How to Control and Reduce Your Cell Phone Bill?

 

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With the rise in taxes and service charges on cell phone services it is better to find ways that can help you reduce your phone bill, while still being able to communicate.

There are different services and applications that can help you in this regard, from making calls to sending SMS. Remember “there’s no such thing as Free lunch” so they will in most cases cost you but that will be significantly less than what your service provider charges you.

Examples:

You can pay a flat monthly rental for internet to use it for email, browsing and in addition you can make Skype calls to those who are on Skype, or otherwise send them text messages through various services.

Prerequisite: A working internet connection on your phone; GPRS, EDGE, EVDO (PTCL Evo) or WiFi.

An unlimited (2 GB) GPRS package would do the best. Zong offer’s best rate of Rs. 200 per month for unlimited internet, while others are offering it for Rs. 500 per month.

Voice Calls & Chat

Skype:

Skype allows you to make free Skype-to-Skype calls. Performance on EDGE is subject to your carrier and location but you can make pretty decent voice calls and even satisfactory video calls in some places as tested by ProPakistani.

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Google Talk:

Google talk is the default IM client on Google services. It allows you to make voice and video calls and chat with other Google (Gmail, Google+ etc.) and AOL users. The best part? Use it to make free calls to US/Canada; both mobile phones and landlines.

  • Platforms Supported: Web based, BlackBerry, PC’s, Mac, Android.
  • What you pay for: Standard GPRS charges by your carrier. Free on WiFi.
  • What you save: Local and International Call Charges.
  • More: http://www.google.com/talk/start.html

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Fring:

Fring is a video/voice chat application and also a multi-service chat client. You can use to make free calls to all other Fring users. It works almost exactly like Skype.

In my tests Fring’s voice quality was better than Skype’s. I made a couple of calls on Wifi through my phone & the voice quality was just great. Used EDGE for texts though.

The connection strength of Fring was better the Skype on EDGE, for me at least, audio was almost impossible on Skype while just satisfactory on Fring.

On the contrary, Skype worked great for another tester in a different city + carrier. So, your carrier and location are very important when making voice calls. It is better to have both applications installed.

  • Platforms Supported: Android, iOS, Symbian.
  • What you pay for: Standard GPRS charges by your carrier. Free on WiFi.
  • What you save: Local and International Call & SMS Charges.
  • More: http://www.fring.com/

clip_image010Nimbuzz:

One of the most widely used IM clients with support for multiple platforms. Has voice call support besides instant messaging. Fring and Nimbuzz are the same. Some will prefer Nimbuzz, some will Fring.

I prefer Fring just for clean interface and standard notifications for missed calls & messages but most of my friends are on Nimbuzz.

  • Platforms Supported: Almost all, including Java supporting phones.
  • What you pay for: Standard GPRS charges by your carrier. Free on Wifi.
  • What you save: Local and International Call & SMS Charges.
  • More: http://www.nimbuzz.com/en

Text/SMS

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WhatsApp:

I guess it needs no introduction, simply amazing. A complete article to explain it is here. It is a replacement for your standard SMS Application. First year of the service is free so grab it now.

  • Platforms Supported: iOS, Android, Blackberry, Symbian.
  • What you pay for: Standard GPRS Charges. Free on WiFi.
  • What you save: International/Local SMS Charges.
  • More: http://www.whatsapp.com/

clip_image014GoText:

GoText works on Java supporting phones. It is unique and different than the other applications because it uses already available Free/Paid SMS service providers (websites) & doesn’t have a server of its own.

To send SMS from a web based service provider you’ll have to go to the website, login and use it. But here, you give your login details and site info to GoText, it connects to that site and sends that SMS for you, from your phone. If you know PHP or you’re an admin you can add your site to the GoText list for others to use.

For Ufone the GPRS charges are Rs. 15/MB. With this package you can send around 500 international SMS with GoText because it uses 1-2KB per SMS. It’s a little complex to setup.

  • Platforms Supported: Java enabled phones, iPhone – iPod (beta), PC (beta).
  • What you pay for: Standard GPRS Charges.
  • What you save: International SMS Charges.
  • More: http://www.gotext.org

clip_image016FishText:

Just like GoText, sending SMS thorough FishText doesn’t require the other person to have this application installed because these two send standard messages.

FishText gives you 20cents at signup; this can help you send around 10+ messages around the world. After that you have to pay. Messages between FishText users are free. Sending messages costs from Rs. 1.8 to Rs. 8, depending upon where you want to text. By my research this is the cheapest paid service available.

  • Platforms Supported: iPhone, Android, PC & Java supporting phones.
  • What you pay for: Standard GPRS Charges
  • What you save: Local/International SMS Charges
  • More: http://www.fishtext.com/

Max99:

The Pakistani MIM client offered free international SMS. Unfortunately their site is down at the time of this writing so I couldn’t get the current update. Anyways, Introduction is here and International SMS details are here.

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JaJah: Your first 5 minute call is free, anywhere.

More: http://www.jajah.com/call/trial/

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Evaphone: Your first two calls are free, (thanks to MZC for this one).

More: http://www.evaphone.com/locale/en

Jaxtr:

clip_image022You know a local call is cheaper than an international one, right? Jaxtr uses this to your advantage.

You call a local number in your country, say Pakistan, the other person calls a local number in his country, say Ukraine. Jaxtr gets you two connected to make an international call for local call charges.

Local numbers are not available in Pakistan yet but bookmark it for when it does. Also you can make calls with your phone for Rs. 3/min to destinations that cost normally Rs. 40 in the paid option.

More: http://www.jaxtr.com/user/index.jsp

It’s all about finding the right services & packages. For me WhatsApp & Fring are the choices, for you it may be just Nimbuzz or Skype. Do test them.

If you think we missed something or if you have a tip please leave it in the comments.