Linphone Video, Make Phone Calls over Phone’s Internet without using Minutes
May 28, 2011 3:16 PM –
Linphone Video. Linphone is an open source Internet SIP phone or Voice Over IP phone (VoIP). WIFI/3G, with video calls support for ARMv7 phones. Main features: Audio with the following codecs: speex (narrow band and wideband), iLBC, G711, GSM. Video with mpeg4 and H264 codecs (ARMv7 only). Echo cancellation, Address book integration, and Call history.
Tested on: Samsung Galaxy Tablet, Samsung Fascinate, Motorola Xoom
Pros & Cons:
- Make VOIP calls over 3G, 4G, or WiFi! (in Layman’s terms… make phone calls over phone’s Internet without using minutes)
- Easy to set up SIP Client if you already have a SIP account!
- Imports existing contacts into Linphone Video contact list!
- Allows you to program in a dialing prefix for easy calling to a specific country.
- Program resides in status bar for easy access!
- Allows voice dialing on Samsung Galaxy Tablet 100% free in the US through your device’s data connection!
- Allows forwarding of incoming calls to SIP account.
- No support for Android Honeycomb 3.0 or Motorola Xoom.
- Video Calling feature did not work properly on all devices tested.
- Have to search Google to find SIP client for new user, account set up not included in the application.
- No support for SMS text messages through SIP Account.
Linphone Video is an open source SIP client for the Android platform. It allows you to place calls to other SIP users or to make calls to normal land line or cell numbers using your data instead of the minutes from your carrier’s voice plan. Linphone Video also supports video calling other SIP users with the same Linphone Video client.
In order to set up the application and to have it working on your device you will need to create a free SIP account. This account allows you to use software like Linphone with video which utilizes your SIP account to make calls through your device’s data connection instead of through your carrier’s minute plan. Unfortunately Linphone did not give me any options within the application to sign up for a SIP account, but with a little research I was able to find an excellent SIP provider which was free and also allowed me to place free calls to any U.S. Domestic Phone through my SIP account. The provider that ended up working out well for me was nonoh.net. I looked at alternative SIP providers like iptel.org, but they only supported SIP to SIP calling. Nonoh.net was one of the few providers that actually allowed you to make calls to a normal phone number without extra fees.
After creating a SIP account with Nonoh.net I was able to begin to use the application. I initially tested this on my Galaxy Tablet because I had experimented with SIPdroid before to try to obtain free calling through data on my Samsung Galaxy Tablet. Unfortunately the process to do this had become very complicated and I had many problems getting Sipdroid set up so I had given up on the project all together. The initial set up of the application was very easy once I had created my SIP account. All that was required to get Linphone Video working was my credentials from my SIP account. Nonoh.net also gave me the required information so that it was easy to input into Linphone video.
After your Username, Password, and Domain are inside of Linphone you are ready to make a call. The main screen of the application is a standard phone dialing pad in order for the user to easily dial mobile or hard line phone numbers. All you have to do is type in the phone number or SIP ID and then hit send to make a call. The phone may take a few seconds to connect to the server, but you should begin to hear the ringing shortly. The call quality was good as long as my data connection was strong and everything functioned properly.
Linphone Video also has the option to import in your contact list from Google. By clicking on the tab in the upper right hand corner for contacts, the device imports your existing contact list and lets you see all of your contacts within the Linphone application. This prevents you from having to type in a number each time you call and makes calling your contacts easy.
Another feature of Linphone Video is video calling from one SIP user to another. I tried this between two SIP accounts that I own with my HTC Thunderbolt and Samsung Galaxy Tablet. My Galaxy Tablet showed that it was broadcasting the rear camera perfectly, but my Thunderbolt could not connect with either the front or rear camera. The Thunderbolt also could not display the video broadcast being sent from the Galaxy Tablet. This makes it appear to me like video calling is not fully ironed out yet in this installation of the application.
Finally, Linphone Video displays an icon in the notification panel for easy access to the application. I found that this made using the application much easier, but it also was an excellent way to see if you were receiving a phone call on your SIP Client or if you had been disconnected from the SIP Server.
Linphone Video Call
Linphone Voice Dialpad
Linphone Video In Call
Linphone Video Contacts List
Linphone Status Bar
Linphone Settings 1
Linphone Settings 2
Linphone Video is extremely useful for making VOIP calls using your devices data connection. Linphone Video allowed me to easy log in to my existing SIP account and make calls to my friends using data instead of voice. This is useful for tech savvy and frugal wireless consumers that would like to be able to make phone calls without having to pay for a carrier’s data plan. In fact, Linphone Video can actually forward your cellular calls to your SIP account in order to make incoming calls go through your data as well.
Another thing that I found extremely useful about Linphone Video is that it allowed me to make voice calls from my Samsung Galaxy Tablet even though the device does not officially support voice calling of any kind. Linphone Video is easy enough that the average consumer can set it up with little work and have the ability to make voice calls from their tablet devices without having to gain root access or flash custom software. I found that feature extremely useful and will be keeping this application on my Galaxy Tablet in case I ever wish to make a phone call and do not have my phone with me. Unfortunately Linphone is not supported on all tablet devices and would crash every time I tried to launch it on my Motorola Xoom. Hopefully support for the Motorola Xoom and other Honeycomb devices will be added in the future.
Ease of Use:
The initial creation of a SIP account was difficult. Linphone Video did not offer any solutions to create a SIP account for a new user through their application. I initially tried to locate this information through their FAQ help page, but was only able to find SIP clients that supported SIP to SIP calling; not VOIP to land lines. After a quick session on Google I located Nonoh.net and the set up process became much easier. Hopefully this Android app review will make setup a breeze for you.
After the creation of the SIP account the setting up of the application was easy. All I needed to do was fill in my user information for Nonoh.net and the application was instantly up and running. In order to place a call, all I needed to do was find a contact in my phone back to place a call to and click on their name. That populated the number on the call screen, I just needed to input the prefix and hit send to make the call. As a whole the application was easy to use and set up, but the developer really needs to add some links to free SIP servers for new users like me!
Linphone Video is an application that you would use frequently if you had a tablet device. It allows you to make and receive calls easily through your tablets data connection and is easy to access and keep running. I will be leaving it up on my tablet all the time in case I ever do find the need to place a call from my tablet. I can specifically remember one instance where having calling on the tablet was clutch because it allowed me to make calls from two devices and get information on a hotel booking to share with my girlfriend who was on the other line. This whole event occurred while I was waiting for her in my car.
Having two devices that can make calls is only a helpful thing. Also the ability to use data to make calls instead of minutes is a money saver and will allow those with an excellent 3G or 4G Connection to reduce their costs by using this application as a daily flyer to cut costs.
The interface with Linphone Video is simple and easy to user, but could use some serious revamping to keep up with the competition. I have previously used applications like SIPdroid and Line2, both of which have a much cleaner interface more reminiscent of the stock Android dialer. Linphone ignores all of the aesthetics of the application’s design and instead focuses on basic functionality. Although the application does function well, it is nowhere near as visually compelling as it’s competitors. In order for Linphone to hold their lead in the SIP market they will need to make the dialer interface more attractive and even more user friendly.
Two other features that are missing from this application is it’s lack of Motorola Xoom support and it’s lack of text messaging. If Linphone were to add Motorola Xoom support it would open up a new market of users for this application who do not have other options to meet their tablet calling needs. It would present a relatively large user base for the application, and could even be a great way to monetize the application if the developer wished.
Furthermore, if texting were to be added in to the application through the SIP account it would further solidify the niche status of this application and increase it’s value for the average user. Hopefully changes like these will be made in future versions of the application and will increase the consumption of this application for the future.