Wi-Fi calling allows your iPhone to place and receive phone calls and text messages over a Wi-Fi network. If you have a weak cellular signal but a solid Wi-Fi signal, your iPhone will automatically switch over and route calls and texts via Wi-Fi.
Apple added support for Wi-Fi calling to the iPhone with iOS 8, and it’s gradually becoming supported on more and more carriers, including the latest addition of Verizon on iOS 9.3. You can only use this if your cellular carrier supports it.
What You Need to Know
This is disabled by default, so you’ll have to enable it before it will do anything. Once you’ve enabled it, it will just work and your phone will automatically switch to Wi-Fi when necessary. You’ll see this indicated in the status bar — for example, it will say T-Mobile Wi-Fi rather than T-Mobile LTE if you’re using T-Mobile and your phone is currently connected to Wi-Fi rather than the LTE cellular network. Dial a number or send a text message in the normal way while Wi-Fi appears in your status bar and it will connect over the Wi-Fi connection instead of the cellular one.
It’ll automatically switch between cellular and Wi-Fi networks as you move out of an area covered by Wi-Fi, so you don’t have to do anything different or even think about it.
This only works if your carrier has enabled the necessary support on their end. The carrier has to be able to automatically route calls and texts to you over the Internet.
What You’ll Need
You’ll just need two things to use this feature:
- A carrier that supports Wi-Fi calling: In the US, T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T support this. Verizon is also supported as long as you’re running iOS 9.3 or higher. Bell and Rogers support it in Canada, EE and Vodaphone support it in the UK, and 3 and SmarTone support it on Hong Kong. More carriers should support it in the future.
- An iPhone 5c or newer: Older iPhones don’t support this. You’ll need an iPhone 5c, 5s, 6, 6s, or a newer model to use this feature.
To enable Wi-Fi calling, open the Settings app on your iPhone, scroll down, and tap Phone. Tap Wi-Fi Calling under Calls and activate the Wi-Fi Calling on This iPhone slider.
You should also tap Update Emergency Address and ensure your carrier has a correct address. If you ever dial 911 over a Wi-Fi network, the emergency responders will see your call associated with the emergency address you enter here.
If you ever encounter a problem with Wi-Fi calling, you can visit this screen again and disable it with a quick tap.
Using Wi-Fi Calling Along With Continuity
Wi-Fi calling doesn’t usually work with the Continuity feature. You won’t be able to place or receive calls on your Mac or another iOS device like an iPad if you enable Wi-Fi calling.
Apple is slowly recitying this. If you have iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan, you can now use the standard Continuity features along with Wi-Fi Calling — assuming you’re with T-Mobile in the US. No other carriers yet support this.
You can enable this feature from the Phone screen in the Settings app. Under the Wi-Fi calling option on the Phone screen, tap Calls on Other Devices. Tap Add Wi-Fi Calling For Other Devices and other devices signed in with your iCloud account will be able to place and receive calls normally even with Wi-Fi calling enabled. Again, carriers will have to go out of their way to support this — currently, only T-Mobile in the US allows this.
Wi-Fi calling isn’t a whizz-bang feature you’ll notice a lot after you enable it, but it makes your iPhone work much better in areas with low cellular reception but a solid Wi-Fi signal.
Some Android devices also have a feature like this one. If they do, it’s generally baked into the phone as part of the cellular carrier’s customizations and is activated in a different way on each phone. Apple is taking the lead in rolling it out in a standardized way different carriers can support, and you can use it even if you buy an unlocked phone and bring it to a carrier of your choice.
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