Alongside Wi-Fi calling, VoLTE (Voice-over-LTE), is one of the latest features popping up with major mobile networks.
It promises faster, clearer voice calls plus video calling without the need for extra apps or services.
So What is VoLTE Exactly?
In essence, Voice-over-LTE is exactly what is sounds like.
Instead of falling back to an older network to transmit voice data...
...the data for your call is routed over the LTE data network just like anything else on your phone that uses data.
VoLTE is a feature that uses LTE, not a separate mobile networking technology.
NOTE: Carriers refer to VoLTE by different names, including HD Voice, True Voice and HD Calling.
What’s the Big Deal Then?
With standard voice calls, every time that you make or receive a call, your phone must switch to the 2G/3G network in your area. VoLTE changes this.
Four major benefits of VoLTE include:
Since everything is handled using 4G, your phone doesn’t waste battery switching networks.
You can still browse the web or use apps at full speed while you’re talking and the increased bandwidth of the 4G network means better call quality.
Want to see the benefits in action?
Check out the below video from Ask Pogue.
It shows the obvious difference in voice quality around the 2 minute mark.
Pretty impressive hey?
Overall, it’s a win-win if you have decent LTE coverage in your area.
OK, So What Do I Need to Use VoLTE?
Current CA Carriers that support VoLTE include:
Phone support is a bit trickier.
This will depend on:
- the software running on the phone
- the type of hardware / chip powering the phone
- any modifications made by the carrier or manufacturer
On the software side, a phone must run at least Android 5.0 Lollipop or iOS 8.
From there, it’s a matter of hardware.
Most newer phones using a Snapdragon or MediaTek processor support the feature.
Unsure if your phone is compatible?
We list VoLTE support as a spec for each phone here on The Informr.
Find your phone. Hit the "Specs" tab and look for the Voice over LTE section.
Wikipedia's also has a list of VoLTE-capable phones.
...even if the phone supports VoLTE, it’s a good idea to contact your carrier to be sure that they support VoLTE with the phone you plan to use.
As the feature is still relatively new, some carriers still limit VoLTE to specific devices, plans or regions.
NOTE: Depending on your carrier, you might find that VoLTE calling is restricted only to callers on the same carrier. Also, if the person you’re calling doesn’t have a phone that supports VoLTE, you won’t see the sound quality improvements. While most carriers offer ways to seamlessly switch calls between VoLTE and 3G, you might have minor issues with dropped calls when travelling between coverage areas.
How Do I Activate VoLTE?
In most cases, if your phone and carrier support VoLTE, you’ll be able to use it without making any changes to your phone or account settings.
If you’ve swapped the same SIM between phones for the past few years, you might need a new SIM.
Contact your carrier or stop by one of their stores.
Most will set you up with a new SIM that supports the feature...
...usually at no additional charge.
Does VoLTE Use My Data or Minutes?
If you’ve ever used a Voice-over-IP (VoIP) app, such as Skype or Viber, over your mobile data connection, you’ve likely noticed that calls came out of your monthly data allotment.
While VoLTE calls technically use data in a similar way, most carriers won't bill you for the data used on voice calls. Instead, your VoLTE calls will come out of your minute allotment just like a normal call.
Yes. It's possible not all. Especially if you're using advanced features such as video calling.
We recommend contacting your carrier to verify and avoid any nasty surprises on your bill.
Anything Else I Should Know?
While the feature is new, it shouldn't impact billing or change how you use your phone.
You might deal with a few more dropped calls if you travel through multiple coverage areas, but most carriers offer seamless switching these days.
For the most part, with VoLTE, it's benefits with no downsides.
What's not to like?
Tried VoLTE? Let us know in the comments below or ask a question in the forum.