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Best alternatives to Skype 2020: paid and free

Best alternatives to Skype
(Image credit: Future)

Skype was one of the early success stories when it came to easy-access VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). By the end of 2010 it had recorded over 600 million users around the world.

However, after Microsoft bought Skype in 2012 they began to make changes, adding some features, while removing others, while also integrating it into its Office suite of software applications.

Not all users were happy about the acquisition and following changes, and with the growth of rival services, a number of Skype users began to migrate to these.

Since then, the technology has matured and the availability of easy-access VoIP has become widespread, meaning that users are now spoiled for choice.

Even better for users is that communications are no longer restricted to just phone calls, as video calling has now become a feature in many freely available services.

However, while there are a lot of free alternatives, for business there are paid options available to ensure the best quality for calls and video. Even still, for many business users they will want to have a dedicated VoIP service for business  and additionally use their own hardware, such as VoIP phones.

Here then we'll list some of the best alternatives to Skype, not least in terms of features, support, ease of use, and accessibility.

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Best Skype alternatives - at a glance 

  1. WhatsApp
  2. Google Hangouts
  3. Viber
  4. WebEx
  5. Jami

WhatsApp

(Image credit: WhatsApp)

1. WhatsApp

The best Skype alternative in 2019

Popular
Free
Owned by Facebook

WhatsApp is our pick for the best Skype alternative of 2019. This messaging service has taken the world by storm, so there's a good chance that you already have it installed on your smartphone or PC. 

WhatsApp offers plenty of features to rival Skype, including text messaging, voice and video calls, and group chat. It also offers both web and desktop clients. 

Perhaps most famously, WhatsApp also provides end-to-end encryption, which guarantees you a degree of privacy.

For business users, you can easily share documents and there's a WhatsApp business API as well.

Google Hangouts

(Image credit: Google )

2. Google Hangouts

A great Skype alternative for Gmail users

HD video calls
Free
Limited number of participants

Google Hangouts is another popular alternative to Skype that offers a lot of the same features, including high definition video calling, group chats and instant messaging. If you use Gmail, or your company uses G Suite, then you'll find Google Hangouts an excellent choice for VoIP thanks to its integration. 

Google Hangouts is easy to use, and there's a free version though call quality with that isn't so good as the paid-for version. You can also easily share your screen, which makes it useful for collaboration and showing presentations.

Google Hangouts does have a limit on the number of people who can join a video call at once, which can be annoying if you have a large company.

Viber

(Image credit: Viber)

3. Viber

One of the best Skype alternatives for security

End-to-end encryption
Free
Limited features

Viber offers text, voice and video calls free of charge, and if you are willing to pay, you can use Viber Out to make calls to any phone number in the world – and this can even be used from the desktop. 

Group calling is a great feature for groups of friends, and there is the usual selection of stickers to choose from. Viber prides itself on being 'ad lite', which means while there are some ads, such as at the end of video calls, they shouldn't be intrusive. 

Viber also offers end-to-end encryption to help ensure that calls are protected, secure, and remain private, but you can also delete messages once seen for added privacy.

Webex

(Image credit: Webex)

4. WebEx

The best Skype alternative for businesses

Business-specific features
Integration with various platforms such as Microsoft Teams
Expensive
Not suitable for home users

If you're looking for the best Skype alternative for business use, then WebEx is the service to go for.

Webex offers a large amount of features for video conferencing, allowing employees from all over the world to work together and collaborate on projects. 

It can be used for training, supporting customers and much more, and for an additional fee, you can also include international voice calls. 

Webex also integrates with your business calendar, as well as platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Slack and Facebook Live.

Jami

(Image credit: Jami)

5. Jami

The best open source Skype alternative

Open source
Direct calls between users
Not as fully-featured as some Skype alternatives

If you're looking for an open source Skype alternative that prioritises the privacy of its users, then Jami - which used to be known as Ring - is the one to go for. 

Jami has a professional-looking design and is available for a wide range of platforms. Unlike other Skype alternatives, calls using Jami are direct between users, so it doesn't use servers to handle calls. 

This gives you even greater privacy, as the decentralized nature of Jami means your calls are only between you and the person you're calling - no one else can see (or hear). 

Jami has got a good selection of features, such as HD video calling, instant messaging, voice messaging, and file sharing. It's also totally free to use.