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How to use Wi-Fi calling and make phone calls even without a cell signal

Melanie Weir,William Antonelli   

How to use Wi-Fi calling and make phone calls even without a cell signal
Tech3 min read
  • Wi-Fi calling allows you to make calls using a Wi-Fi connection instead of a cellular connection.
  • Wi-Fi calling is available on nearly every popular phone, and nearly every major cell carrier lets you use it for free.
  • If you have spotty cell service, Wi-Fi calling is a great way to make sure your calls don't drop.

If you've had a cellphone for a long time, you've probably heard of Wi-Fi calling. Wi-Fi calling is a great feature that helps you make quality phone calls even when your cell reception is weak.

Here's what you should know about Wi-Fi calling, including how to set it up on your phone.

Wi-Fi calling, explained

Although Wi-Fi calling has been around for years, most people have never used it, since it's usually hidden in a corner of your phone's Settings menu. Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about it.

What is Wi-Fi calling?

Wi-Fi calling allows you to make phone calls and send texts over a Wi-Fi connection rather than through your phone carrier's cellular network.

Why would I use Wi-Fi calling?

There are several advantages to Wi-Fi calls over standard calls:

  • Wi-Fi calls use something called a High-Definition (HD) Voice service, which typically makes the call's audio quality clearer.
  • If you're in an area where cellular service is spotty, Wi-Fi calls can sometimes keep calls from getting disconnected.
  • Your Wi-Fi connection doesn't need to be extremely fast to support a Wi-Fi call. Most internet speeds are capable - 1Mbps should be enough.

How do I know if I can use Wi-Fi calling?

Nearly all major cellular carriers in the United States - this includes AT&T, Verizon, Mint, and T-Mobile - support Wi-Fi calling on all modern iPhone and Android smartphones.

Is Wi-Fi calling free?

Wi-Fi calling is free, as long as the calls are being made to US numbers. In some rare cases, you may need an unlimited plan for free Wi-Fi calling.

For more information, check your specific carrier's Wi-Fi calling policies:


Are there any downsides to Wi-Fi calling?

When you make Wi-Fi calls internationally, you'll be charged as if you were making a regular international call. Be sure to double-check your carrier's international calling plan before racking up extra fees.

If you're traveling abroad and want to make calls, it's safest to use a third-party app like WhatsApp rather than worry about incurring any international calling fees from your carrier.

How to turn on Wi-Fi calling

The exact way to turn on Wi-Fi calls on your phone will depend on what phone you have. Here's how to enable Wi-Fi calling on your iPhone or Android.

On an iPhone

1. Open your phone's Settings app and tap the Cellular option to open your cellular network menu.

2. Find the Wi-Fi Calling option and tap it.

3. Toggle the Wi-Fi Calling switch to the left, so it turns green.

4. A pop-up will appear, giving you more details about the sort of information that gets sent to your cell phone carrier when you enable Wi-Fi calling. Read to make sure you're okay with the terms, then tap Enable.

5. Another pop-up will appear, asking you to confirm your address - this is so if you call 911 with Wi-Fi, emergency services will know your location. The appearance of this pop-up may change slightly based on your cellular carrier. Confirm your address, then tap Next.

6. Follow the on-screen instructions from your carrier to finish setting up Wi-Fi calling on your device.

On Android

1. Open your phone's dialer - the screen where you type in phone numbers - and tap the three dots in the top-right corner.

2. Select Settings.

3. In the menu that appears, tap Wi-Fi calling and then tap the switch next to it so it flips to the right.

4. You'll be asked to confirm that you want to enable Wi-Fi calls, and then you'll have to enter your address - this is so if you call 911 with Wi-Fi, emergency services will know your location.

Once you've done both, Wi-Fi calling will be enabled.

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