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Technology.

Updated: 21 Apr 2022

Best video calling apps

We've put video calling apps through security and quality tests to help you choose the best
Hollie Hennessy
MAIN family

As soon as social distancing started, video calling became one of the best ways to stay in touch with loved ones.

New names, such as Zoom and Jitsi, have grown in popularity, and older services like Skype and Google Hangouts are still available, whether you use Gmail or Outlook for your emails.

To find out which are the best, we’ve run 11 different video calling apps through our lab tests to help you decide which one to use for your video catch-ups – whether that’s for work or play.


Whatever your budget, our lab tests reveal which models are worth your money and which aren't. See our expert pick of the best laptops for 2022.


How we test video calling apps

We cover a wide range of criteria in our video calling lab tests to make sure you can be confident about the app you’re using:

  • Video and speech quality We test both speech and video quality at full bandwidth, which represents a good internet connection, both with two people and five people on the call – so you know whether more participants will make the quality any worse.
  • Video and speech quality with throttling We know how important it is that your video calls continue to work when your network is busy. In this scenario, we throttle the internet speed to simulate a patchy connection and see how well each app copes.
  • Ease of use We rate each service on how easy it is to use. This includes how easy they are to install and set up a call, as well as their help functions.
  • Security Each service is run through our security test. This ensures that password policies are strong enough that a hacker won’t be able to guess them. We also look out for things like multi-factor authentication, which helps to make your account more secure.

Best video calling apps for home use

In the table below we reveal the apps that are best for using at home. These all have free versions, and you don’t need a business account to use them.

Video calling appSpeech qualityVideo qualitySpeech with throttlingVideo with throttlingEase of useScore
Microsoft Skype
73%
Jitsi
68%
Discord
66%
Google Hangouts
62%
Google Meet
61%
Zoom
59%

Microsoft Skype verdict - 73%

It might be an oldie, but it’s a goodie. Skype has been around long enough for years of development, and it’s topped our tests. It’s a great free platform for home use, with consistently good audio and video quality. You can sign in with an existing Outlook email account, or set one up. Plus, there’s now a web feature, so you can set up a call without even downloading anything.

There’s a wide array of useful and fun features – such as a virtual background, so you can pretend you’re at the beach (or wherever takes your fancy), and speech recognition subtitles for poor audio or people with impaired hearing. Skype is free with support for up to 50 people, although you'll have to buy Skype credits if you want to call a regular landline or mobile phone number.

Jitsi verdict - 68%

You might not have heard of Jitsi, but it’s software that's often used by schools. It did really well when it comes to a patchy network, so if you struggle with your internet, it’s a good choice. It’s free and you don’t need to sign up – which is really good for data protection.

We did find it a bit tricky to use, though, but this shouldn’t put you off. You create a meeting by choosing a name for it. You can then share the name around to whoever you want to join. It’s a bit like creating a WhatsApp group. Jitsi is free with support for up to 75 people.

Discord verdict - 66%

Another good option is Discord, which is mostly used for gaming, but its chat and video calling features are good enough for any virtual meet-up. You can create a chat group with the same people, handy if you have a book club or gardening group.

Video is good if your internet drops out for a bit, but, as with even the best software, quality will be noticeably worse with slow connections. Discord is free with support for up to 25 people to join a video call.

Google Hangouts verdict - 62%

If you’re a Gmail user, Hangouts is another option. Even though there’s no download (it works on the website or as a browser plugin), it’s not the easiest to use. It also struggles to keep video clear with a poor connection, but it’s fine with good internet.

It’s worth noting that Google has since released Google Meet (a slightly different service, below). This will eventually replace Hangouts completely. Google Hangouts supports up to 25 participants on a video call.

Google Meet verdict - 61%

Google's free version of Meet offers acceptable quality, but video isn't as good as others. That said, it copes better than some with a patchy connection and adjusting the settings is simple. It works in-browser and on the Android and iOS mobile apps. If you want to sign up with an email account which isn't Gmail, you'll have do to so on the web interface. 

It’s a bit lacking when it comes to features. The free version allows 100 participants, but you can't make use of extra functions such as meeting recording unless you pay for a Google Workspace Business Standard, Plus or Enterprise account. These start at £8.28 per user, per month.

Zoom verdict - 59%

Despite the media buzz around Zoom, plus backing from politicians and celebrities alike, Zoom isn’t a service we’d recommend – and it came bottom of the barrel compared with other apps suited to home use.

Even with a good connection, Zoom’s video quality isn’t quite as good as others, but it’s the speech and video quality with a poor connection which brings it down. As soon as the internet connection drops a little, speech can be practically inaudible and video is glitchy.

On the plus side, although it's been under fire for security issues, Zoom has resolved many problems in the version five update and we didn’t find anything alarming. Zoom is free with support for up to 100 people. 

Best video conferencing apps for work

In the table below we reveal the apps that are best for using at work. Some of these work with a business account and have features for team collaboration. Scroll down for more information about each one, including analysis of our results.

Only logged-in Which? members can view the results in the table below. If you’re not yet a member, you can get instant access by joining Which? today.

Video app name - in alphabetical orderSpeech qualityVideo qualitySpeech with throttlingVideo with throttlingEase of useScore
Bitrix Bitrix24
Cisco Webex
LogMeIn GoToMeeting
Microsoft Teams
Slack
Team Viewer Blizz

Log-in to unlock our table, above, and our full analysis of our results. 

  • Bitrix24 allows 48 people in a call, so it could be good for medium-sized companies. Is this less well-known software one to switch to?
  • Cisco Webex works with physical Webex devices, such as whiteboards and cameras, if you use those at your organisation. But how good is the quality of the call, and can it handle a patchy internet connection?
  • LogMeIn’s GoToMeeting doesn’t have a free version, unlike a lot of the other software we’ve tested. So, is it worth the cash or can you get better performance for no cost at all?
  • Microsoft Teams comes alongside both free and paid business 365 accounts and it allows up to 300 team members in a call – ideal for large companies. But how does it cope with multiple people and internet drop-outs?
  • Slack might have a strong chat function, and allows shared documents and channels for easy organisation, but is it any good for video calling?
  • Team Viewer Blizz only allows five participants for free, so it’s only suited for small teams. Is it good enough to handle unreliable home internet, or are you better going with something with more capability?

Best video calling apps for Android

Although we didn't run mobile-based video-calling apps through our full test, we've still run the rule over some of the more popular options to help you choose.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp allows you to call up to eight people. You can call just one of your contacts, or straight from one of your WhatsApp groups.  WhatsApp uses your internet connection, so it will be free if you’re connected to wi-fi.

WhatsApp is also available on iPhones.

Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger supports both voice and video calls. You can start a call straight from any existing conversation and it will link between all of your devices. It also allows group calls with up to eight people (who each have a Facebook account). Facebook’s photo filters work with video calling, too – if you want to have a bit of fun.

Facebook has also recently created Messenger Rooms, a feature which works on the Facebook and Messenger apps, and it allows up to 50 people on the call – including those who don’t have either service.

Facebook Messenger is also available on iPhones.

Google Duo

Google Duo’s app allows video calling with up to 32 people.

There are plenty of fun features, including doodle mode, which allows you to draw to everyone in the group, and fun augmented reality (AR) effects (if you fancy becoming a dinosaur for the evening). You can also take a photo of your call and share it immediately with everyone on the line – great for documenting a virtual birthday party.

Google Duo is also available on iPhones.

Best video calling apps for iPhone

FaceTime

Apple devices are supplied with FaceTime. You can video call anyone quickly and easily from your contacts or from the FaceTime app. Bear in mind that it only works if the person you’re calling also has an Apple device, but you can add up to 32 people.

Houseparty 

Houseparty has kicked up a storm since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, when it skyrocketed in popularity. The company refuted hacking claims and it’s broadly safe to use. Read more about Houseparty security.

It’s a bit different from the other options, as you can play games with up to eight people on your call, from virtual charades to Pictionary. 

HouseParty is also available on Android.

Instagram

Instagram has recently launched more features for group video calling. You can call just one person, or up to six people at once. To get notified about the call, though, you’ll have to make sure notifications are on for video chats.

You can use all of Instagram’s filters in the group chat, as well as share photos you’ve liked recently with the group, so you can all view and chat about them together.

Instagram is also available on Android.

Security and video calling apps

Although Zoom has been heavily criticised for security issues, it has improved with the update to Version 5.0. We ran each video calling app on test here through our security tests and we didn’t find any cause for concern, including with Zoom.

There are some things that video calling services could do better, though. Some meetings can’t be locked, or they have meeting names that could be guessed. Others allow trivial passwords, and their password policies could be more secure.

These can always be improved with updates, but you can do some things yourself in the meantime to make your meetings as secure as possible.

Security tips for video calling

Set a good password

Some software, such as Slack and Discord, isn't too hot on making sure your passwords are secure. As an example, in our tests, Discord allowed 123456 to be used as a password, which is obviously a poor choice and easily guessable.

Instead, using three random words in sequence to create what’s called a passphrase, instead of a traditional ‘password’, is best.

This could be something that you’ll remember easily, but doesn’t necessarily need to make sense. Using something personal like your daughter’s name and birthday isn’t ideal; like ‘SarahBornJune’. Something like ‘DeskBoilerHippo’ would be fine.

Make your meeting name difficult to guess

With some software, such as Cisco and Jitsi, you’ll have a meeting name. If you’re creating your own name, try to make it as unique and difficult to guess as possible so you don’t have any unwanted guests, accidental or otherwise. Don't make it the same as your password, either.

Apply extra security settings

If you’re given the option, you can apply extra settings, such as multi-factor authentication. These are apps which generate a one-time code that you use to confirm that it’s really you logging in – a bit like the codes you use with internet banking. You can find out how to do this in our guide to multi-factor authentication.

Some video calling options also allow you to lock your meetings, so no-one else can join. Once everyone is on the call, it's always a good idea to lock your meeting.