WhatsApp announced the mass rollout of its video calling feature, which had been in beta testing till now. With this move, WhatsApp has brought encrypted video calling facility to over 1 billion of its users worldwide, enabling them to make face-to-face calls despite the distances between them.
But WhatsApp is not the only app to offer video calling functionality to users. Skype was the first major player in this space, while FaceTime comes pre-installed on millions of Apple devices across the world, giving it a huge user base as well. Each of these apps offers secure video calls and smooth interface, and claims to offer good user experience.
However, unless you are on Wi-Fi, using Skype, WhatsApp video calls, or FaceTime can be an expensive affair, considering the data consumed and associated charges. I compared the data consumed by WhatsApp, Skype, and Apple’s FaceTime in video calls to find out which uses the least amount. To do this, i made 4-minute calls using each app.
Apple’s FaceTime used the least amount of data in the test, eating up 8.8MB of data in a 4-minute call. Skype and WhatsApp consumed an average of 12.3MB and 12.74MB of mobile data during video calls. All calls were made on Vodafone 3G network .The amount of data consumed was calculated as an average of 3 calls made using each app.
The video call quality on both WhatsApp and Skype was not great, with choppy video reported at the other person’s side. On FaceTime, the video call quality was decent till the other person switched to mobile data as well, after which the video became severely pixelated and lagged considerably. So, FaceTime used less data despite the call quality being better or comparable.
At approximately 25 paise per MB average cost of data on Vodafone (for a 1GB 3G/ 4G prepaid recharge that costs Rs. 255), a 4-minute video call amounts to roughly Rs. 2.2 – or 55 paise per minute – being spent on FaceTime calls and approximately Rs. 3.1 – or 80 paise per minute – on WhatsApp and Skype.
Note: I tried making video calls using Google Duo, but the app suspended the video call due to bad network conditions on the same Vodafone network that WhatsApp, FaceTime, and Skype were able to make calls. This is why i couldn’t include Google Duo in this comparison.