When we make a conventional voice call, what we are doing is using the mobile network offered by telephone antennas. But what happens when there is no coverage and there is no signal? Can’t make voice calls? The short answer is no, but the long answer is yes, as long as we have access to a WiFi network thanks to VoWiFi technology.
VoWiFi allows you to make calls to any mobile or landline without the need for coverage, just have the mobile connected to a WiFi network. It sounds good, but at the moment it is not available on all carriers or on all smartphone models. It is also not exactly the same as voice calls from WhatsApp or Telegram, for example. This raises a series of doubts that we are going to resolve.
What are WiFi or VoWiFi calls
As we said before, VoWiFi calls (Voice over WiFi) are voice calls we make over a WiFi connection instead of through the conventional network. Although there are few places in Spain where there is no mobile coverage, this technology makes it possible to meet the need to make calls if there is a WiFi access point, regardless of the technology (fiber, ADSL, etc.). If there is WiFi, calls can be made.
The most obvious difference with VoLTE or VoIP is that with VoLTE calls we are using the 4G network (it does not consume megabytes), while VoIP calls use any Internet access point. VoIP, for example, are WhatsApp or Telegram calls. Like VoLTE calls, VoWiFi calls do not consume megabytes of the tariff. It is also not necessary for the interlocutor to be connected to a WiFi networkInstead, you can receive the call if you are connected to the mobile network.
Although the call is made via WiFi, when using the service the same restrictions as in our rate. What does that mean? Among other things, the following:
- We call with our own number.
- VoWiFi calls are charged at the same price as a normal call (zero euros if you have a rate with unlimited calls) and the minutes consumed are deducted from the possible bonuses that may be activated.
- International calls are charged at the same price, as well as special rate numbers.
- Emergency calls can be made.
- Roaming will depend on each operator.
That said, it should be noted that not all operators offer the VoWiFi service in Spain, so next we are going to see the ones that do. In the same way, WiFi calls are not available on all smartphones, so we will also see the devices that do.
Operators that offer WiFi calls in Spain
Currently, the operators that offer VoWiFi service in Spain are Orange, Amena, Movistar and O2. Vodafone and Grupo MásMóvil are left out, at least for the moment. And is that VoWiFi service is relatively recent, to the point that Orange activated it last May and Movistar in September 2019. It is not a very widespread technology, in short.
The conditions depend on each operator, so we are going to review them separately:
- Orange: VoWiFi service is included in all residential contracts at no cost. In the case of business customers, the service is available to freelancers and companies with less than five lines. It is not available for those who use the Eco card or for prepaid customers. They cannot be used outside of Spain either.
Amena: the green operator shares Orange’s conditions, which means that the VoWiFi service is included in the rates at no cost. You cannot make VoWiFi calls outside of Spain.
Movistar: the service is included in the rate at no additional cost and activated in all contract customers, but not prepaid.
- O2: the service is included in the rate at no additional cost. Roaming with WiFi calls follows the same rules as a traditional roaming call and the cost depends on the country to which the number called belongs.
VoWiFi Compatible Phones
If your operator is listed above, it means that you have access to the WiFi calling service, but now you have to take another element into account: the smartphone model. Not all mobile phones on the market are compatible with WiFi calls and each operator has different devices. The operators have lists on their websites which mobiles are compatible, but it is possible that the list is not up to date. When in doubt, a simple call to customer service asking for your model should resolve the question.
By the way, although VoWiFi calls are activated in the rates, must also be activated on the device itself. On Android, the path will depend on each smartphone and the manufacturer’s customization layer. On iOS it is always the same:
- Android: Settings> Connections> WiFi calls and activate the corresponding box. If you can’t find it on your mobile, use the search engine in the settings app and search for the term “WiFi calls”.
- iOS: Settings> Phone> WiFi calls and check the box.
At the moment, the latest official information from Movistar is that the only devices compatible with the VoWiFi service are the Samsung Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9 +, Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10e, Galaxy S10 + and Samsung Galaxy Note 9. From SamaGame we have contacted the company to find out if there is a more recent list and we will update when we receive a response.
O2 has two requirements. The first is a compatible mobile and the second that have a certain SV-VoLTE version or higher. It depends on each particular model, but to know the SV-VoLTE version of your smartphone, just check the IMEI. Dial the code * # 06 # on the mobile dialer. The IMEI (15 digits) and a one or two digit number will appear next to it. That number is the SV-VoLTE version. That said, the compatible mobiles are the following.
The iPhone 6s or higher are supported, but the service, for now, has not been activated. They are working on it, but there is no news about it.
Orange is, by far, the one that supports the most models. The list is extensive so, as a tip, try using Ctrl + F to find your model in the list. The specific devices are the following:
Huawei / Honor
- iPhone 5S onwards.
- Apple Watch S3 onwards.
- Orange Dive 71 (ZTE BLADE A506)
- Orange Neva 80 (ZTE V770)
- Orange Rise 52 (5044P)
- Orange Rise 54 (5033Y)
Amena states on its website that the service is compatible for all iPhone models as well as for all Android terminals, whether they have been purchased with Amena or in the free market.
Differences with other apps that offer WiFi calls
At this point, it is worth highlighting the main differences between VoWiFi calls and the calls we can make on WhatsApp or Telegram, to give a couple of examples. The main difference is that when we make VoWiFi calls we are using our mobile line. Even if the connection is made via WiFi, for all practical purposes it is a normal call and current and we can make it to any mobile or landline, whether or not it is connected to a WiFi network.
When we make a call through a VoIP service such as WhatsApp or Telegram, the call is being made from a client (the app that we have installed on the mobile) to another similar client (the app that is installed on the mobile of our interlocutor) . Both people must be using the same applicationThat is why you cannot call a mobile number from WhatsApp, but rather call “a WhatsApp account”, so that we can understand each other.
As such, in the case of using a mobile network, these calls do consume data from our rate and they are not deducted from our monthly minute limit or minute bonuses (yes from the gig bonuses). With WiFi it is not a problem, since it is a flat rate. And now that we are talking about WiFi, WhatsApp or Telegram VoIP calls that are made over WiFi do not have roaming restrictions, so they can be used to talk to people from or from abroad without fear of the bill.