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What is Wi-Fi Calling?

Mobile phone calls use the cellular network. That’s how its always been. It’s what you pay your wireless carrier for every month – the privilege of being able to tap into their network of cell towers for making your calls and accessing the Internet.

Wi-Fi Calling takes your phone call, bundles it up inside of a data connection that can traverse the Internet, and sends it to your carrier using a standard Internet connection.

How is this useful to me?

Scenario 1 – I’m traveling to another country

You’ve got a flight to Bangkok tomorrow. Your friends and family need to be able to reach you when you are away. And you don’t want to force them to use Skype or a disposable SIM card (and associated new phone number).

You have no idea if your wireless carrier even works in Bankok. Or if it does, how much it will cost. It will probably be expensive.

Scenario 2 – I’m in a wireless dead zone

Your gym is a cellular dead zone. Every time you go, you miss important calls and texts because your phone has a terrible signal.

Or maybe your phone drops calls when you walk around the house, or when you go to the break room at work.

Scenario 3 – I’m constantly losing my phone

You’re constantly misplacing your phone around the house. You have plenty of other electronics devices laying around, such as your iPad and Macbook. But you are always missing calls because your phone isn’t nearby.

All of the above scenarios can be solved by enabling Wi-Fi calling. It takes all of 30 seconds. And chances are, you’ve never heard about it before now.

Why is this a big deal?

Wi-Fi calling only requires an Internet connection to work, you can use it anywhere you can get online. Not getting any bars on your phone? No problem, as long as you can connect to Wi-Fi.

Once you enable Wi-Fi calling, most phones will automatically switch to using it when a cellular connection isn’t available. For example, when I’m at the gym (a notorious dead zone for me), my phone switches silently over to Wi-Fi calling automatically. When I leave, it switches back.

What phones support Wi-Fi calling?

  • Apple iPhone 6, 6s, 7 or newer (including SE)
  • Galaxy S5, S6, S7 or newer
  • Galaxy Note 4, Note 5, or newer
  • Google Nexus and Pixel

Full list of phones that support Wi-Fi Calling

What wireless carriers support Wi-Fi Calling?

  • AT&T
  • Sprint
  • T-Mobile
  • Verizon

Full list of wireless carriers that support Wi-Fi Calling

How to enable Wi-Fi calling on Apple iPhone

Enable Wi-Fi calling on iPhone

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Tap Phone
  3. Tap Wi-Fi Calling
  4. Enable Wi-Fi Calling on This iPhone
  5. Follow the instructions to add your emergency (911) address

How to enable calls and texts on other devices with Apple iPhone

Once you enable Wi-Fi calling, you can enable your phone calls and texts to go to all of your other Apple devices. Even if your phone runs out of battery or falls into the toilet and dies. Your other devices will still get calls and texts as usual.

This is a killer feature. Instead of having only one phone, now you have as many as the devices you own. And they all share the same phone number.

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Tap Phone
  3. Tap Calls on Other Devices
  4. Select the other devices you wish to receive calls on
  5. Complete any authorization steps on the other devices to receive calls

Caveats

  • All devices must be signed in to the same Apple account
  • Devices must (initially) be on the same Wi-Fi network
  • Devices can only be other Apple products (for now)
  • iOS Devices (iPods, iPads) must be running iOS 10.3 or later
  • Macs must be running OS X El Capitan or newer
  • Apple Watch must have watchOS 2 or later

Apple Guide to Make a call with Wi-Fi Calling

How to enable Wi-Fi calling on Android

  1. Enable VoLTE
  2. Open the Apps menu
  3. Tap Settings
  4. Tap Advanced Calling
  5. Tap Activate Wi-Fi Calling
  6. Follow the instructions to add your emergency (911) address

How do I use Wi-Fi Calling to avoid roaming charges?

If you use Wi-Fi calling, you’ll avoid any roaming charges.

You need to be sure that your phone doesn’t connect to the roaming network. Charges $10 per day (or more) when roaming overseas, even if your phone only retrieves a single email.

  1. Put your phone in Airplane mode to disable the cellular radio
  2. Enable Wi-Fi and connect to a wireless network
  3. Do not disable Airplane mode until your trip is complete

If you do this, you will not incur roaming fees while traveling abroad. The only downside is you won’t receive any calls or messages when you aren’t connected via Wi-Fi.

What happens if I dial 911?

Short answer: You reach the 911 dispatch for your emergency address, not your current location.

If you call 911 and you are in New York City, but your emergency address is in Houston, you’re going to get Houston 911. 911 will think you are calling from your emergency address.

This is the primary limitation of Wi-Fi calling. Traditional phone calls transmit your GPS location directly to the 911 dispatcher. This ensures emergency services can pinpoint you and send help to your location.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t work with Wi-Fi calling. This is why specifying an emergency address is required.

Remember, if you call 911 when you are using Wi-Fi, you must tell the dispatcher where you are calling from if you are not at your emergency address.

Can’t I just use Skype or WhatsApp instead?

Wi-Fi Calling lets you get all your phone calls and text messages that are sent to your phone number. Apps like Skype or WhatsApp require the other party to also be using the app. With Wi-Fi calling enabled, your calls will continue to come in regardless of your ability to get a cellular connection.

And you don’t have to tell anyone do do anything different. Everyone can call or text you like normal.

Help! I’m not seeing an option to enable it on my phone

First, make sure you’ve enabled VoLTE support on your phone. I’ve created a quick guide on how to do this here.

Second, ensure that your carrier supports Wi-Fi calling.

Finally, ensure that your phone supports Wi-Fi calling.