Quite a few services on the market offer some variation on the theme of making inexpensive international calls. Fringand EQO dress it up with IM and a social networking aspect that grants free international calls between registered friends and cheap calls to everyone else. Likewise, there's Skype to Go and , which both require you to punch in local access numbers to get cheap rates. However, Packet8's MobileTalk has risen above them all as a mass market solution that sheds the extra messaging frills, money-making ads, and prep time to make the call. (Note: Give yourself a few minutes for the initial account set-up, including finding the phone's IMEI number.)
The premise is dead simple. You download the MobileTalk app, then make calls as usual. When your fingers dial out an international number, MobileTalk springs to life, delaying the call by a few seconds to connect you to a local number (that's what gets you the cheaper rates,) then pushes the call through to your destination.
Payment is pretty easy too; it arrives as a separate credit card charge on your statement when you set up your account. The costs are comparable to other phone card and VoIP-out services--that's about 2-3 cents per minute to most of Europe and 3-5 cents to most of Asia. Doubting Thomases can track call costs from their online account as they speak.
Because Packet8 MobileTalk requires the user to do absolutely nothing to connect an international call, it's the kind of set-up I want to have for calling my London-dwelling sister on my morning commute, and the kind of app I would recommend to any smartphone owner who prefers to set and forget. Packet8 MobileTalk is currently available for Windows Mobile, Symbian, and BlackBerry phones, and is expected for Java phones in 4-to-6 weeks.