How to Make Wi-Fi Calls on Your iPhone

iPhone wi-fi calling
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The Wi-Fi Calling feature of the iPhone solves a truly annoying problem: being in a place where the cellular phone signal is so weak that your phone calls either drop all the time or don't work at all. When you use Wi-Fi Calling, it doesn't matter how many bars you have. As long as there's a Wi-Fi network nearby, you can use it to make your calls. 

What Is Wi-Fi Calling?

Wi-Fi Calling is a feature of iOS 8 and up that allows phone calls to be made using Wi-Fi networks instead of the traditional phone company networks.

Normally, phone calls are placed over the 3G or 4G networks our phones connect to. However, Wi-Fi Calling allows the calls to work like Voice Over IP (VoIP), which treats a voice call like any other data that can be sent over a computer network.

Wi-Fi Calling is most useful for people in rural locations or buildings made of certain materials who don't get good 3G/4G reception at their homes or businesses. In these places, getting better reception is impossible until phone companies install new cell towers nearby (which they may decide not to do). Without those towers, customers' only choices are to either switch phone companies or go without cell phone service in those important locations.

This feature solves that problem. By relying on Wi-Fi, a compatible phone can place and receive calls anywhere there is a Wi-Fi signal. This delivers phone service in places where it wasn't available at all, as well as improved service in places where coverage is spotty.

Wi-Fi Calling Requirements

In order to use Wi-Fi Calling on the iPhone, you must have:

  • iPhone 5C or newer model.
  • iOS 9 or higher installed on your iPhone (iOS 8.0 offers support for T-Mobile, iOS 8.3 adds Sprint, and iOS 9 adds AT&T)
  • A Wi-Fi network to connect to.

How to Enable Wi-Fi Calling

Wi-Fi Calling is disabled by default on iPhones, so you'll need to turn it on to use it. Here's how:

  1. Tap the Settings app.
  2. Tap Cellular (on older versions of the iOS, tap Phone).
  3. Tap Wi-Fi Calling.
  4. Move the Wi-Fi Calling on This iPhone slider to On/green.
  5. Follow the onscreen prompts to add your physical location. This is used so that emergency services can locate you if you call 911.
  6. With that done, Wi-Fi Calling is enabled and ready to use.​

How to Use iPhone Wi-Fi Calling

When the feature is turned on, using it is very easy:

  1. Connect to a Wi-Fi network.
  2. Look in the top right corner of your iPhone's screen. If you're connected to Wi-Fi and the feature is enabled, it will read AT&T Wi-Fi, Sprint Wi-FiT-Mobile Wi-Fi, etc.
  3. Place a call as you normally would.

How to Fix Problems with Wi-Fi Calling

Enabling and using Wi-Fi Calling is pretty easy, but sometimes there are problems with it. Here's how to solve some of the most common ones:

  • Wi-Fi Calling setting disabled: In the Settings app, the Wi-Fi Calling slider may be grayed out. If it is, reset your network settings (Settings -> General -> Reset -> Reset Network Settings), turn on Airplane Mode, and then turn on Wi-Fi.
  • Wi-Fi calls drop: If you're in an area that has both a Wi-Fi network and a weak cellular signal, sometimes your Wi-Fi calls will fail. This seems to happen as a result of the phone trying to connect to the cellular network instead of sticking with Wi-Fi. Try turning on Airplane Mode to prevent the phone from trying to connect to cellular. Then turn Wi-Fi back on.
  • Error message: If an error message tells you to contact your phone carrier, wait two minutes and try turning on the feature again. If that doesn't work, restart your iPhone. If that doesn't work, contact your phone company.
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