If you’re thinking of getting the iPhone 4 next month (and you probably are), you’ll be happy to know that FaceTime, Apple’s answer to video calling, will not use your cellular minutes from your carrier when using the feature.
As we saw at WWDC, FaceTime makes use of a WiFi connection to connect to another iPhone 4 to make a video call. However the “call” still needs to connect somehow because not everyone wants to do a FaceTime call. So the question naturally came up of whether or not FaceTime calls use your minutes from your cellular carrier.
The good news is that FaceTime will not use your minutes! This is how it works:
1.) User initiates a phone call (this uses minutes)
2.) User connects to the intended call with the other person (this uses minutes)
3.) User begins a FaceTime call (minutes are no longer being used)
With that being said, if you disconnect from your FaceTime call or the FaceTime call fails, the iPhone 4 will drop back to your cellular carrier and your minutes will be used to continue a verbal (non-visual) phone call.
During the keynote at WWDC, it was noted that FaceTime will be WiFi only for 2010. This points to the likely case of connecting FaceTime calls over 3G cellular networks in the future, which will likely use carrier minutes, some type of video calling minutes or maybe your existing data plan.