With Wi-fi calling your calls and messages use your carrier’s regular network over the WiFi instead of your normal mobile connection.
All the major mobile phone networks offer great coverage, but in large buildings or certain sheltered areas you may notice a weaker signal. As lockdown and working from home forces us to spend more time in one place we are noticing connection issues and call quality more and more.
Wi-Fi calling, unlike FaceTime, is driven by the mobile network using technology known as SIP. It allows your iPhone to make and accept normal phone calls when connected to a standard Wi-Fi network.
You are chatting on the phone as normal, but you’re not doing it from a cell tower. Wi-Fi calling is a lifesaver for people who live in places with low or unreliable cellular coverage. That means you can still have a network connection where normal signals can’t reach, like basement cafeterias, large offices, and shopping malls.
How to activate Wi-Fi calls on your iPhone
Most iPhones come with Wi-fi calling as standard but it isn’t activated by default. You have to turn it on from your iPhones settings menu.
Turn on Wi-Fi calling in Settings > Phone > Wi-Fi Calling.
When your phone is using Wi-Fi Calling instead of the mobile network then you’ll see “Wi-Fi” in the status bar after your network provider’s name.
Share your connection with other Apple Devices
Once it is set up your iPhone can also share Wi-Fi Calling with other Apple devices using your Apple ID like your iPad.
Turn on Wi-Fi calling For Other Devices in Settings > Phone > Wi-Fi Calling.
You will be prompted to choose the device you want to share you connection with. Your network must allow calls via iCloud-connected devices and you must be using the same Apple ID on both devices. Now you can share the benefits on your iPad or even your Apple watch.
Are wi-fi calls free?
Wi-fi calls still use your mobile phone number so they aren’t free. They still count against your monthly allowance of texts and minutes.
To get completely free calls over wi-fi you need to use an Over-the-top messaging service like Facetime, Skype or Whatsapp.
I’m on Android – what about me?
A lot of Android phones do support Wi-fi calling. However, the settings and availability can vary between manufacturers and mobile networks. We are working on a detailed guide for Android users – watch this space.
Can I dial 999 using wi-fi calling?
You may be prompted to enter an address to be used by emergency services. All mobile networks have a responsibility to make 999 calls easy and safe to use sodon’t worry, this is perfectly normal.
If you dial 999 and a mobile singal is available then your iPhone will use than first. If you have activated Wi-Fi Calling and there is no cell signal then emergency calls will use Wi-Fi Calling.
When you make an emergency call, the location of your iPhone may be passed in to the emergency services, even if Location Services is turned off on your phone.
Things to watch out for
Make sure your are on an open wi-fi network.
Sometimes your phones may connect to a wi-fi hotspot that requires additional steps to connect to the internet, like at a coffee shop. If you are connected to a wi-fi network without Internet access then sometimes wi-fi calling can get a little confused.
Check your network
Traditionally mobile networks in the UK limited wi-fi calling to phones that were purchased direct from them. If you purchased your handset form another network or boughtit SIM free then it wasn’t guaranteed to work. Things have improved in recent years but it is still worth checking just to be sure. Do a quick test first so you know you can rely on it.
It may take a while to activate
Some networks have to activate Wi-fi calling on your account and that can take up to 24 hours. If wi-fi calling cdoesn’t work as soon as you activate it don’t worry. Give it a chance to activate, and if it is still not successful contact your network.