When Verizon sneakily released VoLTE shortly after the iPhone 6 was launched, I almost had a heart attack out of excitement. This has been my number one feature request since I got an iPhone 4 on Verizon in 2011.
If you don't know, VoLTE enables the iPhone to do simultaneous voice and data over LTE and enables higher quality sound due to better audio encoding. Roll your eyes, GSM iPhone users, I know you've had it for years. Let me get excited. I will have you know that I get full LTE speed (instead of measly "4G" like you, so ha!
I rely on my iPhone for 100% of my business. If you don't know, I am an Apple consultant for Appinstructor in Birmingham, AL, where I do full-time in-home training and support. My normal day consists of heavy navigation (to get to the homes I service), phone calls (which normally occur in-between appointments and while navigating), answering emails in the few minutes of down time I have between appointments, and taking payments after appointments using Square. On top of that, I also use my iPhone to look up solutions to technical problems, find new apps, and keep track of tasks.
I literally run my entire business on my iPhone.
I am truly and completely iPhone dependent with my business, and if I think about it, I am completely Internet dependent as well. New appointments show up on my Google Calendar through my YouCanBookMe public facing schedule on my website.
On Verizon without VoLTE, my access to the Internet is obliterated every time I answer a phone call. As you can guess, this has the possibility to destroy my productivity. I can't book new appointments. I can't see new appointments. My current navigation can't re-route if I miss a turn during a call (which has almost been catastrophic).
I figured I would be a good test candidate for trying out VoLTE from someone who stands to benefit the most from it. Here is my take.
Amazing Audio Quality
Audio quality on a normal call is a touch better, even when talking to someone that does not have VoLTE enabled.
Audio quality when talking to someone with VoLTE (right now, only other Verizon customers) is OMG better, with audio quality comparable to FaceTime Audio. It simply sounds like you're in the room with the person on the other end of the line.
Insane Data Speeds While Talking
During my limited testing in Birmingham, AL, LTE speeds during a call were about 90-95% of what they were while not on a call.
The way I tested this was to run a speed test and record the results, then call a number and run the same speed test in the same location.
I haven't tested everywhere in Birmingham, AL where I live, but I have gotten speeds up to 60-70Mbps while also on a phone call and driving 55mph, which is incredible in my book.
Lots More Dropped Calls
One downside to VoLTE is that it has opened up a whole new world of black spots of coverage and dropped calls.
Since enabling VoLTE for the last month, I've dropped more calls than the entire other time I have been a Verizon customer — 10 years. It's a little disconcerting.
I believe it's because VoLTE calls require higher throughout due to the higher quality encoding, and because the calls do not drop down to 1x as a fallback. It requires 2 bars or higher of LTE, in my anecdotal experience, to maintain a VoLTE call. Even when I'm static, having one 1 bar of LTE isn't enough to maintain a good connection in some places.
I'm a little surprised they didn't build in backwards compatibility, or at least have a call use 1x instead of LTE when it notices there is low signal. It seems to be all or nothing — if you have LTE, it uses VoLTE. If not, it doesn't.
Is It Worth the Extra Dropped Calls? Yes.
VoLTE is by far the most transformational technology to hit Verizon iPhone customers since the iPhone came out in 2011. It has completely changed the way I work in every way. People on other networks are used to dropped calls, so it doesn't shock or surprise anyone when I have to call them back because my call dropped.
The fact that it took Verizon and Apple this long to figure this out is a little annoying, but I'll get over it.
During a call, I now can simultaneously book appointments, enter new destinations for navigation, take payments (hasn't happened yet, but I imagine it could), search my email inbox history, Google solutions, and check my calendar for new appointments. It has completely changed the way I do business, and has resulted in a huge boost to the quality of the phone support and responsiveness, because I am not afraid to take a phone call anymore because it no longer cuts off the lifeline of my business.
Well, now that I think about it, I could have just switched to AT&T if I wanted all of these benefits ;) But that's not the point.