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Hangouts Dialer, wifi backup for poor cellular reception?

We are planning on bringing a cell phone and using our Tmobil (Simple Choice) plan while in Italy.

I'm imagining that we might want to make a call but the cellular reception could be bad in a particular location. In the US I've used Google's Hangouts Dialer (free app) on wifi a few times. For an Android phone or tablet, has anyone tried Hangouts Dialer as a wifi phone calling method in Europe?

Posted by
4686 posts

I haven't tried it, but my Android phone (on T-Mobile Simple Choice) has WiFi calling built in to it. WiFi calling with T-Mobile Simple CHoice is FREE in Europe (in the roaming countries including Italy) to call the US and 20 cents/minute within country. I used WiFi calling a number of times on my recent trip. ("WiFi Calling" is a specific feature whereby I can call/receive calls using my regular phone number, partly to get around places with poor cell coverage.)

You can try Hangouts Dialer right now before you leave to see how it works for you. With any WiFi-based calling, the quality of the call will depend largely on the strength of your WiFI signal and the speed of the internet connection it is connected to. It can work pretty well. I had a fairly long conversation at Amsterdam airport last week using my phone and WiFi calling using the airport's free WiFi. My phone warned me the signal was weak and that the call might drop, but it never did. Another thing with any sort of WiFI calling: if you tend to pace (I do) when you talk on the phone, you need to NOT do that lest you move out of range of the WiFi signal and drop the call. If you find a spot with good WiFi reception, stay there while you talk!

Posted by
112 posts

Thanks for the info Andrew. We do not actually use Simple Choice in the US, but rather Simple Prepaid right now. I'm planning to switch to Simple Choice when we go on vacation in August.

You mentioned that Simple Choice has a Wifi feature. Is that on a TMobil app? How do you actually access it? I don't think the Nexus 5 we have automatically switches to Wifi if the cellular coverage is not available.

Posted by
4686 posts

WiFi calling is built into the phone's operating system, I believe, not an app (newer versions of Android support it; some iPhones with newer IOS support it also). My cheapo Android phone has it. It's not automatic by any means - there's an explicit switch to enable "WiFI Calling" in my phone's settings, and then whenever I make a call it explicitly tells me it's using WiFi to make the call. (The icon of the call button changes to a "WiFi Calling icon.")

Posted by
112 posts

Now I see it on my phone. But I guess in order to test it I'll need no celllar reception and a good Wifi signal -- not so easy to get a bad cellular signal here (thankfully).

Thanks.

Posted by
30957 posts

Les,

"but the cellular reception could be bad in a particular location."

You'll probably find that the cellular reception in Europe is better than at home. I haven't found anywhere yet that I didn't have a good signal.

For Wi-Fi calling, you could also have a look at Viber.

Posted by
4686 posts

Les, it's the other way around: when you enable WiFi calling, the phone uses WiFi by default to make calls. If no WiFi is available (or no strong signal), then it will fall back to cellular reception, if available. The main reason (for the phone user) to use WiFi calling isn't necessarily for no cell reception but for poor cell reception. I have spotty T-Mobile coverage at home (usually OK, depends where in the house) and sometimes enable WiFi calling because I know I have strong WiFI at home.

So you can test WiFi calling right now: just enable WiFI, turn on WiFi calling...wait a minute or two (it can take some time for the phone to figure out it is able to make good-quality WiFi calls), then try it out. You'll see that WiFi calls show different icons and notifications. WiFI calling is free on post-paid Simple Choice plans but perhaps not with pre-paid if that's what you have right now.

Posted by
112 posts

Thanks for the info from everyone. After getting frustrated with our Nexus 5 in trying to make a Wifi call, I did a search. It appears that the Nexus 5 does not support Wifi calling as a backup to the standard calling, at least for TMobil Simple Prepaid. Maybe it's different for Simple Choice which we will activate in August for our trip.

Anyway the Google Hangups Dialer app does work so that will be my default if Wifi is needed. Works on an Android tablet (Nexus 7 in our case) too.

Posted by
4686 posts

It doesn't surprise me that WiFi calling isn't supported for a prepaid plan. Try it again once you switch to the regular Simple Choice plan. It will be easier probably than using Hangouts, because it is tied to your regular phone number.