eFax for Android (2013) review

The eFax Android app makes it simple to send and receive faxes from your handset, losing very little in the transition from desktop to mobile.
Photo of eFax for Android (2013)

One would think that e-mail, instant messaging, and other methods of transferring files would have killed the fax machine, but the seemingly antiquated tool lives on, especially in the business sector. Fortunately, you no longer need a dedicated fax machine (and the associated phone line and ink) to send and receive paperwork. eFax, an Internet-based fax service, gives you a real fax number that you can use to send and receive faxes—using your smart phone. The updated Android app—now with digital signatures and the ability to attach local and cloud files—keeps most of the desktop version’s functionality by letting business-minded individuals send messages from their Google-powered handsets. eFax for Android is a competent and capable business-friendly mobile app.

[Disclosure: J2 Global, the company that owns eFax, also owns Ziff Davis and PCMag.com. This updated review details the new features in the eFax Android app. You can also check out our eFax for Android review from 12/22/2011, which dates from before the sale.]

Simple Setup
eFax’ Android app has a simple set up process for those who are new to the service. You simply input your name, email address, area code, phone number, check the Customer Agreement box, and tap Start Faxing.

I keyed in my credentials and then arrived at the home screen that featured five main sections: “Send a Fax,” “View Inbox,” “View Folders,” “Create Signature,” and “eFax Contacts.” Each section’s function is self-explanatory. Naturally, existing eFax users can simply log in with their credentials.

Cost
There are two different types of eFax accounts that can be used across the mobile app and desktop: Plus, and Pro. eFax Plus ($16.95 per month or $14.13 per month with an annual membership)  includes 150 pages of incoming and outbound faxes, and a 10-cent per page coverage fee once you go over that amount (there’s also a $10 one-time set up charge). eFax also offers a Pro model ($19.95 per month or $16.63 per month with an annual membership) designed for large businesses and individuals with heavy faxing needs. There’s a $19.95 one-time set up fee, but with the higher cost comes 200 pages of incoming faxes and a cool voicemail feature that sends left messages to your inbox. Pro accounts also have a 10-cent per page overage charge.

The Plus and Pro accounts are relatively expensive compared to Send2Fax’ Home Office and Small Business plans which are $8.95 per month (150 faxes) and $12.95 per month (350 faxes), respectively. If you’re keen on electronic faxing from the desktop and just need the basics, that’s an app worth checking out. Unfortunately, Send2Fax lacks an Android app.

Note: eFax for Android lets you sign up for a free, basic account that lets you receive 10 faxes per month. This is no longer offered on the eFax website, but you can still receive free faxes with the mobile app—at least for now. If you want to send faxes, you must upgrade your account either on the eFax website or by calling a toll-free number.

The eFax Experience
Firing off a fax with eFax for Android required that I tap “Send A Fax,” key a phone number into the address field, and optionally fill in cover letter information. The previous version only allowed users to send photos snapped with the phone’s camera or stored within the image gallery—no other file types. So, if you want to send a document, you’d have to shoot it with your phone’s camera and then send it, or use eFax’ email-to-fax capabilities (outside of the mobile app) to send files of any type. Not anymore.

Efax for Android now lets users attach both files stored locally and files stored in the cloud, which is an incredibly useful addition. There’s a 10MB file size limitation, but you can attach the typical office file types (including Word documents, photos, and PDF) and image file types (including BMP, JPG, and TIFF).

You attach files stored on your Android device by launching eFax, tapping Attachment > File Browser, and navigating the menu tree to find the file you want. Attaching a file stored in a cloud service—like Google Drive, for example—demands you launch the cloud storage app, keep a finger on the file you want to send until an option menu opens, select Send, and then tap the eFax icon. The process requires a bit of backward thinking—you find the file first and then open eFax—but it quickly becomes second nature. Most documents and images fired off without a hitch, but there were two JPG photo files on my phone—both less than 1MB in size—that wouldn’t attach.

Tapping “Create Signature” leverages your smartphone camera to create a digital signature. Point the camera to a piece of paper with your Hancock written across it and tap the capture button to snap the picture. eFax gives you a signature preview as well as the ability to adjust the image contrast. Although tapping “Light” gives you a flash to work with, the create a signature feature works best in very well-lit areas. The app froze and proceeded to crash twice when I tried to take signatures in a location with dimmer lights (the location was bright enough to read without issue).

A fax recipient contacted me stating that he received the fax three minutes after it was sent. When he responded with a fax of his own, it arrived in my inbox four minutes later—not bad considering the money I saved on a dedicated machine, ink, and paper. Faxes can be tagged and archived, or forwarded as faxes or email messages. Note: Fax and digital signature quality may vary depending on your phone’s camera.

eFax for Android lack the desktop version’s large file sharing feature which lets users send off attachments that would normally cause an email to bounce.

Should You Subscribe to eFax?
eFax for Android works because it makes the fax process simple—you don’t need to own a machine or visit Kinko’s. All that’s needed is a Web connection, which means you can fax from nearly any location. eFax for Android now supports digital signatures, and local and cloud file attachments, so there’s an extremely high convenience factor. All in all, eFax for Android is a solid companion for the for business customers who want to save on paper and ink.

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Specifications
Type Business, Enterprise, Professional
Free Yes

Verdict
The eFax Android app makes it simple to send and receive faxes from your handset, losing very little in the transition from desktop to mobile.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc