EE’s Wi-Fi Calling Reviewed: Make & Receive Phone Calls Over Wi-Fi
April 15th, 2015
EE has launched their Wi-Fi Calling service for Pay Monthly customers who have an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy. It allows you to make and receive phone calls even where a mobile signal isn’t normally available.
Customers on EE with a Pay Monthly contract can now take advantage of their Wi-Fi Calling service. Providing you have a handset that’s compatible with the service, you can make and receive phone calls using only a wi-fi internet connection. It’s great news for anyone who has patchy network coverage at their home (e.g if you’re living in a rural area or in a basement flat). It also makes it possible to call from new places: for instance, when you’re on the London Underground in a station or a platform.
Wi-Fi Calling is currently available on the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S5, Lumia 640 and Lumia 640XL. There’s no need for any additional applications but you’ll need to enable the service on your handset. Typically, you’ll also need to buy your handset directly from EE. The Wi-Fi Calling service can only be used when you’re in the UK.
In this article, we review EE’s Wi-Fi Calling service. We’ll discuss how the service works on your phone and we’ll look at the list of compatible handsets on which you’re able to use it. We’ll also look at the drawbacks and limitations and at alternative services you can use on another network.
How does Wi-Fi Calling work?
Wi-Fi Calling is a new service from EE that allows you to make and receive phone calls using a wi-fi internet connection. It means you’re finally able to use your phone as normal even in the places where you lack a mobile phone signal.
Wi-Fi Calling is particularly useful for customers who have poor coverage at home. As it’s able to work on any wi-fi internet connection that’s sufficiently fast, you can also use the service when out and about. Customers in London can use Wi-Fi Calling on the London Underground when in a station and or on a platform. There’s no need to install additional applications: everything works through the normal dialler on your phone.
Whenever you’re using EE’s Wi-Fi Calling service, the network name displayed on your handset will be EE WiFiCall.
At present, you’ll need to be either an EE Pay Monthly customer or an EE Small Business customer. Customers on an EE Large Business (Corporate) tariff will have access to Wi-Fi Calling from summer 2014.
Wi-Fi Calling isn’t available to customers on EE Pay As You Go.
|Tariff Type||Is Wi-Fi Calling Available?|
|Pay Monthly||✔ Yes, available now. See list of compatible smartphones.|
|Pay As You Go||✘ No|
|Small Business||✔ Yes, available now. See list of compatible smartphones.|
|Large Business (Corporate)||✘ Available from Summer 2015. More information.|
As well as having a supported tariff, you’ll also need a compatible smartphone.
At present, the Wi-Fi Calling service is only available on the following compatible smartphones:
- Apple: iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c
- Microsoft: Lumia 640 and Lumia 640XL (due in April 2015)
- Samsung: Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge and Galaxy S5
For the iPhone, your handset must be running on version 8.3 or later of the iOS operating system. You should check this by going to Settings > General > Software Update and making sure you have the latest version. You should also ensure you have the latest Carrier Version. To do this, go to Settings > General > About and verify you have version 19.1 or newer of the EE carrier settings. It doesn’t matter whether your iPhone was purchased from EE or another retailer (they’ll all work with the EE Wi-Fi calling service).
For all other devices (i.e. the Microsoft Lumia and Samsung Galaxy smartphones), you must have purchased your smartphone directly from EE. This is because your handset must be running the EE-branded version of the operating system. If your handset was purchased SIM-free, from a third-party retailer or from a different network operator, it unfortunately won’t be compatible with the Wi-Fi Calling service. You should text “wifi calling” to 150 to activate the feature on your handset.
For step-by-step instructions on setting up your handset to work with Wi-Fi Calling, we recommend having a look at this EE help article.
Drawbacks & Limitations
There are a number of key drawbacks and limitations currently associated with the service:
- You can only use Wi-Fi Calling when you’re in the UK. EE doesn’t allow you to use Wi-Fi Calling when you’re abroad in another country. This is due to fears the service will cannibalise their revenues from roaming.
- Phone calls won’t seamlessly hand over from wi-fi to the mobile network. If you make or receive a phone call using Wi-Fi, the call will terminate once you leave the range of the wi-fi network. In the coming months, EE is aiming to launch voice-over-LTE (VoLTE). A key benefit of VoLTE technology is that calls can be seamlessly handed over from wi-fi to mobile.
- You can’t use Continuity at the same time as Wi-Fi Calling (iPhone). The iPhone supports a feature known as Continuity. This allows you to make and receive phone calls using a Mac or iPad that’s paired to your iPhone. Unfortunately, Continuity isn’t compatible with the Wi-Fi Calling service. It will automatically be disabled on your iPhone if you choose to enable the Wi-Fi Calling feature.
- You must have bought your handset directly from EE (Android & Windows Phone). For Android and Windows Phone devices, Wi-Fi Calling will only work on your smartphone if it was purchased directly from EE. You can’t use Wi-Fi Calling on a SIM-free smartphone. You also won’t be able to use smartphones purchased from a third-party retailer (e.g. the Carphone Warehouse) or a different network operator. This is because the Wi-Fi Calling service will only work with EE-branded software.
- If you place somebody on hold, they’ll hear silence rather than a holding tone. According to EE’s help page, this “small quirk” will be resolved in the future.
Alternatives to EE Wi-Fi Calling
At present, EE is the only network operator offering Wi-Fi Calling to customers in the UK. Customers on rival networks with poor coverage at home will need to make use of alternative solutions:
- O2: TU Go (application)
Customers on O2 Pay Monthly can use the TU Go application to make and receive phone calls over a wi-fi connection. Use of TU Go requires a separate application. This makes it slightly less reliable for routing your phone calls. Call logs and text message chat histories are also siloed when you’re using the application. Compared to Wi-Fi Calling on EE, the key benefit is greater support for more devices. You can also use TU Go when travelling abroad in another country. For more information, read our review of TU Go.
- Three: inTouch (application)
Like O2, Three also has an app where you’re able to make and receive phone calls using a wi-fi connection. The app is available to all customers on Three (including Pay Monthly, SIM Only and Pay As You Go customers). The app is available on iPhone and Android. You must be inside the UK when using the application.
- Vodafone: Sure Signal (femtocell)
Vodafone has a £100 femtocell known as Sure Signal (pictured). It links up to your home broadband connection and gives you 5-bar 3G coverage with a range of 30m. A key benefit when using Sure Signal is it’s able to work with all 3G-compatible smartphones. You can also use your phone’s in-built dialler: there’s no need for any additional applications. The disadvantage of using Sure Signal is it’s tied to one place (typically your home where the Sure Signal is installed). This means you can’t use Sure Signal coverage when out and about. Read our full review for more information.
Behind the scenes, Wi-Fi Calling is making use of GAN/UMA technology (also known as Generic Access Network or Unlicensed Mobile Access). Orange previously offered this service under the ‘Signal Boost’ brand (Orange UK is now a part of EE). Vodafone is planning to launch their own Wi-Fi Calling service in summer 2015.
Switching to EE: Keep Your Current Phone Number
If you’re switching to EE in order to take advantage of their Wi-Fi Calling service, it’s easy to transfer a phone number from your old network.
Start by ordering your new Pay Monthly smartphone from EE’s website. For Android and Windows Phone devices, you must buy the handset directly from EE. Once you’ve ordered the smartphone from EE, you should contact your old network and ask them for a PAC Code. A PAC Code will authorise the transfer of your phone number over to EE.
After receiving the new smartphone from EE, you can head over to this online form. Here, you can submit the PAC Code to EE. Once you’ve provided the PAC Code, your phone number transfer will normally take place on the next working day.
For a step-by-step guide on moving your number to EE, please select your current mobile network from the drop down menu below:
|PAC Code Finder: Transfer Your Phone Number to EE|
For more information, see the EE web page on their wi-fi calling service. For customers who already have a compatible smartphone, there’s a handy guide showing you how to get started.
My passion is helping people to get the most out of their mobile phone. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005.
Aside from writing about mobile technology, my interests are in software development, digital marketing and physics. Outside of the blog, I work with numerous technology companies helping them to explain their product and helping them to market it to consumers. Please get in touch for more information.