How to Call Phones From Your Android Tablet

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Love your Android tablet, but wish it could make phone calls? Stop wishing: all you need is the right software. You’ll be making calls to phone lines and mobile phones in no time (but it probably won’t be free).

Whether you don’t own a phone or simply don’t want to put down one device to pick up another, it can be useful to call regular phones on your tablet. After all: many tablets already have a built-in microphone and speakers. Which software is right for the job? Good question. Let’s go over some options.

I made calls using the tablet, without a headset, and using a combination mic/headphones I previously used with my phone. No configuration was needed either way.

Skype

You knew it was going to come up, so I might as well get it out of the way. Microsoft’s Skype is the web’s most famous telephone replacement, and unlike most Microsoft products is available on every platform — Android included. The Android app for Skype was recently refreshed, so if you recall this app being slow and ugly it might be time for a second look:

How’s the call quality? If you’re familar with Skype you know what to expect: decent calls provided your Internet access is fast enough. There will, of course, be occasional glitches, but there’s not a lot of lag and people sound real.

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As for cost, that depends. Subscriptions give you unlimited calls to particular locations – $2.99 a month, for example, means you can call unlimited numbers in the USA and Canada. But you can also pay per minute. Here’s what the rates are like for that:

  • USA/Canada: 2.3 cents/minute
  • France, Mobile: 35 cents/minute
  • Germany, Mobile: 25.3 cents/minute
  • India: 9.2 cents/minute

Note that these rates are pay-as-you go; there are subscription rates for all regions. Also note that calling landlines is cheaper than mobile. See all rates here.

Skype offers great value if you subscribe – unlimited calling to any country for an affordable subscription. For one-off calls, though, it may not be the best value. Test it out yourself, though: download Skype for Android and give it a spin.

Google Voice, Via Talkatone

Google Voice is weird. After a hype-filled launch in 2009, Google seemed to largely forget about this service – which provides US users with an online phone number that connects to several phones, while also providing online SMS and voicemail.

There’s not even a simple way to make a phone call at google.com/voice – just a button that will connect some other phone with the number you type. Users can make calls, but need to do so in Gmail or Google Hangouts for some reason.

What? Google claims the future of this service is full integration with Google Hangouts, and that’s probably for the best – it’s a phenomenal service without a user-friendly interface.

As you might be able to guess, the official Voice app can’t make calls on a tablet – it relies on conventional phone lines to do that. There are, however, third party services that use Voice to make calls – and Talkatone is among the most popular.

Sign in using your Google account and you’ll have a standard phone interface:

From here you can call your contacts or dial a number. Call quality was pretty good in my tests, though there was a considerable delay.

The big advantage here is price: calls and texts to the USA and Canada are free from within the USA. Check out other rates on Google’s rates page, but here’s a quick rundown of a few major countries:

  • France, mobile: 10 cents/minute
  • Germany, mobile: 10 cents/minute
  • India, mobile: 2 cents/minute

Check out Google’s complete list of call rates if you’re curious. The cost savings over Skype are significant, but note that there are no subscription rates for heavy callers. Google users can also use Hangouts to make free voice and video calls to other Hangouts users, regardless of which country they’re in – similar to Skype.

Read more about Talkatone, if you’re interested.

Fring

Skype and Google are probably the big two when it comes to VoiP, but they’re not the only players – not by a long shot. Fring’s mobile-first push into the space was quick, mostly because of its group calling features. Google’s Hangouts makes that less unique, but there’s still a loyal base of Fring users out there. Read more about Fring to find out what it’s all about.

Fring offers a service for calling regular phones, called Fringout. Audio quality is pretty good, though users have complained of echoes when compared to Skype. Rates are reasonable, albeit disparate:

  • USA (mainland): 1.2 cents/minute
  • Canada: 0.7 cents/minute
  • France, mobile: 33.2 cents/minute
  • Germany, mobile: 8.5 cents/minute
  • India: 2.9 cents/minute

Prices are competitive to some countries; less to others. Check out Fring’s rates to learn more about rates, or install Fring on Google Play and find out for yourself how well it works.

One More Thing…

Note that, depending on your tablet, call quality might be iffy because of hardware limitations. If people complain about not hearing you consider looking into combination microphone/headphones or even a bluetooth headset.

After all, your tablet isn’t exactly designed to rest beside your head as you talk into it. Still, being able to use the tablet to make calls is nice. Which service do you use for this? Let me know in the comments below.

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Comments (25)
  • dhirendra

    I have trekstor volks tablet and I have problem with phone call….I. Received message from friends but I don’t know how to make a phone call..can I use it for phone calling….plz anybody could help me….

    • Justin Pot

      You need an app that’s capable of calling phones; which one is best will vary depending on where you live. I like Skype myself, but if you’re in the USA Google Hangouts is also a good option (it’s free in the US, not sure if it works in other countries)

  • Shanna

    All I can say is awesome! Got everything set up and made a few test calls with no problems. We’ll see how it works through the long haul. :)

    • maewyn

      What did you end up using and on what device? I’m trying to figure out which current mini-tablet to get and what will be required to make use of it as a cell phone. Suggestions?
      I do not want people I cal to have to have an app, just a regular phone. Txs.

  • Steve Sylvester

    Hello Justin;
    Really good to hear from you,
    since i left the comment,I have discovered a few things about making calls on a tablet? I was sort of looking at the problem from the wrong end if you follow me? thinking I should just be able to use it as a cell/mobile phone!
    when in fact all 4g on tablet really means is you havethe option to use mobile data when wi fi is not available?

    so Yep Skype with head set looks the way to go,I looked at most of the alternatives (above & elsewhere) and still came right back to skype!
    which is not perfect but still the best I think,even though I have yet to use it,everything I have read tells me Skype is still top dog.

    Once again many thanks

    regards Steve

    • Justin P

      Yeah, if you were in the USA I’d say go with Google but for Europe Skype is the best best. Good luck, sir!

  • Steve Sylvester

    Hello Justin;
    Really good to hear from you,
    since i left the comment,I have discovered a few things about making calls on a tablet? I was sort of looking at the problem from the wrong end if you follow me? thinking I should just be able to use it as a cell/mobile phone!
    when in fact all 4g on tablet really means is you havethe option to use mobile data when wi fi is not available?

    so Yep Skype with head set looks the way to go,I looked at most of the alternatives (above & elsewhere) and still came right back to skype!
    which is not perfect but still the best I think,even though I have yet to use it,everything I have read tells me Skype is still top dog.

    Once again many thanks

    regards Steve

  • Steve Sylvester

    Hi
    I was directed to the above ,as I was totally confused as to how the calling from Tablet works?

    I have a SONY Xperia Z Tablet 4g?
    I could not understand how I was supposed to use it,as their was no details in the manual on call making?
    I now see that having 4g and a sim card just means you can use mobile services not just Wi-fi.
    The bit I fo not undertand yey? is the fact I have dedicated mobile number for the Tablet,given by Mobile service provider

    But going beyond this,can I ask which is the very best Tablet Phone service? is it Still SKYPE or one of the others

    I live in Norway

    reagrds Steve

    • Justin P

      If your tablet came with a phone number you should seriously ask you mobile provider how to make calls with it. If they can’t help you, though, set up Skype. It’s my main home phone line and works well.

    • Jeff

      The best tablet phone service by far is “Text + Gold”

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.