5 of the best alternatives to your phone

With O2’s troubles spelling a communication-free day for thousands, we look at other ways to keep in touch

O2’s 2G and 3G services suffered a well-publicised blackout for many users over the past couple of days, and while they’re reportedly back up and running it’s always good to know there are alternatives to standard phone calls and texts. Still got a Wi-Fi connection? These are the apps we’d recommend…


Apple’s response to the likes of BBM is available to anyone using iOS 5, and allows you to send texts, photos, videos and contact info, as well as group messages. It’s available through the Messages app on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch and also integrates into SMS, allowing you to text users of non-iOS devices.



WhatsApp works with pretty much any smartphone out there (iOS, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone, Symbian and Series 40), and syncs with your contacts book in a beautifully fuss-free fashion. It lets you send text, photos, videos, music and group messages, or share your location, and gives you a confirmation of when your message has been received.


Now owned by Microsoft, the world’s best known voice over IP service is available for iOS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Android. You can call and message other Skype users for free (both voice and video chat, depending on your phone’s features), and send texts and make voice calls to any landline or mobile phone number for a small charge.

WhatsApp Messenger


Viber is only as useful as your contacts list, because it only lets you call or text other Viber users. But you’re in luck if your address book includes lots of Viber users, because it’s totally free to use over Wi-Fi and 3G. We’ve found Viber to be the best international calling service around, serving up sound quality that’s far clearer and less delay-plagued than a regular phone line – provided you have a good data connection at the time. Available on iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone.


An app for iOS, BlackBerry and Android that works separately from the main official Facebook app (but integrates with Facebook on both your phone and the web), Messenger lets you IM with any of your Facebook contacts.

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Facebook Messenger