Tencent launches online voice-call app based on WeChat

The new app WeChat Phonebook can make phone calls completely free of charge under Wi-Fi, and uses little data while using mobile internet.

Chinese internet company Tencent, the developer of communication application WeChat, launched an online voice-call app on November 12, according to an ifeng.com report published on the same day.

The new app is called "WeChat Phonebook", a direct translation from Chinese, and is now available both on Google's Play Store and Apple's App Store.

After signing in with a registered WeChat account and binding the user's phone number, the Phonebook can automatically back up contacts, import WeChat profile photos, batch-delete contacts, and, most importantly, make online phone calls on 2G, 3G, and 4G networks. WeChat reportedly has 438 million active users as of August.

The voice function itself is free of charge, and calls made while the phone is using Wi-Fi incur costs.

As for charges using mobile internet, according to the report, voice calls use about 300KB of data per minute, and, based on the general current data cost among Chinese operators, it will cost customers on each end RMB0.03 to RMB0.15 ($0.0049 to $0.0245)during that period of time.

The app is reported to have better voice quality compared with the voice talk functions on the instant messaging apps on the market, and is more applicable since it can directly dial phone numbers in a user's contact list.

However, some users complained in the Play Store comments, saying that the app doesn't support international calls, and the company has not released an English version.

Due to overwhelming new users and heavy traffic, WeChat Phonebook experienced several login and reception problems since the launch, but Tencent announced on the afternoon of November 13 that all of the problems have been fixed.