WhatsApp first found fame as a chatting app. It allows users to send text messages to anyone around the world. Later on, it introduced a voice call feature bringing it head to head with apps like Skype and Viber. This latest addition allows people to talk to each other from opposite sides of the world at no additional cost.
It was first released in January of 2009 and has since then grown to be the third most popular messaging app. As of 2018, there are over 1.5 billion WhatsApp users around the world. Most of them are from India and Brazil. It also has a large user base in Europe particularly in UK and France.
Despite its popularity, its far from perfect. Users have complained about suddenly getting disconnected or the app not working. In this post, we’re compiling some of the disadvantages in using WhatsApp for international calls.
You Can’t Call Outside The App
This one is pretty obvious. You can’t make or receive calls on WhatsApp if you haven’t signed up for an account. It applies to the person you’re calling too.
Most people would not really view this as a problem since signing up for an account is quite easy. But for those with no access to smartphones or just abhors technology altogether, this would be an obstacle.
Think about this, there are more than 7 billion people in this world. With only 1.5 billion WhatsApp users, there are still around 5.5 billion people you can’t have calls with.
Internet Connection is Not an Option
Since WhatsApp uses VoIP technology, internet connection is a must. So whether you connect to a wifi or not is not your choice to make.
Actually, WhatsApp encourages their users to connect to a wifi rather than rely on mobile data. Because a wifi signal is usually faster and more reliable than using mobile internet. This ensures of high quality calls and that you’re not cut off mid-sentence.
Though internet connection may not be a problem to you, it may not be the case for others. Particularly, the person you’re calling. See, the internet connection requirement is a two-way street. You, the caller, and the one receiving the call should both be connected to the internet. Besides, when you’re on the road, there is no assurance of stable internet connection. So if you’re a frequent traveler, you might want to find a cheap way to make international calls that doesn’t rely on internet.
The need for internet connection also means that wifi calling with WhatsApp isn’t totally free. You still have to pay for broadband or data charges. And sometimes, they tend to be more expensive than regular calls.
Since its an app and you need internet to make calls, not all devices can be used with WhatsApp. You can’t call from or make calls to landline and mobile numbers abroad.
This usually poses a concern when you’re calling businesses or institutions in other countries. Most would only give out landline or mobile numbers for contact. This means you’re gonna have to pay for expensive long distance dialing. Unless, you can find other alternatives to make cheap international calls.
WhatsApp also only supports devices with Android, iOS and Windows 8 or higher operating system. If you’re on Linux, Chromebook or Windows 7 and below, you might as well move on to other calling apps.
Phone Bill Shock
In 2017, a mom posted a blog about her international calling experience with WhatsApp.
She’s been using the app to make regular calls to India. One day, her phone bill arrived and she noticed a mysterious international call charge in it. Thinking that it might just have been a mistake, she called her network provider to void the charge.
The next month, it happened again. This time, it’s quite a large amount. When they called their service provider, that’s when they learned what’s really happening.
Apparently, WhatsApp is responsible for the international call charges. When you use the app to make calls, it uses internet connection. But when the connection is really slow, the app automatically switches to “airtime minutes”. So instead of saving some bucks on your international calls, it only made it more expensive.
Thanks to its wide user base, WhatsApp has frequently been the target of cybercriminals. Although the app itself is secured, many have reported falling prey to a fake WhatsApp software which turns out to be a malware.
Since Facebook acquired Whatsapp in 2014, more doubts were raised as to its security. A lot people have accused Facebook of selling user data to third parties and allowing fake news to spread in its platform. The same security concerns had been hurled at WhatsApp in recent years. Signing for a WhatsApp account makes you more vulnerable to these security risks.
At the end of the day, it’s your choice to make. WhatsApp’s international call feature definitely makes communication easier. But just like most free services, there has to be a trade off. Just make sure you’re not getting the shorter end of the stick.