If you're a social butterfly, you can run up quite the bill on your mobile phone. Don't worry; we're here to help with a list of apps for your iPhone or Android phone that offer free calling and texting services.
Do bear in mind that these services all use either Wi-Fi or 3G, and data charges may still apply; but if you don't see a significant reduction on your bill, we'll eat our hats.*
*Hat-eating not guaranteed.
For free text-based communication, eBuddy allows you to access AIM, MSN, Yahoo, Facebook Chat, GTalk, MySpace, Hyves and ICQ, keeping all of your contacts in one handy list. If all you want to do is be able to message your mates on the fly with push notifications to keep you updated, sound/vibrate alerts and emoticons, this will do the job — but if you want to personalise it with themes, you'll have to spring for the pro version. On the plus side, it uses accounts that you already have, so you have no need to build a new contact list.
WhatsApp is a full message replacement app, offering free messages with the capacity to send photos, video and voice messages. It uses your contact list and automatically lists anyone who also has WhatsApp installed, which makes things easier, too, and it includes the capacity for group chats. Just a heads-up: the iPhone version carries a one-off charge, whereas the Android version is free only for the first 12 months, after which you'll have to pay a US$1.99 annual fee. Mind you, that still works out a lot cheaper if you're a heavy texter ...
This one's still in beta for Android, but you can sign up at the link below. It's completely free, using 3G or Wi-Fi to connect you to other Viber users for free phone calls and text messages anywhere in the world. It also uses your current phone number to identify you, so you don't need a complicated sign-up or sign-in process.
As it says on the box, Talk Out uses VoIP to connect you for free via Wi-Fi or 3G to other Talk Out users. You can also purchase credits via a number of credit cards or PayPal for low-cost calls to non-Talk Out users worldwide via video or just audio.
This one's a bit like eBuddy, only with a few different messenger services, and you can customise the free version with wallpapers. You can send photos, videos, voice messages and text messages, or have a group chat — all for free via your GTalk, Yahoo, MSN, AIM, ICQ, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook or Jabber accounts, and a map feature allows you to see exactly where your friends are hanging out. You can, by the way, opt out of that last one.
Fring is another Skype clone, with free Fring-to-Fring voice, video and text, and low-cost call rates to regular phones — and so on and so forth. One thing that Fring offers that other services don't, though, is four-way video chat between Fring users.