iOS 11.3 nasty surprise: T-Mobile prioritizes cellular over WiFi calling

Are you an iOS user on T-Mobile’s network? Have you observed the WiFi-calling icon is missing from the status bar (on top of your device’s screen) after upgrading to iOS 11.3? Well if so, we’d like to tell you that this ain’t any bug, rather it seems to be a new feature.

Right after the iOS 11.3 update got rolling last week, T-Mobile customers started highlighting (1,2,3,4,5) the concern on almost all online iOS help forums, saying the Wifi Calling option doesn’t appear unless the cellular signal strength drops.

A quick look at the following user comments and tweets will give you more clarity on the matter:

Yeah, the new Carrier Update brings Wi-Fi Calling Cellular preferred on the iPhones now. Just like how it works on Verizon and AT&T where it will only activate when signal strength is very low.

Yep, this is a new “feature” apparently. You need to put the iPhone in airplane mode, turn on Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Calling, and you will see the “T-Mobile Wi-Fi” symbol pop up on the upper left hand corner of the iPhone screen after a few seconds.

I believe iOS 11.3 now prioritizes cellular calls. So Wi-Fi Calling will activate only when cell signal is low. As a test, you could put your phone into Airplane Mode and then enable Wi-Fi, and the Wi-Fi Calling icon should then display.

https://twitter.com/Umbrellas_Milk/status/980998805813252096
https://twitter.com/UNREALJUST/status/980646488018767872
https://twitter.com/TheJasonKane/status/979958548279934976

The confirmation for the same also came from someone who claims to be working for T-Mobile. They not only acknowledged the aforementioned behavior, but also highlighted other WiFi calling-related changes introduced by the iOS 11.3 update.

iOS 11.3 changed some stuff with T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi calling

  • It now turns Wi-Fi calling by default
  • It prioritizes LTE over Wi-Fi calling if the reception is great
  • For international travel, it now prioritizes Wi-Fi calling over cellular
  • Some stuff I forgot from reading the support release

Source: I work for T-Mobile

In look out for more information, we stumbled upon an older thread on Reddit, where an iOS 11.3 Beta user (operating on T-Mobile network) shared a video (last month) clearly showcasing the change in behavior (observable 00:39 second on wards) – as soon as the phone looses cellular signal, the device switches to WiFi calling.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eI7vCwgvuVQ&feature=youtu.be

So it’s safe to say that enabling/disabling of WiFi calling for T-Mobile iOS devices is now done automatically based on cellular signal strength.

It’s also worth mentioning that some users mentioned this ‘cellular preference over WiFi calling’ behavior is new only to T-Mobile, as Verizon and AT&T already handle WiFi calling in similar way.

So all in all, this is an intentional change which hasn’t gone down well with T-Mobile users, evident from the fact that a lot of people are seemingly unhappy with it. What’s your take on this changed behavior? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Dr. Aparajita Sharma

A budding entrepreneur by profession, and a psychologist by education. As a founding member of PiunikaWeb, I am nurturing this firstborn with my sharp-eyed expertise and even journalistic writing when needed.