8 iPhone VoIP apps that can help you save minutes

While AT&T has been fumbling around its decision to offer free iPhone calls over its Wi-Fi hotspots, several third-party developers have created applications designed to give you iPhone VoIP access today. In this slideshow, we'll introduce you to eight iPhone VoIP apps and look at how they can potentially save you minutes on your monthly iPhone voice plan.

Fring, an Israeli-based peer-to-peer VoIP application company, allows its users to talk and chat with one another using applications such as Skype, ICQ, Google Talk, MSN Messenger, AIM, and Yahoo Messenger. Fring can connect via Wi-Fi, GPRS or 3G networks, although the company is still working on making the application compatible with the iPhone 3G. The application does currently work on earlier iPhone models, even though you'll have to jailbreak your iPhone to get it to work.

Similarly to Fring, PhoneGnome allows users to chat with fellow users on their iPhones for free using SIP-based services, FWD, MSN, Yahoo and Google Talk. Additionally, PhoneGnome lets you make calls to fellow PhoneGnome users on your home-phone or office-phone service, and also offers cheap rates for international calls. And as a Web 2.0 application, PhoneGnome does not require users to unlock their iPhones.

As the only VoIP application currently available at the iPhone App Store, Truphone gives users international calling for as cheap as 3p (roughly $.06) per minute for calls made to landlines and around 15p (roughly $.30) per minute for calls made to other mobile phones. Truphone is a pay-as-you-go service, and the company says there are no subscription charges, monthly charges or roaming charges. Truphone can be accessed anywhere your iPhone 3G can hook up with a Wi-Fi network.

Developed by Internet-based telephony provider 8X8 , Packet8 features international calling rates as low as $.01 per minute to China, $.02 per minute to the U.K., $.03 per minute to Mexico and $.059 per minute to India. As a Web application, Packet8 requires only that customers use a Web-based dialer to make their international calls. Once customers dial a number, the company then routes the call to a local Packet8 access number and on to Packet8's VoIP network.

Another Wi-Fi-based VoIP application, iCall will soon be available at the iPhone App Store. The application lets you make and receive calls through Wi-Fi connections and also allows you to seamlessly transfer incoming cellular-based calls directly onto the Wi-Fi network.

This Web-based VoIP application does not require Wi-Fi access, as you can simply log onto the company's Web site through your iPhone's data plan. JAJAH co-founder Roman Scharf recently told VoIP News that users can send their calls through 3G or EDGE networks to reach the company's own native VoIP network. According to the company's official blog , the monthly base rate plan for JAJAH starts at $3.99 a month, and offers rates such as $.23 per minute for calls from the US to the UK. The company is currently negotiating with Apple to have its application available on the App Store.

Another Web-based VoIP application that works for both the iPhone and the iPod touch, Raketu gives users a credit of up to 1,200 calling minutes when they sign up and make an initial payment of $9.95, $24.95 or $49.95. Raketu offers rates of around $.14 to $.18 per minute for calls to Japan, Australia and Western Europe.

As its name suggests, sipgate offers SIP-based VoIP services over Wi-Fi connections. The UK-based sipgate offers free calls between all sipgate subscribers, although the company cautions that you will need to buy a SIP service and a Wi-Fi connection in order to use sipgate properly. Sipgate is currently not available for the iPhone 3G, and the application's designers actually warn that downloading sipgate could potentially break your iPhone 3G. That said, though, the service itself is entirely free, so maybe it's a risk worth considering?

Do you plan to download any iPhone VoIP applications? Which ones look the most appealing to you? Let us know in the comments!