There are dozens of dialler replacements for Android, and many of them do the same thing. Some of them are free, some of them cost money, all of them basically duplicate functionality you already have on your phone. Even so, we think that Dialer One is the best speed dialer that builds on the stock dialer's features without requiring you to drop a large amount of money or download a bunch of plug-ins to make the tool work for you.
- Dial a number normally, speed dial by assigning contacts to numbers on the keypad, or using T9.
- Searches for the number as you dial so you can enter a few digits and then select from the correct contact
- Searches for contacts by partial name as well, so you can quickly find and call someone by typing in a nickname, last name, or part of their name
- Supports contact groups for easy organisation, and can search within or across groups
- Automatically connects to and organises your Google Contacts upon installation
- Supports SMS and email by long-pressing a contact, as well as "send contact" to transfer contact information to someone else
- Replaces the dialler and allows you to filter based on incoming, outgoing, missed, answered and voicemail calls, or set up your own call filters
Dialer One is not, by any means, the only dialer available for Android. We'll get to alternatives in a minute — but before that, the biggest reason that Dialer One is our pick, in addition to the fact that we've mentioned it before, is that it's simple, elegant, free and combines the best features of other speed diallers together into a single application that covers all the bases without being over the top. People familiar with the way you used to be able to dial — you know, before everyone had smartphones — where you could just long-press on a number on the keypad and speed-dial the person in your contact list in that slot will appreciate the fact that Dialer One allows you to do just that. Organisational fans will love its ability to organise your contacts, and the fact that it automatically arranges your contacts by category and by organisation as soon as you download and install the app.
People who love T9, never remember their contacts full names or numbers, or just love searching contacts — either from the dialpad or the keybaord — will appreciate Dialer One's flexibility, and the fact that you can do any of those things. Start typing numbers, and the app will make suggestions. Type letters, and the app will do the same. It doesn't matter, and you don't need to customise the app to do any of it. You can, however, dig into the settings and really set up the app the way you like. The app's customisation options are deep once you start digging into them, but all of the important features are up front for you to use.
The only thing about Dialer One that could use a little help is the interface. It's clean and well laid out, and the ability to swipe from screen to screen is great, but it's not the prettiest or most tweakable dialer we've seen. Still, we're not really complaining about that — the app is free, after all, and function far outweighs form here.
There are so many alternatives and other diallers available for Android that there's no way we can cover them all. Still, a few that stand out particularly are GO Contacts (free) which is hugely popular and incredibly customisable and tweakable. We mentioned it last week as a contender for best address book, but it's really more of a dialler replacement. Its search tools are strong, it has great localisation options, and tons of themes, skins, plug-ins and other add-ons that you can download as separate add-ins. Even so, in our testing GO Contacts was a great choice if we really wanted a themed, attractive UI, especially for texting, but that's about it. In the same vein, aContact (free) is very similar even though it's more of an address book, except the default UI is much sharper and more intuitive. Still, it takes the approach of being lean and mean, and then making you download add-ins to get the features you want. It's complicated, but it's functional — once you have it set up, it's robust as well. You'll just spend some time getting it set up the way you like.
For those folks who really need multi-language support, or really like MIUI's dialer, try exDialer (free), which also supports T9 and partial-contact search. The app installs its own contact manager as well, which you can use if you prefer, but the dialler itself is lean, fast, and if all you need is T9 and partial search, it's all you need. You don't get the organisational tools or the speed-dial features, but it's a good option. Similarly, TouchPal Dialer takes a different approach, and offers the dialpad speed-dial feature that Dialer One offers and some of the partial contact search, but skimps out on T9 (or at least, we couldn't get it working well.) Still, for international callers and people who need multiple languages, it's worth a look.
If all you need is the dialpad speed-dial features, try Speed Dial classic (free). It's simple, free and all it does is give you a list that you can assign contacts to, 0-9, and when you long-press that contact's number, it'll dial them.
That does it for all of the free apps. There are some inventive diallers on the market that cost money though, albeit not much — if you're willing to drop a buck and do most of your talking in the car, take a look at Tap Dialer ($1), which lets you set your commonly dialed contacts to numbers that you physically tap out on the screen to dial. For example, if I'm number 4 in your list, all you have to do is launch the app, and then tap the screen four times to automatically dial my number. Even though you still have to look at the screen to launch the app, it's a good step in the right direction for hands-free callers. The same applies to Sign ($4, $1.93 for a limited time), which replaces the taps with drawn patterns on the screen. Launch the app, draw a pattern, and the dialer will launch and call your contact.
Finally, don't overlook the built-in stock dialler. It's not great, and it definitely varies from phone to phone, but none of the apps above do some of the basics that all stock diallers do, like giving you the option to create home screen widgets of your favourite contacts and press them to call or text. Some diallers even roll in the features above, so make sure you take a look at what your built-in dialler offers before you go installing one of these.
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