Wireless Access

Contributor I

Android and Iphone SIP client

Has anyone done any research or testing on Android or Iphone SIP clients.  We are looking to replace our Sprectralink wireless VoIP phones.  We have Avaya PBX's with SIP running.  I've read a little on Siproid and 3CXPhone.  Is SIP even an option on and Iphone?


Re: Android and Iphone SIP client

 Voice is one of those areas that's very context-dependent and subjective, so my generalisations below will not work for everyone.  But I would suggest the following is generally true:


Purpose-built devices such as Polycom/Spectralink Wi-Fi phones are still the best-performing clients.  But the gap is narrow enough that in some situations today, our customers are using SIP clients on smartphones in similar roles, with good satisfaction.


There are two main areas where smartphones with SIP applications fall short today, QoS and handover performance.


While the mobile OSs offer the hooks for applications to signal their priority to the OS, and hence transmit their frames with the correct WMM priority, not many applications developers use these hooks.  I frequently see packet traces where voice & video traffic from smartphones does not have the correct priority set.  When I last compared applications in detail maybe 18 months ago, for instance, the Counterpath Bria was the only app asserting voice priority on iPhone, and even Counterpath wasn't quite there on Android at that time.  Not setting voice priority won't be a noticeable problem until you encounter congestion or difficult RF conditions, of course.


The second area where a smartphone will not match a purpose-built device is in inter-AP handover (roaming).  This is because the underlying chip (most Android and Apple devices use the same family) is not optimised for enterprise WLANs, although things are improving.  In my experience, maybe 70% of handovers are clean and crisp, and the other 30% can give rise to outages ranging to several seconds.  That's while carrying a call around a 'normal' enterprise WLAN at a fast walking pace.  Static or near-static clients wouldn't see any bad effects of course, if you don't move around, the phone doesn't need to hand over.  If you have the time and inclination, the attached is light fireside reading on the subject of handover performance.  While the QoS tagging is invoked by the application, the handover performance is generally a function of the platform, chiefly the Wi-Fi chip and driver, and the app won't affect this aspect of performance.


We expect things to improve significantly after the Wi-Fi Alliance unveils its Voice-Enterprise certification programme, expected in mid-2012 and we start to see Voice-Enterprise compliant APs and client devices.  We are also seeing more smartphone developers interested in making their products work well with multimedia traffic in multi-AP environments.


In the short-term, I would encourage you to try out a pilot with a handful of devices and see how it goes.  We have some customers who are very happy with current performance, while others are waiting for something a little more solid.  But it's very easy to get a few devices going and test them, and your subjective experience and your users' views are the ones that matter.  While Android has a native SIP client now, which I've found quite good, third-party SIP apps are readily available for both Android and iOS.


Good luck, please report back if you try it!


New Contributor

Re: Android and Iphone SIP client

I very much enjoyed your article, but it is becoming dated. Any chance you will update again in October, when iOS6 and iPhone 5 are released? It might be nice to perform a test now with iPhone 4S and iOS 5.1 to use as a future comparison.




Occasional Contributor II

Re: Android and Iphone SIP client

I agree with Dennis, it will be great if an updated information is provided or real life implementation experience is shared.

We are facing similar situation as the original poster and so far Bria for iPhone is our SIP client of choice. 



Re: Android and Iphone SIP client

Thank you for the reminder.  I put this together for Ozer earlier this year, but I don't think it was ever published.  Bottom line - not much has changed, and that is what we expected.  The next improvements will probably be the use of 802.11k (subset of WFA Voice-Enterprise) elements such as the neighbor report, but I don't believe any devices support those elements yet.


Of course it may well be outdated by the end of the month. I'll try to to pick up the new devices as they come out and give them a spin, but it takes a while to cadge phones from QA and prepare a repeatable test.

New Contributor

Re: Android and Iphone SIP client

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