When was the last time you sent a facsimile? Fax machines in Kenya are quickly becoming ancient relics in the modern office setup. But, several countries still use fax machines to send and receive legal documents because email and other electronic messages are not yet legally recognized.
If you find yourself needing to send a fax, do not fret if there isn’t a fax machine in sight. You can actually send a fax from your computer or even better, right from your Android phone.
How Faxing Works
To give a very basic explanation, sending a fax involves transmitting a scanned document over the telephone system. The receiver’s fax machine picks up the incoming transmission and prints out the document.
Thus, in order to send a fax using your Android phone, you would need:
1. A practical way to take a scan using a mobile phone
2. A good Android scanning app
3. An Android app to fax the scanned document through the telephone system.
Cardboard Document Scanner
If you have ever tried to take a close-up picture, then you know it isn’t the easiest thing to do. More often than not, you will find that your angle was off by a few degrees or the image is slightly blurred in some areas due to unsteady hands.
A cardboard scanner solves all these issues with the added bonus of doing away with the bulkiness of conventional scanners and technical set up issues. It is a portable stand that allows you to place your smartphone at an optimal distance from the document in order to capture a scan. The original concept can be traced back to the Scanbox, a highly successful Kickstarter project.
You can build your own rudimentary cardboard scanner using A3 size white card and some scissors. The idea is to end up with a platform that can support the weight of your smartphone with a small hole where your phone’s camera will be positioned. Total height of the platform should be about 12 inches or 30 centimeters.
Image credit: Scanbox
Alternatively, a child’s chair has just about the right dimensions for a cardboard scanner. The seat is normally about 30 centimeters from the ground so all you would need to do is use a sharp knife to create a small hole to position your droid’s camera.
Android Scanning Applications
There are a good number of free scanning apps in the Google Play Store. Some of the best applications offer free versions but scans are rendered with a watermark. For example, Camscanner is one of the best Android scanning apps. It requires Android 2.3 or higher, has a highly intuitive and easy to follow user interface as well as a host of features. The premium version does not watermark scans but will set you back $4.99 monthly.
Another app you may want to try out is Scan Master. It is fairly new, free and performs almost as well as Camscanner. It requires Android 2.2 or higher. We also recommend PDF Document Scanner, Genius Scan and Quick PDF Scanner in the Google Play Store.
Now, Let’s Send a Fax
Now, that you have your scanned document ready, all you need is an application to send the fax. But first, a fair warning, there are currently no reliable free apps. The best fax applications will cost you a couple of bucks though a few offer a limited free service.
FilesAnywhere offers cloud storage solutions in addition to fax services. Once you have scanned your document, you can subscribe to one of their plans and begin sending faxes. The cheapest plan is the Personal Plan that costs $4.99 per month. This plan offers 20GB cloud storage for your documents and you can send up to ten faxes to any fax number worldwide. With the superior plans you can send 500 faxes per month.
MobileFax offers some of the cheapest rates. The best part is that there are two free faxes and an international fax number for you to try out the service. Prices start at $3 for 30 pages and this is valid for six months. The price per page is the same worldwide.
FaxFile uses a credits system which means that you will have to purchase credits through the Google Play Store in order to send a fax. The cost of credits starts at $2.49 for 50 credits with one page currently costing ten credits. FaxFile has no setup or monthly subscription fees.
One final thing, always confirm that the receiving number is functioning. Before sending a fax, dial the number and listen for a dial tone. This will ensure that your fax actually gets delivered. Failure to do so may also lead to erroneous charges for faxes that didn’t go through.
Have you ever sent a fax using your Android phone? How did you go about it? Please share your experience with us in the comments section below.