Nearly every phone sold in the last few years has a 4G LTE radio, but when you place a call it's still falling back to traditional 3G technologies. The all-IP voice technology known as VoLTE (voice over LTE) is still in the early days, but AT&T is beginning its rollout this very month on May 23rd.

AT&T is referring to this feature "HD Voice," which is accurate, but a bit confusing. HD Voice can also refer to the non-LTE wideband calls deployed by both T-Mobile and Sprint. AT&T is the first to do HD voice with LTE, though. This standard will support simultaneous data and voice over the IP network, but both parties will need to be using a VoLTE-enabled phone and be in a supported service area. The Galaxy S4 Mini is the first supported device, but VoLTE will hit other phones later.

The initial test markets later this month will be in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. More locations will be added over time. You might not like voice calls any more, but at least they'll sound better soon.


Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play.

  • h4rr4r

    Please let this mean one day switching providers will just be switching a SIM. Since CDMA can now go die.

    • Tomasz Kuczynski

      Isn't Verizon and Sprint the only ones still using CDMA?

      • Christopher Mason

        "Only" Verizon & Sprint? There's 4 major carriers in the US. That's half of the 4 carriers still using CDMA.

        • Tomasz Kuczynski

          To be fair - 4G LTE actually runs on a SIM card. And yeah - I know it is half.

    • Adam Truelove

      It's already like that unless you're switching to or from a CDMA provider.

    • dcdttu

      This also means that, when Verizon implements it, you aren't bound to buy one of their devices. You can just get an LTE-only phone with VoIP and they're required to activate it due to the FCC rules for using 700mhz frequencies.

      Course, that's not what happened to the Nexus 7 LTE that was Verizon compatible, yet was delayed 6 months.

      • Mike Harris

        Are you sure about that? (I'm not asking to sound like a dick; I really don't know, but would like to find out.) I understand that the Nexus 7 was compatible, but that was a tablet that only needed data access. Even if VZW implemented this, wouldn't you still need a phone compatible with their network for other things, such as text messaging? I realize you could use Google Voice for texting, but I'm talking about using a phone natively, as if you got it from VZW.

        • h4rr4r

          If they follow the FCC rules it does. It was part of the 700mhz band auction.
          On the other hand, they are already violating this saying they need to test for compatibility, with tablets. You can get around that by getting the sim activated then swapping devices.

          • Mike Harris

            That would be great. I'm sick of reading about some of these great phones that I can't use because I'm stuck on VZW.

            I remember reading about the Nexus 7 debacle, but like I said - I thought it would be much more difficult with an actual phone.

        • dcdttu

          Technically a phone running on LTE only that was capable of VoLTE would be able to do voice, text and data on Verizon's LTE network. You wouldn't be able to fall back to CDMA at all, I would assume, but it should work.

  • Bob G


  • Mike Harris

    I'll be honest. I hate using the phone to make phone calls. I know I'm a little odd like that, but I will do everything in my power to communicate through text messages and emails before resorting to calling someone. But if I stop and think about it, one of the biggest reasons I avoid talking on the phone so much is that I almost always have a hard time understanding a few words/phrases/etc. in every phone call. I'm constantly asking people to repeat themselves. I will admit that landlines are slightly better, but I have never used a phone where the sound quality was as good as in that video.

    If I could have phone conversations that sounded that clear, I might actually enjoy talking on the phone.

  • Gus70

    Anyone know if the Nexus 5 supports VoLTE?

    • Aleksey_US

      I second this question I'm is Chicago and on AT&T will this feature be supported.

  • Matthew Fry

    Does anyone else pronounce this "volta" or am I just weird?

    The Galaxy S4 Mini? That's a strange choice... is it super popular on AT&T?

  • NemaCystX

    Does the Moto X support HD Voice?

    • NoNameAtAll11

      I too am curious.

  • LG Revolution

    I'm surprised they've beat Verizon to the punch. Anyone remember the LG Revolution? That was supposed to be the phone that started the VoLTE movement... about 3 years ago.

  • six2ten

    Meanwhile at Sprint. ....

  • Joe

    Nice gimmic but no one wants to trade-in their new phone to buy yet another New phone. Someone needs to tell AT&T to figure it out so we can all enjoy better or HD quality.