Viber – a nice VoIP app that I don’t really like

Viber (the kiwi/brit in me really wants to spell it “Vibre”), is a VoIP app for cell phones that uses a data connection to make free calls, much like Skype and other VoIP systems. The idea is great in principle, but in practice it doesn’t quite gel with how I use my phone.

Firstly there’s the user interface:

This SCREAMS iPhone to me, and this is an Android phone. If I wanted my phone to behave like an iPhone, I’d have bought an iPhone.

Then there’s the issue with battery life. The Viber FAQ states “Viber is light weight (sic) application and in general it does not drains (sic) the battery”.

I must beg to differ:

To be fair, any VoIP configuration is going to add significant battery drain, as does mobile standby on a standard network. The issue is that we have to stay connected to two networks. And to be fairer still to Viber I think it is a lot easier on your battery than Skype, which basically can’t be left on standby unless you charge your phone twice a day.

My complaints about interface are subjective, but I want a VoIP experience that integrates with the built-in phone apps, not one that requires a new user interface. Skype on the N900 should be the model here.

So while Viber is nice for keeping in touch with friends overseas, I don’t really want it running in the background. The problem is that I can’t yet see how to prevent this without removing it altogether.

The other barrier is of course the contract plans, which are generally very generous on included minutes, but much less so on data. Funny that.

27 thoughts on “Viber – a nice VoIP app that I don’t really like

  1. Viber

    Hi,

    This is a member of the Viber Development Team!
    Thank you for your review of Viber.

    I would like to clarify some points if I may:

    * Battery consumption – We tested it here in our labs with several devices and except for when making a call (when it is natural for the battery to be used), we didn’t notice any significant battery drain when Viber was simply running in the background (only 2% in over 15 hours!)

    People across the Web conducted similar tests in order to determine how much battery Viber uses, and found the same.

    * Interface – We haven’t heard of any specific complaints regarding the interface design, and at this point we are not going to change it. Sorry for the inconvenience.

    * Data usage – Just for your information, the bandwidth rate during a Viber call is approximately 240 KB per minute up and down, 14 MB per hour up and down. Texting may be different depending on the font type / language. Our test revealed 1 SMS to be 828bytes for 500 US English characters.

    * Exit Viber – If you don’t want to keep Viber running in the background, you have ‘Exit’ button under the ‘More’ tab.

    If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask and we will address them shortly.
    Thanks,
    Viber.

    Reply
    1. Alex Post author

      Thanks for taking the time to respond.

      This was certainly not meant to be an exhaustive or authoritative review of Viber, in fact I deliberately left the word “review” out of the title.

      Battery consumption – not going to argue with your lab results and I don’t know how accurate Android’s battery usage reporting is, but based on what it’s reporting I think I’m seeing significantly more than 2%. In any case I don’t think Viber’s battery consumption is at all unreasonable considering its functionality, but I don’t think anyone should bury their head in the sand over the battery life cost of staying connected to a second network. In my highly unscientific and subjective testing it still comfortably spanks Skype.

      14MB per hour seems very reasonable – gives me about 35 hours on my current data plan which is a lot more than the 600mins I get via O2.

      UI is subjective absolutely. But it does look like an iPhone app which is never going to appeal to someone who buys a Nexus S. :neutral:

      In short, despite the tone of my “review”, I still use Viber and I hope it improves :-)

      –Alex

      Reply
      1. Viber

        Hi Alex,

        Thanks for the clarification and feedback.

        About the battery consumption:
        We are about to release a new version within the next several days with much improved battery consumption. We’d be happy if you try it and let us know what you think.

        Thanks,
        Viber Team

        Reply
      2. Vee

        Hi,

        I was just wondering, when you ‘exit’ Viber, does it still use up your data?
        Thanks,
        Vee.

        Reply
    2. sunand

      I use viber. You menton about the Exit button under ‘More” tab. But I cannot find it in my Iphone.
      The version of Viber I use is 2.1.5.270

      Please assist

      Reply
  2. Sussie

    I just downloaded Viber version 2.0.4 and I am not able to find the exit button as described by the viber team:

    “* Exit Viber – If you don’t want to keep Viber running in the background, you have ‘Exit’ button under the ‘More’ tab.”

    If I am not able to exit will it affect my data plan all the time even when I am not using it?

    Thank you,
    Sussie

    Reply
    1. Alex Post author

      I managed to find it on mine – tap more on the bottom right and exit is the last option in the list.

      If you’re not able to exit I imagine it will consume data, albeit a tiny amount unless you receive a call.

      Reply
      1. Viber

        Hi again,
        Sorry for my delayed response.

        @Sussie – you do have the option to exit Viber, but even if you leave it running in the background, Viber uses negligible amount of data when idling (about 1KB per minute at most), so you should not worry about it consuming your data plan in a major way :)

        Reply
  3. leeloo

    I also dont have exit button on my Iphone ( viber 2.1.2.157). it is not under More tab ( under more i have about, settings and invites and privacy ). what can i do. tnx

    Reply
  4. romzzzrom

    Just came across your article after having the same complaints about Viber, which is nice but not quite fit to what I expect from an integrated mobile VoIP solution. Still it’s better than Nimbuzz or Tango voice-wise.
    I also tried Voxtrot (unfortunately Android only), which is deeply integrated in the phone. It intercepts any regular outgoing call and makes it use data if the other party is also using the system.

    Reply
  5. Saquib

    I second the original blog’s claim on battery drain. The app eats almost 1% battery per minute (EDGE network). I guess this is more due to the nature of work the application needs to do, but the solution is far from being perfect VoIP app on mobile. Then again, I don’t know one that is ‘perfect’. Also, the iPhone wannabe UI is a very pathetic choice for Android platform.

    :cool:

    Reply
  6. Cyrix

    Hi. I also have battery problem in using Viber.
    Without Viber. I lock my phone fully charge before sleep and when I wake up, i still have 100% battery. But after installING Viber, 100% turns 76% after 7-8 lock standby. Any tips on how to save battery while using viber?

    **Anyway i am using a cheap android phone.

    I’m hoping for a positive response. Viber is a great help for me.

    Reply
  7. Jim

    I also agree with the original claim that Viber drains the battery and saw similar percentages in my battery stats. This is on my HTC Wildfire running Cyanogen Mod (Android 2.3.7).

    Reply
  8. P R

    after installing this app, my data usage went from 1/2 GB per month to 8.4GB in two days which resulted in $100 plus of extra charges. I deleted the app and now the crazy data drain has stopped. I would not recommend this app as it obviously has a bug.

    Reply
    1. Panagias

      Lies. All network operators have fair usage policy. You can’t download that amount in 2 days, they disconnect you. Also, 8gb in 2 days, means 4gb per day, 170mb per hour, 3mb per minute. A voip program can’t drain so much bandwidth. Probably he’s trolling, or sabotage viber. Im not supporting anyone, i just use logic and division.

      Reply
  9. Gabriela

    I found the exit button. When I tap it I have to confirm that I want to exit Viber. I say YES and Viber is gone… for several seconds. It comes back again :evil: Would be nice to know if there is a way to exit it without deactivating my account which I naturally do not want.

    Reply
  10. Ali

    Viber on the iPad isn’t really pleasant. Has lots of bugs and barely works well. An update for that would be great! Thanks :)

    Reply
  11. Pingback: Viber | João Pedro Ramos

  12. sienna

    If you use the exit button are msgs still automatically delivered to phone or will it only say that msgs have been “sent” and not “delivered” until user has viber running again?

    Reply
  13. dandroid99

    I installed Viber on my SGS2 and found it to be a power hog and a data hog. I never did make a call with the service but it used about 10MB per day in standby and drained my battery in about 5 hours. Needless to say I uninstalled it. First impressions count so no more Viber for me!

    Reply
  14. Russ

    to the guy that used all the gigs, sounds like you had updates switched on too !!! turn viber of and when home or in wireless room turn data off and enable wireless on phone and do it all for free dude !!! sms free as and small cost on wireless network for voice, turn cam off too. cheers

    Reply
  15. Georgi

    I use a bit different platform than these mentioned above – Symbian^3.
    I tried skype for a few months and recently installed viber.
    Well, the truth is with viber running in the background I run dry and have to recharge twice a day.
    Regarding skype, I feel very comfortable running it all day long with just slight increase of power consumption. And the the end of the day there’s still plenty of power.
    Viber has a lot of work to do with power consumption. I’m removing it.
    I just can’t stand switching on and off my wifi and mobile data in order to save my battery of being drained by viber.

    Reply
  16. Panagias

    the guy with the 8gb in 2 days says bullshit. All network operators have fair usage policy. You can’t download that amount in 2 days, they disconnect you. Also, 8gb in 2 days, means 4gb per day, 170mb per hour, 3mb per minute. A voip program can’t drain so much bandwidth. Probably he’s trolling, or sabotage viber. Im not supporting anyone, i just use logic and division.

    Reply
  17. woleez

    Viber drains lot of battery, even when I exit it from “more” it miraculously start showing again and I cant make it quit. what I should do , so I only use Viber when I really need like Skype , if I exit Skype it never come back automatically.
    I have android jelly bean ( Samsung Note II)
    please advise how I can get rid of Viber without uninstalling it and only make it run in background when I need to. is there any way ?

    Reply
  18. miguel h

    Indeed Viber reps spend an inordinate amount of time telling us there is little battery drain although my own experience is the same as many others.

    It eats battery and keeps the Android OS running. Uninstalling the app without changing anything else cures this for me.

    This problem does not happen with the app running on my nexus 7 tablet running 4.4.2, only on my phone which is stuck running ICS 4.0.1.

    I have re-installed it to my phone for the 3rd time and and experimenting with the “exit viber” option. It does not appear to actually exit as the main screen re-appears after selecting this option; however, viber no longer shows on the recent apps screen.

    Btw, the mac desktop app works well. If you’re not using it on your computer yet, give it a try.

    Reply

Leave a Reply