When you need to place an overseas call, you now have a wide range of choices. Gone are the days of stocking up on international calling cards and searching for payphones in a foreign city – you can simply use an app on your regular phone. But what do you do when you’re in an area without reliable Wi-Fi? Rebtel’s new Cheap International Calls app for Android and iOS aims to solve this modern dilemma. It’s unique from services like Skype in that no Wi-Fi connection is needed for it to work; instead, it virtually ‘hijacks’ local phone lines to place your call.
How it Works
The essential premise of Rebtel’s app is that it can be used when travelling abroad, without the need for internet access. You’ll be connected through local phone lines instead, although you can switch to 3G, 4G, or Wi-Fi connections depending on what’s locally available. Because you don’t have to worry about finding a strong internet connection, the call doesn’t suffer from bad reception or dropped calls. At the moment calls to other app users are free of charge, though this increases to a low monthly fee ($1/month) from 2017. The app enables you to place calls to both mobile and landlines, with prices varying depending on where you’re placing the call as well as the destination number. Rates are listed on the Rebtel website so you can find out what you’ll pay in advance and avoid surprises.
Strengths (and weaknesses)
With our first use of this app, we noted a few obvious strengths. First of all, it’s free to download which is always a plus for budget-minded travellers. Perhaps more importantly, it’s easy to download and install. All you need to sign up is your existing mobile phone number, and you can start using it immediately. Contacts are switched over to the app automatically with no need to import them. The design is fairly simplistic, which means you’ll get the hang of it straight away. You can navigate through the app using a top bar loaded with clear icons, and there are only a few screens. You can visit the Settings screen in order to customize your app if you’re so inclined.
The Cheap International Calls app’s strength is that it doesn’t need any sort of internet connection to work, but this can also be its weakness depending on your travel itinerary. You’ll need a regular cellular signal to be able to place a call, so if you’re planning on backpacking through the Himalayas you may be out of luck. You also won’t be able to text using this Rebtel app, so if you’re big on texting with friends you’ll need to download a supplementary app like Viber or WhatsApp for that.
All in all, it’s a useful tool to have in your arsenal whether you’re travelling, studying, or working overseas. If you can convince your friends and family to download the app as well, you’ll also benefit from free Rebtel-to-Rebtel calls through the end of 2016.