Aug, 03 2010

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.


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.