How to Use iPhone Wi-Fi Calling

iPhone wi-fi calling
beijingstory/E+/Getty Images

Among tech enthusiasts, the debut of iPhone support for Wi-Fi Calling in iOS 8 was big news. While the technology isn't widely used yet, once it is, and once the average consumer is more familiar with it, it's going to be very popular.

What Is Wi-Fi Calling?

A feature of iOS 8 and up that allows phone calls to be placed using Wi-Fi networks instead of the traditional cell phone networks. Normally, phone calls are placed over the 3G or 4G networks our phones connect to.

However, this features 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 Wi-Fi network.

Wi-Fi Calling is most useful for people who don't get great 3G/4G reception in their homes or businesses. In many 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 companies or go without cell phone service in those important locations.

This feature solves that problem. By relying on Wi-Fi, which is routed through a cable modem connection, 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 in the past, as well as improved coverage in places where it is spotty.

Requirements

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

  • AT&T, Sprint, or T-Mobile phone service in the U.S. (and EE phone service in the UK). Verizon customers with HD Voice calling can also use the feature
  • iPhone 6 Plus, 6, 5S, 5C (or newer models)
  • iOS 9 or higher installed on your iPhone (iOS 8.0 offers support for T-Mobile, 8.3 adds Sprint and EE, and 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 to use it, you'll need to turn it on. Follow these steps:

  1. Tap the Settings app
  2. Tap Phone
  3. Move the Wi-Fi Calling slider to On/green
  4. Follow the onscreen prompts to add your physical location. This is used for 911 features.

If you don't see the Wi-Fi Calling slider, your phone doesn't support the feature. 

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 Sprint Wi-Fi or T-Mobile Wi-Fi
  3. Place a call as you normally would.

How to Fix Problems

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

  • Can't connect to Wi-Fi—Obviously, if you can't connect to Wi-Fi, you can't use the feature. Read this article to learn how to solve a grayed out Wi-Fi connection.
  • 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 app -> 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. When I encounter this problem, I turn on Airplane Mode to prevent the phone from trying to connect to cellular. Then I turn Wi-Fi back on and things tend to work more smoothly.
  • 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.
    Was this page helpful?