Wi-Fi calling allows your iPhone to place and receive phone calls and text messages over a Wi-Fi network. If you have a weak cellular signal but a solid Wi-Fi signal, your iPhone will automatically switch over and route calls and texts via Wi-Fi.

Apple added support for Wi-Fi calling to the iPhone with iOS 8, and it’s now supported on many carriers. In the US, AT&T, MetroPCS, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Vodafone support it. You can only use this if your cellular carrier supports it.

What You Need to Know

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This is disabled by default, so you’ll have to enable it before it will do anything. Once you’ve enabled it, it will “just work” and your phone will automatically switch to Wi-Fi when necessary. You’ll see this indicated in the status bar–for example, it will say “T-Mobile Wi-Fi” rather than “T-Mobile LTE” if you’re using T-Mobile and your phone is currently connected to Wi-Fi rather than the LTE cellular network. Dial a number or send a text message in the normal way while “Wi-Fi” appears in your status bar and it will connect over the Wi-Fi connection instead of the cellular one.

It’ll automatically switch between cellular and Wi-Fi networks as you move out of an area covered by Wi-Fi, so you don’t have to do anything different or even think about it.

This only works if your carrier has enabled the necessary support on their end. The carrier has to be able to automatically route calls and texts to you over the Internet.

What You’ll Need

You’ll just need two things to use this feature:

  • A carrier that supports Wi-Fi calling: In the US, AT&T, MetroPCS, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Vodafone offer this feature. It’s also supported by various other cellular carriers around the world. Consult Apple’s official list of cellular carriers that support Wi-Fi calling to see if your carrier offers this feature.
  • An iPhone 5c or newer: Older iPhones don’t support this. You’ll need an iPhone 5c, iPhone SE, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, or a newer model to use this feature.

How to Enable Wi-Fi Calling

To enable Wi-Fi calling, head to Settings > Phone > Wi-Fi Calling on your iPhone. Activate the “Wi-Fi Calling on This iPhone” slider.

If you don’t see a “Wi-Fi Calling” option under Calls on the Phone screen, this feature is unavailable to you because your cellular carrier doesn’t support it.

You should also tap “Update Emergency Address” and ensure your carrier has a correct address. If you ever dial 911 over a Wi-Fi network, the emergency responders will see your call associated with the emergency address you enter here.

If you ever encounter a problem with Wi-Fi calling, you can visit this screen again and disable it with a quick tap.

Using Wi-Fi Calling Along With Continuity

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Wi-Fi calling doesn’t usually work with the Continuity feature. You won’t be able to place or receive calls on your Mac or another iOS device like an iPad if you enable Wi-Fi calling.

Apple is slowly rectifying this. In the USA, only AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint allow you to use standard Continuity features along with Wi-Fi calling. Consult that map of carriers and check if the “Wi-Fi Calling on supported iCloud-connected devices” feature is offered by your carrier.

You can enable this feature from the Phone screen in the Settings app. Under the Wi-Fi calling option on the Phone screen, tap “Calls on Other Devices.” Tap “Add Wi-Fi Calling For Other Devices” and other devices signed in with your iCloud account will be able to place and receive calls normally even with Wi-Fi calling enabled. Carriers will have to go out of their way to enable this, and this option is currently offered by only a few carriers.

Wi-Fi calling isn’t a whizz-bang feature you’ll notice a lot after you enable it, but it makes your iPhone work much better in areas with low cellular reception but a solid Wi-Fi signal.

Image Credit: Omar Jordan Fawahl on Flickr

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Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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