How to Use Your iPad as a Phone

3 ways to place calls on your iPad

Family with grandparents doing Facetime with iPad.
Artur Debat / Getty Images

The iPad isn't just for watching movies and browsing the internet. It can also make phone calls. It probably won't replace your cell phone anytime soon, but its larger screen does provide some benefits, especially for video conferencing.

Several apps are designed around implementing Voice-over-IP (VoIP), which lets you place and receive calls through the internet. Some even come pre-installed on your tablet. Here are three ways to use your iPad as a phone.

These instructions apply to devices running iOS 10 and later.

Place Calls on Your iPad Using FaceTime

The easiest way to make phone calls with your iPad is by using the video conferencing software that comes with the iPad called FaceTime. FaceTime uses your Apple ID to place phone calls to anyone who also has an Apple ID, which is anyone who owns an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Mac computer.

These calls are free, so even if you're using your iPhone, you won't be using your minutes. You can even receive calls on FaceTime by having people contact the email address associated with your Apple ID.

Here's how to use FaceTime.

  1. Open the FaceTime app.

    If FaceTime isn't already on your iPad, you can download it from the App Store for free.

    An iPad with the FaceTime icon highlighted
  2. Press the plus sign (+) to choose someone to call from your contacts. You can include multiple contacts in your call.

    You can also start typing the name of a contact on the keyboard, and FaceTime will complete it automatically.

    FaceTime on an iPad with the plus sign highlighted
  3. When you've selected everyone you want to contact, press one of the call buttons to make an Audio (voice-only) or Video call.

    FaceTime on an iPad with the Audio and Video call buttons highlighted
  4. FaceTime will place the call.

How to Make FaceTime Calls Using Messages

You can also make FaceTime calls to your contacts through the Messages app.

Just like in the FaceTime app, you can only call people whose Apple IDs connect to their phone numbers.

 

  1. Open the Messages app.

    An iPad with the Messages app highlighted
  2. If you have a conversation open with the person you want to contact, tap that thread. Otherwise, you'll need to start a new one.

    Messages for iPad with a conversation thread highlighted
  3. Tap your contact's phone number or email address at the top of the screen.

    Messages on iPad with a contact's email address highlighted
  4. Tap the FaceTime icon.

    Messages on iPad with the FaceTime icon highlighted
  5. FaceTime in Messages defaults to a video call, but you can turn off the camera once it starts by tapping the Camera off button in the lower-left corner of the screen.

    A FaceTime call on an iPad with the Camera Off button highlighted
  6. When your call is over, tap the end button, which is also in the lower-left corner.

Place Calls on Your iPad Using Your iPhone's Cellular Number

As an alternative to FaceTime, you can place "iPhone calls" on your iPad. This feature syncs your iPad and iPhone to allow you to place and receive calls on your tablet as if it were really your phone. 

These calls are actually routed through your iPhone, so you can place calls to anyone, even if they don't have an Apple ID. Here's how you turn the feature on:

  1. Open Settings on your phone.

  2. Find the Phone settings.

    Settings and Phone on an iPhone
  3. Tap the Calls on Other Devices heading and flip the switch to on/green at the top of the next screen.

  4. When the list of devices shows up, enable the ones you want to route calls to. Compatible devices include other iPads, iPhones, and Macs.

    Calls on Other Devices heading and toggle switches on an iPhone
  5. With this setting active, you can make and receive calls on any device you're signed in to with your Apple ID.

Other Ways to Use Your iPad as a Phone

If you want some options other than the standard ones on your iPad, you can also look into a few third-party apps. Here are some you might want to check out.

Skype

Skype is the most popular way to place internet calls, and unlike FaceTime, it isn't restricted to people using an iOS device. Skype on the iPad is a relatively simple process, though you will need to download the Skype app.

Unlike FaceTime, there could be fees involved with placing calls through Skype, but Skype-to-Skype calls are free, so you'll only pay for calling people who do not use Skype.

Talkatone & Google Voice

FaceTime and Skype are great, both offering the advantage of placing video calls, but what about placing a free call to anyone in the U.S. regardless of whether or not they use a specific service? FaceTime only works with other FaceTime users, and while Skype can place a call to anyone, it's only free to other Skype users.

Talkatone in conjunction with Google Voice has a way of placing free voice calls to anyone in the U.S., though it is a little more confusing to set up.

Google Voice is a Google service designed around giving you one phone number for all of your devices. But voice calls you place with Google Voice use your voice line, and you can't do that on an iPad.

Talkatone, however, is a free calling app that extends the Google Voice service by allowing calls over the data line, which means you can use it with your iPad. You'll need both the Talkatone app and the Google Voice app.

Go to Google Voice and add your Talkatone number as a forwarding phone on your Google Voice account. After you do this, outgoing calls/text message will show from your Talkatone phone number.

Talkatone can also interact with your Facebook friends.