Apple iPhone T-Mobile Wi-Fi Calling – Review and Report
One of the features that iPhone users have missed out on in recent years was the ability of Wi-Fi Calling, the ability to place and receive phone calls using Wi-Fi to connect to a mobile operator when there was little or no signal available.
The capability, known as UMA or Unlicensed Mobile Access, has been available for years from T-Mobile for almost all phones, from BlackBerry to Android. Apple, however, refused to support it until its latest mobile operating system, iOS 8.
Wi-Fi Calling has additional benefits beyond making up for a weak, or non-existent, signal. Calls placed to the United States made from anywhere in the world using UMA are charged as local calls, as are incoming calls from the United States. This can significantly lower roaming charges.
WI-FI CALLING SETUP
Preparing your Apple iPhone for Wi-Fi Calling is straightforward. First, make sure the device has been upgraded to iOS 8 or higher. From the Settings menu, go to Phone and select Wi-Fi Calls. Change Allow Wi-Fi Calls to On and update your emergency address. (The Wi-Fi Calling feature requires the user to enter an address to help emergency responders find your location, although very few people update their location when traveling.)
Once this has been completed, Wi-Fi Calling will be available any time the device connects to a Wi-Fi network. No further intervention is required by the user.
USING WI-FI CALLING
Since upgrading to both the iPhone 6 and iOS 8, I’ve taken the phone on trips including Russia and Utah. While mobile service was particularly spotty in several remote locations in Utah, my phone, once connected to a Wi-Fi network, displayed T-Mobile Wi-Fi, indicating I had a strong signal despite the lack of a traditional cellular network signal.
Out of several hundred calls I’ve placed and received using Wi-Fi Calling, the quality has been as good if not better than had I been connected to a cell tower.
Upon reviewing my T-Mobile bill, I saw that these calls had been correctly listed as Wi-Fi Calling despite many having originated in Russia.
As a former user of T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi calling both on BlackBerry and Android, I was happy (and relieved) to be able to once again use the feature. It’s performed just as well as it had on my older devices and has gotten me out of a jam several times when I had no signal. Since there’s no additional cost and it’s now available on all new T-Mobile devices it should become part of the road warrior’s toolkit.