From what I've read so far, it seems like VIDEO FaceTime will be free for both parties, other than:

  • If the party is using WiFi, whatever they have to pay their ISP for internet access. This is usually a flat rate, though some people have data caps.
  • If the party is using cellular service (e.g. 4G), whatever they have to pay their carrier for internet access. This may be "unlimited" or charged per GB.

If you change to audio-only then it may become a regular phone call for both parties, which will typically be free within the same country but extremely expensive between two different countries.

Is the above correct? I want to FaceTime my friend in China but I was worried about paying a huge rate. However if the above is correct then we should be OK as long as we are using video. See The Telegraph's Why did my FaceTime calls to Switzerland cost £144? suggests downgrading to audio can hurt, but I am not sure if the article is accurate.

  • If you want to edit in your research, that might help - I’ll edit George’s George’s answer in hopes of making it general enough for whatever research you may have done but not linked above.
    – bmike
    Sep 2, 2017 at 19:02
  • Yeah, the reason I didn't include the other articles in my question is that they seemed out of date and/or wrong. Ironically even the one I linked to was wrong.
    – Stephen
    Sep 2, 2017 at 20:13
  • It depends on the definition of free. You may not be asked to directly pay money to use it, but it doesn't mean it's completely free — there are some hidden costs, which may or may not matter for you. Sep 3, 2017 at 7:05
  • Can't forget, you also gotta pay for the cost of the electricity the phone is using, and you also have to factor in the depreciation of your phone as an expense.
    – Alexander
    Sep 3, 2017 at 15:00
  • @Alexander lol can't forget
    – Stephen
    Sep 3, 2017 at 19:51

1 Answer 1


Both FaceTime and FaceTime Audio are data and never go through the phone network as a regular phone call. You will be charged in the same way as using the internet for other purposes on your phone, over Wi-Fi or mobile data depending on your scenario.

FaceTime Audio calls don't ‘become’ regular calls. I'm almost certain the case from the linked article must be describing user error, calling someone not through FaceTime Audio but a normal phone call, and the user mistook the buttons they were pressing on their phone.

Besides any network fees, Apple does not charge a toll or fee to make or receive any calls. The license to the software and iCloud infrastructure is included with the cost of the Apple hardware.

There are certain countries that prohibit FaceTime services such as Saudi Arabia and UAE so you would not be able to make FaceTime or FaceTime Audio calls to these locations, but this would not cause a switch to normal calls. Net neutrality is evolving in several countries and there is no technical reason why FaceTime audio or video couldn’t be charged for above and beyond other forms of data.

  • I think the ban on FaceTime can be circumvented by using VPN, though it'd require having a VPN (and paying for it) in the first place. Sep 3, 2017 at 12:24
  • Welp so much for “Net Neutrality” (at least in the US) Jul 23, 2018 at 16:14
  • I just got off the phone with T-Mobile (in the US) after having been charged 50 USD for a few FaceTime calls with a UK iPhone number. The T-Mobile customer service explained that when the cellular data connection is unstable, FaceTime audio uses the regular phone connection and if the plan doesn't include international minutes then they will be billed extra. I first didn't want to believe, then protested that this is nowhere explained, but to no avail. Not sure if this is a T-Mobile thing or just how it works.
    – jan
    Oct 8, 2019 at 17:11
  • The T-Mobile person even explained I should use Skype if I wanted to be sure to only use data. I'm still incredulous but the 50 dollar bill is trying very hard to convince me otherwise ...
    – jan
    Oct 8, 2019 at 17:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .