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Samsung Galaxy S5 Wi-Fi Calling Can't Send / Receive Hangouts MMS Messages

By: Unknown | Monday, July 14, 2014


T-Mobile were the very first provider to offer Wi-Fi Calling on their smartphones way back 2007. But the technology then wasn't as refined as the technology now. Thus, a few hiccups here and there were acceptable but it's a different story today.

I received 3 emails from T-Mobile Galaxy S5 owners relating to the same problem; they couldn't send or receive MMS messages (text messages with pictures or other multimedia files attached) using the carrier's Wi-Fi Calling feature via Hangouts app. Another TMo subscriber complained of a related issue but this time he specified he was using a third-party app.

Honestly, at first, I didn't bother to look into it knowing the phone must be connected to the cellular network to be able to send and receive MMS. But I was alarmed by the number of people who told me the same problem. So, I did a little research on my own and found out that the term "Wi-Fi Calling" is a misnomer since it implies only calls could get through it.

Once you set  your phone to use Wi-Fi calling, you can, of course, make calls through any Wi-Fi hotspots your phone is connected to and can also send text and MMS messages. That's where the problem comes in because the service is being advertised as such.

Now, here are some of the emails I've received related to this problem…

Hello Harold! It's a good service you're offering here on your blog and on TheDroidGuy.com...I'm one of your avid followers. By the way, I have a slight problem with my new Galaxy S5. I hope you can help me with it. Firstly, I am a T-Mobile customer and I seldom turn on mobile data on my phone… you know the reason why. The problem is, I cannot send MMS messages with pictures via Hangouts when Wi-Fi Calling is enabled. This shouldn't be the case because with Wi-Fi Calling turned on, I should be able to make calls and receive messages just fine but apparently that's not the case with my phone. I tried sending MMS using the Messages app and it went through. So, I think the problem is with Hangouts. Do you have any idea how to fix this? Thanks. -- Jo
Hey man, nice blog you have here. I have a simple problem, man. I hope you're familiar with it. I have an S5 from TMo and I enabled Wi-Fi calling since I have a really good connection at home. But the phone won't let me send picture messages while using Hangouts. On the stock messaging app, sometimes messages won't go through as well. Is this a network problem. Can it be fixed? -- Stanley
Hello Harold. I got your email from thedroidguy.com. I just want to email you through your personal email since you haven't covered Galaxy S5 on TDG yet. I am not sure if you are familiar with Wi-Fi Calling but I use that service from T-Mobile. I can make and receive calls just fine; it's the sending of MMS that won't go through. I think it's not a network issue since I can make calls just fine. I open to your suggestions on how to fix this problem. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance. -- Joy

Hi Droidista. I just have a question for you, bro. Why can't I send MMS messages using Textra via Wi-Fi Calling on T-Mobile? Is the feature disabled on my phone or do I have to do something  to make it happen? I need your enlightenment on this. Thanks. -- Gerald

Wi-Fi Calling actually has a lot of benefits and one of them is that you don't need to be connected to any mobile data network to be able to send and receive MMS Messages. As long as you are connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot, you are good to go. Additionally, when you set your phone to 'Wi-Fi Preferred' you will notice there is a boost in battery life. It is because cellular network is automatically disabled if the phone is connected to a WiFi network.

The problem happens only when the owner is using a third-party messaging app like Hangouts (it's from Google but it's still considered a third-party) and Textra. I'm also sure that other messaging apps from the Play Store would have the same problem. Why?

T-Mobile's Wi-Fi calling service is proprietary and therefore, third-party developers don't have access to data or information needed to properly reroute MMS to use Wi-Fi calling when it's enabled. Only applications digitally approved or signed by T-Mobile could be able to take advantage of the feature and it's because of GBA (Generic Bootstrapping Architecture) authentication. For more information about GBA, visit this link to Wikipedia article.

In other words, unless T-Mobile will open its Wi-Fi Calling to third-party developers, then the problem will remain. Apparently, there's nothing we could do about it but to file complaints hoping both Google and T-Mobile could hear us. The obvious workarounds would be to use the stock messaging app or turn off Wi-Fi Calling when sending MMS.

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