Despite UK networks now covering up to 99% of the UK population, there are still spots where network coverage is poor or nonexistent. Where this is the case, and you still have access to a Wi-Fi connection, some networks now offer the opportunity to hook onto the Wi-Fi and use this to make voice calls.
This is a great perk and works especially well when you are dealing with indoor connection issues, with most households, restaurants & shopping centers having Wi-Fi access. There should be next to no situation where customers with access to Wi-Fi calling can’t make a call from their phone.
Wi-Fi calling is now offered by several UK networks, but not all Wi-Fi calling services are equals. In this article we run through and compare the Wi-Fi calling propositions currently available in the UK market.
Top Benefits of Wi-Fi calling
Most Wi-Fi calling plans are not app services and all you need to do to connect is hook up your device to a Wi-Fi hotspot.
You don’t incur extra costs as nothing changes on your existing plan.
You only need to connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot once and the network will automatically recognize your device the next time you visit the place.
You can use Wi-Fi calling to send and receive texts.
The connection is not dependent on a mobile network and so you can still connect when mobile signal is poor.
What Factors Do We Consider When Ranking the Networks?
Today in the UK, several mobile networks are offering Wi-Fi calling. When we rank the networks we’re looking to find the simplest proposition to use. We believe that the best scheme for Wi-Fi calling should allow you to:
Make or pick a call / send or receive a text message without incurring additional charges on your existing plan.
Allow you to use the service without an app wherever you are as long as there’s Wi-Fi connection.
No restrictions on specific handset models when using Wi-Fi calling
Three’s Wi-Fi calling proposition ‘Three In Touch’ is exactly what you’re looking for in Wi-Fi calling – flexibility. The network supports a wide selection of handsets. For example, it supports all iPhones and Androids options like Samsung & Huawei. It also offers customers the opportunity to download software updates for devices that weren’t bought from Three to allow compatibility.
Three In Touch works automatically as soon as you connect to a Wi-Fi network, with no need to download an app. A downside for customers whose phones are not compatible, previously had the option to download an app to give them the opportunity to get access to Wi-Fi calling. However this app has recently been scrapped!
Three In Touch puts no restrictions on customers. While most networks only allow Wi-Fi calling on pay monthly contracts, InTouch allows you to enjoy it on pay monthly, phone contracts, SIM-only or PAYG (pay as you go). But if you are looking not to take a gamble with the device, then you should buy from them.
Three also has some other great perks such as unlimited Netflix streaming. To learn more check out our Three review.
Supports large number of handsets
You don’t have to buy your device from them
Absence of a backup app
Limited to phone contract & SIM customers
Vodafone also has a great Wi-Fi calling offer on the market supporting more handsets than the likes of Three. However a downside of Vodafone’s Wi-Fi calling offer is that there is no software updates available, so potentially devices not purchased from Vodafone directly won’t work. However, if your phone is a new model, it is likely to support Wi-Fi calling. Just like there’s no software update for Wi-Fi calling, there’s also no app version.
Wi-Fi calling on Vodafone is also limited to phone & SIM only contracts. However, this excludes customers on the Basic Plan. So, if you’re after a PAYG plan, then you can’t enjoy Wi-Fi calling on Vodafone. The advantage, however, is that you don’t need to buy your handset from them to enjoy Wi-Fi calling. So long as your phone supports the feature and your plan is paid monthly, then Vodafone is a great option for Wi-Fi calling.
Check out our Vodafone review to learn more about the great offers available from Vodafone.
Works with all Apple devices
Great for SIM-only and pay monthly phone deals
Does not work with PAYG
Restrictions on Android devices
In terms of flexibility, O2 is quite limited if compared to either Three or Vodafone. Originally, O2 used to be much more flexible because of it’s Wi-Fi calling app TuGo. This app helped non compatible devices connect & allowed Wi-Fi calling abroad. Unfortunately, the app was scrapped.
For Android devices, the network is more restrictive. You actually need to have bought your device from O2 to guarantee that it’ll support Wi-Fi calling. This is because phones purchased from O2 come with a pre-installed software upgrade that allows you to enjoy Wi-Fi calling automatically.
Only pay monthly & SIM only deals have Wi-Fi calling with O2, so don’t expect to get Wi-Fi calling as an O2 PAYG customer.
O2 has a lot more to offer beyond Wi-Fi calling, with one of the best customer service records in the UK & the O2 priority app, which gives away freebies and discounts every week, O2 is one of the most popular networks in the UK.
Largest number of devices supported
Simple set up with iPhones
Androids are restricted
Does not apply to PAYG
EE has improved its Wi-Fi calling scheme. The Wi-Fi calling scheme now supports more devices than it previously did however there is some restrictions that are in place. If you have an android device, there is no guarantee it will work unless you have purchased the device directly from EE.
If you go for a SIM only deal and Wi-Fi calling is important, check on their site to ensure that your device is compatible. Another restriction is that they don’t offer PAYG customers Wi-Fi calling.
EE has the fastest network speeds in the UK & free access to premium subscriptions such as Apple Music, read our detailed review to learn more.
Available to all BT customers
Need to purchase device from BT to guarantee Wi-Fi calling will work
No app for unsupported devices
BT Mobile only recently introduced Wi-Fi calling but it is available to all BT Mobile customers. However, similar to EE (Which is owned by BT), Androids purchased elsewhere may not be compatible with Wi-Fi calling. They also can only guarantee iPhone 6 devices and newer are compatible with their scheme.
Customers get access to over 5 million UK Wi-Fi hotspots and 13 million worldwide, to learn more about this and some of the other perks offered by BT Mobile, check out our detailed BT Mobile review.
Great for iPhones
Restrictions on Androids
Though it falls below network giants like Three, Vodafone, EE, and O2, iD mobile is not a pushover. Actually, it’s the only low-cost service provider in the UK to offer Wi-Fi calling. The only reason we wouldn’t rank it amongst the best is because only a limited range of handsets support the feature. According to iD, their Wi-Fi calling scheme only works on iOS devices and just a few Androids.
Moreover, it’s restricted to pay monthly deals. So, you can’t use it on a PAYG plan. Considering SIM-only contracts on iD Mobile start as low as £3.99, there’s no doubt that iD Mobile provides great value for money.
To learn more about the network offering the UK’s cheapest contract deal at £3.99/month, check out our iD Mobile review.
Generally, works for handsets purchased from Sky
No software upgrade
Last on our ranking is Sky Mobile. The fact that they have Wi-Fi calling is good news for the customers. However the network only supports a few handsets if you are looking to enjoy Wi-Fi calling. If you’re joining on a pay monthly phone contract, you still aren’t guaranteed your device will be compatible.
If you’re on a SIM only deal having purchased your device elsewhere, even if your device is Wi-Fi calling compatible, as it wasn’t purchased from Sky, it may not have the right software to work. Until they start providing customers with software updates like the way Three does, there’s more to be desired.
Sky Mobile offers customers access to unlimited free streaming of multiple Sky TV channels right from their device, to learn more check out our Sky Mobile Review.
Which Networks Don’t Have Wi-Fi Calling
Wi-Fi calling is a staple amongst the bigger networks with only a few smaller networks, mentioned earlier in the article, offer. However a number of networks like Tesco, Giffgaff, SMARTY, Plusnet, VOXI, Virgin Mobile still don’t offer Wi-Fi calling.
Half Cooked’s Overall Winner
There’s no doubt that Three comes out on top with their InTouch Wi-Fi calling offer. The scheme enjoys the flexibility not available on any other network. Coming second, third, and fourth are Vodafone, EE, and O2 respectively. They are slightly limited due to restrictions on devices/software upgrades and not being available to PAYG customers.
Half cooked is a team of specialists that have a wealth of experience in the UK telecoms industry. Amongst our team, we have specialists whose expertise range from strategy, finance, performance marketing and we even have a national digital award winner.