EE has recently launched its WiFi calling service, but what does it entail? Is it similar to the way O2 and Three offer WiFi calling & texting, by using a dedicated app? Read on and find out everything you need to know about EE's new WiFi calling service.
EE WiFi calling: What is it and what's different?
So, what is WiFi calling? Well traditionally, if you’ve had bad signal at home or when you've been out and about, you’ve just had to deal with it. That’s not the case with WiFi calling, which enables you to send and receive calls and texts with a weak, or even non-existent signal as long as you’re connected to WiFi. The service itself is free to all EE 4G customers, with calls and texts still coming out of your monthly allowance and out of allowance usage being billed as standard.
Other networks, namely Three and O2 have similar features but are not quite as polished and advanced as EE’s offering. Three and O2 offer apps that let you make calls and send texts, but EE’s integration is system wide on select iOS and Android devices. What does this mean? If your phone is compatible, WiFi calling should work automatically without the need of an app.
(Read definitions of more Apple-related tech terms in our Apple users' tech jargon dictionary.)
EE WiFi calling: What are the benefits?
So, what are the benefits to WiFi calling? The main benefit has to be that as long as you’re connected to WiFi, you can make and receive calls and texts when you’ve got very little or no signal. This is great news for EE users that get bad reception at home or work, as it’s a cheaper and simpler alternative to switching service providers.
It also means that if you live in London, you can connect to the WiFi on the underground and make calls on the platform while waiting for the next train. We tried this, and while it works, people that aren’t aware of WiFi calling will look at you like you’re crazy.
The best part is that the integration of WiFi calling is system wide, with Apple mentioning EE at its iPhone 6 launch as one of the first providers to offer the service. This means that, unlike with other networks that use a dedicated app, you can just make a call or text like you normally would. Having to use an app requires people to change their habits, so users welcome a service that doesn’t interrupt that.
See also: How to make phone calls on your Mac
EE WiFi calling: What are the drawbacks?
That seems great, but there has to be drawbacks right? Well as it currently stands, you can’t make a call on your cellular network and have it switch over to WiFi automatically. That’s because we use 2G/3G signals to make calls, and while it should work once EE switches over to VoLTE (Voice over LTE), we may have a while to wait. It’s also UK centric at the moment, so you can’t go on holiday, connect to WiFi and avoid the extra charges for calling and texting abroad.
The main drawback for Mac users is that if you enable WiFi calling on your iPhone, it disables the hugely popular Continuity feature. Continuity, a feature introduced with iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, allows you to make and receive both calls and texts from your iPhone on your iPad or Mac. You’ll still be able to make FaceTime calls and text iMessage users on your iPad or Mac, but regular calls and texts won’t work.
Also, there have been issues regarding Visual Voicemail when using WiFi calling, though we wouldn’t go as far as to call it a drawback. It’ll alert you that you’ve got a new voicemail, but instead of tapping on it and listening like you’d normally do with EE’s Visual Voicemail service, you can only access it by calling your voicemail.
Read next: How to fix WiFi connection problems on Mac
EE WiFi calling: Which phones are compatible?
The Apple devices that are compatible with EE’s new WiFi calling service include the iPhone 5s, 5c, 6 and 6 Plus. That’s not all though, as the service is also compatible with the recently released Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, as well as the Samsung Galaxy S5.
EE WiFi calling: How do you set it up?
The setup is fairly simple, especially for iOS devices. First off, you need to make sure that you’re running iOS 8.3 – just head to Settings > General > About to find out what version of iOS you’re running. If you are on iOS 8.3, make sure your Carrier version is 19.1 from the same menu. Once your iPhone has been updated, all you need to do is tap Settings > Phone > Wi-Fi Calls and enable the feature. It’ll take up to 24 hours to activate and you’ll receive a text message from EE when you’re ready to go.
Once the service has been activated and you’re connected to WiFi, the network name should change from EE to EE WiFiCall. If it has – congratulations, you can now make calls over WiFi. If not, the service hasn’t activated yet or there could be issues with your WiFi connection.