Today, we would be doing a comparison between the most popular VOIP smartphone apps: Skype, Viber, Kakao Talk, Tango, and Line. This is so that you can get an idea of the data usage in calls and also the standby data usage and how these apps affect the phone performance. So, first of all, let’s just quickly look at the features comparison of the features of these five different apps. They all do texting and voice over IP, only Skype and Tango do video calls and all of them except Skype do contact integration. So that’s integrating the existing contact in your address book or on your phone with that of the app. The app integrates with your existing contacts which makes it far more easier to use and then unlike Kakao Talk which has a group call function and then they can all receive and send multimedia. These apps are based on Android, iOS and Windows Phone and then Skype and Tango don’t operate on blackberry.
So, firstly let’s look at the data usage during calls – and this is not over Wi-Fi. This is over the cellular data network, so obviously when you’re calling on Wi-Fi it’s pretty much a free call depending on your Wi-Fi package, but if you’re using cellular network data then obviously there is a cost involved with it again depending on the package that you have. But it’s a good thing to know how much data these apps actually use that could make a difference. Making network calls versus making VoIP calls over network data. The first thing that stands out is that the Viber app uses significantly fewer data per minute megabytes for voice calls than all the other apps and Tango uses the most data, about one and a half times more than Viber. The others, Kakao Talk, Line, and Skype are more or less on par with each other, so there’s not much to choose between them, but certainly if you if you just looking at megabytes per minutes, then the Viber app uses the least amount of data and in the region of 0.25 megabytes per minute, and the tango app uses about 0.40 megabytes per minute. So it’s not a lot in total but if you do use it a lot those differences can become material.
The second thing we’re going to look at is the standby data usage. So you know these apps have to be on constantly in order to be able to receive calls from them. So if you want to use it as a real alternative to Network calls, then you need to keep the app on in the background the whole time – and so the first thing that jumps out here is that the Skype app uses a lot more data in standby mode than any of the other apps, it uses over 20 megabytes per month just to be idle and be on standby in the background and that’s without making any calls. Kakao Talk, Line, and Viber do not use much data too, so to choose between them, there are very small differences between them and then Tango is sort of somewhere in between, it’s just over 10 megabytes per month. Again that’s not a lot of megabytes, even with Skype that uses 20 plus megabytes per month.
Now, we’re going to look at the RAM usage by these apps. So this is again in standby mode and not during a call, just the app running in the background. Line app stands out as using the least amount of RAM and Kakao Talk and Skype are about equal and then Tango and Viber uses the most RAM, but again not a huge difference between them, and so is this really important? If we look at the standby battery usage, it wasn’t actually even measurable, and so I would say that those differences in RAM usage are largely irrelevant and you leaving these apps on in the background is not going to affect your phone battery life in a significant way, so it is quite feasible to keep these apps on in the background if you want to use them as an alternative to your network calling.
So just in summary, Tango uses the most data during calls and Viber uses the least amount of data during calls almost half of what Tango uses and then Kakao Talk, Line, and Viber use the least amount of data in standby mode. Skype uses the most data during standby mode about 10 times more than Kakao, Line, and Viber, and then the differences in RAM usage has no meaningful impact on battery consumption. So that’s not really a consideration. So I hope that helps you make a decision in terms of whether you’ll use these apps. So if your budget is tight or if your data challenges are high, then definitely go for Viber and if that’s not really a consideration, then Skype and Tango are viable options. But again, it probably depends on how many people in your network of friends are on those apps and how useful it will be for them.