How to make a WiFi call - the guide to what to do when there's literally no cell reception

Knowing how to make a WiFi call changes everything - you're never again reliant on signal. The expert guide to getting them right

How to make a WiFi call
(Image credit: Alamy)

If you know how to make a wifi call then you can be saved from many a sticky situation. WiFi Calling is a service offered for Android and iOS smartphones that allows you to make and receive calls and messages over a Wifi connection without relying on a traditional cellphone signal. It’s a godsend for people living in rural areas with minimal reception, or in old houses with thick walls.

And, if you do live in the sort of place that need wifi calling, have you thought about one of the best wifi extenders? Along wiht knowing how to make a wifi call, they really can change everything.

How to make a WiFi call 

The process is simple but does vary between phone types and cellphone provider, but if you go to your phone settings and find the WiFi Calling option you should be able to enable it. You may need to contact your phone provider to unlock the service, but it almost always comes at no extra cost with your monthly tariff.

How does WiFi Calling Work?

Once you’ve enabled WiFi Calling, your phone will choose the strongest network available after you dial a number - whether that’s cellular or WiFi. If you already know how to make wifi faster than that will win out every time.The user shouldn’t notice any difference in the service and the call should connect seamlessly, just with the benefit of better call quality. As far as broadband speed goes, we suggest a minimum of 2 Mbps for reliable WiFi calling.

Do all phone networks offer WiFi Calling?

Most providers such as Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, 02, Vodafone, EE and three now offer WiFi Calling, but some, such as Tesco Mobile and Talkmobile, have been rather slow to catch up. This may change, so do check in with your network if you want to make the most of all these different uses for wifi.

Do I get charged for Wifi calling?

If you’re using a major mobile provider such as your calls are included as part of your usual tariff allowance - it makes no difference if you’re calling over cellular or WiFi. But there are loads of apps that let you call over WiFi for free, if the person you’re calling also uses the app. The most popular example of this is WhatsApp - which has become very popular for phone and video calling - while Google Voice, Skype and Facebook Messenger all offer similar free service. Just remember though most free services can’t call traditional landline numbers.

What happens on a Wifi call if I move out of range of the Wifi?

Cleverly, if you start a call over WiFi but need to leave, once you move out of range your smartphone will switch to the nearest available 4G or 5G network automatically. That said, you may experience an unreliable connection on some busy public networks - such as your local cafe’s free WiFi - if lots of people are sharing a limited bandwidth.

Can I use the wifi on planes and trains to make wifi calls?

Yes, WiFi is now available throughout public transport networks, and ought to be strong enough to make calls. But, you know, remember your fellow passengers and, well, don’t be that person.

Chris Haslam is a UK-based journalist who specialises in writing about tech, gadgets, audio, lifestyle and eco living. He regularly writes for Livingetc, and also contributes to WIRED, T3, Stuff, Ideal Home, House Beautiful, Your Home, Homes & Gardens, Grand Designs, Real Homes, Good Homes, Beautiful Kitchens, Country Homes & Interiors, Tesco Magazine, Style at Home and British Airways High Life Shopping