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Vonage Mobile Tested: Skype Wannabe or Breakthrough Chat Service?

Calling someone just to hear their voice is so yesterday: Nowadays, you can add video to your calls for free with such services as Skype and Apple's FaceTime. For those in need of a another free video calling service, Vonage just launched its Beta version of Vonage Mobile for Android. The free app, available in the Google Play store, lets users make app-to-app video calls over Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G.

After downloading the app and verifying our mobile number, we were taken through a brief tutorial. In order to use the video calling service, users must tap Video to call other Vonage Mobile users. Seems simple enough, right?

In order to video call with a contact, that person obviously has to also have the Vonage Mobile app. The app pulls all your contacts into its database, and indicates which contacts have Vonage Mobile based on a V icon next to their information.

By tapping on their contact info, you can then choose to voice or video call them or shoot them a text message. We tapped the middle Video button. When we called our coworker, our call went through instantly, but when they called us, it took until the third or fourth ring to come through to us.

When we were finally connected over Wi-Fi, video was extremely grainy. We weren't impressed by the quality at all, and it froze very frequently and had a delayed effect. Walking around our office, the video would go in and out of freezing so it was literally impossible to have a coherent conversation.

Plus, not many users are on the app, so your choices of who to video chat with are very limited. When we tested out Skype, video quality was a lot more clear and there was little to no freezing. Plus, the video calling feature of Vonage Mobile is only for Android now (although it will be available for iOS later this spring), whereas with Skype you can video chat with Android, iOS and Windows 8 users. All of this combined makes us wonder why anyone would steer away from a free popular video chatting site such as Skype when the results don't even compare.