I live in the U.S. and use a Samsung S9 that I purchased with the /e/ OS pre-loaded, since I have very little tech knowledge. At the time of purchase, I didn’t think I would ever need Voice Over Internet capability. But I recently traveled to see loved ones and was unable to use my phone for calling because my network (T-Mobile) has no signal strength at that location, and VOI wouldn’t work.
My question: what prevents it from working? The phone itself (hardware)? The OS? Is there a way to enable it? Some other workaround? I ended up texting some people who I needed to contact, but even that was troublesome, with some texts needing multiple tries, clearing recent apps, and even restarting my phone to finally send. Sometimes even these measures failed to work initially, and I had to keep re-sending until finally it would go, for no discernible reason.
Thanks for your help in understanding this phenomenon. /e/ users are amazingly helpful and kind.
Thanks for the clarification. So, the problem is basically this:
T-mobile has been shutting down its 3G network to make room for 5G, leaving 4G and any remaining 2G capacity to handle voice calls. Very soon its 3G will be all deactivated.
VoLTE uses 4G LTE to connect phone calls over the data connection, rather than over 3G (cellular connection). The benefit is ultra-clear voice calls.
A phone without VoLTE capability on T-mobile will require 3G or 2G to connect calls. As 3G is on the way out, that leaves 2G as the only remaining option on T-mobile. Even though a phone has 4G LTE, it also needs to be capable (by manufacturer/carrier certification) of using VoLTE for calls.
This is why T-mobile has also started requiring a VoLTE-capable phone for any new activation (as of last year).
Samsung uses a special proprietary software for VoLTE implementation, which at present can’t be duplicated by /e/ or LineageOS, the custom Android version that /e/ is based on. Therefore the phone does not have VoLTE capability; hopefully they can find a solution soon.
It sounds like you have encountered a location where T-mobile doesn’t have much remaining 3G coverage, if any. This will always result in calls not connecting, and probably not even going to voice mail or giving you any indication that there was an incoming call at all. You may have had some intermittent connectivity if there was some semblance of a 2G (or sporadic 3G) connection, which is probably why you eventually got the texts to send.
As workarounds, I can think of only three:
Change network to AT&T (or a cheaper AT&T reseller). Their 3G network isn’t shutting down until next year, so that buys some time.
Change phones. If you still want an /e/-based device, you’ll have to find a phone that is both equipped with VoLTE and on which /e/ is capable of being installed (excluding Samsungs, of course). You’ll have to most likely do it yourself, or get someone to do it.
Edit: I believe /e/ is selling Teracube phones for the U.S. now, and they do have VoLTE enabled.
Wait for /e/ to say if they can fix it (as long as you have mostly good 2G/3G coverage where you are most of the time, but keep in mind the network is evolving/devolving).
@Taurus Do you know of an app that works in place of the phone’s native ability to place and receive voice calls? One that allows me to use my phone number, doesn’t require every person I call to have the same app, and doesn’t invade my privacy? Not that I’m asking for much…
I am using magicApp by magicJack but it does not use the native dialer and has a separate number. It makes VoIP calls over your phone’s data connection (works very well). You can call anyone, they don’t have to be using the magicApp.
Info can be found at the link @Taurus posted. Please read whole thread. This post has the links👇
Looks like you can. I didn’t do this, I took a native number as /e/ should have VoLTE up in 2021. I paid the $40/yr for the hardware (got at WalMart) activated everything and sync’d the app up. It works well.
“How do you feel about switching to an AT&T provider for the time being?”
I’ll have to look into the plans and see how viable an option it is, since I have a great deal right now with T-mobile. Of course, if my “phone” suddenly loses the ability to perform the main task of a phone, my willingness to switch will dramatically increase.
In reading through the other thread I saw you use Red Pocket. I don’t have any experience with carriers other than the major ones. How do ones like Mint and Red Pocket compare to T-mobile, AT&T, or Verizon? Are they less or more expensive? Customer service better or worse? More reliable or less? How do you find and vet them?
I’m hoping you’re right, but why do you think this is true? I kind of got the impression that VoLTE is a hard nut to crack, and there’s not a lot of optimism about the prospects. Or is that just for Samsungs?
From my understanding it is mostly a Samsung thing. If you search XDA by phone model and look for the “Official” LineageOS releases then look under “What Works” and “What Doesn’t Work” it should tell you per specific model.
It is a tough nut to crack (otherwise LineageOS devs would have done it) but if you look on /e/'s hiring page they are specifically hiring VoLTE engineers so hopefully the 2021 timetable fits.
Here is an example regarding XDA searches from the previously menioned thread👇
I’ve needed VoWiFi when in a steel building or a basement where LTE can’t reach very well. The magicApp can use WiFi and move the voice/SMS data packets over WiFi eliminating this issue. The ideal solution is to use a phone with VoLTE/WiFi support.
Edit: I think you (@HellsBells) were referring to the Teracube 2e, correct? My bad. Yes, it shows it doesn’t support VoWiFi but that will only present an issue in areas where I don’t have a LTE signal which decreases the non-usability tremendously .