What is Wi-Fi calling?

Ever needed to desperately make a call and found that your phone reception isn’t being very co-operative? That’s where Wi-Fi calling can help.

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Using Wi-Fi calling

Wi-Fi calling allows you to make phone calls wherever you have Wi-Fi connection. That means even if your reception isn’t great, you can still make calls if you’re online.

What’s the point of Wi-Fi calling?

You may not think you’ll ever need Wi-Fi calling. After all, UK mobile network coverage is over 96% no matter which provider you’re with. Still, no connection is perfect all the time - whether you’re walking around the supermarket or camping out in the middle of nowhere, sometimes you can’t rely on your phone reception and Wi-Fi calling picks up the slack.

What does Wi-Fi calling actually mean?

Wi-Fi calling means you can still make calls regardless of mobile signal, you just need to be connected to Wi-Fi. That’s great news if you’re finding your calls are repeatedly dropping but you are able to connect to public Wi-Fi. It also means that if you’re in areas where reception is generally poor but Wi-Fi is provided, like the London underground, you can make calls.

Which networks offer Wi-Fi calling?

As of May 2020, the current networks offer Wi-Fi calling:

  • EE

  • Vodafone

  • Three 

  • O2

EE Wi-Fi calling

EE offers Wi-Fi calling to both pay monthly and pay as you go customers who are using certain devices. Some of the devices covered include:

  • Alcatel: A3

  • Blackberry: Priv, KEYone

  • HTC: 10, U11

  • Huawei: P Smart, P10, P20

  • Motorola: G7 Plus

  • OnePlus: 6T, 7 Pro

  • Samsung: Galaxy S10, A8, S7, J5

  • iPhone: XS, 6, XR

Depending on your model, you may be covered for Wi-Fi calling, even if you didn’t purchase the phone directly from EE. Other models might only work if they were purchased from EE either online or instore so you may want to double-check with EE before trying Wi-Fi calling. 

You will see a Wi-Fi calling indicator in the top left of your screen - when this is active, you can make calls over Wi-Fi. If you start a call on Wi-Fi and then move into an area with 4G, your device will automatically switch to 4G without dropping your call. The reverse is also true if you move into an area with no signal. This is only possible if you have a 4G phone. All other devices will drop your call and you will have to redial. 

Vodafone Wi-Fi calling

Vodafone offers Wi-Fi calling on the following plans:

  • Unlimited

  • Red Extra

  • Red Entertainment

  • Red

  • Red Value Bundle

Vodafone can only guarantee Wi-Fi calling on devices purchased directly from the provider. Vodafone also provides Wi-Fi on the London Underground so you will be able to connect here at no extra charge. There is also a set range of mobile models that Wi-Fi calling will work on though it is broad enough that your device is likely covered, but be sure to check. A quick glance at the covered models include:

  • Samsung: S10, A3, S9+, Note 10

  • iPhone: 11, 8, XS, 7, 6

  • Huawei: P8 lite, P10, P Smart

  • Sony: XZ, Xperia 1, XZ2

  • Vodafone: Smart Platinum 7, Smart N9, N10

  • Google: Pixel 3, 4

  • Nokia: 2.3

  • Xiaomi: Mi9

Setting up Wi-Fi calling is easy to do, but you must do it before you can start making calls.

O2 Wi-Fi calling

O2 Wi-Fi calling works seamlessly with 4G so if you drop in 4G coverage, or move back into it, your phone will automatically switch without interrupting your call. You can keep using email and social media while on a Wi-Fi call too. 

Wi-Fi calling is available on the following devices, to name a few:

  • iPhone: X, SE, 11

  • Samsung: S20, 5G, A51, Note 9

  • Sony: Xperia L4, XZ2

  • Oneplus: 6, 5T

  • Motorola: Edge 5G

  • Huawei Mate: P20, 20 X 5G

O2 Wi-Fi calling may clash with other services you have active, so get in touch with customer support if you are having issues setting it up.

Three Wi-Fi calling

Three’s Wi-Fi calling service comes out of your monthly allowance but at present can only be used on selected Apple, Samsung and LG devices. You will need to be running the latest version of your operating system for Wi-Fi calling to run smoothly. 

Smaller networks

Other networks such as Tesco Mobile and SMARTY do not currently offer Wi-Fi calling. 

How else can I make calls over Wi-Fi?

Of course, it’s perfectly possible to make calls over Wi-Fi without having a specific Wi-Fi calling option. The following apps allow for voice and video calls to be made over Wi-Fi, regardless of your network:

  • WhatsApp

  • Facebook

  • Skype

  • Viber

  • Line

Similarly, you can use these apps even when you are comfortably getting mobile reception, so maybe you’re already used to making calls this way. If that’s the case, you should look at deals like data-free social media from VOXI.

Frequently asked questions

How do I turn on Wi-Fi calling?

In almost all cases, Wi-Fi calling is not enabled by default. The precise settings you need will vary from phone to phone, but the option will generally be under your Mobile/SIM settings with a toggle option to turn Wi-Fi calling on or off. You will only need to do this once - an icon will then appear in your top left screen when you can make Wi-Fi calls.

Can I use Wi-Fi calling abroad?

Many providers have this on their to-do list, but at present, you shouldn’t assume this service is available as part of roaming. 

Can I call 999 on Wi-Fi calling?

Yes, you’re able to do this, but your location will not be made clear to them if you call via Wi-Fi calling. If your call is urgent then being able to track your location is vital, so always make these calls over a standard mobile line if you can. 

Does the person I am calling need Wi-Fi calling?

No, Wi-Fi calls are received in the normal way and the person you are calling doesn’t need to take any extra steps to accept your call.

Can I make calls on a tethered connection?

If your mobile is connected via a tethered mobile then this still works as a Wi-Fi connection and should have no impact on your ability to make Wi-Fi calls. It may drain data faster than general use, though.