Best video calling apps
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.
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.
|App name: In alphabetical order||Speech quality||Video quality||Speech with throttling||Video with throttling||Ease of use||Score|
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- Discord might be popular among gamers, but is its video quality good enough to make it a contender compared with dedicated video calling software?
- Google’s Hangouts is free alongside Gmail accounts. It might be an easy option if you’ve already got an account, but will you get better quality elsewhere?
- Google’s Meet is replacing Hangouts. There's a free version for up to 100 participants, but a big meeting room is no good if the quality is poor. Find out how it compares to other software on offer.
- Jitsi is a video calling app often used by schools, thanks to features like hand gestures, which mean you can put your hand up and get attention. Find out whether it’s best for kids or ideal for the whole family.
- Microsoft’s video calling software, Skype, has been around for years. Is it outdated, or has it got enough experience under its belt to be the best?
- You might have heard of Zoom, for good and bad reasons. Should you believe the hype, and how concerned should you be about security?
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.
|Video app name - in alphabetical order||Speech quality||Video quality||Speech with throttling||Video with throttling||Ease of use||Score|
|Team Viewer Blizz
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- Bitrix24 allows 12 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 250 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 5 participants, 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 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 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’s app allows video calling with up to 12 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
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.
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 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 .
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.