What is VoLTE?

Alex Kidman 9 May 2017 NEWS

woman_phone_desk_shutterstock_738

VoLTE can change your call quality, but which networks and devices support this 4G calling technology?

You probably don’t think all that much about how your phone makes voice calls in Australia unless you end up with poor quality or no reception at all. If you’re using a newer handset, you may have noticed that the section at the top of your phone that denotes network connectivity has changed from 3G or 4G to VoLTE.

What is VoLTE?

VoLTE sounds like something that Dr Frankenstein would use to revive the dead, but it’s actually an acronym for Voice over Long Term Evolution. Of course, this doesn’t actually tell you much about how it works or what it is.

Being on a VoLTE network means that both your data and your calls will use the 4G network. Previously, if you were using a 4G device and you made a phone call, your phone’s radio would switch over to the 3G network to actually handle the call. The infrastructure behind the call only supported voice over 3G networks and frequencies, so this was a necessary step to ensure your call got through.

Which networks support VoLTE?

All three of Australia’s carrier networks support VoLTE. Telstra was the first carrier to launch VoLTE for consumers on its network, with Vodafone and then Optus enabling the service on their networks in late 2015 and mid-2016 respectively.
VoLTE_symbol_738

What are the benefits of VoLTE?

For the carriers, VoLTE enables more efficient use of their networks because they don’t have to do as much switching between network frequencies to manage a user's call expectations. That should provide a very small beneficial effect to end users because a more efficient network can handle more strain at busy times, although you’d have a pretty hard time spotting the difference without some very delicate measuring equipment and lots of time.

Not having to switch networks to make VoLTE calls should enable calls to route slightly faster through the network than they do with standard 3G voice calls. You also don't have to rapidly swap between reception antennas, which may have a positive effect on your overall battery life, although this is likely to be slight.

The largest observable effect you will experience with the use of VoLTE is that any background data tasks that need to happen on your phone will still tick along at a more rapid rate while you’re on a call. This is because you don't have to switch away from the faster 4G network,

On a non-VoLTE call, you’ll dip to 3G for voice as well as data, which means your phone’s Internet connection will slow down for the duration of the call. If you’re multi-tasking during a call, for example, checking details online while using the phone in speakerphone mode, this could be noticeable, but if you’re holding your phone up to your ear and only making or taking a call, you may never notice.

What are the drawbacks of VoLTE?

The practical reality for VoLTE calling is that, aside from the icon on your phone indicating you’re using a VoLTE-enabled network, you shouldn’t experience too many drawbacks.

Right now, in order for a call to be carried as VoLTE, you need both handsets operating within VoLTE-enabled areas of the network you’re both on. If one side is on a non-VoLTE handset or network, you’ll simply drop down to 3G for the call anyway. You may notice a slight speed difference in call resolution if that happens because VoLTE can be faster in this aspect, but as there are other factors that can affect call resolution, a slower resolving call may not relate to VoLTE availability anyway.

It’s also worth noting that VoLTE may not be entirely supported for 000 emergency calls. Optus notes that on its network, with some handsets and in some coverage areas, you may drop to 3G to enable your call to get through. Obviously, if you need to call 000 in the first place, which network it uses is nowhere near as important as to whether it gets through.

Which handsets support VoLTE?

Not every 4G handset is VoLTE enabled, and even then it’s a matter of individual networks enabling the feature for specific handsets. This isn’t an exhaustive list of every handset, but it does represent the available information on carrier VoLTE availability across multiple devices and networks. You may find that future firmware upgrades may give you access to VoLTE across existing devices.

VoLTE SupportTelstraVodafoneOptus
Apple iPhone 6YesYesYes
Apple iPhone 6 PlusYesYesYes
Apple iPhone 6sYesYesYes
Apple iPhone 6s PlusYesYesYes
Apple iPhone 7YesYesYes
Apple iPhone 7 PlusYesYesYes
Apple iPhone SEYesYesYes
Google PixelYesNoNo
Google Pixel XLYesNoNo
HTC 10YesYesYes
LG G5YesNoYes
LG G6YesNoNo
Motorola Moto G5NoYesNo
Motorola Moto G5 PlusNoYesNo
Samsung Galaxy A5YesNoYes
Samsung Galaxy A7YesNoNo
Samsung Galaxy J1YesNoNo
Samsung Galaxy J3YesNoNo
Samsung Galaxy J5YesNoNo
Samsung Galaxy J7YesNoNo
Samsung Galaxy J7 PrimeYesNoNo
Samsung Galaxy Note 4NoYesNo
Samsung Galaxy Note EdgeNoYesNo
Samsung Galaxy S6YesYesNo
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge PlusYesYesYes
Samsung Galaxy S7YesYesYes
Samsung Galaxy S7 EdgeYesYesYes
Samsung Galaxy S8YesNoYes
Samsung Galaxy S8 PlusYesNoYes
Samsung Note 5YesYesYes
Sony Xperia XNoYesNo
Sony Xperia X PerformanceYesNoNo
Sony Xperia XZYesNoNo
Sony Xperia Z5YesYesNo
Sony Xperia Z5 CompactYesNoNo
Telstra Signature EnhancedYesNoNo
Telstra Signature PremiumYesNoNo

Compare these VoLTE handset plans for next-gen calling


Follow us for all the latest mobile phone news and deals


Latest mobile plan news


Image: Shutterstock

Latest mobile plan deals on finder

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.
Ask a question
Go to site