Can Call for Free on WhatsApp

But Watch Out for Scams

Justin Sullivan / Staff

WhatsApp is the most popular instant messaging app for mobile devices out there after Skype. The only major thing it lacks, or has been lacking so far, is the ability to make free calls to contacts around the world, through VoIP and over WiFi or a data plan. This is one reason why many people use Viber. Now you can make these free calls over WhatsApp, at long last. True it is not that official, but there is a way to it.

Beware of Scams

This morning, I received an invitation from a friend, which goes like, “[UPDATE] Hey Let’s talk for free. Finally, WhatsApp call feature is available for everyone now. Click here to activate ->”

I was first thrilled at the news and thought of sharing it after installing, but I thought again. I sure know that the free calling feature was coming soon, and am waiting for it, but I do not recall any official announcement from WhatsApp to that effect yet. Could it be a scam? So I made my inquiry and saw that it is indeed a SCAM.

WhatsApp is coming with free calling soon, and everyone knows it. Hackers and scammers are taking advantage of this situation and are prompting users who are so impatiently waiting to follow their links, fill out surveys and download apps that contain malware and scam tools. So the first word here is caution.

Updating for Free Calls

Now, how to get the real stuff?

You first need to know that the version being circulated does come from WhatsApp itself, but is still in beta version. This means that it is within the final stages of testing – that in which the app goes to a limited section of the public for assessment use - and as such, it may still contain bugs.

You use at your own risk, but are also among the first to use. It works on the basis of invitations, and an invitation is a simple call after installation. The version for free calling is not available on Google Play so it will be of no use updating to the latest official version.

Instead, use your browser (I used Chrome) to download and install the version from this link. That is version 2.11.561. The link to the latest version will most probably keep changing constantly as new versions are being developed often, but I am pretty sure this one will remain long enough, until the official launch. Anyhow, move up one level in the directory hierarchy of the link to select other versions and to eventually land on the latest one.

Download and install this .apk file. You may not have done something like this before, and may, like most Android users, have installed apps exclusively from Google Play. There is nothing more to do here, but accept whenever prompted. You will also be warned about potential risks with this app, which you will have to ignore in order to proceed. Also, you need to have enabled the setting that allows Android to install apps from unknown sources. This will normally work only for Android, and Apple devices are too closed for anything but an official version to be safe.

Once the app is installed, launch WhatsApp. Visually nothing will change. Your contacts will be here, your chat sessions will be here, you will see no change. And you won’t be able to make free calls either, unless you get the invite:

Get Invited

Get someone to call you from their WhatsApp. You need to know one buddy using WhatsApp who has already set up free calling. As soon as they call and you answer, you are set. You now see a phone icon above your contact’s name, which you can click to call for free.

Note that when you have free calling, you can make free calls to any WhatsApp contact, whether they are using free calling or have never heard of it.

Hearing their reactions as they see an incoming call on WhatsApp is quite an interesting experience.

It is rumoured that WhatsApp will become paid once the free calling feature is rolled out officially. So better enjoy now. 

[UPDATE] WhatsApp Calling is now available officially for all users through an update.

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