Table of Contents
- New FaceTime Video Call advice 1.5.6 for Samsung Galaxy S6 Active
- How to Make Calls on Your iPhone Without Cell Service
- What is wi-fi calling
- How can I make a wi-fi call?
- What if I lose wi-fi service?
- Will it cost me?
- Anything else?
- The history of WiFi calls and texts
- What are the pros and cons of WiFi calling/texting?
- Is your device supported?
- How to enable WiFi calling for iPhone
- How to enable WiFi calling for Android
- Using a mobile app for calling and texting over Wifi
- What is WiFi Calling – Enable it on Iphone & Android
- How to Enable Iphone WiFi Calling
- How to Activate Android WiFi Calling
- Benefits of Wifi Calling
- Other FAQs
- Why should you make the most of WiFi Calling? Is it worth it?
- Why WiFi Calling makes sense.
- Isn’t it more like VoIP services?
- How do you activate WiFi Calling in Android devices?
- How do you enable WiFi Calling in iOS devices?
- Does WiFi Calling ever cost you more?
- WiFi Calling from overseas.
- How To Use WiFi To Make Cellphone Calls
- How Does WiFi Calling Work?
- Does WiFi Calling Cost Anything?
- What Phones Support WiFi Calling?
- How To Turn On WiFi Calling On An Android Phone
- How To Turn On WiFi Calling On An iPhone
- How Do I Know If I’m Using WiFi Calling?
- Call Away!
- Stay on target
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How to Make Calls on Your iPhone Without Cell Service
Thanks to apps like Facebook Messenger and Skype, it’s possible to call nearly anyone regardless of whether or not you have a carrier plan or even know the recipient’s phone number.
But an increasing number of phones and carriers are beginning to support Wi-Fi calling too. As its name implies, Wi-Fi calling is a feature that makes it possible to place a call so long as your phone is connected to Wi-Fi. This means if you’re stuck in an area with poor cell reception, you’ll still be able to make a phone call by connecting to a Wi-Fi network.
There’s no need to launch an app or send a request to the recipient like you might have to when using Messenger or Skype, since Wi-Fi calling is integrated directly into your phone. You can place a call as you normally would through your phone’s dialer or contact list.
Not every phone on every carrier supports Wi-Fi calling, but Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile have guides available online that offer more details on their specific policies. It’s important to note that if you’re using Wi-Fi calling for international calls, fees will likely still apply so check with your carrier.
The video above will show you how to turn on Wi-Fi calling in your iPhone’s settings menu. After following those steps, your carrier may also ask you to enter an address in case a Wi-Fi connection cuts out during an emergency call to 911. When setting up Wi-Fi calling for the first time, you may need to be connected to your carrier’s data network.
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There’s nothing more frustrating than picking up your phone to make a call only to discover you don’t don’t have any signal. But you no longer have to wait until your signal comes back, thanks to a feature called wi-fi calling which is offered by the four major networks; EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. But what exactly is wi-fi calling and is everyone eligible to use it? The GHI explains everything you need to know.
What is wi-fi calling
Wi-fi calling routes your calls and text messages over the internet rather than the traditional mobile network so you can stay connected even in areas where you may not have mobile signal for example London Underground, some trains and even on flights where wi-fi access is offered.
It works in the same way as other Wi-Fi based calling apps such WhatsApp, Apple’s Facetime and Google Hangouts but with one crucial difference – you can call any mobile phone regardless of what smartphone they use or the apps they have installed, as well as calling landline telephone numbers.
How can I make a wi-fi call?
Unfortunately not all smartphones support wi-fi calling and unless you’re with Three, it’s only available to customers with a monthly contract too. As a rule of thumb, you can get wi-fi calling on the iPhone 6 and above, the Samsung Galaxy S6 and above as well as the most recent Google Pixel phones and depending upon the network some flagship Huawei. Motorola, Nokia, OnePlus and Sony handsets too. It’s worth noting that f you didn’t purchase your smartphone from your network, wi-fi calling may not work.
You’ll need to make sure wi-fi calling is switched on. On an iPhone, open the Settings Menu and then select Phone and then switch wi-fi Calling on. On an Android phone, tap the Phone icon to open the calls app and then choose Settings from the menu in the top right-hand corner and looks for either a wi-fi Calling option straight away or a menu marked Calls that then in turn lets you switch on wi-fi Calling.
If you can’t see this option, try updating the software on the phone. To download and install the latest software,on an iPhone open the Settings app and select General, then Software Update. If any updates are available, you’ll be alerted on screen, so follow the instructions to install. On an Android smartphone open the Settings app and look for a section marked Software Update or Update. Again, if any updates are available, you’ll be notified on screen so follow the instructions to install.
What if I lose wi-fi service?
If you leave a wi-fi area during your call, EE and O2 customers will automatically be switched to 4G (assuming a signal is available). Although you’ll need to turn this on first. On an iPhone, open Settings followed by Mobile Data. Then choose Mobile Data Options and tap Enable 4G followed by Voice & Data. Got an Android phone, open the Settings app and then look for a menu called Mobile networks (it may be within other menus called for example Connections or Sim & networks) then turn on 4G calling. Unfortunately, Vodafone and Three customers don’t have this option yet so the call will simply drop.
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Will it cost me?
Your calls are billed in the same way as they would normally, so if you have a relevant allowance, they’ll come out of that or you’ll be billed the same price per minute as you would when making the call in the traditional way.
Unfortunately wi-fi calling isn’t currently available when you’re abroad.
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Calling and texting over WiFi refers to phone calls and/or texts placed over an internet connection, instead of a cellular network.
If you think that sounds too good to be true, get ready to be surprised! Let’s explore how WiFi calling/texting works, the pros and cons, and why you may want to consider it for your own calling needs.
The history of WiFi calls and texts
People have been trying to figure out how to use the internet for phone calls since it was invented. And why not? If you can send an email, you should be able to place a phone call over WiFi.
Wifi calls/texts go through the web instead of over cell networks. This is a fantastic choice if you do not have active cellular service, or are far from cell towers.
It’s never been easier to connect to free WiFi. Public locations with WiFi are known as “hotspots” and are prominent all over the world. It’s also possible to buy a personal WiFi hotspot to bring with you during travel! This ensures you’re always connected, even if you don’t have cellular coverage in your area.
You can also use WiFi calling/texting by connecting to wireless data, if available. Wireless data is included on many phone plans with your cellular service provider, so you may already have this option.
WiFi calling and text messaging has been growing in popularity for years, especially among students, travelers, and people living in areas with poor cellular coverage. It’s also a great way to save money on long-distance calls or cut down your monthly cell phone fees, since it bypasses the cell network entirely. Both voice calls and text messages over WiFi are increasingly common.
What are the pros and cons of WiFi calling/texting?
No expensive cellular plan needed! You can use WiFi calling and messaging any time that your phone has a steady WiFi signal. You can do so without a cellular connection, so even if your phone is not able to make regular calls, you can WiFi call/text as long as you have the internet. This allows you to bypass expensive cell phone plans. When it comes to cost, you can’t beat free!
Using WiFi is a great choice if you are in a location with bad cell reception. You can skip the cell network entirely and use the internet to connect to your loved ones! This is key if you are located in an area with poor cellular network coverage, such as a rural location.
Great for travel
With the prevalence of WiFi hotspots worldwide, chances are you can find WiFi nearby. Restaurants like McDonalds and Starbucks commonly have WiFi networks available. So does the Apple Store, and most hotels. This makes it a fantastic option for travelers who may want to avoid costly out-of-network cellular fees.
Mobile data and roaming fees
You’ll want to keep an eye on your WiFi signal. If your connection drops, then your phone may switch over to your cellular data plan. This can be a costly mistake since data charges add up quickly. Luckily it’s easy to avoid this by turning off your wireless data — if you’re traveling, you probably do this anyway by default.
Weak signal strength
Remember how we said that calling over Wifi offers better reception? That only applies if you have stable WiFi. So the hotspot in your hotel should be fine, but maybe not the overcrowded network at the local train station. If the WiFi is so bad that you can’t even get Facebook to load, then you’re probably not going to make a WiFi call. A text, however, may work on a less stable connection. You also don’t need super fast internet speeds. Approximately 1Mbps is all you need for WiFi messages or calls to go through!
Not available on all carriers
Some carriers will ding you for using WiFi to call, or even count it against your included coverage minutes. Sprint , for example, says that “Wi-Fi calling is a free service when calling to a US, US Virgin Islands, or Puerto Rico number.” But international long-distance will cost extra. T-mobile will charge your regular calling plan for WiFi calls if you make the calls through your regular phone number (unless you have an unlimited plan with them already). Make sure to check out what your carrier allows before getting started.
Is your device supported?
Placing calls over WiFi depends on your device. Every iPhone since the 5S model supports this function. If you’re familiar with FaceTime, that’s also essentially a kind of phonecall made over WiFi. For Android devices, it’s a bit more complicated. The instructions to enable WiFi calling will be slightly different on every model of the device.
The following models of devices have WiFi calling capabilities:
How to enable WiFi calling for iPhone
Navigate to “Settings.” From there, select “Phone,” then choose “Wi-Fi Calling.”
How to enable WiFi calling for Android
Navigate to Settings, then choose “Wireless ” and then select “More Settings.” Select “Wi-Fi Calling” and enable that setting. These instructions may differ slightly on various models of Android.
Using a mobile app for calling and texting over Wifi
If the idea of accidentally defaulting to cellular networks and getting charged by your carrier makes you hesitate, you’re in luck! One simple way to get set up with WiFi is to skip the enabling step entirely and download a convenient mobile app instead.
Skype, Google Hangouts, and Facebook Messenger are the most popular WiFi calling/messaging apps. There are however major drawbacks to these apps: for the WiFi call to entirely avoid the cell network, both sides of the call need to be using the app in question. So if you get Google Hangouts to make a call, the person you are contacting also needs to be on Hangouts for it to work.
Hushed, on the other hand, is an app that allows calls and texts to be made over the internet and does not require both parties to be on the app. It can be downloaded here for both iOS or Android With Hushed, you do not have to worry about accidentally using your cellular network and being charged by Sprint, Verizon, T-mobile, or any other carrier.
All calls/texts are placed through the app, and if you are using WiFi and not mobile data, your calls route automatically through the internet. Your text message, likewise, appears as a normal SMS text message. The person you are calling/texting with does not even need to be using Hushed! Their side of the conversation can use a regular cell network, while your side of the connection uses WiFi.
Whichever method you decide to use, we’re convinced that WiFi is the future for mobile calls and texts!
What is WiFi Calling – Enable it on Iphone & Android
Wi-Fi Calling is a service for smartphones which, just as it sounds, allows you to call over a Wi-Fi network. Wi-Fi calling relies on a technology called SIP/IMS that tunnels your call through the internet, instead of a cell tower. Consequently, you’re not using the cell tower to place the call, which means that you don’t need a cellular service. When placing a WiFi call it’s just like placing a regular call, without logging in or using an app. Your carrier and phone will determine if you can call through WiFi or not.
How to Enable Iphone WiFi Calling
- Go to Settings – Phone – WiFi Calling
- Switch the Wi-Fi Calling on This iPhone slider to On.
- Choose “Enable” to turn on Wi-Fi Calling. You can ignore the warning about what data your carrier collects.
How to Activate Android WiFi Calling
- Open Settings – More – More Settings (under wireless and network).
- Choose “Wi-Fi Calling” and activate it to enable the feature.
- In case you can’t find this option, search for it since it might be located somewhere else in the interface.
Benefits of Wifi Calling
So why should you be inclined to call through the Internet instead of placing a regular cellular call?
- It’s free (except for data usage) which means that you can use it abroad and avoid paying extra for international calls.
- It could be used where cellular reception is spotty our straight out bad.
- You can make and get calls with WiFi using your phone number.
- You can make video calls without an LTE connection.
Will I use data when calling via WiFi?
Yes, you will use your regular data plan to make calls. Some carriers also charge an access fee.
How much data does a Wi-Fi call use?
It varies but you can assume about 1 MB of data per minute for a call, and 6-8 MB of data for a video call.
Are all phone able to support WiFi calling?
No. You need to have a phone that’s HD Voice-enabled and have the HD Voice feature activated. If you don’t know if your phone is HD Voice-enabled, check this list.
How do I enable HD Voice?
Most phones are by default set to “Data Only”. In order to get voice and data to be sent over the 4G LTE network, you need to manually enable VoLTE. To do so on an iPhone, go to Settings – Cellular – Enable LTE and select Voice and Data.
What if my phone doesn’t support it?
If your phone, or carrier, doesn’t support it you can always call and text from WiFi via an app. The most common ones are Skype, Google Hangout, Whats App, Facebook Messanger and Viber.
Finally, with US Mobile you get unlimited global WiFi for just $10/month. Check it out!
SummaryArticle Name What is Wifi Calling? How do you set it up for Android and iPhones Description Wi-Fi Calling allows you to call over a Wi-Fi network. We’ll describe all the steps you need to take to activate Wi-Fi calling on Android and iPhones. Author Lotta Publisher Name US Mobile Publisher Logo
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- 3 years ago
With improvement in technology, you no longer have to limit yourself to apps such as Skype, Messenger or WhatsApp to make calls and videos over WiFi. You can actually activate what is called WiFi Calling on your Smartphone and make calls over a working WiFi network.
WiFi calling makes it possible for Smartphone users to call and text within their geographical location and even while out there traveling the world as far as there’s a working WiFi connection.
Why should you make the most of WiFi Calling? Is it worth it?
- Firstly, WiFi Calling is provided at no extra cost with the existing call plan you have with your carrier as far as your device is voice compatible.
- You don’t need an app to call or receive calls via WiFi, just a phone number.
- When there’s no cell phone service in your building or location or you’re facing some of the worst poor cellular signal problems such as dropped calls WiFi Calling can come in handy.
- In most cases, even when traveling around the world calling back home to family and friends with US phone numbers will remain free or really cheap.
- To make video calls with WiFi Calling service you no longer require LTE network to pull it through.
Why WiFi Calling makes sense.
What WiFi Calling does is give you another way of calling and texting, this time through an active WiFi connection. For instance, most WiFi Calling enabled devices are able to alternate between a weak cell phone signal and a quality, reliable and available WiFi Calling. This allows you to use the service saving you a lot of money.
The service is so robust that you can use it in those indoor areas in your home or office where you’re always dropping calls and receiving no text. Actually, one major advantage of WiFi Calling is circumventing the problem of spotty networks, poor signal strength and dropped calls. This is one reason why AT&T discontinued their AT&T Microcell which was a cellular network extender device for indoor use.
Once you turn on Wi-Fi Calling, your Smartphone will be using the closest WiFi hotspot or home WiFi to receive and make calls normally. This can also be the WiFi hotspot you access in hotels, libraries and cafes. Calls within United States through virtually all the cell carriers are provided free.
Even better, WiFi Calling is basically the same as using your phone to call; you will still be using your usual phone numbers.
You could be traveling in the open terrain of North America where cellular coverage might be really bad or visiting buildings in locations where the reception is irregular and spotty. In fact, WiFi Calling follows the same concept many have been engaged in where messages are sent over WiFi wherever SMS services are unavailable.
Messenger and Kik app users understand this very well, including the blue-hued iMessage texts for iPhone users. It means that even if you’re in basements without cell services you can still make calls to friends and family as long as there’s a working WiFi connection.
Isn’t it more like VoIP services?
In a way, WiFi Calling seems to have developed rapidly due to the efficiency and growth of voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services such as Skype, Viber, Messenger and WhatsApp where calls can be made using phone data or WiFi.
Even so, WiFi Calling by cellular service providers isn’t completely the same as VoIP. It isn’t an app in your Smartphone but inbuilt in most modern Android and iOS Smartphones where it works with the phone’s dialer. To access the service you don’t need to connect with any app. WiFi Calling can actually be set up as the phone’s default calling option or set up to allow the service automatically when a cell tower signal is lost.
WiFi Calling is inbuilt in devices that have the service, meaning that you don’t really need to add any contact number into the service as you would do with VoIP apps. You will simply use what you have on your phone book. Even better, those you call won’t have to download apps to receive your calls. Setting it up is thus so simple; all you need is to enable it on your Android or iOS device.
How do you activate WiFi Calling in Android devices?
On your Android Smartphone:
Go to “Settings”, click “More” (Settings) and select “Wi-Fi Calling”.
The process activates WiFi Calling feature and actually allows you to know if your device supports the service. If the feature seems unavailable in “More Setting” do look for it on your device; it might be located in another section.
How do you enable WiFi Calling in iOS devices?
For Apple iOS device users, the process of activating WiFi Calling is also really simple and quick. Firstly, note that it is only available in iPhone 5C and newer iOS gadgets on supported carrier networks.
To activate WiFi Calling on your iPhone:
Go to “Settings” and select “Phone” and choose “Wi-Fi Calling” and then slide or tap “Wi-Fi Calling on This iPhone” where the slider will turn green. Do click “Enable” to complete the process.
Onscreen guidelines that follow should help you enter an address in USA which you can use as call originating address in case you need to call 911 or any other emergency service. WiFi Calling service will be activated right away once the emergency service number has been saved and you can now use your iPhone to make calls via Wi-Fi.
Once WiFi Calling has been activated on your phone, a WiFi icon will appear after the name of your cell service provider right on the status bar.
Does WiFi Calling ever cost you more?
Essentially, most US carriers offer WiFi Calling free of charge and come included in typical monthly call plans. The calls are free wherever you might be calling from within U.S.A. except for premium calls such as 411.
WiFi Calling to international phone numbers will be considered as International Long Distance calls and charged as calling internationally while still within United States of America. Whenever WiFi Calling is activated, you will always see its icon on the screen to let you know when you’re using the service.
WiFi Calling consumes data (around 1 Megabyte per call minute) and 6-8 Megabytes for one minute of video. Note that this varies from one carrier to another.
WiFi Calling from overseas.
Most carriers allow you to use WiFi Calling to call U.S. numbers for free, but that is not the whole story. Some only offer free calls via Wi-Fi to Canada only and charge you a specific amount per minute to other areas. To be on the safe side, it is better to use other ways of getting in touch with your family and friends rather than WiFi Calling.
For instance, where WiFi Calling is unavailable or costly to make from overseas to friends and family back home, third party VoIP and call apps such as WhatsApp, Messenger and Skype are much better. You can actually use the apps immensely easy when connected to WiFi in hotels, restaurants and parks in foreign lands.
You can also use a dedicated Wi-Fi Calling app such as Wifi Calling to access the service from an app wherever you are.
How To Use WiFi To Make Cellphone Calls
WiFi calling is the ability to use a cellphone, without a cellular connection, to make a phone call through a WiFi connection.
In many parts of the world, the Internet reaches more places than the cellular network does. You might have seen this out at the cottage or when visiting a friend in the country. There’s solid home Internet service, but no cellphone service.
WiFi calling has been on your phone for a long time too. The process is also very simple to set up. It only takes two things – a phone capable of doing it and a cellular service provider that supports it.
How Does WiFi Calling Work?
When WiFi calling is enabled, you simply dial the phone the same way you would any other call. But instead, the call gets routed through the Internet by your service provider and rings the number you called. It’s that simple.
You literally just use your phone like normal. No extra apps, no extra steps, no strange numbers to dial. It’s essentially VoIP or Voice over IP.
Does WiFi Calling Cost Anything?
Generally speaking, your cell service package applies to your WiFi calls. So if you have free calling across the country, when you make a call through WiFi calling you also have free calling across the country.
Check with your service provider to make sure though.
What Phones Support WiFi Calling?
You might be surprised to find out iPhones have supported it since the iPhone 5C. Apple also has a site that allows you to find out what carriers support WiFi calling on iPhones.
Most Android-based phones also support WiFi calling. You’ll need to check your carrier’s site to see if they support WiFi calling with your Android phone.
How To Turn On WiFi Calling On An Android Phone
The steps will vary from phone to phone, but as long as you can find the spot to turn it on, you’ll be fine. Let’s take a look at how to turn it on using an LG Q6.
- Go into Settings and click on Call.
- Click on the button to turn on WiFi calling. It’s a bit hard to see, but there are three dots next to the button. Click on those to continue setting up WiFi calling.
- Click on Tap to set up Wi-Fi calling or change your emergency address. Remember that this is here. Should you move, you’ll want to change your emergency address if you have to dial 911 via WiFi calling.
Emergency services cannot trace WiFi calls like regular cell phone calls. They will go by the address entered here as it is saved with your service provider.
- At this point, your cell service provider’s method will take over. The example here is on the Telus network in Canada as that’s where I live. The service provider asks for the mobile phone number.
- The provider then sends a code to the phone via text message. This must be entered in the provider’s dialogue screen and then click Continue.
- The provider presents the Terms and Conditions for using WiFi calling. Click Agree to continue.
- Now the provider asks for your physical address. WiFi calling is basically VoIP calling. 911 services cannot trace it to a location like they can with cell phone calls. It is important to enter the address that you spend most of your time at. If you move to another address, you’ll need to update this.
- WiFi calling should now be enabled.
How To Turn On WiFi Calling On An iPhone
Turning on WiFi calling on an iPhone may require you to call your phone service provider.
- Go into Settings on your phone and tap on Cellular. That brings up the cellular settings screen. Tap on the WiFi Calling option.
- A warning will pop up that sounds a little confusing. What they’re saying is that when you try to make a WiFi call in a different country, the phone is going to tell the local service provider that you’re in a city in that country.
This would help the local service provider connect your calls without you having to dial country codes. Check with your service provider if they allow WiFi calling when you’re out of the country. Some do not.
- The service provider will ask that you agree to their Terms and Conditions for WiFi calling and enter your physical address for 911 service. Then, WiFi calling is enabled.
How Do I Know If I’m Using WiFi Calling?
If you’re on an iPhone, look at the top-left corner. You should see the name of your carrier with the word WiFi and the WiFi icon next to it.
On an Android phone, look at the top-left corner when you make a call. You should see the call-in-progress icon of a phone. You’ll also see the WiFi symbol right next to it.
Now you know what WiFi calling is, how to turn on WiFi calling on your iPhone or Android, and how to tell if it’s working.
Apple’s FaceTime video calling is perhaps one of their most used features. It lets people with iPhones, iPads, and Macs make easy video calls to one another. You can’t make FaceTime calls from Android, but there are several other ways to make video calls—even to iPhone and Mac users.
No, there is no FaceTime on Android, and there’s not likely to be anytime soon. FaceTime is a proprietary standard, and just isn’t available outside the Apple ecosystem. So, if you were hoping to use FaceTime to call your mom’s iPhone from your Android phone, you’re out of luck. However, there are several great video calling alternatives that do work on Android.
A word of advice. If you happen to search the Google Play Store for FaceTime and find apps with “FaceTime” in their names, you should know that they are not official apps, and do not support Apple FaceTime. At best, you might be able to make video calls with them, but at worst you’ll find yourself installing some sketchy app, or even malware.
Instead of trying your luck with those apps, there are some solid video calling apps available for Android. No, they don’t let you hook up with Facetime users. But, you can use them to make video calls to people using iPhones, Android phones, and even other platforms. They just have to have the same app installed on their device.
- Skype: Owned by Microsoft, Skype was one of the first video call apps to become mainstream. Since then, it’s only gotten better. Skype is available for Windows, macOS, iOS, Linux, and Android.
- Google Hangouts: Google Hangouts not only lets you make video calls, you can have a full-on video conference with multiple people. There are dedicated Hangout apps for iOS and Android, and it’s available to all desktop users via their web browser.
- Google Duo: Google Duo is only available for Android and iOS. It only supports one-to-one video calls, but you can make them over Wi-Fi or cellular data connections. Google Duo also offers a couple of neat features. Knock Knock lets you see the video of the person who’s calling you, even before you answer the call. You can also leave a video message (much like a voicemail) when someone can’t answer your call.
- Facebook Messenger: Did you know that you can make video calls using Facebook Messenger? You can, and you can use the feature on pretty much any operating system. There are dedicated Messenger apps for iOS and Android, but you can also use Messenger right in your desktop web browser to make video calls from Windows, macOS, or Linux.
- Viber: Viber is a feature-rich app that you can use for video calls and a variety of other purposes. It has millions of users worldwide and is available for a variety of platforms like iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, and Linux.
And yes, you’ll need to take the extra step of making sure that the people you want to call have the right app installed. But once that’s done, you’ll be able to place video calls to just about anybody, no matter what platform they use.
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Neville Ray, Chief Technology Officer
Being the Un-carrier™ means never settling for the status quo. And that’s as true for our technology as it is for our industry-rocking Un-carrier benefits. We now reach over 290 million people with America’s fastest 4G LTE network. And we’re working relentlessly to extend the benefits of our Data Strong™ network and roll out more groundbreaking features to Un-carrier customers.
Last year, we were first to roll out nationwide Voice over LTE (VoLTE), and I promised more rich communications services to come. Then, last month, we gave messaging a massive upgrade and brought SMS and MMS into the mobile Internet age with T-Mobile Advanced Messaging. Today, we’re doing the same for phone calls with the launch of T-Mobile Video Calling.
Of course, there are apps that do video calling. But this isn’t another app. T-Mobile Video Calling represents a huge step forward in how Americans make mobile phone calls.
First, T-Mobile Video Calling works right out-of-the-box from your smartphone’s dialer. There’s no need to search out, download, configure and register additional apps.
And, as you’d expect from the Un-carrier, T-Mobile Video Calling couldn’t be simpler to use. Place and receive calls as you normally would—simply choose either the video call button or voice call button. Really. It’s that easy.
On devices with T-Mobile Video Calling, small camera icons appear next to contacts with devices able to receive video calls. If the person you’re calling can’t take video calls, the video call icon is greyed out. We’re working with others so you can eventually enjoy built-in video calling across wireless networks.
You can make T-Mobile Video Calls to and from capable devices on any available LTE connection − using data straight from your high-speed data bucket − as well as over Wi-Fi. Like HD Voice calls, T-Mobile Video Calling moves seamlessly between LTE and Wi-Fi. And, if you move off LTE or Wi-Fi to a slower connection, your video call seamlessly switches over to a voice call. If you move back to LTE or Wi-Fi, switch it back to video with a single tap.
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ and Samsung Galaxy Note 5 now have T-Mobile Video Calling available through simple software updates, while the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge updates will be available next week. (To update your Samsung device with Video Calling, go to Settings > “About Device” > “Software Update”.) By the end of the year, you’ll be able to make video calls on three more of our Video Calling-enabled devices, for a total of seven.
This is just the latest example of how the Un-carrier’s driving change in wireless. We were first to offer an Android phone and Wi-Fi Calling, first with HD Voice on both LTE and Wi-Fi, first with nationwide VoLTE calling and next-gen Wi-Fi Calling. Last month, we became the first and only in the U.S. to offer Advanced Messaging, upgrading regular SMS with real-time chat and the ability to share photos and videos up to 10MB right out of the box. And today, T-Mobile Video Calling marks the next stage in the evolution of our IP technology and Data Strong network.
It’s all part of our total commitment to delivering a next-gen wireless experience to a new generation of wireless customers.
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If you’re not an iPhone owner but still want to get in on the smartphone action that’s totally okay! There are plenty of great Android phones to look forward to. But Apple’s experience in mobile software still gives them the edge in a number of areas, and video chatting is one of them. FaceTime, iOS’s native video app, is a solid program that has been polished to a shine, and it’s quickly becoming a generic verb like Xerox. You don’t video chat someone, you FaceTime them. With an Android phone, though, you can’t.
That’s what’s great about the open marketplace of ideas that is the Google Play store, though. If you need an Android alternative to FaceTime, you have not one, but several, to choose from. We took the leading candidates for a test drive to compare them with each other, taking into account price, reliability, restrictions, and features. Here’s our list of the five best alternatives to FaceTime for Android.
The out-of-the-box alternative to FaceTime isn’t all that bad. Hangouts is Google’s service for both real-time text chat and video. One of the best things about it is that it’s massively cross-platform and linked to your Google ID. Not only does Hangouts work great on every Android phone, you can take it to your desktop — even your Mac desktop. Hangouts replaced Google Talk as the native chat app within Gmail (and Google+, but let’s not talk about that) a few years back, and the team has refined it a lot since then.
One thing that’s cool about Hangouts is that it works beyond simple person-to-person connections. The platform supports multiple-person conversations for up to ten people. Google also offers a mobile version for iOS. One advantage that Hangouts has over FaceTime is its data latency management. While Apple recommends only using FaceTime while connected to a wireless Internet connection, Hangouts deals much better with standard cellular data rates. In addition, voice calls to other Hangouts users are completely free.
If you have an Android phone (five of which you should check out), you should also have a Google account — it’s the key to all of the company’s awesome services, including Hangouts. Keeping your address book in order lets you merge all of your message streams into one easy-to-follow feed. The only complaint that we had is that there are occasionally unexplained glitches and bugs during calls, but they were rare.
When you think about video chat services, Skype is the gray-haired grandfather that still manages to hang on. First released in 2003, the system shared a back end with music-sharing system Kazaa (remember music-sharing systems?). It grew steadily until 2011, when it was acquired by Microsoft to replace Windows Live Messenger. Obviously, that makes it the default messaging client for Windows phones, but the Android versions are quite solid.
Early versions of Skype for Android weren’t well-integrated with your mobile device’s address book, making adding contacts a chore. In 2014, the 5.0 update finally brought it into harmony with the Android ecosystem, allowing it to access your existing contents. This simple change rocketed Skype into the upper echelon of Android video chat services.
Skype’s video chat services work in a variety of bandwidth situations, and keeps a constant monitor of the quality of the call you are currently on. You are able to score the call afterwards, and depending on what hardware you are using to make the video call, the video can be transmitted in HD.
Basic Skype accounts are free and allow you unlimited one-on-one video chat across any supported platform — mobile and desktop alike. Skype used to charge a subscription fee for multi-user video chats, but now group chats are included in the basic service. They do still charge either by the minute or with a monthly subscription for calls to phone users outside of the Skype service.
Viber started out as a text and audio messaging app, but quickly realized that they would need to add features to compete in a crowded marketplace. First they worked to replicate audio chat like Skype, and then in 2014 introduced video chat functionality. Although they are relatively new to the marketplace, Viber has build their brand into a strong alternative to existing platforms like FaceTime and Skype.
One of the best aspects of Viber is the app’s clean and intuitive design. Whereas Skype and Hangouts seem like desktop legacy apps that have been awkwardly transitioned to mobile experiences, Viber was built from the ground up with your phone screen in mind. In 2013, they did introduce a desktop app as well, but the clear focus is still on mobile.
The biggest weakness that Viber has in comparison with the other apps on this list is that it has no way of communicating with users outside of its service. Unlike other platforms that utilize SMS protocol, you can’t send messages to contacts who aren’t Viber users from within Viber. And where most people with Android devices have Google accounts by default for Hangouts, it’s not the case here. The service does boast 280 million users around the world, so it’s not just a niche thing.
If you’re looking for a full service replacement for FaceTime for Android, and you have friends willing to jump ship, Tango (not to be confused with Google’s AR Project Tango) might be just what you’re looking for. The app had its initial release in 2009, and unlike the other offerings on this list, Android is Tango’s primary platform — although there are builds for iOS and Windows phones, Google’s OS is its native element. That means that hardware optimization is at its peak, leading to a smoother user experience and better call quality.
On a WiFi-only device, you can interact with any of Tango’s 200 million users without needing a cellular connection. The service supports voice calls, video calls, text, and image chat. Accounts are free and the signup process is quick and painless. If you want to try and get your friends onboard with you, Tango will actually let you send text messages and emails to your friends to try and get them to sign up for the service. As long as everyone you want to talk to is using Tango, it’s a solid all-purpose communication tool. Note that, unlike other services, Tango’s video chats are one-on-one only.
The makers of Tango are focused on presenting their app as not simply a communication tool, but as a full-fledged social network. That means a public profile and news feed, games, stickers, and other bells and whistles. If you’re looking for something that does video calls like FaceTime but also a whole hell of a lot more, Tango might be your jam.
One of the latest up-and-comers in the video chat space is ooVoo, which has quickly accumulated a significant user base across multiple platforms. The service launched for Windows PCs in 2007 and branched out to mobile in 2011, first for iOS and then for Android. In 2013, the company made their SDK public, allowing developers to add ooVoo-powered video chatting functionality to their own apps. This was a great move, growing their userbase and getting their technology out in front of the public.
OoVoo has one of the most robust group video chat interfaces of any of the apps on this list, effortlessly supporting calls with up to a dozen people. Their audio processing is also excellent, with noise cancellation algorithms working on your signal to prevent too much static from overwhelming voices. Because ooVoo is a fairly light app, its bandwidth requirements are minimal, and it does a good job even with 3G connections, although wireless internet is better.
Like Skype, ooVoo lets you place voice calls to other ooVoo users for free. You can also purchase credits to use the app to place voice calls to phone lines. The service is ad-supported, but a Premium upgrade ($2.99 a month) removes them, as well as increases your storage space on the app’s servers to 1,000 minutes. A Premium Mobile account gives you no ads on your phone for just 99 cents a month as well. In our opinion, the ads aren’t intrusive enough to make payment necessary, but it’s nice to support the service if you like it.
FaceTime alternatives do exist
Who needs Apple, anyways? These FaceTime for Android alternatives do everything their video chat app does and more. Developers are constantly improving the experience as well, so you can expect the apps in this feature to see new services and better stability the longer they’re offered. While it’s easy to just stick with Hangouts, there’s certainly a lot to be gained from experimenting with other Android FaceTime alternatives as well, depending on what friends and co-workers are using. We unreservedly recommend the five apps on this list.