Even when you can't get a cell phone signal, you can still make calls and receive texts on your iPhone. With WiFi calling, your calls and texts are routed through whatever WiFi network your iPhone is logged into instead of your carrier's cellular network. That means you can still be reached in the subterranean levels of hospitals, coffee shop dead zones, and anywhere else with good WiFi that you can't get a cellular signal.
How to activate WiFi calling
WiFi calling is available on iPhone 5c and later models. Your carrier needs to support WiFi calling – all the major carriers do, plus the U.S. carriers on this list.
However, WiFi calling isn’t automatically enabled on iPhones. To turn on WiFi calling, go to the Settings > Cellular > Wi-Fi Calling and then toggle on Wi-Fi Calling on This Phone. You'll be asked to input an Emergency Address to help emergency services respond to your calls.
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, especially if you're not at the Emergency Address you provided during setup. You can always edit your Emergency Address by going to Settings > Cellular > Wi-Fi Calling and selecting Update Emergency Address.
WiFi calling costs
WiFi calling 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.
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.
Need to set up an Android phone for WiFi calling? Check out our story on How to Use WiFi Calling on Your Android Phone.
Updated on 5/11/2022 with new screenshots and updated availability.
[Image credit: woman talking on cellphone in coffee shop via BigStockPhoto]