T-Mobile iPhones appear to prioritize cellular over Wi-Fi calling after iOS 11.3 update


UPDATE: T-Mobile has confirmed that with the update to iOS 11.3 and Carrier Bundle 32, iPhones will prefer LTE over Wi-Fi calling. Thanks, Omar!


Have you noticed that your iPhone doesn’t use Wi-Fi calling as often as it used to since the update to iOS 11.3? If so, you’re not alone.

Many T-Mobile iPhone users are reporting that after updating to iOS 11.3 and Carrier Bundle 32.0, their phone won’t use Wi-Fi calling unless their cellular signal drops very low, like to one bar. You can see a video of this cellular prioritization below.

While many iPhone owners have noticed this change, neither T-Mobile nor Apple appear to have acknowledged the change. When I asked T-Mobile about about this, I was told to direct questions about iOS to Apple. I then reached out to Apple about the matter but never got a response.

If you’re using an iPhone on iOS 11.3, this change is one to be aware of. There’s no toggle to make your iPhone prefer Wi-Fi calling over cellular, but you can try putting your phone into Airplane Mode and then turning on Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi calling if you absolutely need to make a call using Wi-Fi.

Have you noticed this change with your iPhone? If so, do you like having cellular preferred or do you prefer Wi-Fi calling?

Thanks, Patrick!

Via: PiunikaWeb
Sources: Reddit (1), (2), (3)

Tags: , , ,

  • James Stotts

    They don’t want you to have $10 kickback

    • Tinger12

      Has nothing to do with data usage. It is for actual calls.

      • James Stotts


  • Errolz

    Oddly enough, while I was away in Canada, it prioritized WiFi calling over cellular, then switched to the other way around when I got back recently, since my entire stay in Canada, my WiFi calling worked as per normal, hence not noticing this issue until now.

    • Jason Caprio

      I believe during Roaming, Wifi calling always prefer Wifi because that puts you back on a native T-Mobile network with support for HD Voice.

      • Henry

        When I was in France, I found that one problem with WiFi calling inside Europe was that it treated it as a very expensive ($$/minute) call to Europe from the US, rather than a rather cheaper (20 cent/minute) intra-Europe call.

        • Jason Caprio

          That makes sense because when you’re on Wifi Calling, it is as if you are directly on T-Mobile’s network within the USA. If you are on Cellular, your phone is using the local carrier wherever you may be.

      • truth seeker

        That is correct. So, in places where T-Mobile provides free voice roaming (Canada and Mexico), it’s beneficial to disable Wi-Fi Calling and just use the local cellular carrier networks.

    • truth seeker

      In the past, I was with AT&T, and it seems to have prioritized LTE over Wi-Fi Calling. Then, I switched to T-Mobile in 2017, and I immediately noticed that Wi-Fi Calling was on at all times. In the spring of 2018, I suddenly discovered that my iPhone was again on T-Mobile LTE most of the time even in my house, where it used to be on T-Mobile Wi-Fi Calling.

      I recently traveled to Canada for 5 weeks, and because T-Mobile uses Bell and Telus as partners in Canada, and the cellular coverage of those two carriers is much better than T-Mobile coverage in the US, I decided to disable Wi-Fi Calling (especially because the place where I was staying had very sketchy Wi-Fi). So, it was much better to be on LTE calling in Canada with Wi-Fi Calling disabled. Now that I’m back in the US, I re-enabled Wi-Fi calling.

      Here’s one problem that I’m facing. At work, the T-Mobile coverages is really bad. However, Wi-Fi is good. In the past, my iPhone was on T-Mobile Wi-Fi calling at work at all times, so I never missed calls. Now that T-Mobile changed the algorithm, the phone switches from LTE to Wi-Fi Calling and back. Because LTE here is bad, I am having all sorts of connectivity issues with my iPhone voice. My Mac is enabled for Wi-Fi Calling, and I get calls on my Mac with no issues at work, but my phone doesn’t ring half of the time when my Mac rings. It is extremely annoying that I can’t get a good T-Mobile voice coverage at work anymore even though Wi-Fi is good here. I wish T-Mobile/Apple would allow users to set the priority per each Wi-Fi network. For example, by default, LTE is preferred over Wi-Fi Calling, but for specific Wi-Fi networks, a user could prioritize Wi-Fi calling. It would definitely come in handy at work.

  • Jason Caprio

    Verizon has always done this at least on my Google Pixel 2 XL. It prefers the cellular network and cannot be changed to prefer Wifi.

    In the extremely rare event that I’m at a location with a weak Verizon signal and on decent Wifi, I would put my phone in Airplane mode, turn on Wifi and that would force Wifi calling to be on the entire time.

    • slybacon

      Maybe T-Mobile is trying to get their VoLTE stats up! They already lead the industry in percentage of calls placed over VoLTE.

  • carcomptoy

    Yet another reason I prefer Android and its customization.

    • slybacon

      So you can make all phone calls over wifi? Why do you care if they are over wifi or cellular?

      • carcomptoy

        I care because I like being able to control what my phone is doing, in general. How can you not like being able to choose either WiFi or cellular when you’re either roaming internationally–when you’d rather make calls for free rather than 20 cents–or when your WiFi signal is weak–when you’d rather make calls on the stronger cellular network?

        • slybacon

          It sounds like iOS 11.3 does automatically what you are manually doing, at least domestically.
          But I think why I don’t have the same problems as you is I don’t leave the United States :)

        • Will Wear

          No it’s not. It’s prioritizing weak LTE over strong wifi

        • UniBroW

          Wrong, in the video it drops to 2 bars LTE and switches to T-Mobile wifi calling. Wifi calling actually sounds better then some Android phones as well. /shrug

  • Drew

    I’m seeing this as well. I can force wifi call by dropping to airplane mode. I am noticing that there also seems to be a capacity issue with the WiFi calling – darth vader voice. I’ve found myself disabling wifi calling when in good coverage now – which is most of the time where I live due to all the network improvements.

  • Philip

    T-mobile more than happy you use their data? Funny.

    • slybacon

      Voice calls don’t count towards data usage.

      • Trevnerdio

        And even if they did, AMR voice, even wideband, uses such little bandwidth, you likely wouldn’t even notice.

      • SirStephenH

        It uses cellular capacity though which T-Mobile still has to pay for.

  • slybacon

    The iPhone X is doing the same thing on iOS 11.3. You need to pull down and open control center. That’s the only way I can see if I’m on “T-Mobile Wifi” or not. Switching to airplane mode is the only way I can get “T-Mobile Wifi” to show up right now because I have full LTE. And it goes off as soon as I connect to cellular again.

  • SirStephenH

    Yet another reason I love Android. We’ve always been able to select a preference.

  • T Redd

    Another dumb restriction on iPhones

  • pdoobs

    I have wifi calling disabled but 11.3 magically re-enabled. One of the more irritating things lately from Apple is definitely the constant alerts about updating and these settings being changed during an update to apples preferred setting not the users.