You’ve probably seen it mentioned in commercials, on websites, in tech catalogs and most likely listed as a feature on your phone and/or phone plan: Wi-Fi calling. So what is it? If you have a dog named Wi-Fi, it could be how you get them to come inside for dinner. But that’s a different blog. Wi-Fi calling is actually a pretty convenient and easy-to-use feature that could keep you connected where your network can’t.
No matter how incredible your carrier’s network is, every once in a while, you may still find yourself with a weaker signal. Whether you’re a businessman in a convention center, an outdoorsman vacationing at a cabin in the woods or a superhero whose secret lair is deep in an actual cave, there are some places where phones just aren’t going to get full bars. Luckily, a lot of these places probably have Wi-Fi, allowing you to keep in touch with people via email, social media apps and video calling. But what about anyone trying to reach you via traditional calling or texting? If only you could utilize Wi-Fi to call and text people from your mobile number. Hmm…if only. Anyway, keep reading this blog. We think you’ll like it.
How does Wi-Fi calling work?
If you haven’t figured it out yet, Wi-Fi calling allows you to make voice calls (and send text messages) via Wi-Fi instead of over your carrier’s mobile network. It all started with VoIP, which stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. This is the technology that apps like Skype use when you make a phone call over the Internet. Wireless carriers adapted this technology when they developed Wi-Fi calling.
When you make a typical call with your phone number, your voice is compressed into data packets, which are then sent to the core data network via your LTE wireless network. With Wi-Fi calling, those data packets are delivered to the core data network via the Internet instead. Obviously, there’s a bit more to it than that, but we assume you’re not here to dig all the way into open-source protocols, specialized codecs and…other very complicated tech-y words. All you need to know is that with Wi-Fi calling, your phone calls and text messages are sent over the Internet instead of through a cell tower.
Does Wi-Fi calling use data?
The quick answer is no; at least not mobile data. The long answer can be found in our blog all about the differences between Wi-Fi and cellular data. Just know that whenever you’re using an app or browsing the Internet while connected to Wi-Fi, you’re not pulling from your mobile data allotment; Wi-Fi calling works the same way. This means the feature uses data from the Wi-Fi network you’re connected to, so if your home internet has its own monthly data allotment, Wi-Fi calling will use it. Fortunately, Wi-Fi calling only uses about 1MB of data per minute,* so you’d have to do a LOT of calling to really take a chunk out of your home internet plan.
What are the benefits of Wi-Fi calling?
Besides the primary objective of staying connected when you don’t have cell signal, there are several other good reasons to utilize the Wi-Fi calling feature on your phone:
- No need to install additional apps
- Instead of using Skype, which only lets you call people who also have Skype, Wi-Fi calling allows you to call or text anyone over the Internet while using your own mobile number.
- Reliable connection at home
- If you’re saving money by living in your parents’ basement (no judgment here), you might not get full bars through those cellar walls. But as long as you have Wi-Fi, you have a connection.
- Extended coverage while traveling
- Maybe you don’t live with your parents, but they DID move into an underground bunker in the middle of nowhere after retirement. As long as they have Wi-Fi, you can stay connected whenever you visit them.
- No international roaming charges
- Extended coverage when traveling includes overseas. With Mint Mobile, when you use Wi-Fi calling, you’re not borrowing a foreign wireless carrier’s network, so you don’t have to worry about paying extra for international roaming when you call home. This is not true for all carriers though, so be sure to check with your wireless provider before hopping on that flight to Europe.
How do you enable Wi-Fi calling?
As long as your phone supports Wi-Fi calling, you can enable it in just a few clicks and even leave it on if you want. Your phone should automatically detect if your Wi-Fi connection is stronger than your mobile network connection and seamlessly switch between the two whenever your coverage changes.
How to enable Wi-Fi calling on iPhone
- Go into your iPhone’s Settings
- Select “Phone”
- Select “Wi-Fi Calling”
- Toggle the “Wi-Fi Calling on This iPhone” switch on
How to enable Wi-Fi calling on Android
- Go into your Android phone’s Settings
- Select “Connections”
- Toggle the switch next to “Wi-Fi Calling” on
- These steps may vary depending on your Android make & model, so you may need to refer to your user manual for more information
Does Wi-Fi calling cost money?
If your wireless provider supports Wi-Fi calling, there’s a good chance it’s included at no additional cost. You should check with them directly though, just to be sure. And keep in mind, the feature may be free, but the Wi-Fi you’re using it with may not be (e.g. those hotels and airplanes that like to charge you to connect). Here at Mint Mobile, all our plans include free Wi-Fi Calling**, in addition to being on the nation’s largest 5G · 4G LTE network. In other words, it’s hard NOT to stay connected with Mint Mobile. It’s also hard not to save money with our premium wireless plans starting at just $15 a month.
**Wi-Fi calling req’s capable device & SIM, set-up, and functioning Wi-Fi connection.