How to Make Wi-Fi Calls on Your iPhone

How to use iPhone Wi-Fi calling and fix problems with it

Smiling woman using smartphone

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The Wi-Fi Calling feature of the iPhone solves the problem of being in a place where the cellular phone signal is so weak that 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.

Wi-Fi Calling requires iOS 8 or higher. This article was written using iOS 12, but the steps are similar for iOS 11.

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 through a service provider's cellular towers. Wi-Fi Calling allows the calls to work like Voice over IP technology, which treats a voice call like any other data 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 or 4G reception at their homes or businesses. In these places, getting better reception is impossible until phone companies install new cell towers nearby. Without those towers, customers' only choices are to either switch phone companies or go without cell phone service in those important locations.

Wi-Fi Calling Requirements

To use Wi-Fi Calling on the iPhone, you must have:

  • AT&T, Sprint, or T-Mobile phone service in the U.S. Verizon customers with HD Voice calling can also use the feature. If you're in another country, check this list from Apple of what carriers support which features.
  • iPhone 5C or newer models.
  • iOS 9 or higher installed on the iPhone. iOS 8.0 offers support for T-Mobile, iOS 8.3 adds Sprint, and iOS 9 adds AT&T.
  • Access to a Wi-Fi network.

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 iOS, tap Phone).

  3. Tap Wi-Fi Calling.

  4. Turn on the Wi-Fi Calling on This iPhone toggle switch.

  5. Follow the onscreen prompts to add your physical location. This information is used so that emergency services can locate you if you call 911.

    Wi-Fi Calling toggle, Update Emergency Address link in iOS Settings

    The E911 information screen identifies your home location. It does not automatically send your current location if you dial 911 away from your home.

  6. 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 easy:

  1. Look in the upper-right corner of the iPhone screen. If it's connected to Wi-Fi and the feature is enabled, it reads AT&T Wi-Fi, Sprint Wi-FiT-Mobile Wi-Fi, or other depending on your carrier. On newer iPhones with a notch, a Wi-Fi symbol appears next to the cellular bars.

  2. Place a call as you normally would.

How to Fix Problems with Wi-Fi Calling

Wi-Fi Calling technology isn't perfect. Here's how to solve some of the most common problems people experience:

  • Can't connect to Wi-Fi: Review problem-solving steps to fix a grayed-out Wi-Fi connection or troubleshoot when an iPhone won't connect to Wi-Fi.
  • Wi-Fi Calling is disabled: In the Settings app, the Wi-Fi Calling toggle switch may be grayed out. If it is, reset the network settings (Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings), turn on Airplane Mode, then turn on Wi-Fi.
  • Wi-Fi calls drop: If you're in an area that has a Wi-Fi network and a weak cellular signal, sometimes Wi-Fi calls will fail. If the phone connects to the cellular network instead of to Wi-Fi, turn on Airplane Mode to prevent the phone from connecting to cellular. Then, connect to Wi-Fi.
  • Error message: If an error message tells you to contact your phone carrier, wait two minutes and turn on the feature again. If that doesn't work, restart the iPhone. If that doesn't work, contact your phone company.