Wi-Fi calling allows your smartphone to place and receive phone calls, as well as send and receive SMS messages over Wi-Fi instead of the cellular network. Your phone will seamlessly hand off to the cellular network when you move out of Wi-FI range.
Android phones have supported this for longer than the iPhone has, but often just with customized Android devices purchased from the cellular carrier itself. There are also other Wi-Fi calling solutions you can use, including Google Hangouts, Google Voice, and Skype.
Enable Android’s Wi-Fi Calling Support
This feature is now integrated into the latest versions of Android in a more standard way. One day, you’ll hopefully be able to get any Android phone and enable Wi-Fi calling on any cellular carrier’s network if that carrier supports it, just as you can with iPhones.
If Wi-Fi calling is an option, you should find it in a standard place. Open the Settings app on your Android phone and tap the “More” or “More Settings” button under Wireless & network.
This option won’t appear unless you’re using a phone with Wi-Fi calling support and are connected to a cellular network that works with it. But this is a quick way to check if you can currently use Wi-Fi calling. This option should hopefully become more standardized and widely available in the future.
As this is Android, it’s possible that your cellular carrier’s customizations — or the manufacturer’s customizations — have put a “Wi-Fi calling” option in a different place in the interface. You may need to search for the name of your smartphone, “Wi-FI calling”, and possibly the name of your cellular carrier.
Use an App Instead
Don’t see the “Wi-Fi calling” option there? Your cellular carrier may not offer this feature, or it may not work with your specific device. But there are other solutions you can use it you want to call and text from Wi-Fi.
Google’s Hangouts Dialer app will allow you to place phone calls from a Wi-Fi network. Most calls to the US and Canada are free, so this is an easy way to place calls to the US and Canada from a Wi-Fi network. If you don’t have a Google Voice account, the recipient will see one of Google’s seemingly random phone numbers appear on their caller ID.
If you’re in the US, you might want to sign up for Google Voice. This will give you a dedicated phone number, and you can receive and place phone calls and participate in SMS conversations over Wi-Fi using it. Unlike some competitors, this is completely free — as long as you’re communicating with someone in the US or Canada.
Other solutions include Microsoft’s Skype app. It can be used for traditional phone calls and SMS messages all over the world, although that will cost you some money. It’s not free in the USA, as Google Voice is.
Of course, for communication, other apps that let you place audio calls and send text messages without relying on traditional phone numbers can also work. For example, you could have audio and text conversations with Google Hangouts, Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and others. These all natively work over Wi-Fi or a cellular data connection, so you can use them even when you don’t have a cellular signal. The above solutions are only really necessary if you want to send and receive phone calls and text messages from phone numbers.
Image Credit: Karlis Dambrans on Flickr