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How to video chat with family and friends on your smartphone

All the tips, tricks, and apps you need to video chat with your loved ones.
April 20, 2021
Video Chatting Apps Stock Photo

Keeping in touch with family and friends has never been simpler, thanks to our phones. There’s no shortage of video chat apps these days, and the list has only gotten better since the pandemic started.

See also: The best Android phones for taking selfies you can buy

If you’re new to video chatting or are just looking for some tips on which app to choose, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we talk about everything you should consider before choosing a video chat app. We’ve also included some handy tips to give you the best experience possible. Lastly, we’ve curated a list of the 10 best video chat apps that you can use to speak to your friends and family face-to-face. 

So without further ado, let’s get the ball rolling.

How to choose a video chatting app

There are various types of video chatting apps you can download for your Android and iOS phones. However, not all of them are created equally in terms of features and power.

Many factors can influence your decision to use a particular app, such as the number of people you can include, face filters, time limits on video calls, the cost of an app, texting features, video call recording features, and more.

We’ve considered all the factors mentioned above to come up with a list of the 10 best video chat apps you can download on your smartphone to stay in touch with family and friends. You can check each one out in detail below.

Most of these video chat apps allow you to talk to more than one person at a time, and what’s better than a group video call to get the whole gang together?

But before you go on to view our select list of video chatting apps and start talking to people, here are some tips on how to make the most of your video calls with family and friends.

Things to keep in mind before starting a video chat

Woman using hangouts video call

There are several factors you might want to consider before starting a video chat. For instance, you have to have a good strong internet connection if you hope to have a solid video chatting experience. You should also check your lighting and that your phone is placed correctly to accommodate you and others in the frame. Below are some tips that you can note before you get on a video call with your friends and family.

  • Make sure you switch to a Wi-Fi network if you’re using cellular data. Wi-Fi connections are generally more stable, and there is less chance of your call getting dropped.
  • Choose a suitable background from where you plan to make or take video calls. Your surroundings should be well lit so that people on the video chat can see you properly. Make sure the light source is in front of you and not at the back; otherwise, people on the video chat will not be able to see you clearly.
  • If you want to have more than one person in the frame for your video call, you can choose to place your phone a little further away, against a stand, or on a tripod. If you don’t have a dedicated phone stand, you could also prop up your device against a heavy object like a paperweight.

See also: The best phone stands for all of your video conferencing needs

  • Make sure your phone screen is facing you so that you can see all the participants on the video call, and they can see you through your selfie camera. Don’t go too close to the screen. Keep the phone at arm’s length so that your full face is visible to the other participants.
  • Ensure there is no background noise. If you have a TV or some music running in the back, switch it off so that you can hear everyone properly and vice versa.
  • Many apps have buttons to switch off the camera or mute the mic. Make sure you spot these settings in advance so that you don’t tap on them unintentionally during your video call.
  • Don’t navigate away from your video chat screen when your call is on. This usually turns your camera off, and other folks won’t be able to see you. However, if you want to take that bathroom break during a video call, shut the camera and mute the mic (as mentioned in the pointer above) to avoid any potentially embarrassing incidents.
  • Try to keep your phone steady. It can be very disorienting for other participants on the video chat if your phone shakes too much. Again, you can solve this problem by propping up your phone in one place to avoid shakes and jerks.

Also check outThe best free call apps for Android!

Best video chatting apps for your smartphone

Now that you’ve gone through all the tips for a good video chatting experience, take a look at our list of the 10 best video chat apps out there.

Editor’s note: We’ve added attributes like difficulty level and call quality for each video chat app mentioned in the list. A “High” difficulty level means the app could be complicated to use. A “Medium” difficulty level corresponds to an app that has a slight learning curve. An “Easy” difficulty level means the app is super simple to use for any and everyone. These ratings are for all those readers who may not be very familiar with using video chat apps.

For call quality, we’ve categorized apps as “Good,” “Average,” and “Unreliable.” Ultimately, a lot will depend on your internet connection and that of other participants. While the Good and Average ratings are self-explanatory, an Unreliable rating is for apps in which video quality keeps changing.


Skype Group Chat
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
  • Difficulty level: Medium
  • Call quality: Good

Skype has to be one of the most popular and longest-tenured video-chatting apps out there. The Microsoft-owned service is entirely free and also lets you send text messages simultaneously while video calling. The mobile Skype applications aren’t as user-friendly as we would have liked them to be, but the platform’s call quality is among the best. Here you can check the minimum and recommended internet speed requirements for making Skype video calls.

See also: Zoom vs Skype: Which is best for your video calls?

You can have as many as 50 people on a Skype video call. The app also lets you share photos, videos, GIFs, and more with your friends and family through its texting functionality.

If you want to collaborate with the family folk for some fun activities like planning a trip, you can do so by sharing your phone’s screen with all the participants of the Skype video call. If you live in an area where network conditions are bad or if you want to keep in check the amount of data your video calls use, you can also try out the Skype Lite app on Android.

Meanwhile, if you want to know more about how to get started with Skype, check out our detailed guide here.


Houseparty app on smartphone stock photo adding friends
  • Difficulty level: Medium
  • Call quality: Unreliable

Want to have some fun with your seven favorite people? Try the Houseparty app. It’s a video chat platform designed for virtual house parties. You can create a virtual party room, and a total of eight people can join in at a time. If your room is left unlocked, any of your friends on the app can jump in to join the video call. Thankfully, you have the option of locking your video chat rooms to restrict unwanted guests.

What’s fun about Houseparty is that it lets you play virtual games with your family and friends. You can play a quick round of trivia to test your group’s knowledge of various subjects. Houseparty is owned by Epic Games, which means it now packs even more games and a Fortnite integration.

Want to know more about Houseparty before you get started? Go through our detailed explainer here.


Zoom App logo on phone
  • Difficulty level: Medium
  • Call quality: Good

If you haven’t encountered Zoom before now in the global pandemic, we have to say we’re impressed. The video chatting app has become the de facto way to stay in touch. You can literally host a small concert from your home for all your friends and family to watch. Participants in a Zoom video call can join from anywhere, including PCs or tablets. The app also lets you share messages, GIFs, videos, Google Drive files, and more with your group.

See also: Zoom vs Google Hangouts: Which one is best for your needs?

If you don’t want to show people where you’re calling from or if you want to hide the mess in your room, Zoom even lets you choose a fun virtual background to keep things interesting. You can also record your video calls for viewing them later. The only setback is that group video chats on the free version of Zoom are limited to 40 minutes.

Want to know everything about using Zoom? Check out this guide on how to get started and this one on tips and tricks you should know about.


WhatsApp by Facebook stock photo 3
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Call quality: Average

WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging platforms out there, and it also offers an option to video chat. The platform is big on end-to-end privacy, which means no one other than you and the participants can see the video chat. Of course, we all have our own concerns with the new privacy policy, but you’ll have to read it for yourself.

See also: How to delete a WhatsApp account

If you use WhatsApp, you can get on a video call with up to eight contacts who also use the app. You will need a good cellular or Wi-Fi connection as the call quality depends on your network strength. Initiating a video call on WhatsApp is pretty simple. All you need to do is open the contact you want to chat with and press the video button. Alternatively, you can go to a WhatsApp group and tap the video button to start a call with members from that group. You can also head to the calls tab on WhatsApp to choose the contacts you want to speak to over a video call.

WhatsApp also features integration for Messenger Rooms, a dedicated video chat service from Facebook (more on that below). If you have Facebook Messenger, you can initiate a Messenger Room chat directly from WhatsApp.

Haven’t used WhatsApp ever? Here’s what you need to know to get with the program.


instagram video chat
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Call quality: Unreliable

You already know Instagram for the photo and video sharing platform that it is, but did you know you can also use the app for video chatting?

If you’re a frequent “Instagrammer” or even if you’re new to the platform, you can get on a video call by tapping the direct messaging button on the top right corner of your Feed. Here, you’ll see a video camera icon, again on the top right; using this, you can select video chat participants from a list or search for them using their names. The person or group you call will receive a notification that you’re calling them.

Instagram gives you more room for video chats with a smaller group of family and friends than WhatsApp. You can talk to a maximum of six people at a time using the platform.

Are you looking for some helpful Instagram tips? Check out our guides on how to recover your account, how to share an Instagram Story, and how to see hidden links on Instagram.

Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger screenshot for the best free calls apps for android
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Call quality: Average

The whole world is on Facebook, so it only made sense for the social media app to have a video chatting function. If most of your family and friends are on Facebook, it’s pretty easy to get connected to them on a video call using the Facebook Messenger app. Just like WhatsApp, all Messenger video calls are end-to-end encrypted.

The platform currently lets you host one-on-one or group video calls. With Facebook’s new Messenger Rooms feature, you can also chat with up to 50 people at a time. For the sake of variety, Facebook Messenger video chats let you applying face filters and use virtual backgrounds during your live video calls.

New to Facebook Messenger? Here are 20 Messenger tips and tricks you may want to read about.

Google Duo

Google Duo - best VOIP apps and SIP apps for Android
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Call quality: Good

Google Duo has to be one of the best video calling apps out there. Whether for work or to stay in touch with family and friends, Duo is self-explanatory and straightforward. Its video call quality is also one of the best on the market. It has a feature called Knock Knock that lets you see what someone is up to before you answer the video call. With the latest update, Duo now allows you to video chat with up to 32 people at a time as well as share your screen.

See also: Google Duo: How does it compare to Skype, WhatsApp, and other rivals?

Another useful feature is a low-light filter for when you’re in a dark environment and want better lighting for your video calls. You can also make and receive Duo calls on a Google Home or Nest speaker if you have one in your home.

If you want some help with getting started on Google Duo, you can read our detailed guide here.


Facetime on iOS devices.
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Call quality: Good

Apple’s dedicated video chatting platform — FaceTime — lets you place video calls to anyone with an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. The application comes preloaded on most iPhones and lets Apple users reach their contacts using their phone number or Apple ID. Besides video calls, FaceTime also supports voice calls.

See also: Can you get FaceTime for Android?

If any of your friends and family members use Apple devices, FaceTime is one of the best solutions for large group video chats. You can add up to 32 people in a video call using the app, which works over Wi-Fi and cellular networks.

Marco Polo

Marco polo app
  • Difficulty level: Medium
  • Call quality: Good

Marco Polo is not a live video chat app, but it can help you talk to your friends and family through the medium of short videos. Say you are busy in a meeting and can’t get on a video call, your contacts on the app will be able to send you video messages that you can view at your leisure. If you’re the one sending a video message, you can also include emojis and face filters to make your videograms more interesting.

The best part is that there’s no limit on the length of video messages you can send. Messages are stored on the cloud and can be retrieved at any time. Another plus is that the app is ad-free and does not collect user data.


hangouts featured 2
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Call quality: Good

Lastly, there’s Google Hangouts. It may not be as popular a chat app as before, but it still works just fine. A maximum of 25 people can be added to a Google Hangouts video call, while you can have a whopping 150 people in a Hangouts chat. The app doesn’t have any fancy features such as call recording or face filters, but you can connect your Google Voice account with it for phone calls, SMS texting, and voicemail integration.

See also: How to use Google Hangouts

There you have it — that’s how you can video chat with friends on family on your mobile device. Looking for more video chatting options dedicated to Android smartphones? You can check out the 10 best ones here. Discovered any new, cool video chat apps for smartphones that you’d like us to know about? Drop a line in the comments section below.