You can make call and receive texts on your Android phone even when you can't get a cell phone signal if you have WiFi calling. Instead of using your carrier's cellular network, WiFi calls and texts are routed through whatever WiFi network your Android phone is connected to. That means you can still be reached in the subterranean levels of office buildings, meeting room dead zones, and anywhere else with good WiFi but no cellular signal.
How to activate WiFi calling
WiFi calling has to be supported on your phone and by your carrier to work. The major U.S. carriers all support WiFi calling (AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon), but double check if you use another carrier. And, WiFi calling is generally available on Android phones that have been manufactured within the last few years.
However, WiFi calling isn’t automatically enabled on Android phones. For stock Android phones, like the Google Pixel phones, or if you use the Google Phone app:
- Open the Phone app
- Tap the triple dots to open the menu and select Settings
- You may see Wi-Fi Calling, where you can toggle on the feature. Or, you may need to select "Calls" and then you'll see the option to toggle on the feature.
For Samsung phones:
- Open Settings
- Select Connections
- Toggle on Wi-Fi Calling
If these instructions don't work for your phone, open settings and select the search magnifying glass and type in "Wi-Fi Calling" and you should be taken to the correct setting.
How to make a WiFi call
Once you activate WiFi calling, you dial or text as usual. The routing of your call or text is handled automatically in the background.
If you make an emergency call, you should always provide your address. Emergency services will not automatically receive your location information as they would if you're using the cellular network.
WiFi calling costs
The WiFi calling feature doesn't cost anything extra, but you may be billed for calls depending on your cellular plan. That's because WiFi calls are treated as if you were placing a cellular call from the U.S. Whatever rates and fees apply to your regular cellular calls will also apply to your WiFi calls, including deducting call minutes from your monthly allotment, if you don't have an unlimited plan, and fees made to international numbers.
That means WiFi calling is perfect for overseas travelers because there’s typically no roaming or international charge for making calls or sending texts back home. And many carriers' plans include free calling to Canada and Mexico. Keep in mind, though, that you will be charged an international rate based on your international calling plan, if you call an international line using your U.S.-based smartphone. And WiFi calling isn’t supported in some countries, including China, Cuba, and North Korea.
Check out the WiFi calling pages on your carrier's site for more details. Here are the pages for AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon.
Need to set up an iPhone for WiFi calling? Check out our story on How to Use WiFi Calling on Your iPhone.
Updated on 5/11/2022 with current instructions for enabling WiFi calling.
[Image credit: main in waiting room via BigStockPhoto]
For the past 20+ years, Techlicious founder Suzanne Kantra has been exploring and writing about the world’s most exciting and important science and technology issues. Prior to Techlicious, Suzanne was the Technology Editor for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and the Senior Technology Editor for Popular Science. Suzanne has been featured on CNN, CBS, and NBC.
Overseas Wi-fi calling.
From Geoff on March 12, 2020 :: 10:04 pm
Just a small amendment to your excellent article. In Australia Wi-Fi calling is provided by the main carriers for calls within Australia, however not for international calls.