How to Make Calls and Texts From Your Smartphone Without Cell Service

In a world where we’re almost always connected, it’s hard to imagine not having cell service. Yet, there are moments when we find ourselves in a signal dead zone or facing hefty roaming charges during international travel. What if you could still make calls and send texts? Believe it or not, your smartphone is more powerful than you think, and with a bit of knowledge, you can stay connected even without a cell tower in sight.

how to make calls and texts from your smartphone without cell service

Wi-Fi Calling

Wi-Fi calling is a service provided by many mobile carriers that allows you to use a Wi-Fi network to make and receive calls, as well as send texts, just as if you were on the cellular network. This feature is a game-changer for individuals who often find themselves with poor or no cell reception.

  • Step 1: Check if your carrier supports Wi-Fi calling. Not all carriers offer this service, so it’s important to verify with your provider first.
  • Step 2: Connect to a stable Wi-Fi network. Ensure the Wi-Fi signal is strong for the best call quality.
  • Step 3: Enable Wi-Fi calling on your smartphone. This can typically be found in the ‘Phone’ or ‘Connections’ settings.
  • Step 4: If prompted, confirm your emergency address. This ensures that emergency services can reach you when you make a 911 call over Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi calling is convenient, and it’s usually included at no additional charge in most phone plans. The downside is that the call quality can suffer if the Wi-Fi signal is weak or if many devices are using the same network.

Internet-Based Messaging Apps

Apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Skype allow you to make voice or video calls and send messages using an internet connection.

  • Step 1: Download and install the messaging app of your choice from your smartphone’s app store.
  • Step 2: Set up your account, usually with your phone number or email address.
  • Step 3: Add contacts either manually or by allowing the app to access your phone’s contacts.
  • Step 4: Ensure you’re connected to Wi-Fi or mobile data and begin calling or messaging.

These apps are free and work internationally, but they do require an internet connection, which can mean data charges if you’re not connected to Wi-Fi.

Voice over IP (VoIP) Services

VoIP services like Google Voice and Viber provide phone numbers that work over the internet to make calls and send texts.

  • Step 1: Choose a VoIP provider and sign up for an account.
  • Step 2: Download the provider’s app onto your smartphone.
  • Step 3: Set up your new phone number (if applicable) following the instructions provided.
  • Step 4: Connect to a Wi-Fi or data network to start making calls and sending texts.

While VoIP services offer a lot of flexibility and can often be cost-effective, they do rely on your internet connection’s quality for call clarity.

Text-Free and Call-Free Services

There are specific apps designed to provide call and text services without a carrier plan, such as TextNow and Textfree.

  • Step 1: Download the app of your choice from the app store.
  • Step 2: Create an account and select a free phone number provided by the app.
  • Step 3: Connect to Wi-Fi and start texting or calling using the app.

These apps often include ads to support their free service, and some features might require in-app purchases.

Emergency Calls

Even without cell service or a SIM card, you’re typically able to make emergency calls.

  • Step 1: Unlock your phone.
  • Step 2: Dial the emergency number specific to your location (for example, 911 in the US).
  • Step 3: Press the call button.

This functionality is mandated by law in many places, but it should only be used in actual emergencies.

Offline Messaging Apps

Some apps, like Bridgefy or FireChat, allow you to send messages without a cellular or internet connection by using Bluetooth or local Wi-Fi networks.

  • Step 1: Download and install the offline messaging app.
  • Step 2: Activate Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi on your smartphone.
  • Step 3: Use the app to text nearby friends who are also using the app.

This method is useful in large gatherings or when you lack both cell and internet services, but it is limited by a short communication range.


Email is another way to send messages from your smartphone, which, like texting, can work over a Wi-Fi connection.

  • Step 1: Set up an email account if you don’t already have one.
  • Step 2: Connect to Wi-Fi.
  • Step 3: Use your smartphone’s email app to compose and send your message.

Email is a free method that’s accessible anywhere with an internet connection, but it’s not typically used for instant communication.

Satellite Phones

While not strictly a solution involving your smartphone, satellite phones are an option for making calls in out-of-service areas.

  • Step 1: Purchase or rent a satellite phone, which can be expensive.
  • Step 2: Power on the device and ensure a clear line of sight to the sky.
  • Step 3: Dial a number as you would with a regular phone.

Satellite phones are reliable in remote areas but might be cost-prohibitive for many users.

The methods above allow you to communicate even in challenging situations. The pros include staying reachable and avoiding roaming charges, but the cons can involve the need for an internet connection, reduced privacy in some apps, or potential costs associated with VoIP services and satellite phones.

Cell phones have revolutionized the way we communicate, yet there are still moments when traditional cell service isn’t an option. From utilizing Wi-Fi calling and messaging apps to considering alternative devices like satellite phones, you have a plethora of choices. Each option comes with its unique set of advantages and limitations. By understanding these, you can effectively maintain communication regardless of your circumstances.


Navigating a world without cell service requires flexibility and resourcefulness. With a plethora of modern technologies at your fingertips, there’s no reason to miss an important message or be unable to call for help when you need it. Whether through Wi-Fi-based options, apps that bypass traditional cellular networks, or even satellite communications, staying connected has never been more varied or accessible.


  1. Do I need any special equipment to use Wi-Fi calling?
    No, you don’t need special equipment; most modern smartphones are equipped to handle Wi-Fi calling, but you should check compatibility with your device and carrier.

  2. Can I make international calls with these methods?
    Yes, many of the methods mentioned, like Wi-Fi calling and messaging apps, offer ways to make international calls, often at no extra cost.

  3. Will emergency services be able to locate me if I call over Wi-Fi?
    When setting up Wi-Fi calling, you’re often asked to provide a current address for emergency services, which helps in locating you, but it may not be as accurate as a call made over cellular service.

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