You can sign a PDF document from your phone, tablet, or any other computer and email it off to someone. But some organizations still don’t accept documents via email — you may need to fax documents instead.
No, you can’t use your smartphone’s phone connection as a fax machine or dial-up modem. You’ll need to rely on an app or third-party service that does the faxing for you, just as you would sending the occasional fax from your PC.
Yes, This Will Cost You
You won’t find an app that lets you send an unlimited number of faxes for free. Every app you’ll find here will cost you money to use regularly. Some apps may let you send a handful of pages for free, but that’s it. These services have to maintain phone numbers and interface with the telephone network for you. Your smartphone can’t act as a dial-up modem, so you’re depending on a service’s servers to do the heavy lifting.
But, although this will cost you, it can save you money and be more convenient than the alternative. The alternative is paying to use fax machines at a store, or purchasing your own fax machine and hooking it up to a telephone landline. Both will likely be significantly more expensive if you just need to send a few faxes.
This method also lets you do everything entirely electronically. You can sign and fill in PDF documents on your phone and fax them. Or, use your phone’s camera to scan paper documents and fax them.
Search for “fax” on the App Store and you’ll find quite a few options. Don’t be fooled by apps promising “free” fax services. At best, you’ll find apps that offer a total of five free faxed pages before they want money. App developers realize you’ll probably want to send faxes, and they advertise “free (incoming) faxes” to lure you in. Fax Burner, the top app for “fax” on the iOS app store, uses this model — it only gives you five free pages.
You’ll find two different types of price structures here. Some apps offer monthly subscriptions. You’ll need to pay a certain amount of money each year or month for a certain number of faxes. Unless you need to fax a lot of documents regularly, you don’t want this. You’ll probably end up spending too much money. Fax Burner requires you spend $75 per year for the fax service, while eFax requires a monthly subscription starting between $14 and $17.
For most people who just need to occasionally fax a few pages, you’ll want an app that doesn’t charge you a monthly subscription fee. Instead, the app will have you purchase “credits” to send faxes, or it will allow you to choose the document you want to fax and enter the destination before charging you a certain amount to fax just that document. FaxFile and Fax allow you to buy credits, while iFax and Doc Scan offer pay-per-fax pricing.
A quick search on Google Play will reveal many of the same apps and services are available for Android, too. As on an iPhone, you won’t really find any legitimately free fax applications. You will find some apps that allow you to fax a single page for free each day, but you’ll need to pay up if you need to fax a document with more than a single page — and there’s a good chance you will, if you need to fax something.
For example, eFax offers a “free fax app” for subscribers that actually requires a $14-$17 per month subscription. If you actually need to send quite a few faxes, this may be a good option — otherwise, look for a more reasonably priced alternative that doesn’t require a monthly subscription.
FaxFile, as on iPhone, also offers a model where you purchase credits and use them to pay for faxes. if you’re just sending the occasional fax, this will be cheaper than a monthly subscription. iFax, like on iPhone, offers pay-per-fax pricing.
PC-FAX.com FreeFax does allow you to fax a single page for free once per day. However, if you want to send a document with more than one page, you’ll need to pay up. You’ll find other apps with these pricing models, too.
Ultimately, there’s no single best fax application for everyone. If you need to send quite a few pages on an ongoing basis, a subscription-based service like eFax could be the best. If you want to just send the occasional document, a cheaper app that provides the features you want at the most reasonable price will be best. You may want to try a few apps to find the one with the best combination of features and price for your needs.
If you’re using another smartphone platform (like Windows Phone), you’ll probably find similar fax apps in its application store. Be sure to look for fax apps that let you pay individually for faxes or credits rather than getting sucked into a monthly or yearly subscription you probably don’t need.
Image Credit: Karl Baron on Flickr