What is WiFi Calling?

 What is WiFi Calling?   Wifi calling allows you to make calls using your Wifi network instead of using your cellular network. 

In the past, WiFi and cellular networks were totally two different things. But now, with WiFi calling, Wireless networks and Cellular companies are joined together and cannot work without each other.  In this article, we will discuss setting up Wifi Calling on different devices and the benefits of Wifi calling.

Basic Introduction

WiFi Calling is also known as Voice over WLAN

Calling from one smartphone to another is becoming cheaper and easier day by day. Rapid improvements in electronics have enabled smartphones to work at break-neck speeds.  This is also the case with WiFi calling, which has drastically reduced the cost of making calls, especially for international calls.

Wifi calling was first launched by T-Mobile and Sprint, but now, almost all the networks including Verizon and AT&T support Wifi calling.

Is it similar to WhatsApp and Skype?

Yes, it is similar to services like WhatsApp and Skype because both of these make a call using Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP). 

However, there are some important differences between Wifi Calling and services like WhatsApp and Skype.  Wifi calling does not require a third-party app to be installed on your device in order to use this feature.  It is built-in with the operating system of the device.  It uses the same dialer on the phone that you use to make regular calls.

If you want to use apps like Skype or WhatsApp then you will need to add your contacts to the app.  But Wifi calling does not need any special contact in the contact list.  Regular WiFi calling uses the same contacts that are already saved on your phone.  It simply uses a WiFi network to make the call instead of using your cellular network.

Benefits of Voice Over WLAN

  • It Can Work in Areas With Weak Cellular Signals

WiFi calling has a major advantage at the time when you are at a location far away from the cellular towers and faces weak or no signals. You need to connect to any wireless network in that area and your calls will go smoothly.

If you are making a call using your cellular network and if the signals drop during the call, it will be automatically transferred to Wifi calling and avoid call dropping or lagging of voice.

  • Reduce calling costs

Since Wifi calling does not involve cellular network at all, all you need is a wireless network, and your calls will be free of cost.

  • Support High-quality voice or audio

Advancements in technology have made major upgrades in wireless communication technologies such as Wifi, 3G, 4G and now even 5G.  With these upgrades, Wifi calling is able to transmit high-quality sound and audio from one smartphone to another.  

With the support of HD voice, Wifi calling is beneficial especially in the group or conference calls, where quality and synchronization of all voices is highly needed. So, this can be achieved through Wifi Calling.

  • No extra charges for roaming

Roaming means to make calls to your home country from outside the country, using the same cellular network’s sim card. But roaming is very expensive as companies charge extra charges to get roaming services. But you don’t need to worry about extra costs like for roaming because Wifi calling has nothing to do with the roaming. You need to pay for any network for the internet, and you are good to make calls internationally, without any extra fees. This benefit of Wifi calling is valuable for overseas travelers.

Limitations of Voice over Wifi Calling

We will also like to throw light on the limitations of Wifi calling, it will help you to make choice, when and where to use cellular calling or Wifi calling.

  • High data usage

Audio Calls over a wireless network uses almost 1MB of data for a 1-minute call. On the other hand, video call uses even more 6-8 MB of data per minute. This may cost you a lot more than a cellular network, if you are on a limited data plan or not on unlimited home network.

  • Slight Delay in Voice 

Usually, all types of data transfer through the internet take some delay. This is because of certain steps need to be performed at both sender and receiver end, these steps include conversion of data in digital form, that passes through the network and again converted into original form at the receiver end. This may cause 1-2 seconds to lag in the voice of call made thorough Wireless network.

  • Not supported in all countries

Australia, China, Cuba, North Korea, India, Iran, Singapore, Sudan, and Syria does not support Wifi calling. Wifi calling is not supported in HTC One Max, Sharp Aquos, HTC Desire 510 and Kyocera Hydro Vibe mobile phones.

You must be aware of these facts and figures before going for Wifi calling.

How much Bandwidth do I need to make Voice-Over WLAN calls?

A minimum of 1 Mbps of internet bandwidth is required to make a clear Wifi call.  If your bandwidth is below this speed then you may experience delay and lag in voice calling.  Your WiFi calls will work better if you are using a connection higher than 1 Mbps.  

How to set up Wifi calling on Android phones

Here are the steps to set up WiFi calling for android 8.0.  Your settings may slightly differ from these, but the options on your Andriod should be very similar.

  1. Open settings. There are multiple ways to open android settings. You can tap on gear like an app icon to do so. Or the shortcut and easy method are to pull down the notification panel and tap on small gear like icon.
  2. Inside settings, tap on the search icon. It is like a magnifying glass located at the left or right corner of the settings window.
  3. Type Wifi Calling in the search bar.
  4. If your devices support Wifi calling, it will search the option and return the result. You need to tap on the search result related to Wifi Calling.
  5. Tapping on the search result will bring you inside the menu where the Wifi calling option is available. So, you need to locate, where the option is inside this menu. Once you find it named WiFi calling, tap on it.
  6. Turn the switch to on.
  7. Here, you will see an option Calling preference. It allows you to select the preferred network use to make the call. The device will try to make a call through the selected option and will switch to the other option if the preferred becomes unavailable. Following is the description of the options available in the calling preference.
WiFi Calling Preferred:

If your mobile is connected to a wireless network, it will always make calls using WiFi even if the cellular network is available.

Cellular Network Preferred:

Calls will be made always using a cellular network if it is available. In case, if cellular network is not reachable, WiFi will be used instead.

Never Use Cellular Data:

Calls will always be made using WiFi. If it is not available, you cannot make calls using a cellular network.

  1. Done! You have successfully enabled WiFi calling on your android phone. Dial any valid phone number and make a phone call on it. This call will be made through WiFi depending upon your preferred option.

How to Enable WiFi Calling on iPhone

Unlike facetime service, Wifi calling is controlled by both the internet and your cellular network provider. SIP / IMS (IP Multimedia Subset) is a technology that enables WiFi calling on your iPhone.

Before moving to the steps to enable Wifi calling on iPhone, let’s have an eye on the Wifi calling process flow.

If you would like some info on how to connect your iPhone to WiFi then check out my other article here.

How Does Wifi Calling Work?

Your voice is tunneled to the internet and it transfers the data to your carrier provider’s control station. The control station is responsible for redirecting the call exactly to the person owning the dialed number. This redirection is done through the internet. As you can see, in the whole process, no carrier signal tower is included and the performance of the call totally depends on the quality of the internet.

Follow the instructions below in order to set up Wifi calling on iPhone;

  1. Open settings app of your iPhone. It’s a gear-like icon.
  2. Within the settings app, tap on Phone.
  3. Inside the Phone menu, tap on WiFi calling.
  4. Turn on the slider saying “WiFi calling on this phone”.
  1. A pop-up box will appear, informing you about the location and other data that your carrier will collect as a result of Wifi calling. Tap Enable.

Note: Some carriers like AT&T will redirect you to the safari browser and ask you to give an emergency call address. They will use this information in case of any emergency, for instance, if you dial 911 and you are unable to be traced through WiFi, then they will use this address to reach you.

How to enable WiFi calling for other devices on the iPhone

This feature is really interesting and only iPhone users can avail it. It will allow you to make and receive WiFi calls from any device using the same iCloud account as your iPhone. By this feature, you can make WiFi calls from your iPad and Mac also. You need to perform the following steps to enable calling from all devices using the same iCloud account.

Note: Some carriers may not support Wifi calling on other devices and they will not be able to use it.

  1. Open settings app of your iPhone. It’s a gear-like icon.
  2. Within the settings app, tap on Phone.
  3. Inside the Phone menu, tap on WiFi calling.
  4. If your carrier supports this feature, you will see “Add WiFi calling for other devices”. Turn it on.
  1. You will be redirected to the Safari browser and prompted to sync other devices. After the competition of the syncing process, other devices connected to this iCloud account will get notification about WiFi Calling.

How to set up WiFi calling on Apple Watch

Apple Watch allows us to make calls directly from its interface. You can also make WiFi calling on apple watch. For this, you need to make sure the following things;

  1. WiFi calling for other devices is enabled on your iPhone. If it is not enabled, you can see the steps described above in the section “How to enable WiFi calling for other devices on the iPhone”.
  2. Apple watch is running on OS 2 or above.
  3. WiFi calling option is enabled in the Watch app on iPhone.

Follow the steps below, to make and receive WiFi calls on your app watch;

  1. Open the apple watch app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap on My Watch.
  1. Tap on Phone to open call settings for the watch.
  2. Turn on the WiFi button. If you are not seeing this option, then check if you have fulfilled the requirements described above.
  1. On your apple watch, open dial pad, type the number and make a call. Now, This call will be made through WiFi.

How to set up WiFi Calling on Mac

By following this section, you will be able to make calls from your Mac using your iPhone. Ensure that your iPhone and Mac are connected to the same WiFi network.

On your iPhone, follow steps below;

  1. Open settings app of your iPhone. It’s a gear-like icon.
  2. Within the settings app, tap on Phone.
  3. Inside the Phone menu tap on “Calls on other devices”.
  1. Allow calls on other devices by tapping its switch button. Also, turn on the switch for MacBook listed there. You need to input the prompted digits into your iPhone to enable your mac.

After completing these steps on the iPhone, you will need to do some settings on Mac also.

On your MacBook, follow steps below;

  1. On your Mac, open Facetime app. After opening the facetime app, click on “FaceTime” located at the top left corner of the window.
  2. Click on FaceTime Preferences.
  3. Click on the Settings tab and then check the box saying “Calls from iPhone”.
  1. Done! You have successfully set up WiFi calling on your mac.

In the next section, we will show you a method to make a WiFi call from mac.

How to make WiFi calls on Mac

Once you have set up your iPhone and Mac settings, just follow the simple steps below to make wireless internet calls right from your Mac.

Note: Make sure, your mac is connected to the internet before moving to the steps below.

  1. Open FaceTime app on your Mac.
  2. Inside FaceTime app of your mac, open contacts and click on the “i” icon of the contact to explore all the options for this contact. This icon is located in front of each contact.
  1. Click on the phone icon to make the call.
  2. If you are calling a non-iOS device, then the settings will look like in the picture below.

How to make WiFi calls on iPad

To make WiFi calls from your iPad, you need to add your iPad in the other devices section of your iPhone. To do so, follow the steps below.

  1. On your iPhone, open settings by tapping on gear like icon.
  2. Tap on Phone within the settings.
  3. Turn on WiFi calling and then turn on Calls on other devices.
  1. Your iPad will appear in the list if it is using the same iCloud account as your iPhone is using. On its appearance, turn the switch on corresponding to your iPad.

Now, you have successfully added your iPad in the WiFi calling list of your iPhone. You can make and receive calls directly from your iPad using the FaceTime app.

On your iPad, follow the steps below;

  1. Sign in to your iCloud and FaceTime app with the same ID that you used to sign-in on your iPhone.
  2. On your iPad, go to Settings.
  3. Select “FaceTime” within the settings.
  4. Tap on Calls from iPhone.
  5. Lastly, tap on “Upgrade to WiFi calling”.

Done! You have successfully set up WiFi Calling on your iPad using your iPhone. Now, you can make WiFi calls directly from your iPad using the FaceTime app. For this, open FaceTime app, tap on audio to make an audio call. From the contact list, tap on the contact you want to call to. You can also dial the number and make a WiFi call to it.

How to set up WiFi calling on Samsung phones

This section is for Samsung users. We will present steps for the most popular devices by Samsung, so let’s start.

How to switch WiFi calling on Samsung A3, A5, S9, S9+, S8, S8 Plus, S7, S7 Edge, S6 and S6 Edge

Follow the steps below to turn on WiFi calling on these devices from Samsung.

  1. Connect your Samsung android device to a WiFi network.
  2. Tap on Phone from home screen icons.
  3. Tap on the Menu icon. It is located at the top right corner of the screen.
  4. Tap on Settings.
  5. Scroll down to locate the WiFi calling option. Turn it on from here.

Done! Now, your calls will be redirected to a wireless network. You can enjoy HD audio and video using WiFi calling on Samsung android phones.

Just like the Samsung devices listed above, other models of Samsung and other android devices require almost the same steps to follow. Depending on the new versions of the operating systems the option for WiFi calling can move here and there, but you can find it easily.

Apps for Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP)

Make free WiFi calls using Google Hangouts dialer app

Google hangouts dialer app is available for Android smartphones from the play store. It allows to make calls to Canada and the US without any charges, however, to call in countries other than these, hangouts will charge you. But it is claimed that google hangouts charges are cheaper than other types of callings plans. So, you can also choose it in the place of your carrier.

Google hangouts use WiFi, 3G or 4G to make calls. Follow the steps below to install this app and set it up for WiFi calling.

  1. Open google play store and type Hangouts Dialer in the search bar.
  1. Tap on the app from Google Inc.
  2. Tap on install and then tap on Accept.
  1. Wait for the download and installation to complete.

Once, hangouts dialer app is installed on your device, follow the steps below to set it up.

  1. Open the Hangouts dialer app. You can also open it from google hangouts.
  2. Bring up number dialer by taping on its icon. It is located at the bottom center of the screen having dots on it.
  3. Once the dialer is popped-up, type any Canadian or American phone number.
  4. Tap on Green Call Button. It is located at the bottom center of the screen having a phone receiver like icon.
  1. If you are connected to WiFi, 3G or 4G, you will be able to talk to Canadian and American phone numbers using your wireless connection. If you want to make calls to countries other than these two, the app will ask you to buy any calling plan to do so.
  2. To hand up a call, inside the hangouts dialer app, just tap the red button.

To Buy Calling credit in Hangouts Dialer App Open the app and tap on Add +, a new window will open, tap on $10 under “Add calling credit”. Complete the payment with any payment method. Once the payment is completed, you will see the balance on top of the hangout dialer app.

Making WiFi calls using Viber App

Viber is another popular app that provides Wi-Calling services along with chatting with other Viber users and making HD video calls.  You can get this app from the Google Play store for android, and from the App Store for iOS.

The Viber app is available for cross-platform devices like Windows PC, Android, and iOS phones.   If the Viber app is installed on your phone as well as on your PC, you can use a mobile number linked with Viber, to call between different platforms.

Viber free calling is only available from app to app.  If you want to make WiFi calls on regular mobile numbers you would need to purchase Viber call plans.  Viber also provides 30 days plan at very low rates, but regular Voice Over WLAN is cheaper.

WiFi Calls – Conclusions

Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Google Duo, WeChat and many services like these offer VOIP (calling over a network). Messenger and WhatsApp are widely used all over the world and they support cross-platform calling over a network but required both the caller and the listener registered on the app. This may put a kind of limitation for these services.

WiFi calling is not only a feature, but it is also becoming a need now. There are different methods described in this guide, to make WiFi calls. Some use only internet connection and are free of cost, and some require to purchase credit. The choice among these methods depends upon your country or location and your carrier. Try to evaluate your carrier costs and WiFi calling costs and then take the decision.  No doubt, it is cheaper in most cases and hence it becomes a reliable choice in developed countries like the UK and the USA.