People who know me are probably aware that I'm a self-confessed sci-fi geek (and proud!).
If, like me, you have poor mobile reception in your home office, you may need to rely on WiFi calling. This handy feature, which is available on most networks, uses your WiFi connection to let you make and receive calls even if you have no mobile phone signal.
However, I recently found out that there are some important things that nobody told me about:
- WiFi calling is built into all modern iPhones. With Android phones. however, it's not a standard feature. It is installed by each network provider, so you must buy your phone through them to get the feature. If you buy an Android device from anywhere else, it will not be available and never will be.
- WiFi calling isn't as clever as you might like. If you have even the tiniest amount of mobile signal, your phone will use that, rather than your WiFi connection. What's worse, if you're on a call and the signal drops completely (e.g. if you move to another room) it won't switch to WiFi, it'll just drop the call.
- The only solution I have found to the above problem is to put my phone into airplane mode and then re-enable WiFi. This forces it to use WiFi calling and ensures a good quality call. You just need to remember to take airplane mode off when you go out, or you won't get any calls in the car.
- Using Airplane mode highlights something else they never mention: WiFi calling doesn't work with Text messages. So, when you switch to Airplane mode, you can't send or receive SMS messages. However, if you're using an iPhone, you can still iMessage to another iPhone
Having learned all of this, I now tend to switch my phone to airplane mode when I’m at home, so that I can use the phone without it dropping calls partway through. I switch it off for 5 mins every now and then to check for text messages.
I'm also starting to encourage people to contact me via other messaging services like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, as they will work if I have any kind of connection.
Whilst WiFi calling is a great thing, it really needs a little more intelligence. It would be useful if you could force WiFi calling without losing text messaging, or just to use both connections at once to ensure the quality of the call is always high.
We can only hope that these improvements may come in time. If they do, I'll let you know - watch this space.