Fring

Your Fring nickname needs to be meaningful as it will be listed in the Fring directly and other ‘Fringsters’ will be able to use it to identify, and call you.



It is easy to see who is online and who is not thanks to clear presence markers against all Skype, GoogleTalk and MSN contacts. When you run the Fring software you’ll also see ordinary cellular contacts that are stored in the phone. Reaching any of them is a matter of highlighting them and then pressing the call button. To make IM calls you choose Chat from the Options menu.

What all this means is that mobile IM, VoIP and GSM calls can be made using Fring’s front end. It keeps a call history too, so effectively can replace the contact book front end built into your phone.

Fring remembers the last wireless access point it used, and continues to try to use that every time you run the software. This means if you move around seeking free access points you’ll need to use Options>Settings>Change connection to hunt down access points in your current location.



Like Truphone, Fring is only currently available for Symbian handsets, but a large range is supported from the N and E series and those in the 6*** range.

Using Fring incurs absolutely no costs beyond those you’d make on your data plan or other services you pay for such as SkypeOut or any Wi-Fi hotspot charges you may incur.

Neither Fring nor Truphone gave me any serious trouble during testing for this review, and I have to admit I was surprised at that. Calls were clear and even when they broke down a little I could live with them.

However in most cases I was in domestic settings with wireless LAN access points nearby and loading on the routers I used was relatively low.

In different environments – such as a popular hotspot in a local café, or situations where you are towards the edge of the reach of a hotspot, signal strength will be depleted and call quality will degrade.

Verdict

Using Wi-Fi for voice calls is likely to become more and more popular as the word spreads. Where signals are clear it is as good as making GSM voice calls. But there are two major issues. If you are mobile you can easily go out of Wi-Fi range and lose the connection, and Wi-Fi drains the battery life of mobiles at an alarming rate.

Yes the technology works, and in some cases it works very well indeed. Yes, using it might save you money. But it is only a supplement to good old GSM rather than a replacement for it.

comments powered by Disqus