A WiFi phone is pretty much what it sounds like---a phone that uses wireless Internet connections to make phone calls. Think of it as more than a landline, less than a cell phone---these phones work anywhere there's a WiFi hotspot. You can't use it in your car but you can use it in your home, in hotels, in coffee shops and all over some of the cooler cities in the world.
Free Skype Calls
The vast majority of WiFi phones on the market in the United States today use Skype. Skype is a voice over IP (VOIP) service, which basically means you can talk to people using the Internet. Skype is famous for its free voice-to-voice calls and relatively cheap calls to standard phones. WiFi phones using Skype can make calls to other Skype users for free, just as if they were using the Skype client on a computer. The difference? A hand-sized WiFi phone is a little easier to carry around than your computer.
Cheap Regular Phone Calls
Can't get all your friends to switch to their computers for all their phone calls? Fair enough. WiFi phones can be used to call conventional phones too. For $30 a year, you get unlimited calls in the United States and Canada; international calls have separate rates, which are typically (but not always) lower than cell or landline rates.
Multiple Incoming Numbers
Skype also lets you purchase multiple incoming phone numbers at $60 a year (as of August 209), wherever you want. This feature means your friend in Ghana can call a Ghana number and get you, in the United States, at the Ghana rate. This feature is useful if you have a lot of friends and family in a different country.
Most WiFi phones are indistinguishable from cell phones in appearance and size. While not a cell phone, it is a phone you can fit in your pocket and take anywhere. You can use at all unprotected WiFi hotspots. As technological continues to increase, unprotected WiFi is becoming much more common---and is often found at coffee shops, libraries, high schools and even truck stops.
When traveling internationally cell phone roaming charges can get pricey very quickly. Another benefit to a WiFi phone is that there's no such thing as roaming. Your phone will work just as well in India as it does in Indiana, and calls will cost the same amount. Note, however, that if you're in India, and have a North American subscription, a call to an Indian number will count as International and be charged to you accordingly. Still, it will be less expensive cheaper than paying for roaming.
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