My general Fongo review / feedback

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My general Fongo review / feedback

Postby p_giguere1 » 08/19/2016

I've been using Fongo with my data-only iPhone for 5 months now. In short, I'd say the service gives you a lot for the price. But is has more to do with how cheap it is than how good it is. In fact, I don't think the service is that good. The feature set is pretty complete, but the execution of just about everything feel pretty subpar. It's really hard to blame Fongo however, because the whole thing costs nothing or near-nothing and is ad-supported. Clearly they can't have a very high development budget.

Overall I'm more satisified with a regular cell phone service. However, the monthly fees are not even close. I don't think traditional service is worth paying several times more every month so I stick with Fongo. However, I'd gladly pay more than what I currently pay for Fongo if the overall experience was better. I feel like there's currently a gap in the market for people who want something cheaper than regular service but aren't that cheap either and would gladly pay more for a service that feels more polished, modern, and reliable.

Here's what I'd improve with Fongo:
  • Have a pretty, modern design. The website, app and this forum all feel like they belong to at least 5 years ago and have been designed by programmers rather than real designers. This can be a turn-off from the start as it suggests that the service might be unmaintained / on its way out. People (rightly) associate apps with poor design with buggy apps.
  • Improve UX. Small details, especially feedback, are not right. For example, you will click a phone number and it'll take around 1-2 seconds before the calling pane actually displays. Meanwhile there is no animation or feedback and it just feels like the app froze. Or when a call drops, there is no feedback (e.g. a "beep beep" ) to indicate the call ended. So you just keep talking until you realize the other person is not answering.
  • Improve app stability. The Fongo app crashes all the time. Seems to happen regularly when my iPhone switches between Wi-Fi and cellular.
  • Improve call stability. Calls drop very often, a lot moreso than with services like Skype (on the same network). Some calls will go straight to my voicemail even though my network is fine.
  • Improve notifications reliability. Sometimes I will receive SMS or a new voicemail and I won't get any push notification, or it'll come very late. I may notice new content just because I manually check the app, while I should be able to rely on notifications alone.
  • Improve performance. The app feels pretty slow on my iPhone 6. Why is there a loading just when I switch tabs? Can't tabs be preserved in memory rather than re-loaded every time? That's definitely not how most iOS apps behave. Also, why is there a loading when I click a contact from my Messages list? It should be instant like with other apps, because the most recent messages are loaded in memory already.
  • Support incoming short code SMS. We're in 2016. Many people use 2-factor authentication with many services or get various notifications from automated SMS services. For example, I don't receive Montreal parking meter expiration notifications anymore, and have to use alternate ways of logging with 2FA.
  • Support syncing across multiple devices. I made the mistake of installing Fongo on both my iPhone and iPad. What I noticed after a while is that new voicemails will appear on either my iPhone or iPad, not both. I missed a couple voicemails because of this and it got me in pretty bad situations. I ended up deleting Fongo from my iPad because of this. It's like the whole app has been designed like a user only has one device and won't behave like expected if you have multiple. That's surprising considering Fongo has an iPad app, you'd think they'd know most people who use iPads also have a smartphone.
  • Embrace new APIs. The iPhone experience for instance is greatly limited by the fact incoming calls use basic notifications and require you to unlock your phone. This is an iOS limitation, but that will go away with iOS 10 and the CallKit API. Apps like Fongo should support that on day one. But really I don't expect it considering the app really feels outdated and barely maintained.

At this point I really wish some Fongo competitor that's more expensive and polished would come out, or that Fongo would dramatically change their approach and just up their standards across the board, even if it means the service gets more expensive.

If someone knows of any alternative service that comes out that's more polished than Fongo, do share!
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Re: My general Fongo review / feedback

Postby fruvous » 08/25/2016

Two that you might try out is TextNow and

Although I don't find their offerings as polished as Fongo/FPL. gives much more control but it's up to you to cobble together 3rd party apps.
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Re: My general Fongo review / feedback

Postby bridonca » 08/26/2016

Sugar mobile might be an option also. For $19 a month, you get a SIM card with 200 minutes and 200 megs of data a month. The hook is, that when connected to wifi, the Canada/US calls, data, MMS and call forwarding are unlimited.

I also have to note, that Apple products have a high degree of suck when it comes to VOIP. A 3rd party VOIP provider can only do so much without Apple getting in the way, I am afraid.
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Re: My general Fongo review / feedback

Postby TomGo » 09/01/2016

In the end it's about call quality and reliability - the other stuff is just icing.

If they had those things - and I would happily pay $5/m for them - then I would stop paying for call & text on my cell service and go data only, but Fongo calls are just not good enough.

I know they can do better because I can make outbound VoIP calls over Wi-Fi using Google hangouts and the quality is near perfect.
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