Last year, the company introduced WhatsApp voice calling to let users make phone calls over the internet. This year, the new addition is WhatsApp video calling. It was a beta feature until last month, but now it’s officially released for everyone and all platforms.
What to Know About WhatsApp Video Calls
Video calling is exactly what it sounds like. You “call” a friend with the WhatsApp, and both of you can see each other on your smartphone screens. It’s like what Skype has been doing for years.
It is technically free, in the sense that WhatsApp isn’t charging you any money to make the call. However, video calls need internet, so it will be consuming data from your phone’s data plan. If you are using WhatsApp Call over a Wi-Fi connection, your phone’s network carrier (e.g. AT&T, Vodafone, etc.) won’t charge you anything. A quick reminder, you can check how much data WhatsApp has used.
Existing users will need to update their app, while new users can download it. The feature is available on Android right now, and will be rolling out to iOS and Windows Phone within a day. WhatsApp is completely free.
What You Can Do With WhatsApp Video Calls
WhatsApp’s video calls are a part of the existing voice calls feature. Placing a video call is pretty simple. You choose the contact you want to talk to, tap the phone icon next to their name, and choose “Video Call” from the dialog that pops up. Here’s a quick demonstration:
The other person can answer or reject the call. If they answer, you’re ready to go.
You can also mute the microphone, so the other person can see you but not hear you. To mute the audio from the speakers, use your phone’s volume buttons.
Better Internet Speeds
Whenever you make a video call, WhatsApp does not assume any internet speed. So it will calculate your speed each tie, and adjust the video quality accordingly. This makes a remarkable difference in how good the video looks.
One Redditor made a short clip comparing WhatsApp video calls and Apple’s FaceTime. WhatsApp looks far better in that battle. Watch it for yourself:
We tried WhatsApp Video Calling on 4G, 3G, and 2G networks, and it worked on all three. The 2G network’s video quality was poor and pixellated, but it was still smooth enough to know what was happening on screen. The lack of lag was refreshing.
Multi-Tasking While on Call
The second highlight of WhatsApp’s video calls is the multi-tasking feature. Most smartphone video calls force you to use the video call and nothing else. You can’t multi-task. However, WhatsApp has no such restrictions.
You can tap the “Message” button at any point to check other messages that someone has sent you on WhatsApp, and even reply to them. To return to your video call, tap the green bar at the top of the app.
What You Can’t Do With WhatsApp Video Calls
Although it works well, there are still a few missing features in WhatsApp Video Calls. And those can be dealbreakers for some people.
No WhatsApp Web or Desktop Support
On the other hand, apps like Skype or FaceTime are available on both computers and phones, and can cross-call between the two. This might be a big issue for some people.
No Group Video Calls
WhatsApp video calls are only one-to-one. It’s a little disappointing, since WhatsApp’s group chats are one of its most popular features.
How Much Data Does Video Calling Use?
WhatsApp’s focus is to make the video call look as good as possible. So if it can give you higher quality, it’s going to do that. And that results in high data usage. If you’re not on Wi-Fi, this can quickly eat through cellular data caps.
On average, we found a minute’s call to use 5 MB of data on 4G, 3.75 MB on 3G, and 3 MB on 2G. This isn’t bad at all, and much less than what we expected. A few Twitter users also recorded similar numbers:
Have You Tried WhatsApp Video Calling?
Have you got the new WhatsApp video calling feature and tried it out? What do you think of it? Did it work well for you, or did you have any troubles?