The number of times I make phone calls these days has dropped significantly over the years – sending a message means you can still chat with friends and family, but at a more convenient rate.

I also find that I only make more calls when I'm doing something else to maximize my time, whether it's sorting laundry while I'm on hold for business or because my partner and I are chatting with our families. But you might be surprised to learn that I make these calls on my Amazon Echo and other Alexa smart speakers and smart displays around my house.

It's a better experience than using my smartphone hands-free (something I started doing to reduce the pain in my arm and make sure me and my other half could hear the conversation). Best of all, it's free and it's not included in my monthly calling plan either.

Hands-free calls that don't cost a penny

Alexa Calling, which is the name given to the Amazon Echos feature that lets you make calls, isn't new. It was first introduced in 2017 in the US and came to the UK a few months later, but many Echo owners don't even know it exists.

Initially, it wasn't really a viable option for me, as I spent most of my waking hours away from home and away from my Amazon Echo.

Then the pandemic hit and like everyone else I was homebound and my Amazon Echo speaker was closer than ever. While my friends and brother were happy to join in the "zoom boom" when it came to staying in touch, my parents weren't as comfortable with video calls, preferring traditional phone calls.

However, having gotten used to making far fewer phone calls over the years, it wasn't long before my arm started to ache from holding my frankly heavy iPhone 11 Pro Max for 30 minutes at a time. It also meant that when I got off the phone, I had to repeat most of the conversation so that my other half was aware of what had been discussed.

We found that it's much more effective for the two of us to talk together with family, which is something we began doing during the global pandemic and continued as life began to return to normal.

I tried using my smartphone on speakerphone to make sure my other half could also participate in conversations, but that meant balancing my phone precariously on the edge of the couch, so we could both hear the conversation and our recipients could hear us clearly. . also. However, as soon as one of us changed positions, the phone would slide into the gap between the sofa cushions and callers would listen to our muffled voices in panic as we thrust our hands into the stiff padding.

All those phone calls also meant my calling plan allocation had taken a hit. Before the pandemic, I had always prioritized mobile data over calling minutes, a decision I was beginning to regret. That's when I realized the answer was right in front of me: my Amazon Echo.

Amazon EchoShow 8 (2021)

(Image credit: Amazon)

How to use Alexa calling

Alexa Calling is available on any Amazon Echo smart speaker and Amazon Echo Show smart display. However, you will need to authorize Alexa to access your contacts from your smartphone before you can use Alexa Calling.

To do this, open the Alexa smartphone app and tap the Talk icon in the bottom left corner of the screen. You will then be prompted to verify your mobile phone number and allow Alexa to make calls on your behalf. You will also have the option to import contacts from your smartphone: you can select the ones you want or import them all at once.

Once you've done this, you can make a call to any mobile or landline number, simply by using the "Call Alexa..." command. followed by the name of the contact you want to call or the phone number, on your Amazon Echo.

Calls are made through your Amazon Echo's internet connection, which means your call charges won't be affected, and for those on pay-as-you-go rates, you won't be charged for those calls.

However, there are some limitations, Alexa Calling won't work if you want to call premium rate or emergency numbers, and you can only call numbers in the US, UK, Canada, and Mexico (these are territories where the feature is available). currently available).

If you're still having issues with Alexa Calling, follow our detailed guide on how to use Alexa to make phone calls on an Amazon Echo.

In my living room, my Amazon Echo (2020) sits on a coffee table directly in front of the sofa my partner and I sit on to relax. This meant that we could both clearly hear what was being said in conversations with friends and family. Likewise, the far-field microphones were able to clearly pick up both of our voices so that the recipients of our calls could easily understand us as well.

This method of hands-free calling allowed us to be more comfortable and put an end to the arm pains I experienced on audio calls. The fact that there are no call charges was also an added bonus.

In fact, Alexa Calling has proven so successful that as things start to get back to normal, I continue to use it as a method of calling, especially if I know it's going to be a long conversation or a conversation that justifies me. one time. and my other half on guard.

The best Amazon Echo devices for Alexa calls

There is a wide range of Amazon Echo smart speakers on the market, which may have you wondering which one is the best if you plan to use Alexa Calling to make phone calls instead of your smartphone. Here's our pick of the three best Echo devices.

the amazon echo 2020 with its blue illuminated LED ring on a light blue background

(Image credit: Amazon)

The best Amazon Echo for Alexa Calling

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1639016884 669 XNUMX XNUMX Google agreement prevents Roku from following the sameReasons to buy+

Good balance between price and sound.

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Sensitive to pick up our voice

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Relatively compact

Reasons to avoid-

Sound quality is not as high as we would like

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The futuristic look may not be to everyone's taste.

the Amazon Echo studio with its blue illuminated LED ring on a white background

(Image credit: Amazon)

The best Amazon Echo for Alexa Calling

Today's best deals

1639016884 669 XNUMX XNUMX Google agreement prevents Roku from following the sameReasons to buy+

Excellent sound quality

+

Pair two for an affordable home theater setup

+

Act as a Zigbee hub

Reasons to avoid-

voluminous

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3D audio requires a subscription

Amazon echo show 10 showing a video call

(Image credit: Amazon)

The best Amazon Echo smart display for Alexa calls

Reasons to buy+

Rotating screen follows you around the room

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High-quality camera is ideal for detailed video calls

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Can act as a Zigbee hub

Reasons to avoid-

The most expensive Amazon Echo on sale right now

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Audio is rich in bass

Summary of today's best deals

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