Tracfone Says I Need a New Phone

Did Tracfone tell you that you need to buy a new phone? Many people 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 your questions.

Q. Why Do I Need a New Phone?

Tracfone is updating their network. If Tracfone told you to replace your phone, your current phone will no longer work once the network upgrade is completed.

In fact, it’s really Verizon that is updating their network. And many Tracfone phones use the Verizon network. Verizon is shutting down their old CDMA network and moving to all 4G LTE and 5G technologies. I’d say every ten years or so, the big carriers shut down their old cell networks. Its good in that we all get better cell service but its unfortunate customers have to replace phones.

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

No, it’s not a trick. They are not just trying to sell 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

Tracfone sells a variety of both smartphones & basic phones. Any phone currently sold on tracfone.com is compatible. Tracfone may have sent you an email or text message offering you a deal or discount on a new phone.

You can also check out my Tracfone. 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. When you switch to Bring Your Own Phone with Tracfone, you’ll have the option to use their Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile towers. Assuming you want to continue to use the Verizon towers, make sure you get a phone compatible with the Verizon networks.

49 Comments

  1. Georgina bonds | | Reply

    I currently use this phone through SafeLink. I cannot afford to buy a phone! What can I do?

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      I don’t know. Do some research on the latest offers for lifeline services. You may fine that safelink or other lifeline provider will offer you a free phone. There are new benefits for those out of work due to Covid

  2. ruth lind | | Reply

    Will the Samsung galaxy A10e satisfy the new requirements?

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Yes.

      some more details to be aware of.

      1 Tracfone currently sells the A10e. Any phone tracfone currently sells meets the requirements.
      2. If you buy the phone anywhere else, make sure the phone is unlocked..
      a. Samsung makes different models of the A10e, you want one that is compatible with the Verizon network.
      b. When you go to activate the phone, you’ll need to enter the phone’s serial number on tracfone.com to check to make sure it is eligible
      c. The phone should be eligible, but make sure you can return the phone to the vendor in case their is a problem

      Your current phone is using the Verizon towers. Verizon is updating their network. That is why you need a new phone.
      Most Tracfone phones use the Verizon towers. If you buy your phone somewhere else, You have the option to use the AT&T or T-mobile towers.
      If Verizon coverage is good for you, stick with that.

      Make sure to read the section in my article about triple minutes and $50 add-ons. you want to understand this before you activate your new phone.

      If you buy a phone from Tracfone, consider using my affiliate link. It helps support this website at no additional cost to you. https://bit.ly/2C1xLOq. Of course there is no obligation to use it.

      I’ll be updating my Tracfone deals and promo codes page for August later today. Not sure if there is a deal or promo code that wil save you on the A10e this month.
      Tracfone Latest Deals and Promo Codes

  3. Nora Bass | | Reply

    Hi Bob,
    My question is: I’m looking for a new TRACFONE with G5 capability , what are your recommendations?
    Some background information :
    My husband is receiving messages from TRACFONE letting him know that he needs a new phone due to network changes and must be VoLTE compatible. So, what I want to do is buy a TRACFONE with G5 capability now.

    Thank you so much for taking my question. I look forward to your answer as to which phone I should buy to be both VoLTE compatible and G5 ready.

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Hi Nora,
      Tracfone currently does not offer 5G service, as 5G service is relatedly new and only available in a few areas. None of the phones that Tracfone sells are 5G ready. The current selection of 5G phones is limited. And they are expensive. $600 and over. many over $1000. Apple current does not offer any 5G iPhone models, maybe later this year. Samsung has several.

      It’s not clear to me what your needs and budget are. I’d suggest buying a new iPhone SE 2020 from Apple ($399) or the new Google Pixel 4a ($349). These phones are 4G LTE only but will work with Tracfone’s Verizon towers (which is why you need a VoLTE phone). Both phones will get software updates for years to come and work fine with Tracfone for years. It will be a LONG time before the cell companies shut down the 4G LTE network and move to 5G.

      I hope this helps.

  4. tony walker | | Reply

    Thanks for this information, as TracFone is only saying a new phone is necessary, but is not saying what is needed or why the old phone will not work and when this will take effect.
    Also, does this mean basic phones will no longer work?

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Tracfone will still have a selection of low cost smartphones and basic phones. Before buying a basic phone from Tracfone, ask them which towers it uses. I think they will still have basic phones that use the Verizon. towers.

  5. edward J driscoll | | Reply

    im looking to buy a new ridged smart phone for my tracfone acc. my # is 603-XXX-XXXX does tracfone have a list of phones that will on my acc.all phones

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      I don’t really understand your question. Start by contacting Tracfone via online chat, and ask them which towers your phone currently uses. Assuming the coverage is good, you’d want a phone that uses those towers.Most phones tracfone sells use the Verizon towers. Once you decide if the AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon towers are best for you you can start to look for a new phone either from Tracfone or somewhere else.

  6. Dale Miller | | Reply

    How soon will my phone be shut down? I have been contemplating getting a new phone.

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      I don’t know how long you can put it off for. The Verizon changes that will require you to get a new phone are supposed to take place by the end of 2020. it was supposed to be the end of 2019, but they were pushed back.

  7. Richard C Follett | | Reply

    What date will my phone be unusable?

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      I don’t know how long you can put it off for. The Verizon changes that will require you to get a new phone are supposed to take place by the end of 2020. it was supposed to be the end of 2019, but they were pushed back.

  8. Greg Fraser | | Reply

    Will moto phones work w/ volte?
    Precisely, moto g5 & moto g7

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      I’ve never tried it. Any phone currently advertised as being compatible with Verizon, should support VoLTE. If the phone doesn’t support VoLTE you wouldn’t be able to activate it. Both the G7 and G5 Plus are listed on mototola.com as Verizon compatible. For whatever phone you buy you’ll need need to check the MEID with your service before you can activate it. Phone that are Verizon compatible and unlocked this should qualify for activation without issue. I always recommend understand the return policy for any phone you buy in case for some reason your service tells you it can’t be activated on their network.

  9. Sherry | | Reply

    My Samsung Luna’s network is set to LTE/CDMA, so I guess that’s why I’m getting the upgrade notice too. But in shopping around for a new phone, even on Tracfone’s site, I’m only finding LTE phones, nothing stating VoLTE. To save myself the trouble of upgrading again in a couple of years, is there a VoLTE Samsung model available now?

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      All the phones they are currently selling should support Voice over LTE (VoLTE ) at this point. They may not list it in the specs. I don’t think they would let you activate a phone that doesn’t support VoLTE anymore.

      • Sherry | | Reply

        Crossing my fingers then as the model at the top of my list supposedly can be used as a hotspot itself. Thanks for putting this page together, Bob.

        • Bob Thompson | | Reply

          As far as I know, Tracfone doesn’t include hotspot as a feature. It may work, but if you need support for a problem they won’t help you with it.

  10. cara | | Reply

    How soon do I need to get a new tracfone? When will it quit working?

    I have LG L34C, and tracfone says I need a new phone. I use phone mostly for calls, texts and photos, sometimes a YouTube video.

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      I don’t know how long you can put it off for. The Verizon changes that will require you to get a new phone are supposed to take place by the end of 2020. it was supposed to be the end of 2019, but they were pushed back.

  11. mike | | Reply

    Go to the Tracfone unlock site and just unlock your Tracfone. You can keep using your old phone and save your money.

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Your explanation is incomplete, and without adding details I’d think the average consumer will not understand why and it what limited situations this will work.

      • mike | | Reply

        I’m not a tech geek but it sounds like a carrier will no longer support some Tracfone models.Unlocking your phone will give you access to other carriers enabling you to continue using your current Tracfone.The website is self explanatory,will tell you if your model can be unlocked,and it’s very simple to do.

        • Bob Thompson | | Reply

          Thanks.
          The issue is that many of these older phones (often basic phones) only support Verizon’s CMDA network and can longer be used with Tracfone nor any other carrier. Some smartphones will have limited or partial support for Tracfone’s AT&T or Tracfone’s T-Mobile towers in which case the customer would need to transfer their service to a BYOP SIM card to continue using Tracfone. This works but if the customer still wants to stay on the Verizon towers they need a new phone.

      • Sue Phelps | | Reply

        I got a new phone due to upgrade. It is worse service than my old phone ….so don’t see where it is to be a n improvement!! Sure not for me!!!

        • Bob Thompson | | Reply

          That is unfortunate. What was your old phone and what did you get for a new phone? Whenever they make a change like this, it always takes time to work out these issues.

  12. Catherine | | Reply

    My old Samsung BlackBerry style phone still makes and receives calls and texts. Although texts are limited to 160 characters, which is fine with me. When will service end? Is there an official date?

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      I don’t know. Verizon now says the end of 2020. Not sure when Tracfone will ask all their customers to covert by.

  13. Aaron | | Reply

    I have an older phone. I have noticed there have been some times that calls ended in the middle. But I can eventually make them. It’s been a minor inconvenience but I always end up ok. Is it going to get worse, or is it just an inconvenience? This is in response to this thing going on with Tracfone/Volte(?)

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      I’d expect that is some area the transition to VoLTE will go smoothly but in others it will be a bit rocky depending on the LTE coverage in the area or the volume of calls over VoLTE increasing. Check your phone to see if you have VoLTE enabled. It’s usually an LTE option somewhere in the settings.

  14. Randy | | Reply

    Hi, Bob,
    I’m replying to a post you directed to me that has no “Reply” button. You wrote:
    _______________________________________________________________
    Bob Thompson | December 31, 2019 at 12:31 pm |
    Wow. TFW does make things difficult. I’d log in to tracfone account and verify my phones Meid is correct. I’d also try the sim in another volte phone and see if you can enable volte maybe you can trick them into turning it on for your account perhaps it will work when you move it back. I hope this isn’t going to be a widespread issue. I’ll share more if I come up with any ideas.
    ——————————————————————————–
    I tried putting the TFW sim card into the new SE. I could not get service at all. I am reluctant to call TFW for fear they will push one of their hidden APMs onto that phone. That could make it unusable for day outside the US. I tried to get an apn from iphone.flexserve.net but it appears they are no longer online.

    I also put a foreign SIM card in the old SE where I regularly use TFW. That foreign sim allows roaming in the US, where it uses that AT&T network. With the sim card in, I can turn on Voice and Data over Cellular 4G. This makes me wonder if the inability to turn on VoLTE with the Verizon sim might actually be a problem with Verizon’s service in my rural area. Even though Verizon and TFW have announced VoLTE to customers in my area, maybe that was actually a nationwide announcement and it isn’t actually implement here yet.

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Hi Randy,
      The reply you received from me should have been my reply to your comment on smartphonematters.com. there is a feature that lets the site email comment responses back to the poster, so they know when someone has responded. You should be able to simply reply to the email to post a response. It’s been a while since I’ve tried it myself.

      I agree with you assessment, I think Verizon is way behind schedule with this VoLTE transition. Next time your in a more populated area, see If you can turn it on. I’m not sure if there is a way to see if Verizon supports voLTE in your area. I think more people will be talking about the issues and problems with this transition as we continue into 2020.

      • Randy | | Reply

        I had no trouble replying here directly to your post. I think the last time was just one of those odd quirks.

        Not that this would help anyone in the US, but in France you can easily check what frequencies are in use from every antenna in every area.

        For example, I put in the postal code of my apartment in Paris. I get a map of the city centered on my postal code, which can be expanded to just my neighborhood. I can put in selection criteria. This could be, for example, only 4g and 5g with my operator Free.fr. Then little dots appear on the map. Each indicates an antenna. Click on the dot and it tells you what bands are in use for that antenna. I think it’s updated as antennas change..

        I don’t think I can post a screen shot, but here is the site:
        https://www.antennesmobiles.fr/

        I can copy one single result, for my own operator. It does use LTE, but has no implemented VoLTE and my not for a year or more.

        30 RUE SAINT PAUL 75004 PARIS–4E–ARRONDISSEMENT [address]
        Type : Bâtiment [a building]
        ID : 1765369
        Date : 2019-01-02
        Modification : 2019-01-02
        Activée : Oui
        Hauteur : 24.30 m [height of antenna in meters]
        UMTS 899.9 à 904.9 MHz
        UMTS 944.9 à 949.9 MHz
        UMTS 1954.9 à 1959.9 MHz
        UMTS 2144.9 à 2149.9 MHz
        LTE 723 à 733 MHz
        LTE 778 à 788 MHz
        LTE 1750 à 1765 MHz
        LTE 1845 à 1860 MHz
        LTE 2550 à 2570 MHz
        LTE 2670 à 2690 MHz

  15. Howard Block | | Reply

    Verizon claims you need to have VoLte phones on each end of the connection. How will I contact my home landline or some one with 3g service still?

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Verizon is shutting down their CDMA(3G) network. It means all Verizon wireless customers, and customers of Tracfone or any other service that using the Verizon network will need to upgrade their phone to one that can use Voice over LTE or VoLTE. You’ll still be able to call landlines or customers of other wireless wireless services.

  16. 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

  17. 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

        • Randy | | Reply

          Well, I just got the message from Tracfone a couple of days ago that I should now turn on VoLTE on my iPhone SE. When I did that, it took a while but then I got a message that VoLTE could not be activated and I should contact TFW.

          I did that. There is no option directly mentioning VoLTE so I selected “calls”. The automated system said it was correcting a problem on my phone and I should restart.

          After restarting, it no longer even tries to activate VoLTE. I immediately get the popup that VoLTE couldn’t be activated and I should call TFW. I called and after futzing with various choices, eventually got to an operator.

          She verified the last 4 digits of my IMEI and said my phone is not VoLTE compatible. I said that both the TFW and Verizon websites say the SE is VoLTE compatible. According to her, the system says my phone is not VoLTE compatible and there is nothing else to do. End of story.

          I guess the next thing to do is wait a few days and call TFW again. See what story they give me.

          My other alternative is to try a different SE with the same TFW SIM card. I do have an SE that I bought in France. It has one additional LTE band, though that isn’t one used in the US.

          I haven’t look at the Verizon site to see if they have a way to tell my whether my SE is VoLTE compatible.

          • Bob Thompson | |

            Wow. TFW does make things difficult. I’d log in to tracfone account and verify my phones Meid is correct. I’d also try the sim in another volte phone and see if you can enable volte maybe you can trick them into turning it on for your account perhaps it will work when you move it back. I hope this isn’t going to be a widespread issue. I’ll share more if I come up with any ideas.
            Happy new year

      • Debra Fournier | | Reply

        You stated Verizon has delayed turning off their CDMA network until the end of 2020. Does this mean I don’t have to replace my phone until then? I’ve been told end of 2019, end of summer 2020, and now end of 2020. All very confusing.

        • Bob Thompson | | Reply

          Verizon’s official timeline for during off the CDMA network was moved from December 31, 2019 to December 31, 2020. See https://www.verizonwireless.com/support/knowledge-base-218813/
          That’s Verizon’s current plan, and this is the second or third time they changed their date. But, I am not telling you you have that long if you are using Tracfone’s Verizon network. I’d assume they will let people go that long, but I don’t know. I personally wouldn’t want to wait until the last minute.

          Are you using Tracfone, do you know what phone you want to move to?

  18. 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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