Skype allows you to chat for free via voice, video or instant message with other Skype users over Wi-Fi or 3G, as well as call non Skype users for a fixed fee.
All your contacts are just a click away
When you open Skype on Windows Phone, you are prompted to sign in with either your Skype username or your Microsoft account, which you can then link with your Skype account.
Once you've done that, all your Skype contacts will be ready and waiting for you to start chatting. To access the three menus (people, favorites and recent), you only need to swipe to the left or right. All your contacts (not just Skype) can be displayed or you can chose just to see your Skype contacts or, alternatively, people who are available to chat.
And you can easily start a chat or a call with the icons at the bottom of the screen. Not only does Skype allow you to call your Skype contacts, you can also call mobiles and landlines by adding Skype credits. The tariffs are pretty competitive.
When you click on a contact (which includes Skype contacts and any contacts manually-added by their phone numbers), you can view their profile, as well as your chat history with them. From here you can also add people to your conversations, send them a video message, a photo or your location. And you can also draw them a picture with very basic functions (chose a color and thickness of the line) and add a photo and a map to this. This feature seems a bit gimmicky, but it is currently not available on Android or iOS.
You can get notifications even when the app is closed and you can chose which chats you want to receive notifications from individually. Other features include the ability to start calls from the web or through chats if you have third-party apps installed, as well as support for HD phone displays.
The only things that are lacking are the option to remove a contact or send a file.
Good quality calls
Skype for Windows Phone is easy to use with a well designed and intuitive layout. All the options you need are clearly displayed on the screen or are only a swipe away. Being able to access a contact's profile and chat history when you click on their icon is a highlight.
Video and voice calls are (very importantly) good quality and work well, while instant messaging is quick. Just a note, when you are instant messaging, the send button is beneath the on-screen keyboard, which seems counter intuitive. Also, the recent menu only brings up chats from the last few days, not your entire message history.
Voice, video and instant messaging - for free
If you're looking for an easy way to make video and voice calls, as well as chat with your friends via instant messaging then Skype is the perfect option. It's easy to use, well laid out and, as it is now owned by Microsoft, you can be sure the app will be continuously developed with new features.