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, Sprint, 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. You’ll generally find WiFi settings under Settings > Networks & Internet > Mobile network > Advanced > Wi-Fi Calling, where you can then toggle on WiFi calling. If these instructions don't work for your phone, select the search magnifying glass and type in "Wi-Fi Calling" and you should be taken to the correct setting.
You can choose to have calls use the cellular network first, if it's available, or for prioritize WiFi. We've found that the call quality is generally better over cellular, and there is the added benefit of your location data being sent to emergency services if you need to call for help. So for your "Calling preference" setting, we recommend selecting "Call over mobile network".
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 Australia, China, Cuba, North Korea, India, Iran, Singapore, Sudan and Syria.
Need to set up an iPhone for WiFi calling? Check out our story on How to Use WiFi Calling on Your iPhone.
[Image credit: main in waiting room via BigStockPhoto]