What is VoLTE and Why the F*! You Should Care About It (We Said Fox)
VoLTE, short for Voice over Long Term Evolution, is basically the way our phones transmit our voices during calls. If your phone uses Voice over LTE, calls are placed using your LTE connection. Prior to using LTE, calls were transmitted to a separate channel, which would lead to your internet connection slowing down while you were on the phone. You know how back in the old days, being on the internet required taking over the phone lines (hello, dial-up internet)? And, someone would scream at you to get off the computer so they could use the phone? It’s kinda like that. In contrast, VoLTE calls have high-quality sound because they have the ability to use more bandwidth and can also connect faster when you’re calling someone near you. You’re also able to use the internet or apps while on calls thanks to it.
In short, VoLTE is a newer, better way to make calls.
Most wireless carriers support VoLTE now or are moving toward using it exclusively, abandoning the old networks (Curious what those are? More on them here). In fact, at Mint, your phone must be VoLTE-friendly if you want to bring your own phone. If you’ve purchased a new device over the last few years, you probably already have a phone that uses it or is capable of using it, but you still might not know a thing about this radical new technology. Below, we’ll dive deep into every aspect of VoLTE.
What are the benefits of VoLTE?
VoLTE offers superior audio quality and quicker connections. But that’s not all. Here’s a list of its other benefits:
- It improves coverage and connection. VoLTE connects calls up to twice as fast as current networks. The frequencies it uses also have far greater reach, so you’ll have even better indoor coverage. A huge boon for those of us who don’t leave the house.
- Calls are crystal clear. Once again, one of the biggest benefits is sound quality. That’s because VoLTE can transfer much more data than a 2G or 3G network—up to three times as much data as 3G and up to six times as much as 2G, respectively. Yikes. This is especially noticeable when you call someone else who has a VoLTE-friendly phone.
- It can also handle video calls. Because VoLTE uses a higher bandwidth, it can handle video calls alongside phone calls. It can also handle conference and group calls. So yes, it is to blame for all those Zoom parties you were invited to.
- You can use the internet and apps while on a call. Previously, voice calls would slow down your internet. But with VoLTE, that’s no longer a problem, and you can use the internet while on a call. Perfect for cheating on Zoom trivia.
- There are no additional fees. Since VoLTE doesn’t use data, you don’t get charged additional fees.
- It saves battery life. With older networks, your phone would have to switch between networks (e.g. from 4G to 2G), which costs battery life. With just one system, VoLTE, there’s none of that switching back and forth.
Why VoLTE is important
Obviously, VoLTE offers a lot of benefits. But one of the main reasons it’s important is that many nationwide wireless providers are doing away with 2G and 3G networks. If your phone doesn’t offer VoLTE and relies on one of those old networks, well… it might go the way of the dinosaur (with no Jurassic Park scientists to bring them back). In fact, this could happen as early as 2022, so VoLTE truly is the future of phones.
So, why are 2G and 3G networks disappearing? Simply put, they’re outdated and allow for very limited data speeds. 2G and 3G networks are taking up space that 4G and 5G networks need, which isn’t cost-effective and can affect even minor things like your phone’s battery life.
What is the difference between VoLTE and Wi-Fi calling?
Both VoLTE and Wi-Fi calling (which Mint also offers) provide high-quality calls and simultaneous access to the internet. They also allow for fast connections when you make a call. However, the key difference is that Wi-Fi works when you’re connected to…well, Wi-Fi. It’s pretty aptly named. VoLTE relies on LTE networks (so it’s also very aptly named), which is a cellular connection. That means you have to have cellular coverage to use LTE and access to Wi-Fi to use Wi-Fi calling. When you switch to Mint, you can turn on Wi-Fi calling in the Mint app. It’s another way we make wireless work better for you.
Despite seeming to overlap in their benefits, it’s good to have both options with your cell service. Wi-Fi calls are perfect if you’ve got a hotspot and can work in dead zones like deserted towns or basements (we won’t judge why you’re wandering around deserted towns or hanging in a basement) and VoLTE can kick in the rest of the time. In fact, you can enable it to automatically turn on when Wi-Fi calling isn’t feasible so you won’t ever miss a call.
What is the difference between VoLTE and HD Voice?
As you look for a new VoLTE-compatible phone, you might run into the term “HD Voice” being used instead. Well, there’s no difference between the two. HD Voice is just a fancy marketing term for VoLTE.
Good trick question though.
Where do I find VoLTE phones?
After hearing about all of the benefits, you might be on the hunt for VoLTE-compatible phones, especially since most carriers are moving away from non-compatible phones. Luckily, most phones nowadays are compatible. In fact, there are some phones dating all the way back to 2014 (including the iPhone 5) that are VoLTE-compatible. But if you’re unsure, you can check our instructions for turning on VoLTE below to see if it’s an option for you, or simply call your carrier to double-check.
And, of course, we’ve got your back if you don’t have a VoLTE-compatible phone; all the models offered in our phone store are. Convenient. Here are a few popular ones:
- iPhone 13, 13 mini, and 13 Pro (or basically any newer iPhone model)
- Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (and other phones in the Galaxy S series)
- Samsung Galaxy Note 20 5G (and other phones in the Galaxy Note series)
- Google Pixel 4 and Google Pixel 4a (as well as their predecessor the Google Pixel 3)
- OnePlus 8 5G (as well as its predecessor the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G)
How to manage VoLTE settings
Most carriers support VoLTE, as do most new phones. When you make calls, it will usually turn on automatically, especially if you’ve stepped away from Wi-Fi. But here’s how to make sure it is on (or off), or check if it’s already been enabled:
How to Turn on VoLTE on iPhones
- Open Settings
- Select Cellular
- Select Cellular Data Options
- Under Voice & Data, make sure VoLTE is selected
How to Turn on VoLTE on Samsung (most devices)
- Open Settings
- Select Network & Internet
- Select Preferred Network Type
- Turn on VoLTE calls
How to Turn on VoLTE on most other Android devices
While the naming conventions may vary, the easiest way to see if VoLTE is enabled on your Android phone is to check within the device’s settings: Click on the Settings icon -> click the search icon -> type “volte” -> click VoLTE Calls Menu -> switch the VoLTE Call Toggle to On. If after typing “VoLTE” no menu option appears, the device either does not support it or VoLTE is defaulted to On which is likely if the phone is fairly new.
On other devices, you should be able to find the option to turn VoLTE on under the Wi-Fi & network categories. Or you can call your carrier for assistance.
How to turn off VoLTE
Follow the instructions above, but select another option for your voice calls.
Does VoLTE use data?
Better sound quality, faster connections… there has to be a catch, right? You might be wondering if VoLTE calls use up your data. But nope: they’re still billed as minutes, so they won’t generate data usage. Which means no extra fees. That’s right, VoLTE keeps sounding better and better, doesn’t it?
So now that you’ve enabled it on your phone, or perhaps are in the market for a VoLTE-friendly phone, we’ve got good news for you. Mint Mobile supports VoLTE (in fact, it’s necessary to use Mint). So, you’re all ready to make the switch with either your own phone or a totally brand-new one. Yep, we’re kind of trend-setters here.
First published: November 2021, updated July 2022