Sep 19, 2013

KakaoTalk Free Calls and SMS Review

KakaoTalk is a communication tool for smartphone users allowing them to make free calls to contacts using the same service and to send text messages for free. Many other features are included with the service. The most interesting point with it is that it does not require the user to register and use a nickname, and uses their mobile phone number for identifying them. KakaoTalk is available for the iPhone, for Android phones, for BlackBerry and Windows Phone, and works on Wi-Fi and 3G networks. At the time I am writing this, the user base of KakaoTalk is reaching 50 million.

  • No need to register, use your mobile phone number.
  • Unlimited free calls and text messages to other KakaoTalk users.
  • Group text messages.
  • Huge user base.
  • Many other features.
  • No calling and messaging to non-KakaoTalk users, not even paid service.
  • Not available for most phone models including Nokia, Symbian etc.
  • Dependent on Wi-Fi or 3G signals.
  • No video.

KakoTalk is a Korea-based VoIP service that resembles Viber a lot. Services like this that give free calls and other communication services for free to other in-network users are numerous, but what I find more interesting with services like KakaoTalk is that it uses your phone number to identify you and does not require you to register for a username.

The service can be used exclusively with people who are already users of KakaoTalk. You can’t place calls to other landline and mobile numbers, not even if you pay. So you will be happy and save money with the service only if you have buddies using it and with whom you communicate frequently. For this reason, the huge number of users using this service (reaching 50 million) makes it interesting.

KakaoTalk is also used as a social networking tool, as a means to meet new people and to chat. It has features that allow you to search for people using their names, their numbers and their email account. It manages to get hold of people and their information so easily that it makes me think a lot on security and privacy issues. For instance, when I installed and set up the app on my Android device, it automatically fed in one of my phone numbers. It was actually an old number that is no longer active. How did they get that kind of information?

One thing you need with the service is constant connectivity wherever you are. While it uses your mobile phone number to identify you, it has nothing to do with your cellular network. It relies exclusively on your 3G or Wi-Fi connection. If your smartphone is not connected, you just can’t use it.

Using the service with mobility is finally not fully free. You need to consider the cost of a 3G data plan. It is fully free when used in a Wi-Fi hotspot, but that limits you considerably in mobility.

KakaoTalk has some more features. The Plus Friend feature allows users to obtain benefits and multimedia content like songs and videos by adding artists and celebrities as their friends. The app integrates your contact list and adds friends automatically to your chat sessions once they are online. KakoTalk actually offers an ID for each user and you use it to identify your friends on the network. You can import and export friend lists, and view each friend’s mini profile. You can also register your favorite friends. The app provides funny voice filters that you can apply to your voice when engaged in voice calls. It also gives useless but funny emoticons, that are animated.

KakaoTalk also allows you to share your multimedia files like images and videos, but also links, contact information, and voice messages.

You can use your KakaoTalk account with only one phone number. If you change your phone number, you will need to complete another number registration process.

You will have to be cautious when making calls using KakaoTalk. If you select a phone number that is not recognized in the KakoTalk service, the app will let you place the call using your mobile minutes. Make sure before calling whether you are making free or paid calls.

Finally, a word about group chatting, which gives the app its social networking touch. The number of friends you can have in a group chat session in unlimited, and you can add friends therein at any time. If all the friends are KakaoTalk users, the whole session will be free for everyone. You can also choose to make voice calls to a friend in the chat session.


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