FaceTime Audio is one of those features on the iPhone that many people overlook. This is a shame since it’s a great alternative to cellular phone calls, often has better sound and doesn’t use nearly as much data as people think it does.
And yet many people just don’t bother with FaceTime Audio. It’s almost as if the feature doesn’t exist on their iPhones. It’s probably used significantly less than even FaceTime video calls, and that’s a real shame.
How much data does FaceTime Audio use?
One of the biggest myths about FaceTime Audio is that it uses large amounts of data for calls, but that’s not necessarily true.
The iPhone FAQ notes that five minutes of FaceTime Audio calling uses up about 3MB of data:
The amount of data used by a FaceTime audio call varies, but it is significantly less that the amount of data used for a video call.
Five minutes of FaceTime audio calling uses up to 3 MB of data.
So unless you have a very small data plan, you should be able to use FaceTime Audio regularly without eating up too much of your data allotment.
Even FaceTime video calls don’t use as much data as people think. Mac Kung Fu posted some results about which video chats use the least amount of data and the results might surprise you:
There’s a handful of ways of video chatting/conferencing with people, including Skype, Facebook Messenger, and Apple’s own FaceTime. Which uses the least bandwidth? Well, at the risk of sounding like those crummy clickbait blogs, the answer will surprise you!
— FaceTime: 7.5MB
— Facebook Messenger: 32MB
— Skype: 46MB
…FaceTime wins the video chat race in virtually every way — the picture quality is better, it’s more convenient to use on Macs and iOS devices and — this one’s a biggie — it actually works consistently and properly.
And remember that that’s actually FaceTime Video that Mac Kung Fu is talking about. FaceTime Audio uses significantly less data since it doesn’t transmit video.
How to check your FaceTime Audio data usage for a call
After you've made a FaceTime Audio call, you can always check to see how much data you used by doing the following:
1. Open the Phone app.
2. Tap on Recents.
3. Tap on the blue "i" next to the time of your call.
4. You will see the length of your FaceTime Audio call and the amount of data you used while making the call.
FaceTime Audio calls sound better than regular phone calls
One of the things I’ve noticed while using FaceTime Audio is that my calls usually sound a lot better than a regular phone call. At first I thought that this might be a fluke, but the more I used FaceTime Audio the more I noticed how consistent the quality of the calls were on my iPhone 6s Plus.
It’s gotten to the point where I actually hate making regular phone calls to people using Android phones or other calls that can’t be made with FaceTime Audio. Think I’m kidding? Go ahead and try using FaceTime Audio instead of making a traditional phone call, and then go back to the regular phone call.
My guess is that you’ll notice a big difference in the quality of the sound when using FaceTime Audio.
Why don’t more people use FaceTime Audio?
The topic of FaceTime Audio came up in a recent Reddit thread, and the folks there had some interesting comments that I’ll leave you with as I end this post:
DuckTruckMuck: “Why is it nobody uses FaceTime Audio? And how can we get the word out without sounding condescending/elitist?
Creatures of habit? A stigma about FaceTime? Overlooking the option? Every iPhone to iPhone call I make is over FTA because of how clear it is.
My boss always calls me over cellular and I never have signal in the office. It’s not just him though. I can’t seem to get anyone to understand the advantages of voice over data.
Instead I just take my phone calls outside.”
Weedwhacking: “I love FT audio and almost exclusively use it, when i know the other party has an iPhone. The quality is outstanding. I wish it was like iMessage and automatically preferred it if you both have iPhones, and approved the feature.”
Codemonkey85: “For what it’s worth, I did some testing with FaceTime Audio, and even FaceTime Video, over the cell network - and neither seemed to use all that much data. But if it were your exclusive way of calling and you made a lot of calls, I could see that being an issue.”
OnyaScooter: “It’s awesome. I use it quite a lot myself. For quality and privacy.”
Kickstand: “I wish the system were more flexible. If I receive a call over Facetime, I wish I could force it to Facetime audio, for example.”
Codemonkey85: “For that matter, it should be easier to switch between audio-only and video while you’re in a call. Simply turning off the camera doesn’t really count either!”
Benwillard: “The audio quality is so superior even over cellular, I don’t understand why more don’t use it.”
Vertiasxe: “I use it almost exclusively for long distance calls. It’s much clearer and louder than a regular phone call too.”
Bangonthedrums: “iMessage is used almost exclusively because it’s seamlessly tied in to the messages app. Green or blue, they are all one app and you don’t need to do anything different.
FT Audio needs to be tied in to the phone app in the same way. If you are calling another iPhone and they have FT enabled, it automatically routes it that way. If not, then it conducts a regular call. Until this happens, it won’t get major, widespread usage because it’s another step.”
Rerun11: “If you’re looking for why more people don’t use it, look no further than that it’s not the default option. Even though FaceTime Audio is superior in many ways to a traditional voice call it can’t claim default status like iMessage, Apple Maps (which is a pretty meh product but has a ton of use just because it has the fewest barriers to entry), etc.”
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