Looking for a way to make free calls on your iPhone in exchange for some of your time and effort? CallCoin, Inc. released its CallCoin app a few days ago, offering free VoIP phone calls on the iPhone using virtual coins earned by participating in surveys and playing online games. Free calls sound like a wonderful thing but does it work and is the time and effort required worth it? We took a quick look at the service to see how it functions and found that it doesn’t really come through on what it promises.
When you first open the app, you’re directed to enter your CallCoin log-in name and password in the Settings app and there’s no way to create an account in the app itself. So, you need to head to your nearest web browser and go to callcoin.com to sign up. The site wasn’t fully up and running on the first day the app appeared in the App Store but it’s now fully operational.
Once you create an account on CallCoin’s web site, you won’t be able to log in to the iPhone app quite yet – you’ll need to wait for the account verification email and click on the provided link to fully activate your account. After this, you’ll need to go into the settings for your account on the company’s web site to find an ID and password defined by CallCoin – these are what you’ll need to enter on your iPhone for the app to work.
We were really interested to see what kinds of surveys are required to earn coins and how many coins it takes to make phone calls. According to the company’s FAQ, the availability of surveys varies by country. We found a variety of surveys and offers to earn coins, ranging from getting auto insurance quotes and credit reports to playing Frogger and Pac-Man online. All offers take you to 3rd-party sites and many of the offers require entering your home address, phone number, and more and possibly agree to be contacted by the company providing the offer in order to earn your coins. CallCoin doesn’t provide any guarantees that these companies won’t use this information in nefarious ways, so you may want to proceed with caution here.
The offers we saw provided anywhere from 169 down to 7 coins. When it comes to CallCoin’s rates, calls to the U.S. are 1 coin per minute while calls to mobile phones in most western European countries are around 10 coins per minute. A full list of CallCoin’s rates are available here. Frankly, we weren’t trusting enough to complete the offers that required personal information (and you should also be wary of this) and we weren’t able to play any of the online games listed (they all required a PC and we use Macs). Fortunately, we were given 5 coins to start with just for creating an account and used these to make calls.
We were able to make calls to another U.S. mobile number though only while connected to a Wi-Fi network. When we tried to make a call while only on AT&T’s 3G network, the dialer showed a Service Unavailable message and we were only given an option to make a regular cellular call, which closes CallCoin and opens the iPhone’s Phone app to complete the call.
But here’s the biggest issue with the test calls we made – while we were able to hear the person on the other end of the line perfectly, what we said was absolutely unintelligible to the person we called. And by unintelligible, we mean we sounded like completely borked Cylons (the circa 1978 Battlestar Gallactica Cylons, not the newfangled Caprica ones).
We’re not sure if the call performance we experience is just an issue attributable to the fact that this appears to be a new service with its own start-up and capacity problems or if this is going to be representative of how the service “works” overall. For the record, we were using a perfectly operational iPhone 4 on a speedy, uncrowded Wi-Fi network and tried calling both mobile and land lines with the same results.
If you do give CallCoin a try anyway and get better results than we did, note that you can only make outgoing calls with CallCoin – you’re not assigned a phone number so there’s no way for anyone to call you through the app. CallCoin is also working on a paid version of its service so you can skip the surveys and online games to get coins.