Tracfone Says I Need a New Phone

Tracfone has been telling many of their customers that they need to buy a new phone and a lot of you are asking me questions about this so I though I’d write this article to explain what is going on and answers some of the questions I am getting about this.

Q. Why Do I Need a New Phone?

You need a new phone because Tracfone is upgrading their network and your current phone will no longer work. This happens with all wireless carriers every five to ten years when they shut down the equipment on their network that is using older wireless technologies and replace it with newer improved technologies. If you want to know more, continue reading this section, but you really don’t need to understand it.

Tracfone doesn’t have their own cellular network, they use Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile’s towers. In this case, Verizon is upgrading their network. They are shutting down their CDMA network (3g) and transitioning to all 4G LTE. Your new phone needs to support something called Voice of LTE or VoLTE for short. Verizon calls this HD Voice.

Q. Is this a trick just to get me to buy a new phone?

No, it’s not a trick. They are not just tying to make money selling you a new phone. And it reality, wireless companies make their money selling you service, not phones. I suspect in some cases Tracfone breaks even or loses money selling some phones, and when they do make a profit it isn’t a lot of money for them.

Which iPhones are Compatible with Tracfone?

In short, the iPhone 6 and iPhone SE and newer iPhones that are compatible with Verizon will work with Tracfone’s Verizon towers and support the Voice Over LTE technology required to use their Verizon towers. The iPhone 5s and older iPhones are no longer compatible. You may be able to use iPhone 5s and iPhone 5 models with Tracfone’s AT&T or T-Mobile towers.

Which Samsung Galaxy Phones are Compatible with Tracfone?

In short Galaxy S5 and newer phones are that are compatible with Verizon will work with Tracfone’s Verizon towers will support the Voice Over LTE technology required to use their Verizon towers.

While I Lose My Minutes When I Upgrade To a New Phone?

No. You can transfer both your phone number and remaining service balance of minutes, texts, and data from your current phone to your new phone.

However, if your current phone is eligible for Triple Minutes (3X) for life, your new phone might not be. If you are currently able add the $50 for 365 service days add-on your new phone may not qualify. Tracfone’s smartphone’s and BYOP phones no longer qualify for the 3x plans. Consider adding minutes or the $50 1 year add on before transferring your service to your new phone,

Where Can I Buy a New Phone

I am only familiar with smartphones, not basic phones. Tracfone may have sent you and email, text, or regular mail offering you a deal on a new phone so check those deals. I post the monthly Tracfone deals here on smartphonematters.com see the Tracfone Latest Deals Here….

You can Bring Your Own Phone to Tracfone if you want. You can buy a new unlocked iPhone from Apple or Samsung phones from Best Buy if you want. There are a lot of options. Leave a reply below if you have questions.

7 Comments

  1. John | | Reply

    My old tracphone needs to be replaced. I do have a LG – UN251 phone. Would it work as a replacement. All I need is a phone and nothing more. Thanks

  2. Randy | | Reply

    Questions and comments:

    1. I have an SE currently running on Tracfone/Verizon in north central Washington state. Verizon has announced it is switching (or has already switched – unclear) to VoLTE, with CDMA running in parallel until the end of 2019.
    When I try in Settings, Cellular, Cellular Data Options, Enable LTE, it shows “Data only.” If I tap “Voice & Data,” it says “Cannot Activate LTE Calls, contact TFW.” My phone shows “LTE” at the top, presumably meaning it is in fact running data on LTE.
    Can this mean that Verizon is using VoLTE but Tracfone is not allowing its own users to connect to VoLTE on Verizon circuits? If that were the case, the phone wouldn’t matter and we’d all be SOL.

    2. You mention that sometimes new features require new SIMs. Could this be an issue? My SIM is a year or so old. I got TFW to replace it because older TFW/Verizon SIMs had a problem with creating hidden profiles that prevented data usage on foreign networks. The hidden profile could not be seen or deleted in iPhone settings. Newer SIMs don’t have this problem.

    3. In my area at least, you don’t get a choice of network coverage. TFW ties it to your ZIP code. In my case, at least a few years ago, TFW would try to force an AT&T SIM on me. I had to give them a neighboring area ZIP code as my “primary usage area, although different from mailing address”, to get Verizon. This was important because Verizon works much better here than AT&T.

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      The iPhone SE is compatible with Verizon’s transition from CDMA / LTE to full LTE. When this happens, everyone on Tracfone will transition to voLTE or what Verizon calls HD Voice. The tracfone brands have not made this transition yet. They will. Verizon itself has delayed turning off their CDMA network until the end of 2020. From what I understand, is they are not ready yet. If your SIM is only a year old, I’d think it will be fine. Tracfone would contact you if you need a new SIM, just as they are contacting customers that need a new phone. You may find that Tracfone pushes a new carrier bundle (not profile) to update the settings. Hopefully when Verizon goes full LTE, tracfone customers will get VoLTE and other related features such as Wi-Fi calling. The only other issue to keep an eye out for is how compatible the SE is with the Verizon coverage in your area. It’s possible that Verizon is adding coverage on LTE bands in your area that are not supported by the iPhone SE which is several years old.

      I’ll be posting and making videos about this as more information becomes available. On a side note, I remember you from the hidden carrier profile discussion. That helped a lot of people. I gave you credit in my video if you haven’t seen it .https://youtu.be/28YlpqmaYPE

      • randy | | Reply

        Thanks for letting me know about that video and giving me credit. I hadn’t seen it.
        Randy

  3. James Byrne | | Reply

    two questions. (great site by the way).
    1. I suspect my old iPhone 4s (originally on Verizon) will no longer work on TracFone at the end of the year 2019.
    so I plan on getting a newer iPhone compatible with volte as per your article. Will current TracFone sims for Verizon work or is there some volte specific sim needed?
    2. My 4s on TracFone never worked in Alaska when I visited my daughter ( I live in Maine). Will the new one being volte compatible work or will I still have the same problem?

    As you can tell I am a bit confused by the whole cell network stuff and TracFone has been great but support competence is not a strong point for them.

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Good questions.
      1. The SIM
      If you buy a new iPhone from Tracfone it will include a SIM card. If you buy your iPhone somewhere else, you’ll need a BYOP SIM. The Tracfone iPhone will most likely use the Verizon network. (since your in Maine). If you go BYOP you’ll have the option to choose the ATT, T-Mobile, or Verizon towers when you transfer your service. If your 4s has a SIM, you won’t be able to use it. I assume that all the current Tracfone nano SIMs for the Verizon towers will work fine. (They would have to update a lot of people if that wasn’t the case). It’s a good question because sometimes new features require new SIMs. You can check out the latest Tracfone deals here https://smartphonematters.com/tracfone-latest-deals Tracfone may have sent you offers too.

      2. Alaska
      VoLTE isn’t really a solution to the problem there. Verizon and ATT are investing in improving coverage in Alaska. As Verizon is shutting down their CDMA network, all the new towers in equipment they add to Alaska will be 4G LTE with VoLTE. It’s also possible that Tracfone users on the Verizon network will get other HD calling features like WiFi Calling, so you’d have coverage if you in a city with wifi access to the internet. If you return to alaska, you may see better coverage.

      If you buy an unlocked iPhone and you need service for you visit,(assuming you are staying a few weeks or so). You could activate a prepaid plan on the regional carrier, CGI https://www.gci.com/wireless/plans/fastphone

      I hope this helps. May I ask how you found this article? It’s relatively new, and I it is really a draft I really need to edit.

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