Is there any point installing an instant messaging client in a phone? In my experience there is. At least if you’ve got some suitable input option and a data connection that does not cost a fortune to use. With that I’m meaning either the possibility to use wlan or having a flat rate data account. As for input I’m suggesting your phone/pda should support handwriting recognitition and/or have a qwerty keyboard. In worst case you could of course settle for less but the more annoying it is to use the more unlikely it is that you’ll ever do use it.

I’ve only tried clients available for a certain brand of phones. Many of the clients I’ve tried are available for multiple platforms though, so you should probably be able to find one for yours. Following is a list of the ones I’ve tried and the supported protocols according to their official homepages.

  • fring | Skype, MSN Messenger, ICQ, Google Talk, SIP, Twitter, AIM & Yahoo!
  • iSkoot | Skype
  • IM+ | AIM/iChat, MSN/Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo!, ICQ, Jabber, and Google
  • Agile Messenger | MSN, Yahoo!, ICQ, AIM and GoogleTalk
  • Slick | ICQ, Yahoo, AIM, MSN, Google Talk, Jabber

What I primarily want out of a client is that it should support multiple protocols so that I can continue any text conversation I’m currently having on my computer by simply logging in on the phone instead. From that point of view the only clients tha measure up are fring, IM+ and Slick. Out of those my favorite is Slick, mostly because it looks nice and is easy to use but yet quite competent when it comes to configuration.

When it comes to VoIP I have only tried fring and iSkoot over wlan. In my experience it’s in some sense better than using the skype client on my computer. Using the skype protocol and a wlan connection from my phone it’s close to having a regular phone call. I don’t have to sit at my computer but can move around within wlan distance. Also, I’ve got much much better headsets to my phone than to my computer.

This will be it for now. In retrospective this is more of an introdutcion, if even that, than a crash course. But heck, it’s a first post on the subject. Hopefully I did shed some light to it. In time I might return to the topic and write more thoroughly about IM clients for mobile devices.