Apps vs SIM Cards for International Calls?
If you make a lot of international calls, then you know how important it is to find a solution that meets all of your needs without costing you a fortune. But how can you find the solution that’s right for you without getting overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available?
We’ll try to make things a little easier for you with a quick comparison between two of the big contenders: international SIMs and international calling apps.
Table of Contents
A look at international SIMs
International SIMs are special SIM cards you can use to make international calls at a better rate that you might normally get with your domestic provider. They are designed specially for international calling, and as such are not suitable for your domestic calling needs.
Right off the bat, this presents a pretty significant downside: no matter what kind of deal you find with international SIMs, you either need to switch out your normal domestic SIM for your international SIM when you want to place an international call, or you have a seperate device that you use specifically for international calling.
Some domestic SIM providers also have international calling add-ons that you can purchase for cheap international calls. However, that means that you also need to use them as your domestic calling provider (or just pay for domestic calling services that you never end up using). These services are good if you are in the market for a new domestic provider.
Top international SIM providers: Lycamobile, Lebera
International calling apps in a nutshell
International calling apps are pieces software that you can download to your smartphone. Once you’ve downloaded an app, you register and then import your contacts so you can make calls through the app interface. Then, you add credit to your account, which you can then use to place international calls with the app service. It’s a lot like a calling card, but with a much smoother experience, since you don’t have to dial in any special numbers or codes. Generally, calls are made using 3G/4G or Wi-Fi connections, but there are some services, like Rebtel, that let you connect over local phone lines as well.
Top App providers: Rebtel, Skype, Boss Revolution
Which is the most convenient and user-friendly?
Before we look at cost, let’s have a look at which out of the two options is the most user-friendly. After all, the low-cost choice loses a lot of its appeal if the service is unreliable or causes you unnecessary hassles.
In terms of practicality, apps clearly have a distinct advantage over SIM cards. An app can be downloaded quickly and installed within seconds, all with a few taps on a screen. Generally speaking, there is a lot more development that is going into international calling apps than international SIMs, meaning that app functionality and services are constantly improving.
International SIM cards tend to be less practical. Not only is switching out your domestic SIM for you international SIM inconvenient, it’s sometimes impossible to do if your phone is locked to a certain network (as some phones are). Similarly, having to manage two phones isn’t that fun either.
Thankfully, some smartphone providers now develop phones with double SIM ports, those these tend to be confined more to the Asian market than in Europe and the US.
With few exceptions, when it comes to convenience, apps win hands down.
Why international calling apps beat international SIMS
No need for a new device
Can be used anywhere
Syncs with your contacts
Better selection of offers
One notable exception: the Rebtel SIM
Rebtel has a mobile plan that solves all the issues of price and practicality that normally plague international SIMs by combining a domestic calling SIM with their international calling services. Rebtel is unique in that it is a completely free service for domestic calls and texts, and they even give you 1GB of data per month for free. You can also call Rebtel app users anywhere in the world for free without having to use a calling card or app. And if your friends abroad don’t use Rebtel, then you can still call them at rates far below what you’d pay with other mobile operators.
However, Rebtel’s SIM is currently only available in Poland.
Price Comparison: SIM Cards vs Apps
The international calling market is very diverse and extremely competitive. Most players, whether they’re app or SIM-based, vary widely depending on which country you want to call, and which operator your friend abroad is using.
For that reason, it’s hard to say definitively whether international calling apps or international SIMs are better based on price alone. Instead, it’s better to look at the different types of packages and additional services that each service provider offers.
For example, the Rebtel app offers many different pricing options for users depending on how much they call and where they’re calling. Some destinations even have cheap unlimited calling options, and others have been bundled together into a Global Unlimited package. And no matter where you’re calling from, you can call the US for free.
Rebtel even offers additional services like sending international mobile top-ups and free calls and instant messaging between Rebtel app users.
Of course, the service that’s right for you will be the one that best meets your needs, whether it’s an international SIM or an international calling app. Make sure to shop around to see where you can get the best deal to the country you want to call in the way that’s most convenient for you!