Nimbuzz Makes VoIP a Very Pleasing Experience [App Review]

Many Android users are still trying to pinpoint the best VoIP client in the growing Android market. Competition is getting fierce, but version 2.0 of Nimbuzz being released this Thursday gives us more than a quick reason to believe they might just deserve your attention.

nimbuzz_2.0-Droid_X_contactsWith Nimbuzz, Skype calling becomes a beautiful reality. Many of you are denied an official Skype client thanks to exclusivity clauses with Verizon, but that doesn’t mean you hit a dead-end with your hopes. Nimbuzz doesn’t touch a lick of your plan’s anytime minutes like Skype’s official app used to because it does true voice-over-IP using WiFi. It matches the usefulness of Skype’s official apps on other platforms – such as iOS, Symbian, and Windows Mobile – because you’re not at the mercy of an access point.

While I didn’t have much time to test it out over 3G (due to shoddy coverage in my area), Nimbuzz didn’t give me a problem while I had a decent signal. Call quality was clear and I couldn’t find anything to complain about with that. This is probably due to them using the Jingle XMPP protocol which allows them to deliver unrivaled audio clarity for VoIP calls. I could tell that this wasn’t just a marketing bullet: it performed just as great as using Skype on my laptop.

Unfortunately, Group support is lacking here for both chat and voice features. I can connect to a group call without an issue if I’m being called, but there’s no way for me to call an entire group at once. Not the biggest dealbreaker as I rarely strike up conference calls myself, but I can see where some might get frustrated.

Nimbuzz also natively supports landline calling with SkypeOut and it used my unlimited nationwide Skype account without fail. Some users might have questions regarding SkypeOut credits and if the app accurately records your time, but I haven’t been able to test that.

This app is more than just Skype, though. Nimbuzz is introducing support for their own VoIP service – NimbuzzOut – which you might want to take a gander at if you aren’t satisfied with your current provider. Their rates seem competitive enough, but it depends on the package that’s right for you. I wasn’t able to test NimbuzzOut myself, though, so I can’t give any sort of analysis in any regard (quality, satisfaction, etc).

Nimbuzz does even more with allowing you to tap into other VoIP providers, as well. All of the major providers are supported, and even if your provider isn’t on the list the app gives you the ability to plug the connection details in yourself. Again, I can’t test this service but it’s great Nimbuzz decided to go all inclusive with their latest version.

Some VoIP clients might only present you with a list of contacts already on your phone. Nimbuzz does this just great and takes it a step further. The app gives you the option to pull your phone’s contacts in to sit alongside contacts from various messaging protocols (Skype, Facebook, AIM, GTalk, Yahoo, MSN, and more). They give you several display and sorting options to choose from that makes for a seamless calling and chatting experience across the board. I could’ve done with just a bit of extra flexibility – namely being able to toggle display options for individual chat networks – but that’s just me nitpicking: I might as well sign out of the service anyway, at that point.

nimbuzz_2.0-Droid_X_callnimbuzz_2.0-Droid_X_displayGroup

Chatting with your friends on various protocols is quick and simple, but the ability to send multimedia is truly invaluable. Unfortunately, trying to send a file over WiFi took quite some time (I tried sending different pictures to contacts on different protocols). I wasn’t confident that video would be any better considering the difference in filesize between a video and a photo. I would’ve also loved to be able to send any file stored on my phone’s SD card, but that may just be a technical impossibility as I don’t think there’s any other messaging app that can do this.

The Pros:

  • SkypeOut and support for other VoIP providers, including Nimbuzz’s own NimBuzzOut. VoIP performance (call clarity, latency, etc) is fantastic.
  • Integrated dialer and contact book that brings in all of your existing contacts and shows them with your messaging buddies.
  • One of the few messaging clients that manages to stay connected without fail.

The Cons:

  • Like other clients, no group chat and conference call support for Skype and other protocols.
  • Also like other clients, you can’t send anything but audio, video, and images to your buddies (and the process was painfully slow over WiFi)

Nimbuzz 2.0 emerges to become one of the first options you should look into if you need great VoIP features, great messaging features, or both. If you’re on Verizon, I’d suggest sticking to the official Skype app for contacting your friends through that protocol due to its support for group conversations, but that’s the only thing one-upping Nimbuzz in my eyes. If Skype isn’t your VoIP provider of choice, have no need for Skype’s group chat features, or you can’t get Skype period, then Nimbuzz is calling your name. If you’ve been needing something to help you connect to all of your peers – whether they’re on your “buddy” list or in your phonebook – Nimbuzz will prove to be a real money saver if you’re willing to adopt the VoIP lifestyle and all of the joy that comes with it.

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  • http://archangel.posterous.com Vegeta

    Yay for choice, but I must be missing something. Skype blocked Fring from being able to connect to them through Skype, so how would this app be able to do it and not Fring?

  • Dan

    Not letting me connect in Canada :( Says my phone number is invalid

  • Quentyn Kennemer

    The Skype/Fring fiasco was over video. Nimbuzz only connects to Skype for audio and text.

  • http://archangel.posterous.com Vegeta

    @Quentyn_Kennemer Ah, I get it, thanks for clearing that up.

  • observer

    with Skype acting like a complete ass, I hope someone uses the opportunity (maybe Google voice?) to implement free VOIP android to android devices (and maybe even a desktop app)? I mean the world is open for the taking right now.

  • me

    wonder if this will be able to use the front camera on EVO/Epic

  • http://xmppjingle.com barata7

    @observer Nimbuzz is free and provides FREE calling among Androids, IPhones, Symbian, etc.
    Nimbuzz to Nimbuzz Call quality is no doubt superior than Fring’s.
    Hope they add SIP too.

  • christopher

    ooo verizon 50 dollar data only plan + skypeout + gvoice + work 25 % discount =AWESOME!

  • Odin

    Awesome write-up! I’m an avid Nimbuzz user. It’s my main and only voip now. Works flawless;y on my Evo 4G over wifi (never tried it over 3g/4g). Can make/receive free voip phone calls to any device that’s also running the Nimbuzz app.

    So far, I can confirm actual voice calls to/from Evo 4G to: iphone, iphone 3g, 3gs, iphone 4, ipod touch (so long as they have a mic) and any pc with mic running nimbuzz. Still trying to get my sis-in-law to test it with me from her blackberry cuz there’s a nimbuzz blackberry app too.

    But having used nimbuzz since the E

  • Odin

    … the Evo launched, I can vouch it’s top notch! Great news here about the update that’s rolling out thurs!!! Thanks!

  • wyldtek

    Until they add Bluetooth support this is pretty much useless to me

  • http://www.bestandroidcontracts.com SnakeDr

    Looks really nice, preferred eBuddy over the last version but looks like I may be switching back!

  • Simon

    Beauty! Can’t wait for this :) I can finally put my iPad on the shelf and start using Android for Skype calls at work :)

  • Ben

    If it’s not out till Thursday, how did you get a copy? I’ve assumed it’s just a review copy, but as that’s not stated it could just as easily be an advertising feature paid for by Nimbuzz …

    Cynical hat off, I’m really looking forward to downloading the new version and giving it a whirl, I’ve been waiting for something like this (a good free skype client) to be released for ages!

  • Andrew

    Surprised you wrote an entire article about VOIP, yet didn’t mention if the software supported SIP or not..

  • Tom Robson

    Let’s hope their Skype gateway has more capacity and manages to always get you logged into Skype. In the absence of a freely available proper Skype client for Android, I’ve been using Nimbuzz and 4 times out of 10 it can’t connect to Skype, even for chat and online awareness.

  • Quentyn Kennemer

    @Ben Nimbuzz provided us with an early review copy.

  • Quentyn Kennemer

    I apologize for forgetting to mention that yes: it does support SIP.

  • Mike

    I use Nimbuzz for Skype, it does work fairly well. I have alot of issues though, about the app staying connected to Skype (and Facebook Chat for that matter). Further, the app WILL NOT notify you if your connection to Skype is lost, so it really can’t be used as solution unless you double check on the connection before you make a phone call. I wouldn’t say it’s stable enough for you to depend on it staying on.

  • Monkeyman

    Thanks for the update:) Im glad to see skype finally has a serious competitor… I am totally sick of dropped calls and terrible quality. Viva Nimbuzz!

  • http://www.nimbuzz.com Tobias

    Hey Guys,

    Tobias from Nimbuzz here. Thanks for the feedback.

    We hope you will enjoy the new version, which we will release tomorrow.

    @Vegeta: Our relationship with Skype remains the same and we are supporting Skype as well as Facebook, MSN, AIM, Yahoo, Google Talk, MySpace and more in our app.

    You can find more information here:http://blog.nimbuzz.com/2010/07/28/mobile-communication-in-2010-and-beyond

    Feel free to drop me line at tobias (at) nimbuzz (dot) com or follow us on Twitter – @nimbuzz

    Cheers,

    Tobias

  • Chip Chipperson

    i tried to make a call last night with nimbuzz vis skype to a freind with an iphone and got a 13 second delay and im on a fast connection, what gives? It was like apollo 11 talking to the moon.

  • http://xmppjingle.com barata7

    @Chip Chipperson Did you try calling other Nimbuzz users or SIP? Where r u calling from? I don’t get that delay not even on GPRS

  • Gabriel

    I cannot use the SIP feature over wifi or 3G. Voice does not seem to go through. It sucks that Android doesn’t have a native SIP application, that Gizmo could use further down the road.

  • AnzioCat

    I dont use aim, yahoo, myspace, icq, facebook, etc. What I do use is SipDriod. I was going to try NimBuzz but decided not to because it appears to be retaining water and has become rather bloated. I guess sipdroid is meant for the sip and voip savvy, whereas nimbuzz is meant for those who just know their email and pswd. SipDroid plus ViaTalks byod service is awesome.

  • Mac

    It’s pretty hard on the battery even when idle.

  • Somebody

    This is just some garbage “service” that doesn’t do anything useful. In order to use your existing VoIP service, you need to give the details of your account over to THEM. This is a SCAM.

    The ONLY valid VoIP software for ANY operating system is one that connects DIRECTLY to your service provider. If it can’t handle SIP *natively*, it is TRASH.

    The ONLY good VoIP programs for Android include “SIP” in their names. There is also “linphone” that works.

  • Jim

    I tried NimBuzz before and was not satisfied with it. I gave 2.0 another try. It forced closes every time, and it could not connect to Gizmo5 for my VoIP calls. It is a big disappointment. Uninstalled.

  • Yuri

    I have skype problems on andrroid (moto droid, froyo):
    I can receive skype call on nimbuzz and everything is fine (at least for short test calls). However, if I try to make the call there is no sound on either end. Is there any solution to this?

  • http://dcscience.net David Colquhoun

    Well I’m not so happy with Nimbuzz

    Voice to a computer running skype doesn’t work
    Nimbuzzout doesn’t work
    Their support hasn’t answered my questions, but they appear to have stolen my credit

    About the only thing that works is chat
    Not good enough

  • P. Drummond

    This app required deleting about 5 others. Then I could not setup skype as either an account or a voip provider. I suppose they are counting on people buying their $ervice.

  • ukthekkedath

    Calls thru Nimbuzz are not clear, occuring some delay in communication.

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