Pros, Cons, and Differences Explained
In today’s fast-paced and constantly connected world, being able to communicate effectively, quickly, and efficiently is crucial. While numerous studies have shown that millennials prefer texting and instant messaging to stay in touch, the ability to make and receive calls remains a fundamental feature of any smartphone.
It should be noted, however, that not all phone calls are the same. New technologies, such as Wi-Fi calling and VoIP calling, offer users different ways to make and receive calls. In this article, we’ll take a close look at Wi-Fi calling vs. regular cell calls, analyze their key differences, and weigh their pros and cons.
What is Wi-Fi Calling?
While Wi-Fi calling has been around for more than a decade, it has only recently gained popularity. As the name suggests, this technology enables you to make and receive calls and send messages over a Wi-Fi network, rather than using a traditional cellular network. This feature is particularly useful for areas where cellular network coverage is weak or non-existent, or when audio quality on a cellular call is poor.
Most of the major networks around the world, including Vodafone, Verizon, AT&T, Rogers, Telus, Airtel, Optus, and other support Wi-Fi calling. Usually, a network operator does not charge extra for Wi-Fi calling services, but it can vary from network to network. But how does it work, and how is it different compared to traditional calling?
How Does Wi-Fi Calling Work, and How Is It Different from Traditional Cellular Calls?
When you make a regular call, your smartphone sends a signal to the nearest cell tower. The cell tower then forwards the call to the nearest available base station which further connects the call to the intended recipient’s device. The call is then carried over the cellular network to the recipient’s device.
Nowadays, Voice over Long-Term Evolution (VoLTE) is being used for cellular calls. This technology allows for high-speed wireless communication on smartphones. On VoLTE, your phone converts the voice into data packets and uses LTE (or 4G) technology to send that information to the carrier. Using LTE for calls results in better call quality and faster call setup times.
Wi-Fi calling also works in a similar way. Think of it as a VoIP call — calls made through apps like WhatsApp or FaceTime — but instead of sending data to the internet, it sends it to your cellular service provider, making it a regular voice call. When you make a call or send a message using Wi-Fi calling, your device sends the data over the Wi-Fi network to the cell tower. From there, the call or message is sent to its intended recipient.
It’s worth noting that if you move out of the range of the Wi-Fi network while on a call, the call will drop. However, most modern smartphones seamlessly switch over to regular cell call once you’re out of Wi-Fi range, allowing you to continue the call without interruption.
What are the Pros and Cons of Wi-Fi Calling?
Here are some advantages and disadvantages of Wi-Fi calling:
- Improved call quality: As mentioned above, Wi-Fi networks tend to have stronger signals and more bandwidth than cellular networks. This means that calls made over Wi-Fi tend to have better sound quality and fewer dropped calls.
- Provides coverage in areas with weak cellular signal: If you’re in an area with a weak cellular signal, but a strong Wi-Fi signal, Wi-Fi calling can help you stay connected.
- No need to install any app: Wi-Fi calling is a built-in feature on most modern smartphones, you don’t need to install any additional app to use it.
- Wi-Fi calls don’t use LTE or 5G data: Wi-Fi calls use the internet connection provided by the Wi-Fi network, which means that it doesn’t consume any data from your mobile plan. This can be useful for users with limited data plans or for those who want to avoid additional data charges.
- Call may drop as soon as you exit Wi-Fi coverage: One of the limitations of Wi-Fi calling is that call may drop as soon as you move out of the range of the Wi-Fi network. While most network providers have implemented seamless switching to cellular calls when you move out of Wi-Fi coverage, occasional call drops may still occur.
- Not all devices support Wi-Fi calling: Not all smartphones and mobile devices have the ability to make Wi-Fi calls, so you’ll need to check if your device is compatible before you can start using this feature.
What are the Pros and Cons of Cellular Calls?
Here are some advantages and disadvantages of traditional cell calling:
- Widespread coverage: Regular cell calls use a cellular network, which means that you can make and receive calls from almost anywhere.
- Universal availability: All devices that have a cellular connection can make regular cell calls.
- Reliable: Regular cell calls are considered as a reliable method of communication, as long as the cellular network coverage is good.
- Limited coverage in certain areas: In some remote or rural areas, the cellular signal may be weak or non-existent, which can make it difficult or impossible to make regular cell calls.
- Limited call quality: The call quality of regular cell calls may vary depending on the cellular network coverage and the device’s capabilities. In areas with weak cellular signal, calls may be dropped, have poor sound quality or may have a delay.
How to enable Wi-Fi Calling on Android and iPhone
Most modern smartphones support Wi-Fi calling. The process of enabling Wi-Fi calling on your iPhone or Android device is relatively simple and straightforward:
To turn on Wi-Fi calling on your iPhone, go to Settings > Cellular > Wi-Fi Calling and toggle the switch to on. In case you have dual-SIM enabled, select your carrier after entering the Cellular settings and then follow the same steps. You may be prompted to enter your emergency address if you haven’t already done so. Enter your emergency address, toggle on the switch, and Wi-Fi calling will be enabled on your device.
For Android users, the process of enabling Wi-Fi calling may vary depending on the device and the operating system version. Generally, steps turn on Wi-Fi calling on your Android device look like this: Go to Settings > Networks & Internet > Mobile network > Advanced > Wi-Fi Calling. Here you’ll be prompted to enter your emergency address and then toggle the switch to on.
It’s also worth noting that not all mobile service providers support Wi-Fi calling on all devices. Before you can use Wi-Fi calling, you’ll need to check if your device and service provider support this feature.
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