5 critical questions you need answered before using WhatsApp free voice calls
WhatsApp is one of those Instant Messaging applications that worked across all mobile operating systems which made it really popular over the OG of messages, BlackBerry BBM (RIP). Over the years the application has grown in users and facilities keeping its users really happy and engaged. From WhatsApp Groups to animated gifs, free WhatsApp voice calls and many more WhatsApp features.
But are they WhatsApp calls really free?
1. Is it really Free calls?
No. When you use an application to make a phone call, you are using data. This is the same type of data that you use when browsing the Internet, watching YouTube, or downloading email. This data comes at a cost which you pay your cellular provider. If your service provider charges you for a “data bundle” or has a “data cap” then this absolutely something you need to be aware of.
2. How much does a WhatsApp call cost?
During my testing, I used between 200Kb and 500Kb per minute to make a WhatsApp call. This would usually still be cheaper then a regular cell phone call in countries where you don’t get unlimited free cell and text packages. It is worth noting that if you are using WhatsApp with NO data package and paying out-of-bundle rates, then the price of this so-called Free WhatsApp voice call can actually be higher than the price of making regular mobile calls.
HOWEVER, if you make the phone calls over a WiFi network, then you no longer incur the mobile data rate as the phone uses the WiFi for its internet connection. You do pay the internet service provider so again, not 100% free. Pro Tip: if you use the free WiFi Hotspot located around your city, then the call becomes 100% free.
3. Who pays for the WhatsApp call?
Beware! It is important to note that when making a regular voice call, the caller is 100% responsible for the cost of that call. The receiver in most countries does not pay to receive the call. However, this is NOT so with WhatsApp voice calls as the receiver of the call also incurs data charges.
Therefore both the caller and the recipient of the call pay their own data costs.
It is critical to remember this when accepting a WhatsApp call as the moment the call is answered, your mobile phone is consuming data that you pay for.
Currently, the WhatsApp application does not alert you if the recipient is on a WiFi or mobile data which would be useful to know in deciding whether to place the call or not.
Of course, if both parties are on a WiFi network, then neither incur the mobile data cost, however then neither party is “mobile” and therefore there are a plethora of other VoIP applications that can be used.
4. How is WhatsApp voice calls different to other calling apps?
It is not. Techies have been using apps like Viber, Tango, BBM to make voice phone calls for years – even making local calls within the same city. The result is cheaper data rates versus exorbitant mobile phone rates.
The big difference is that the apps like Viber, Tango are largely unknown and the BBM community has shrunk therefore WhatsApp’s large universal community virtually makes it a standard and the default go-to voice app.
5. What about Privacy?
There is no Do Not Disturb or Disable phone calls facility in WhatsApp which could work against the initial intention of WhatsApp which was meant for discrete text messaging. Just like being able to disable the “two blue ticks” read notifications that inform the sender when the message has been read, there should be the option of disabling the Call facility too. One should be able to disable the Profile Pics from taking over the phone’s screen as there are inappropriate profile pics…
As there is no authorization to become contacts and of course, spammers have latched onto this voice call facility and randomly call numbers. This is currently happening with unsolicited text messages in WhatsApp but now could escalate to voice too.