There are a lot of Pinoys who live abroad, whether as OFWs or immigrants. You might even be one yourself. If you are, or have a friend or relative who lives abroad, it’s more likely than not that you have VoIP service of choice to communicate with each other.
However, these services often have a downside. Both of you have to be tied to a data connection for it to remain free. Otherwise you’d have to start paying, and to be frank, these services can make you pay through the nose for the simple act of calling a phone via your data plan. That’s where Vokka for Android comes in.
What You Can Do with Vokka
Vokka can function as your basic VoIP app, letting you make voice calls or send messages for free with other Vokka contacts. That isn’t anything new, but what sets it apart from other Android apps of this nature is that it essentially allows anyone abroad to call their relatives back in the Philippines to their landline phones and cellphones at extremely affordable rates. What’s especially unique is that if you live abroad and want to make it easier for your relatives back home to call you, you can also take advantage of a local PH number that would be assigned to you so that they can do so at local PH rates!
Navigating the Interface
As far as UIs go, Vokka is about as basic as it gets. Upon first launching the app, you’ll be asked to enter your login credentials or sign up for a Vokka account if you don’t have one yet.
Once you’ve signed into your account, you’ll be taken to the Dialer tab, but you can easily switch between the History, Contacts, Funds and More. Your username and balance will also be displayed at the upper right of the screen, regardless of which tab you are in within Vokka.
The History tab will have all of your call logs and you’ll be able to track how many minutes you’ve consumed and, if you’re Pay as You Go, how much was deducted from your balance.
There’s hardly any fluff to the interface and design, which shouldn’t come as a surprise since the app and service is relatively new. It just needs a little more polish though, such as being able to swipe between tabs rather than just pressing on them directly.
Making a Call
Being a VoIP service, your phone needs to be connected to the internet in order to use Vokka. There are three ways you can initiate a call. You can dial a number directly in the Dialer tab, go into the Contacts tab where you’ll find all of your phone’s contacts will have been automatically imported, or start a call from an existing call log from the History tab.
Call quality is dependent on the quality of your internet connection. I tested Vokka with a call at 2G network speeds, however, there was a lot of noise as a result of call quality degradation from the low bandwidth. While attempting such a call from my phone at home, it was really hard to discern anything the other party was saying. On 3G it works just fine though and the call quality was just as good as making a regular call.
If you have a consumable plan or just prefer to be charged on a per minute basis, you’ll want to track either your minutes, your balance or both. In the History tab, you can check how
Since relatives in the US and other countries typically have access to faster network speeds and with 4G LTE being much more prevalent than it is in the Philippines, I don’t expect call quality to be a problem.
Naturally, the thing that’s going to make or break Vokka as a go-to app for Pinoys who live abroad to get in touch with their loved ones back home are the calling plans, and there are a lot of options to choose from.
Calling Plans with a Local Pinoy Number
- Local Pinoy Number for 1 month – $8.50 monthly
- Local Pinoy Number for 1 month with 100 minutes to PLDT or Smart- $15.00 monthly
- Local Pinoy Number for 1 month with 500 minutes to PLDT or Smart- $25.00 monthly
- Buy 2 Months of Local Pinoy Number for 1 month with 500 minutes to PLDT and Smart and get one month free – $50.00
Unlimited Calling Plans
- Unlimited calls to 2 PH numbers for 24 hours – $5.00
- Unlimited calls to 2 PH numbers for 7 days – $25.00
- Buy 3 days of Unlimited calls to 2 PH numbers get 1 day free – $15.00
Pay as You Go
- Call anywhere in the world and pay on a per minute basis
Depending on your needs, you can choose the calling plans that come with allocated minutes and your own Local Pinoy Number so that not only can you call your loved ones back home, but also let them call you from their PLDT phones at local rates. They can call you anytime they want and not be tied down to a data connection. The minutes allotment also allows you to call any PLDT or Smart number in the Philippines.
Then there are the unlimited calling plans for those who tend to call their relatives back home A LOT. I’m pretty sure housewives living abroad will LOVE this. They can call any PLDT number and talk to their heart’s content. No need to worry about each minute being tacked onto your bill.
Finally, there’s Pay as You Go, which allows you to call any number on a per minute basis at affordable rates. I made a two minute call to a Sun Cellular number and only got charged $.30, or the equivalent of about Php6 per minute. And the good news is that it’s not just limited to Philippine numbers. You can also call anywhere in the world and while it’s still a per minute charge, at least you’re not paying through the nose for the service. If you’re interested in learning more about Vokka’s calling plans, check out their official website here.
Is Vokka Ready to Take on the Big Boys?
There are already a lot of free calling and messaging apps out there that allow you to send texts and make calls over the internet for free. However, they are limited in that they either can’t make calls to a regular landline phone or cellphone, or make it a paid service that can quickly become expensive. Vokka is a specialized VoIP app that makes it easier for Pinoys living abroad to communicate with their loved ones back home and vice versa without any long distance fees. If you or the loved ones you want to communicate with live abroad, I wholeheartedly recommend that you download Vokka over at Google Play.