Dummies Guide to Facetime on iPhone and iPod Touch

facetime1.png Facetime is one of the best free feature of iOS device. The best thing about Facetime free video calling service is, it’s available on all Apple devices. Be it, Mac, iPhone, iPad or any other iOS device with camera on it. First time user might get confused with how to use FaceTime, and in this guide I will exactly be talking about the same. This guide will answer all your queries regarding Facetime on iOS devices, right from activation to making calls.

Facetime is one of the most talked about features of iPhone 4. Yesterday, we posted some pictures from our first impressions of Facetime on iPhone 4 as Harsh and I tried a Facetime conversation. We were totally amazed by the quality of audio and video.

Facetime is also very intuitive and easy to use. In fact we are Facetime Ninjas now, in less than thirty minutes of video calling. Here’s how you can get started and most of other related queries answered.

How to Activate Facetime on your iPhone:

Though this guide is written for iPhone4, but if you are using any other version of iPhone/iPad, Facetime activation method remains the same.

Go to Settings > Phone > Facetime > On. The iPhone  will automatically send an SMS(international for non US users) and within 10 seconds your Facetime will be active.

facetime-iphone4-25.jpg Facetime activation

This only needs to be done once per sim card, and that too is automatic. No registration or user id required. Like Apple says, Facetime works out of the box.

Once the “Waiting for Activation” message goes away you are good to go. Please note that you will not be able to see the SMS sent for activation through your Messages app. If you have trouble activating Facetime, wait for our post which talks about activation issues for unofficial carriers.

iPod Touch users go to Settings > Facetime to confirm and verify your email address that will be used to receive calls. If unverified, follow instructions sent to email to get started.

Charges for using Fcaetime

No. We were not charged for our Facetime calls. It’s free for video calls between iPhone 4 and iPod touch devices. Both devices need to be connected to a wifi network with internet access(not necessarily same network).

How to start a Facetime video call

There has been a lot of doubt as to how the Facetime call is authenticated. Harsh and I tried the email address method yesterday but that failed and here’s why.
Facetime uses two ways to identify people – Phone number or email address. And the the type of device determines which one will be used.
  • When calling an iPhone 4: Use the phone number of the person you are calling.
  • When calling an iPod touch (4th generation): Use the email address designated for FaceTime of the person you are calling.

Please note that you need iOS 4.1 to make calls or receive them from users on iPod Touch.

How to Make a Facetime Call

There are two ways of initiating a Facetime call. You could make a phone call just the way you normally do and then once you are there on the call click on Facetime. If your friend accepts the Facetime request call, voice call will end and you will no more be charged for voice.

facetime-iphone4-83.jpg facetime-iphone4-86.jpg

Another way is directly making a Facetime call. Go to your contacts page and tap Facetime. Choose a method of identification(phone or email). Your friend will receive a notification if he’s on wifi. If he accepts you are good to go.

On iPod touch, there is an additional Facetime app. You can use it to call any of your contacts or through the contacts app like mentioned above.

Can I switch Cameras


The Facetime call starts with your front camera. You can switch to the rear camera and back by clicking on the button in lower right corner.

Some other features of Facetime you might want to know:

Muting Facetime

The Mute button will only prevent your audio from going through. Your video will still be visible to the other person.

Landscape Support

Just rotate the iPhone to switch to this mode.

Moving the preview window

The small window which shows your own Face can be moved around by dragging if it obstructs your view in the default position.

Do something else and get back to Facetime again?

If you need to check another app while you are on Facetime, no problem. Just hit home button and do your work. Your video will freeze on last frame and audio chat can still be continued. Once you click on the green bar similar to the one you get with voice calls, your video chat will be resumed.

Last Tip for Facetime Users:

You can also add Facetime to your Favorites list and start a Facetime call right from there. Facetime calls will also feature in your Recent Calls history.


So, that’s all we have gathered so far about Facetime. It’s been a great experience so far for us. Rumors are afloat that Facetime might soon come to iPads, Macs and Windows PCs too. We are really looking forward to that.

I hope this detailed Facetime usage guide will help you to start using this useful free service. In upcoming article, we will also be talking about iMessage, but for now why don’t you go ahead and try making a Facetime call to other iOS user in your contact list.

47 thoughts on “Dummies Guide to Facetime on iPhone and iPod Touch”

  1. Have an iPhone 4 but dont have face time Button on my contact and my contact has an iPod 4 th generation

  2. i’m sorry Jimbo i don’t quite understand what you mean. Have you switched ON facetime and is it activated?

  3. Hi, I have iphone 4 but still is locked and waiting for unlock of ios 4.1, so till now there is no simcard in the iphone, so once i unlock the iphone will i be able to use the face time as i will be using an unofficial carrier because you said iphone will send a sms, so is there a problem for using facetime for users like me who will be unlocking their iphones ?

    please help !
    thanks in advance !

  4. Just received my new iPhone 4, but very disappointed with it’s performance! I keep dropping calls, even tho I have an apple bumper! Worse of all I tried to use face time for the first time, although it sort of worked, my phone did not ring? Total waste of time. My 3GS is so much better. I noticed that there are lots of people experiencing the same problem. How can this be resolved? Please help before I return the phone.

  5. Hi pals,
    Can anyone please confirm if FaceTime from India to UK works fine over any WiFi ? Somewhere I read that the person initiating the call from India (though over WiFi) received a massive ISD bill ?!

    I have been planning get iPod Touch for my relations in India so that there is a credible Video Call unlike Fring/ Tango etc. which aren’t always easy or consistent to set up and use.

    I’d be grateful for any input/ feedback please.

  6. Thankyou very much, Rajat. I now have to make sure my relations are able to subscribe to WiFi too, where they live. Of course, given that WiFi is expected to take off real fast in India, till such time they can use iPod Touch for its other utilities ! I am sick and tired of Video Call not taking off, as expected, with technology or infrastructure playing truant ! Let’s see if FaceTime gives this a Face Lift !

  7. Hi, I live in US.
    I read the recent Post and sent an iPod touch to my Parents in india. Unfortantely the FaceTime didn’t worked for us. I thought it’s a network issue and tried to open all the required ports.
    Is there anyway I can test FaceTime call with someone? Let me know if anyone can help.

  8. @exerji
    you’re welcome. as for wifi you may not get hotspots as you travel in India, but you can definitely install a wifi modem at home.

  9. @Rajat – we are facing issues in connecting to FaceTime. My parents in india have iPod touch and I’m having iphone4 here on US. When they calle from india I get the notification, but when I try to accept the call it show FaceTime connecting, but never gets connected. Whereas when I try to make a call to them, they never get notified.
    I tested FaceTime in US on my cell with my friends and it works fine. I earlier thought that it’s the problem of firewall in my indian wifi router, which I tried to fix by opening ports forwarding, but still no success. That’s the reason I want to test a FaceTime with some one in india to confirm that the probleem is with router so that I can plan to replace it.
    I will appreciate any help in this regard.

  10. Hi Jatin

    Isn’t iPod Touch supposed to ‘Vibrate’ with incoming FaceTime call ? I came across a link that talks about how this once supposed to be available and revoked by Apple (!) – http://www.9to5mac.com/25276/apple-just-kidding-no-vibrate-on-new-ipod-touch

    That said, honestly, other than in meeting rooms, where I develop a tendency to watch my mobile every now and then to see if it had a vibrated ‘missed call’, I can’t see anyone staying alert to noticing vibration on a gadget left in living room or bedroom ! Is there a way a docking station can interpret Vibration for an active noise ! Quite some lateral thinking there 😉

  11. @exerji
    the iPod Touch does not vibrate. That was a documentation error on Apple’s part. they might have copied the description from iPhone.

    The iPod touch only rings when getting a Facetime call. now when you are docked the speakers on the dock will play the ringtone at a louder level. so that does serve the purpose. no extra engineering required.

  12. Thanks everyone!
    @Rajat – I have tried opening these ports, still no success.
    I’m planning to change wifi router, hoping it should solve the problem, but before that want to test FT with someone in india. Anyone who can help??

  13. @jitan
    trust me with a proper router all will be fine. i have tried facetime with my iphone and ipod more than a hundred times. in fact that’s how Harsh and I communicate most of the time.

  14. Hi Rajat,
    Thanks for your assurance. Can you please suggest the router that must work fine in india with iPod foe FaceTime? Also can we have a test FaceTime?
    Thanks for ur help.

  15. i have an itouch (4th generation) & so does my friend. we both have facetime accounts and everything but when i try calling her from her email it dials and then says that she doesn’t have facetime. same thing happens when she tries calling me. what might i be doing wrong? please help 🙂

  16. I’v tried face time with a friend who has an iPod touch from my iphone 4 and everytime I call I don’t get an option of calling via email add or phone no.? Can you help

  17. Okay so I have the ipod touch 4th generation and I can make facetime calls to friends but I can’t receive them. When a friend tries to facetime with me it will say that I am unavailable. Is there a disable button somewhere or something?

  18. Hey I have a iPhone 4(4.0.2) Vodafone India nd whenever I swich on FaceTime It just says waiting for activation nd nthg happens wat shud i do plss help…it is a jailbroken one..thanku

  19. @eshan
    we have heard from a lot of people that they are having trouble activating facetime on jailbroken iPhones. you can try upgrading to 4.1 and then try.

  20. @kayla
    no there’s no such thing. just go to settings > facetime. sign out and sign in back using your Apple id. Your problem should be resolved and you should be able to receive facetime calls.

  21. if any contact has just one email address or just one phone number obviously iPhone will choose it automatically. in case the person has multiple details iPhone will ask you to choose

    Btw, currently phone numbers are used to call iPhone4 and email addresses to call iPod Touch. You can’t change this.

  22. @jitan
    you can buy any router from belkin/dlink etc. even the wireless routers provided by indian ISPs like bsnl, airtel work just fine without any extra configuration. I’m keeping really busy these days so I’m sorry I won’t be able to do it now. Let me know once you get the router.

  23. When I’m on a face time call is my iphone 4 disabled so I can’t recieve a normal incoming telephone call?
    I’ve been told that my phone is not available when people try to call me when I’m on a face time call.

  24. Hi,

    Everytime I turn ON (activate/enable) the facetime function in settings its been disabled by automatically again. When I return back to main meny and back to facetime to check if the function is on but its been disabled by default again. Why do I get this problem? Have iPhone 4 version 4.1 and the phone is unlocked.

    Please advise, thanks!

  25. Hi! I read the questions above and you have been helping a lot. I wanted to ask, I have new iPhone 4,factory unlocked, not jailbroken but when i try to activate facetime it says waiting for activation and stays like this for long time and switches itself off, without any response. and i cant find MMS on my iPhone4. could you please help me with this? I would be thankful.

  26. Hi Rajat,

    Fantastic forum. Maybe I can find what I need if I read through, but I prefer you answer me. I have a factory unlocked i4 from HK. Using it with Airtel 3G in India. Are you positively sure that Facetime wont work on 3G on non jailbroken phones? Why would Apple design it that way? Are wifi networks so prevalant in foreign nations?


  27. Hi I’ve just bought a iPhone 4 and tried doing face time to my mates iPod , he can get my picture but I cannot see him just myself in the little window please can you help cheers

  28. hi
    i got jailbroken ipod touch 4G…can i avail the facetime even in that??..i read in some comments above that you can only use it through wifi as its not jail broken…in that case wast the othr options??

  29. I recently got an phone 4 from Singapore(factory unlocked). I installed Face Time and activated it using a new Vodaphone post paid SIM and my BSNL unlimited wifi. It worked fine. Later on I ported my old (different) number from Reliance to Vodaphone prepaid and tried using this new SIM for face time but it does not work (“waiting for activation”). I have tried everything: changed my number in settings;reset all settings; soft reboot i.e. pressing power button and home button;turned off and on the face time button; turned off and on my wi fi modem. When I insert the first postpaid voaphone SIM and activate face time, it works fine. How can I register my new mobile number with the Face time server. What elase can I do?

  30. hello rajat what is the way to activate facetime over unofficial carrier,
    i am staying in punjab and using idea at the moment. my for is ios4.3.3 unlocked by turbo sim is there any way i can use facetime or activate it.
    thanks for such a meaningful discussions.
    regards pankaj

  31. hi Pankaj, we are able to activate facetime on vodafone+rebel sim. also, sometimes airtel fails to activate even on a factory unlocked iphone. so there are mixed results right now for people around the country. thankfully, ios 5 allows you to activate using apple id just like ipad and ipod touch. that should help when it is released.

  32. help needed with FT activation on iphone4. I am using some turbo sim and cell provider is BSNl (2g). Have wi-fi at office ( netgear router ) and also at home ( dlink router). phone only shows “FT waiting for activation”. Please help

  33. Sometime when I try to call someone I suddenly get facetime up on my iphone4 and it freezes the screen. I eventually get out of the frozen screen through trial and error. Everytime this happens there is a number which is not on my contacts which always always appears in my recent call list and I have rung it, despite me not having this number in my contacts. What happens is I have called it for 1 to 2 secs without even being there ! How is this person doing this to me. I am very worried. I have received a nasty threat recently which brought his number into my system as he sent me an email picture message via O2 multi-mediamessaging to my email. I could not open the message but there was a link I clicked onto to see the intimidating message minus the picture and it was in two parts – would this be estranged from O2?

  34. I have an iphone 4s. I would like for my apple id to not show up on my facetime calls. It is not an option in settings. However, i know it can be done. (old friend w no time to help did it)
    Thank you

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