Cellity hands out e-mail, free SMS, and cheap calls abroad

Cellity Communicator promises voice and text communications with local and international contact, and it delivers. Now why aren't we ecstatic?

Cellity logo

Cellity Communicator (download) is an e-mail, SMS, and calling client and service for Java cell phones that's better than it looks. That may not sound terribly heartening, but it's no derisive knock. Designing an app that crams phone calls, conference calls, various tiers of texting, and e-mail into a mobile application and still manages to look simple is quite an achievement.

It is arguably overly so. Compared with other mobile communication applications, like EQO and Fring, Cellity Communicator reveals a rather dressed-down interface that requires a few too many clicks to get contacts added and messages started. To Cellity's credit, the interface can be expanded to include more options with an expert mode. Higher-end Java MIDP2 phones support contact-importing, but BlackBerrys don't, so those folks will labor to enter contacts by hand.

Cellity Communicator

When it comes to performance, Cellity Communicator does deliver on promises of sending and receiving e-mail and SMS messages through various approaches, and of providing cheap international calling through purchased credit. At this point, phones calls are placed through a ring-back bridge.

Cellity's selection of text services is wide, but potentially confusing. Besides shooting an e-mail to a contact's address, there's free SMS texting to other registered users using Cellity's integrated FreeSMS product, and a glorified version of FreeSMS that is positioned as an e-mail message one addresses to a cell phone number. Nonregistered users receive teasers from these two message types with a prompt to download the communicator. Sending a regular text message is a workaround, though depending on your plan, Cellity's charge could exceed your carrier's cost.

Since Cellity Communicator begins by giving you a unique Cellity.com e-mail address, the app could function as a person's only e-mail client. However, there's not much in the way of message management, so I'm hesitant to recommend it for those with other options. The program also supports Web mail-forwarding and replying through another e-mail address.

Sounds like a fine app, right? It is, at least on paper. Despite its demonstrable uses for both low-end and high-end devices, Cellity Communicator simply fails to grab me. It doesn't help matters that a couple of obvious bugs have been allowed to slip through and that I'm biased against multiple clicks to accomplish a simple task. All things said and done, it is a quite decent app that has a strong following and could secure a stronger future, but which still feels more unfinished and less engaging than its peers.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.