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What is Wi-Fi Calling & Why You Should Be Using It

by on June 16, 2016
in Phones and Mobile, Mobile Apps, Tips & How-Tos :: 21 comments

woman talking on cellphone via ShutterstockMost of us spend time in at least a few places where our phones just don’t work, whether it’s a room or two at home, a favorite basement coffee shop or some other signal-blocked location. That’s where Wi-Fi calling can save the day. Instead of relying on the cellular phone network, Wi-Fi calling and texting uses an available Wi-Fi network to place your call over the Internet.

Clearly, if you don’t have a cellular signal or it’s spotty, the ability to make Wi-Fi calls comes in handy. But that isn’t the only reason you’ll want to use Wi-Fi calling.

Wi-Fi calling is perfect for overseas travelers because there’s typically no roaming or international charge for making calls or sending texts back home. Sprint doesn’t charge for Wi-Fi calls to your family back in the United States, but Wi-Fi calling isn’t supported in some countries, including Australia and China. T-Mobile doesn’t charge roaming fees for Wi-Fi calls but will deduct your call minutes for calls made between U.S. lines if you don’t have an unlimited plan. And Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile will still charge an international rate if you call an international line using your U.S.-based smartphone.

How to make a Wi-Fi call

Wi-Fi calling isn’t automatically enabled on smartphones. To turn yours on, go to the Settings menu. On iPhones go to Settings > Phone and then toggle on Wi-Fi calling. On Android, you’ll generally find Wi-Fi settings under Settings > Networks > Call, where you can then toggle on Wi-Fi calling.

Once you activate Wi-Fi calling, you dial or text as usual. The routing of your call or text is handled automatically in the background.

Does my carrier offer Wi-Fi calling?

All major cell phone carriers now support Wi-Fi calling, with support for the most recent iPhones and Android phones. And, the feature will inevitably become more widespread. "Wi-Fi calling exists because it's a great way for the carriers to offload their network traffic and increase coverage without having to pay for it,” Michael Bremmer, CEO of TelecomQuotes.comwrote in an email. 

So when will you get Wi-Fi calling? Here’s the latest on Wi-Fi for each of the major carriers:

Sprint Wi-Fi calling is available on most recent Android devices and iPhones, starting with the iPhone 5C, 5S, 6 and 6 Plus and 6s and 6s Plus with iOS software v8.3 and higher. Check your phone’s settings menu to see if it’s supported.

T-Mobile offers 38 different phones with Wi-Fi calling, including recent iPhone models, the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S7, the LG G5 and HTC 10.

AT&T has rolled out Wi-Fi Calling to 6, 6 Plus, 6s and 6s Plus with iOS software v9.0 and higher and is starting to roll out to Android devices, beginning with the LG G4. 

Verizon Wireless has rolled out Wi-Fi calling to 14 devices including the iPhone 6, 6s and 6s Plus, Samsung Galaxy S6 and S7, HTC 10, LG G4 and G5.  

Or course, if your handset doesn't support Wi-Fi calling, you may be able to find some workarounds. Apps like FaceTime, Google Voice, Line, Skype and WeChat allow you to make voice and video calls over Wi-Fi as well as send text messages.

How Wi-Fi calling compares to cellular

Thanks to the growing popularity of free public Wi-Fi hotspots, you may not need to pay another dime to make a call again. In fact, Cisco VNI predicts global hotspots will increase sevenfold from 2014 to 2018, resulting in 109 million hotspots in North America alone.

But a cheap price tag doesn’t always equate with high quality. “Trying to get the best signal for a Wi-Fi call is challenging,” said Anurag Lal, president and CEO of telecommunications company Infinite Convergence. “Many times, [the quality of service is through] individual users with a Wi-Fi network, and there is no guarantee for a particular bandwidth.” Lal adds that signal strength can diminish as more people attempt to use the same network, such as at hotels, airports or athletic stadiums.

Consumers may have another gripe with Wi-Fi calling service: there may be a 1- or 2-second delay in the conversation. Think of the delay you hear with the echo of the same news broadcast aired on different TVs in your home. If you’re accustomed to receiving an immediate response using traditional phone service, a conversation over Wi-Fi may annoy you.

While it doesn’t make sense for most people to switch to a Wi-Fi-only provider like Scratch Wireless, Wi-Fi calling can make a big difference if you have limited minutes, get poor reception or travel abroad.

Updated on 6/16/2016 with new carrier information

[Image credit: woman talking on cellphone in coffee shop via Shutterstock]

Discussion loading

Other wifi calling apps

From Gordon Helser on July 24, 2015 :: 2:54 pm

Don’t forget WhatsApp and Viber for wifi calling.  They let you send text, video and recordings as well.  I recommend WhatsApp.


International calls and use on a cruise ship

From Gordon Helser on July 24, 2015 :: 3:00 pm

WhatsApp is also great for voice calls, text, video between your party on a cruise ship and for international calls, text and video.  On the cruise ship, each person in your party that wants to use WhatsApp needs to be on wifi, which costs money.  Royal Caribbean offers unlimited wifi for a week for about $50. per person on some ships, such as Quantum and Oasis.  And I assume Allure.


very nice site

From Shahriar Baluch on July 27, 2015 :: 10:58 pm

very nice site   (:



Groove IP & Vonage

From Ernesto Colina on October 09, 2015 :: 3:24 pm

Don’t waste your time with the “Big Carriers” get any prepaid one, anyone in Walmart will do and for “WiFi” Calling get :


GrooVe IP Lite Free

And if you are smart, use Vonage at home, install “Vonage Extensions” on your Mobile and call Internationally for Free, which BTW, supports WIFI calling.



Verizon and iPhone

From Kevin on October 25, 2015 :: 9:34 am

IPhone users: WiFi Texting and Calling is a show stopper for me. When I walk into a building where cell coverage is dead or cellular tower is down, local WiFi is then a logical back up. With Verizon’s terrible choice of launching it’s own, dysfunctional Verizon Message+ App to replace iMessage for WiFi messages and confusing integrated and redundant phone portal (Warning do not load that App), I will no doubt switch to TMobile who seems to be making better mission statements lately and leading the way in logic.




From Jimmy Bean on December 10, 2015 :: 1:37 am

Hilarious to mention there is no wifi calling in Syria. No food, no water, war, refuges, terrorists, torture, executions, gunfire and explosions everywhere and NO WiFi calling either??



Yikes! When I updated the

From Suzanne Kantra on December 10, 2015 :: 12:12 pm

Yikes! When I updated the story, I just looked at the carrier info.


Sprint WiFi Calling is HORRIFIC

From Bo Mathis on February 13, 2016 :: 10:47 am

Don’t be fooled by 3 minutes of clear WiFi Calling using Sprint. You WILL eventually experience drops, garble, and a host of other potentially embarrassing issues. Sprint will of course blame your WiFi network. And in my case, I have FIOS operating at the highest speeds and have set the router to granting the highest QOS priority to WiFi Calling. Forget it.  It’s another POS service from Sprint, added to their long list of empty promises.



Sprint WiFi calling is awesome

From Jarod Weaver on July 23, 2016 :: 1:47 pm

Let me just start by saying I done some research and fios os a competitor of sprint because it’s owned by Verizon. Don’t forget that. My research and googling led to that Verizon is intentionally making sprint wifi calling not work as it should while connected through their network to try to make you choose them as a carrier. I personally have comcast and my sprint wifi calling is awesome. It lets me make calls for as long as I need it as long as I’m connected to wifi because the only bad thing is it won’t fall back to Sprint’s network. The maximum at one call for my time on wifi calling would be 3 hours.


Receiving Calls?

From Lin Psimpsondottir on June 16, 2016 :: 8:49 pm

Calling out is well and good, but receiving them is equally important. Nothing said about that. Is this possible?



You'll get better "reception" for

From Suzanne Kantra on June 17, 2016 :: 10:28 am

You’ll get better “reception” for incoming calls as well. I’ve received calls in places where there was no cellular service. It works just like you have regular cellular service.



Is WiFi Calling Secure?

From The Baroness In Oregon on June 17, 2016 :: 9:32 am

WiFi calling can be a great money-saver, but is it secure?  So others can use it, a public WiFi signal is not encrypted. If you are in your own home using your own WiFi for calls and your home WiFi is encrypted, then yes it’s safe.  If you are outside walking around or in a public place and you glom onto a free signal, then you are just as open to your call being overheard or your phone hacked-into as if you were using public WiFi with a tablet or laptop.  Remember, any time you use a public signal you are open to hackers/eavesdroppers, and the more devices using that public signal, the weaker it will be for each user.  This goes for WiFi in hotels, airports, shopping malls, libraries, etc., too.  If you have Comcast internet at home, there may be a second “radio” in the router that provides free WiFi for people within a certain radius of that router.  Mine did, and I called Comcast and made them inactivate that second radio.  All I’m saying is, be careful with free WiFi!



Carriers encrypt WiFi calls

From Suzanne Kantra on June 17, 2016 :: 10:46 am

When you make a call with your smartphone, the data is encrypted before it’s sent over the network. This is true whether you’re using regular cellular service or WiFi calling over a public WiFi network.

If you’re not using your carrier’s WiFi calling, but rather a calling app, you’ll want to ensure that your calls are being encrypted on your device. Apps like WhatsApp and Skype do encrypt your communication. For others, make sure to check in the app description.



Google Project Fi

From Jay on June 17, 2016 :: 1:41 pm

Don’t you think everyone should be using a VPN no matter where they are? Project Fi uses WiFi for everything, if WiFi isn’t available while traveling in the US it will switch between Sprint, T-Mobile or Consumer Cellular, for data usage, whichever signal is strongest.
It is also available in the Caribbean. Data costs $10/GB no matter how many GB’s you use.
I’ve been using it on a Nexus 6P/Nexus 9 for about 5 months now and haven’t had any problems.



Auto Switch?

From Chad on July 01, 2016 :: 11:16 am

When I have wifi calling turned on, is it active anytime there is a wifi signal, or does the phone evaluate which signal is better and use the best signal?

I have poor cell service at my house, so I want to use wifi calling there. But if I am at a coffee shop with spotty wifi but I have great cell service I would want it to use the cellular signal.  Do I have to switch that manually or will the phone decide which to use a relatively decent/accurate manner?



Spotty wi-fi

From Jay Lose on July 01, 2016 :: 11:30 am

Hi Chad, I’m not sure about the other cell services, I had Verizon before switching to Project Fi, but Project Fi will use wi-fi as it’s first choice for making calls, if that signal isn’t strong enough it will automagically switch to either Sprint, T-Mobile or Consumer Cellular.
When I was on Verizon they didn’t have wi-fi calling at that time. I think now days most carriers do.
Hope this helps.



Auto switch

From Ann on July 20, 2016 :: 12:00 am

Chad, AT&T tells me that if you have wi-fi calling activated, it will make the switch IF the cellular network signal is not strong.  I have only been using it for one day, but it seems that it auto switches to wi-fi when the cellular network signal is weak and then switches back to your carrier once that signal is strong again.



Double security

From Sofia on July 03, 2016 :: 11:09 am

The idea of Wi-Fi calling sounds really great! It allows you to save your own Internet traffic which is paid, but what about security? In my opinion, everything connected with public access puts at threat your privacy & security, especially nowadays when it should be the primary aim of every man. So I prefer avoiding such a threat & even making my private information stronger. Firstly, for calling I use WhatsApp and Skype, which encrypt the communication. Secondly, I always use vpn service, which does my access secure & unrestricted wherever I am
Of course, it doesn’t mean you are secure 100%, but it implies 98% exactly!



Blocked WiFi Calls

From David on August 17, 2016 :: 8:51 am

I’ve tried WiFi calling and it works fine unless the receiving party is blocking WiFi calls. I’ve run into this on several occasions recently.



At&T wireless device correction in this article: FACT

From David on September 27, 2016 :: 1:06 am

I want to correct this articles because under the wificalling for AT&T says that the S6 has it. However it does not. Your articles neglects to elaborate that just because the maker SAMSUNG has it in the features and specs of the phone. Ultimately the setttings, configurations and update the phone needs has to be deployed by in this case AT&T. well here we are a 1 1/2 years later and the Galaxy S6 by AT&T model SMG920-A. ABSOLUTEY DOES NOT HAVE THE WIFI CALLING WORKING. In fact I was fraduently sold one by an ATT sales rep atr a store I went to with no intention to buy one. But was assured this would resolve my cell reception at home. well had problems with reception past the 14 day return period and now they woill not make good on the fact that i waws lied to and sold a phone that for over a year and half has never had the wifi calling working. Today is September 26, 2016 and i am writing the CEO of AT&T. Just something the public needs to know.



Have you installed the latest

From Suzanne Kantra on September 27, 2016 :: 3:16 pm

Have you installed the latest update from AT&T? It’s supposed to make Wi-Fi calling available on the S6. The instructions for getting the update are here on the AT&T site:!/wireless/KB426709

Let me know if it does or doesn’t work.


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