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Nimbuzz Mobile (Beta) Review

Our Verdict

This hassle-free mobile application turns your cell into a VoIP phone and instant messaging portal.

For

  • Sleek, attractive interface
  • Support for the most popular chat clients
  • Skype calling over Wi-Fi and 3G networks

Against

  • Relatively large installation file
  • Not available for iPhone

You likely already have a service that combines various instant messaging communities into one client and another that allows you to make calls over the Internet are common on the PC. Nimbuzz aims to meld these two worlds on your cell phone. This program takes advantage of your cell phone's cellular network or Wi-Fi connection to let you make calls to your online buddies through Skype and other VoIP-supported services. Throw in the ability to chat with buddies from almost every IM community, including AIM, Google Talk, Windows Live, and Yahoo, and you've got a stand-out mobile application; we just wish it worked on more of the latest handsets.

Setting up Nimbuzz

In order to run Nimbuzz, you need an Internet-enabled mobile phone with an unlimited data plan and a Nimbuzz-supported handset. Java, Symbian, and Windows Mobile platforms are currently supported. Loading Nimbuzz onto an unlockedHTC Touch Dual, Nokia N81, andVerizon Wireless BlackBerry Curvewas a simple process, but we couldn't get the application working on some of the latest phones, including theSamsung Instinctand theMotorola ROKR E8. We were also disappointed that Nimbuzz doesn't have an iPhone application, though according to the company, one is in the works. Users can check the main Nimbuzz Web site to find out if their handset is supported.

You can opt to download the Nimbuzz application from the company's Web site and then sideload it onto your phone, or visit the mobile Web site (get.nimbuzz.com) and download the application over the air. Installing the relatively large 1.16MB application on the N81 took 3 minutes over AT&T's 3G network; the 1.61MB Windows Mobile build took more than 2 minutes on the HTC Touch Dual. Once downloaded, we were able to easily create a new account.

Smooth Mobile Chatting Experience

When logged in on our Nokia N81, Nimbuzz prompted us to add our instant messaging usernames and passwords; we typed in our AIM, Google Talk, and Skype information and were immediately logged into each service, though it took a few minutes for the Skype names to appear. In addition to the above services, Nimbuzz currently supports ICQ, Jabber, Windows Live, and Yahoo Messenger.

All of our contacts appeared on a single buddy list, and the service icon, such as the green Skype icon or Google Talk bubble, appeared next to each name to indicate which service the buddy is signed into. Initiating a chat was easy over a 3G data connection; there was no lag in sending and receiving messages. It was easy to chat with four separate buddies, since you can flip between conversations in the chat window by toggling to the right or left. You can return to the buddy list window by selecting the option from the menu.

Forget MMS, Send Files for Free

Nimbuzz lets you send your phone's media, including pictures, music, and video, to your chat buddies. Sending a 333KB picture from our BlackBerry Curve to our friend on Google Talk took a minute; the message recipient gets a link to a Nimbuzz URL, which houses a link to download the file. Those who have an e-mail address attached to their IM handle will also get an e-mail with the same link. As of this writing there is a 3MB size limit on files you can share, but Nimbuzz says they are thinking of extending this in the future.

From Cell Phone to VoIP Phone

Nimbuzz's mobile VoIP feature lets you make calls to contacts on services that support Internet calling, including Google Talk, Skype, and Yahoo Messenger. However, you can only make calls over a 3G or Wi-Fi network using Nokia Symbian Series 60 or Windows Mobile devices. A call over Wi-Fi originating from the Nokia N81 to a friend using Skype on their PC sounded good with only a slight delay. We managed to conduct a decent 3-minute call with acceptable VoIP voice quality. We were similarly impressed with the call quality over AT&T's 3G network; making a call to a Google Talk buddy from the HTC Touch Dual came close to sounding as good as a regular cell phone call. It was devoid of any delay or background noise.

For GPRS/EDGE connections, or when using Java-enabled phones, Nimbuzz also offers a hybrid-VoIP solution for making international mobile calls at local rates. On our BlackBerry Curve we were able to make a call to a cell phone in Mali; the call was routed through a U.S. gateway number with our phone's area code, and we could hear our friend's voice clearly. We were thrilled to use our regular voice minutes to call a contact overseas, rather than pay a higher international rate on the call.

Nimbuzz Verdict

Its large install file and limited support of the latest phones aside, Nimbuzz is an all-in-one mobile application that brings the communications tools you love on your PC to your cell. Even better, the application is completely free--but will require an unlimited data plan to take full advantage of the its messaging and calling options. Those looking for a central communication portal on the go will love Nimbuzz.

Tech Specs

Software Required OS:Java MIDP, Symbian Series 60, Windows Mobile 5.0/6.0/6.1
Software TypeCell Phone App, Chat & Messaging Service
PlatformsWindows Mobile, Symbian
Disk Space1.16MB (Symbian), 1.61MB (Windows Mobile)
Company Websitehttp://www.nimbuzz.com
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