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WiFi calling guide: finding which UK mobile network has the best scheme

WiFi calling

Our guide talks you through which UK mobile networks have WiFi calling, compares how each scheme works and the phones they support. SIM Sherpa is your trusty guide. Last updated: May 14th 2018

How WiFi calling works

What is WiFi calling and what are its benefits?

A London Underground platform

Calls in places mobile signal can't normally reach

WiFi calling is a facility that a number of networks now offer, which lets your phone use WiFi signal to make/take calls and send/receive SMS text messages, instead of conventional mobile signal.

The advantage of this is straightforward: if you’re in a blackspot that mobile signal can’t get to, like underground or in a thick-walled building, you can still use your phone if there’s WiFi there.

When you make a call or send a text, it will come out of your regular mobile allowance (or be charged at your normal rate if you pay as you go). People calling you just dial your usual mobile number as normal.

At the moment, WiFi calling is only offered by a few networks in the UK (see further down page). And it's mostly the big 4 providers where you can get it. But some of the smaller ones are just starting to offer it too.

What we think makes a good WiFi calling scheme...

Best network for WiFi calling

The easiest, most-accessible scheme will win

Below, we've ranked each UK network's WiFi calling scheme according to which we think is best overall.

We’re essentially looking for the one that's easiest to use and needs you to do as little as possible to get it to work. The best WiFi calling scheme will…

1) Let you make/take calls and send/receive texts in the usual way with no extra effort

2) Work with as many makes and models of phones as possible

3) Not use a separate app where possible but still offer one if your phone isn’t supported

4) Keep your call history and messages in the same place as usual

We’ve looked at every network’s schemes and ranked them on how well they live up to all this.

UK mobile networks with WiFi calling

Here are the only networks with WiFi calling schemes

In order of our rankings. Click a logo to skip to their section:

1st place: Three’s inTouch scheme is the most flexible

Of all WiFi calling schemes, it’s Three’s inTouch that stands out as best for us for being the most flexible:

While other networks restrict usage of their WiFi calling to pay monthly customers, on Three, you’ll be able to use inTouch whether you take a phone or a SIM, on a contract or pay as you go.

Three’s scheme also impresses with the number of different phone types Three say inTouch supports. Their list here shows all models that should work straight away with nothing extra to do.

But if your phone’s not on that list, Three offer a free downloadable software update to get their WiFi calling to work on other devices.

And if that doesn’t work, they still have a separate app-based version of inTouch, which has most the features of their regular WiFi calling, and works on older Apple and Android models.

Useful link: Read full details at Three.co.uk

Our ranking:
1st

Supported phones
24x models, don't need to have been bought from Three
(see device list)

App for unsupported phones?
Yes, works on most Android or iOS phones
(read details)

2nd place: Vodafone’s WiFi calling supports loads of phones

Compared to Three’s inTouch scheme, Vodafone’s WiFi calling supports more phone models at first glance (without having to install extra updates). Here’s their latest list of devices.

Where it’s less good, is if your phone isn’t automatically supported. There are no software updates available to make yours work on Vodafone. And there’s no back-up app either.

It’s also restricted to pay monthly SIM only or phone contract customers on Vodafone. If you’re interested in pay as you go, you’re not going to get WiFi calling (unlike Three).

Despite this, Vodafone’s scheme has the edge over competitors because you don’t need to have bought your phone from them to guarantee it will work (EE, BT and O2 are guilty of this for Android phones).

Overall, if your phone is supported and you’re on pay monthly, Vodafone’s scheme is an excellent option.

 
Useful link: Learn more about Vodafone WiFi calling from their official guide.

Our ranking:
2nd

Supported phones
35x models, don't need to have been bought from Vodafone.
(see device list)

App for unsupported phones?
No app available.

3rd place: EE’s improved WiFi calling is still a bit restricted

Out of all the schemes, EE’s WiFi calling supports the largest number of devices on the face of it. See their latest list of 45+ handsets EE support here.

But dig a bit deeper and there are some subtle restrictions, which make EE’s scheme less flexible than their rivals above:

For Android phones, you pretty much need to have bought your phone direct from EE to guarantee their WiFi calling will work on it (iPhones are much more flexible). Some Androids bought elsewhere could work but EE don't guarantee it.

This might be fine if you’re taking a phone contract from EE but if you’re joining on SIM only, there’s a risk your phone will be supported, even if it has WiFi calling as a feature.

Again, if you know your phone is supported, EE’s actual scheme is just as good as Three and Vodafone. It doesn’t work on Pay As You Go though.

Useful link: Read what EE say about their WiFi calling

Our ranking:
3rd

Supported phones
45x models, Androids may need to be bought from EE
(see device list)

App for unsupported phones?
No app available.

4th place: O2 WiFi calling takes a backwards step

We used to rate O2’s WiFi calling a lot higher, because they had an excellent TuGo app, which you could use if your phone wasn’t supported and also provided WiFi calling abroad.

This app has now been scrapped. And O2’s main WiFi calling works on a much lower number of different devices (see list here) than their rivals Three, Vodafone and EE.

For Android phones, it’s even more restrictive. You’ll need to have bought your handset from O2 directly, so that the correct software is pre-installed. If you didn’t, WiFi calling won’t work (iPhones are more flexible).

You’ll only get WiFi calling on O2’s pay monthly phones or SIM only plans. It doesn’t work on Pay As You Go.

 
Useful link: Read O2's full guide to WiFi calling

Our ranking:
4th

Supported phones
19, Android models must have been bought from O2 directly
(see device list)

App for unsupported phones?
No. Old app no longer available
(full details)

5th place: BT Mobile now have proper WiFi calling too

As they use EE, you'd have thought BT Mobile would have had WiFi calling from the start but they've actually only just added it.

All customers get it free with their plan but you will need to make sure that BT support your phone. And they're still a bit cagey about which models will definitely work:

If you have an iPhone 6 (or any newer model), BT are confident their WiFi calling will work on it.

If you've bought an Android phone from any other provider BT can't guarantee their WiFi calling will work on it though, which is frustrating if you want to join on a SIM only deal.

If you're after a smartphone contract from BT, they've flagged all compatible models here.

 
Useful link: All about BT's WiFi calling scheme

Our ranking:
5th

Supported phones
Android and iOS (See device list)

App for unsupported phones?
No app available

6th place: iD Mobile are the only budget network with WiFi calling

Even though they’re near the bottom of our WiFi calling rankings vs their more-expensive competitors, we’d still tip our hat to iD Mobile for being the only low-cost provider to offer it.

The main thing stopping it being included higher is that the list of supported devices is tiny in comparison with the networks above, which limits how useful it’ll be for most people.

iD Mobile say their WiFi calling basically only works on iPhone and a couple of other Android phones.

It works with any pay monthly plan but not pay as you go. With some phone contracts under £10 a month and SIM only plans priced around £5 a month, iD will typically be the cheapest network with WiFi calling.

Useful link: Read iD Mobile's guide to their WiFi calling

Our ranking:
6th

Supported phones
19x models, mainly iPhone, very few Androids
(see device list)

App for unsupported phones?
No app available.

Joint last for WiFi calling: all other UK mobile providers!

Tesco Mobile no WiFi callingVirgin Mobile no WiFi callinggiffgaff no WiFi calling
 
Plusnet Mobile no WiFi callingNo WiFi calling on SMARTY MobileTPO Mobile no WiFi callingLycamobile no WiFi callingNo WiFi calling on Sky Mobile

No WiFi calling with these providers

As you can see from above, WiFi calling is really only possible on the 4 major providers that control their own networks (apart from iD Mobile). Smaller ones, who piggyback on the main providers' mobile networks for signal, don't offer it.

This means WiFi calling is still actually quite a rare and premium feature, as the main networks tend to be a little pricier than their smaller counterparts. The question is how much you value it.

It just means that in our reviews of every UK mobile network, they won't score any points for having it.

WiFi calling FAQs

What does WiFi calling mean / what is WiFi calling?

Simply put, WiFi call is when your phone uses a WiFi signal to make or take a call instead of conventional mobile phone signal.

Which UK mobile networks have WiFi calling?

The only networks currently offering WiFi calling are the main 4 providers, plus BT and iD Mobile: BT Mobile, EE, iD Mobile, O2, Three and Vodafone.

Is WiFi calling free? What does WiFi calling cost?

On every network that offers it, calls made via WiFi calling will cost the same as if you'd made them over a mobile phone signal.

If you're on pay monthly, WiFi calls will come out of your monthly allowance of UK minutes. If you have unlimited minutes, then there's no limit on WiFi calls either.

Can you use WiFi calling abroad when roaming?

Generally speaking, no you can't. One exception to this was O2's TuGo WiFi calling app, which did let you call from abroad but has now been discontinued.

As far as we know this is more of a technological limitation than a choice by the mobile providers themselves.

An alternative to using WiFi calling would be using an app like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Skype over WiFi instead while you're roaming.

It's worth remembering that every mobile network now has to offer free roaming within the EU (read our guide to best roaming networks here).

Do you need an app for WiFi calling?

Out of the mobile networks that offer WiFi calling, most work via software on your phone, which connects automatically in the background when you've got better WiFi signal than mobile signal. That means you don't need to run a separate app manually to be able to make a call.

On the other hand, the networks that receive our best ratings offer an optional separate app if your phone is not compatible with their main software.

What’s the data usage with WiFi calling?

WiFi calling doesn't use up any of your mobile data because you connect to it via WiFi rather than by 3G or 4G mobile signal. Data usage with WiFi calling isn't something to worry about.

Which phones support WiFi calling?

Generally speaking WiFi calling came in as a phone feature in the years since 2015 but only on particular models (particularly iPhone and high-end Samsung Galaxy).

To make things more complicated, different networks' WiFi calling schemes support different devices. The best choice is to check the published lists of support phones for each of the networks to see if yours is covered:

EE | iD Mobile | O2 | Three | Vodafone | BT Mobile

How good is WiFi calling sound quality?

According to all providers, the answer to this is dependent on the quality of your WiFi signal. None of the networks make any hard and fast promises of HD quality for WiFi calling.

Can you also receive calls on WiFi calling?

Yes. When your phone's connected to WiFi calling, it's just like it being on normal mobile signal, so you will be able to receive calls on your regular mobile number.

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