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Lbradford, iPhone visual voicemail is accessed via mobile data. Are you trying to access visual voicemail via mobile data and not wifi?
WARNING: This is a long REPLY, but it is detailed on the subject, so anyone can understand fully...
It is now February 13, 2018. Apple Visual Voicemail problems are an old issue for iPhones, but I have much more specific information to offer. I have an iPhone 7 from Xfinity Mobile. I am a programmer, IT Teacher, and scientist. I have done some extensive experiments on this topic:
1. MONEY SAVING STRATGEY: "Cellular Data" is the most expensive part of all mobile provider's service plans. One money-saving strategy that many people are talking about on the Internet is to minimize charges with Xfinity Mobile by signing up for their "By The Gig" plan, and then turning off "Cellular Data" on their personal mobile phone. This gives them free 0.1 GB of Cellular Data per month, and unlimited Talk and Text. In this strategy the mobile phone rarely uses "Cellular Data" (if the term Cellular Data confuses you, think of it as Internet data via Cell Towers). However, such a configured mobile phone can still theoretically use Internet type data for free by being connected to a WiFi signal, which type of data usage Xfinity Mobile does not charge for. For example I can report that turning off Cellular Data and being connected to our home's Xfinity WiFi, works fine on my wife's LG X Charge Android phone, also obtained from Xfinity Mobile, and allows its built-in Android visual voicemail notifications and speech to text transcriptions to work seamlessly. This is unfortunately not true for my iPhone 7 (probably not true for all iPhones).
The rest of this post is about my IPhone 7 experiments....
2. XFINTY MOBILE VOICEMAIL: First off, to receive voicemail at all you must set up voicemail at Xfinity Mobile. This is simply reached by clicking on the iPhone "Phone" app's icon (green with white phone), obtaining the phone keypad (if it isn't visible, click the keypad icon at the bottom), and then pressing and holding down key 1 until an automatic dialing of Xfinity Voicemail occurs. You MUST set up a Greeting here (i.e. do not use the Visual Voicemail's "Greeting" hyperlink). If you use the Visual Voicemail Greeting option, callers can get an error message that "the user's mailbox is not yet set up". Creating a Greeting using Xfinity Mobile voicemail apparently activates your voicemail box. I also had to create a 6-digit voicemail Passcode. If you do nothing else, you can always listen to your voicemail using this Xfinity Mobile system directly. The next trick is to activate Apple's Visual Voicemail "notifications", telling you that Xfinity Mobile has a phone message for you.
3. VISUAL VOICEMAIL DESCRIBED: In case you are not aware, Visual Voicemail is Apple's system to PUSH notifications of phone messages onto whatever iPhone screen you happen to be looking at. Clicking on that notification takes you to a sub-sceen where you can PLAY the message automatically without dialing into the Xfinity Mobile voicemail system.
[SPEECH TO TEXT TRANSCRIPTION NOTE: Despite the fact you can sometimes see a little message in your Visual Voicemail saying "Transcibing message...", as best I can tell, as of my iPhone 7 iOS update (11.2.5), transcription of voicemail messages into a text version, as part of the visual voicemail notification, appears to be turned off by Apple with no way to turn it on. Some posts elsewhere say you must activate Siri, and make sure the language is English, but I have experimented with that, and it doesn't work. I have tried every Setting that might seem connected to transcribing, and so has my iPhone expert son. Nada. Given the number of Internet posted complaints about the poor quality of past version's of Visual Voicemail transcriptions, I can guess that Apple is working on it, and has it disabled temporarily. If you crave voicemail transcriptions, return your iPhone and get an Android, which works seamlessly, as I mentioned above.]
4. CELLULAR DATA BUTTON MUST BE "ON": If you can understand the meaning of the many other answers on the Visual Voicemail topic posted to this Forum, they are trying to tell you something that is correct. I will be more explicit. To receive Visual Voicemail, you MUST have your iPhone's /Settings/Cellular/CellularData button turned ON. But that's it. Then Visual Voicemail will just work. However, you may need to shutdown and repower your phone a few times, but it WILL eventually work. Test this by calling your iPhone from another phone, click "Decline" on your iPhone, and leave a voicemail.
5. QUICK TEST OF THE CELLULAR DATA BUTTON: It is easy to test how the /Settings/Cellular/CellularData button affects Visual Voicemail. Once you have Visual Voicemail working with the button turned ON, try turning it OFF. Then go into the Phone app. Notice it says "Visual Voicemail is currently unavailable". Now turn the /Settings/Cellular/CellularData button back ON. Go back into the Phone app. It now just says "Voicemail", showing your old messages, or a bunch of blank rows for upcoming messages. It's that easy to test this CellularData button dependency.
6. IS IPHONE CRAPPY?: Now some folks, when they become aware of this CellularData button dependency, will say the iPhone is junk compared to Android. In this case, that may be partially true. As a programmer, I assume Apple's iOS kernel must have an old background dependency on Cellular Data for many of its apps to work properly. I can tell by turning off individual app's Cellular Data usage, and seeing that the iPhone uses Cellular Data for that app anyway (see below for more on this). This is a silly old dependency. You should be able to turn off Cellular Data and depend on WiFi Data to do the exact same functions. This is only a difference of using Cellular 4G LTE (5-50 MB/s), which in fact may be much slower than modern WiFi (typically 25-100 MB/s). In Xfinity's case that is in fact true. I did an Xfinity Internet Speed Test on my iPhone's Safari Browser, using only WiFI, and got 70 MB/s.
7. TECNICAL NOTE 1: When you turn off the master CellularData button, you can still turn off all the individual app's usage of CellularData at the bottom of that same iPhone screen. I have done that. It helps limit usage. But be aware it only LIMITS those app's usage of CellularData, not entirely eliminating it (see below). That means the CellularData-less strategy I wrote about in item #1 above is hopeless if you want Visual Voicemail to work. Note that if you turn OFF the master CellularData button, then the iPhone works just fine, and uses VERY little CellularData, but of course Visual Voicemail will not work. You can still get your voicemails via the keypad key-1 approach. Personally I hated this, so I have my CellularData button ON, and all my individual app's CellularData buttons OFF.
8. TECNICAL NOTE 2: With my CellularData button ON, and all my individual app's CellularData buttons OFF, I did some usage stats. First I cleared all my usage data by clicking /Settings/Cellular/ResetStatistics. Then I made a test phone call, as described in item #4 above. The usage for 1 call is as follows: Voicemail = 76 kB, PushNotifications = 11 kB, DNS Servers = 86 Bytes; Total = 88 kB. Thus 1 voicemail retrieval consumes 88kB of CellularData. You could therefore theoretically have 1000 voicemails before you consume your free 0.1 MB of Xfinity Mobile CellularData. However, with the CellularData button ON, plus all app's turned OFF, there is other CellularData consumption that occurs in very complicated patterns that I do not understand as yet. Only Apple does.
9. SUMMARY: Required use of CellularData like this seems really weird and antiquated and unnecessay and potentially expensive. I will continue with my iPhone CellularData ON plus all app's CellularData OFF configuration for a couple of months so I can understand overall app consumptions. I will report back here when I know the results.
Very helpful post, gcolello . I've been considering signing up for Xfinity Mobile, and perhaps getting my first iPhone during the February promo.
Your post reminded me that one thing I like about Android is the ability to choose a mobile data usage limit for the month, and have the phone stop using mobile data when it reaches that limit (although they caution that the device's estimate may not exactly match the carrier's). And you can alternatively (or in addition) choose a threshold at which the phone will warn you you of total mobile data usage thus far.
Does iOS have any similar functions? If not, do you know if there are apps that can accomplish some of the same functions?
Thank you for the detailed infromation. I think I will continue to keep cellular data off and WiFi on. My objective is to stay under 100MB data usage per billing cycle. This setup will still give notification of a missed call. Then I'll just call voicemail and see if someone left a message.
Looking forward to you reporting back on your cellular data usage over time.
Thanks for taking time to write this.
One thing that may impact cellular data usage in your is the length of the voice mail message itself – correct? such as an accidental back pocket lengthy call transfered to voice mail
This is Greg again.
I do not believe that Apple iOS allows an automatic turn off at a certain maximum data usage. Generally on that subject everyone will say to monitor your usage with the Xfinity Mobile app. That's what I am doing.
I note (for now) after 7 days that with my Cell Data turned ON, and all my apps Cell Data OFF, that my Cell Data usage levels are remaining below the 0.1 GB (100 M level. I also note that every single app is reporting using SOME Cell Data in the background, but not much. I will continue to monitor this.
I also posted that speech to text transcriptions were not working with Apple Visual Voicemail. Yesterday, for no apparent reason, my visual voicemail suddenly started showing speech to text transcriptions. This was about 5 days after I got Visual Voicemail to work by turning on Cell Data. I also had set up Siri, as some have suggested is needed, but neither of these had had any immediate effect on transcriptions. Apparently one or both did have a delayed effect.
All in all Apple Visual Voicemail setup behaves in a very unusual fashion. But I can now report it is working perfectly.
gcolello, glad to hear it.
You are correct, Apple does not have a feature in place to disable data after a certain amount has been consumed. I've only known androids with that feature.