What should a good government phone have? AirTalk Wireless is a nice way to get free cell phone service without paying anything. It also advertises some of the best perks, including an option to get a free iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, or Google Pixel phone. But like any other lifeline provider, the AirTalk Wireless free phone program has its good and not-so-good attributes.
Of course, it’s usually not polite to bad mouth a gift given for free. But the Lifeline service isn’t exactly a gift since the government pays the eligible telecommunications carriers (ETC) fees for all enrolled consumers.
While the government offers a similar subsidy amount to ETC, most don’t offer the same service allowance.
For instance, SafeLink is currently giving Californians qualified for the free government phone unlimited data with up to 60GB of high-speed browsing. Then when we open up our AirTalk allowance pot, the amount of high-speed data you get isn’t even close to this.
AirTalk Wireless Free Phone: A Summary of the Lifeline Provider
Before we can look at the detailed AirTalk Wireless review, below’s a quick overview to give a glimpse of what to expect.
|Type of Service
|YES (With High-speed Cap)
|Cheapest Service Plan
|Calls to Mexico/ Canada Call
|YES ($5/ month)
|Offers decent free phones
Again, AirTalk Wireless is an eligible telecommunications carrier (ETC)- a carrier registered with FCC for the Lifeline program. It personally hasn’t been in the market for long.
I’ve seen many claims AirTalk has been active since 1999. But the truth is that 1999 is the birth year of the parent company of AirTalk, Air Voice. AirTalk Wireless itself started offering service in 2013.
One thing you should know is that AirTalk initially went by the name FeelSafe Wireless. The company became AirTalk Wireless just recently (in early 2022), right after HTH Communications finalized the acquisition of AirVoice Wireless, LLC.
So, AirTalk Wireless is in a way a sister of Cintex and NewPhone Wireless, the two other Lifeline brands HTH Communications Own.
Long history short, AirTalk is a decent provider of free cell phones from the government. And one of the top perks is that you’ll receive better free smartphones than most other ETC, including Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, etc.
Other pros and cons of AirTalk Wireless by AirVoice you should know include:
- It offers a decent service plan
- Supports both 4G LTE & 5G
- You can bring your own phone
- Includes Caller ID & Voicemail
- Also, Supports a 3-way calling option
- It has affordable international calling rates
- It gets deprioritized data
- Throttles data on all phone plans
- The personal hotspot is still unavailable
AirTalk Wireless Free Phone: 9 Things You Should Know about the Lifeline Provider
In this part, I’ll now take you through the top nine crucial things you should know about the AirTalk Wireless free phone. It includes some of the changes I’ve noticed my fellow bloggers fail to include:
Available to All Citizens
Indeed, all US CITIZENS are open to applying for the AirTalk Wireless free phone from the government. The only problem is that the Lifeline company doesn’t have a dedicated local store. Thus, you can only apply online, by phone/ email, or through the traveling agents (sometimes they camp outside community centers).
If you’d like to apply for an Airtalk Wireless government phone online, just visit https://airtalkwireless.com/ and click the bold blue “Apply” button. Then to apply via phone or email, you can use +1 (855) 924-7825 and [email protected], provided it’s within working hours.
AirTalk Wireless states their working hours as 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. CST on Monday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. CST during the Weekend.
Accessible to only the Eligible Families
Don’t confuse my choice of words. AirTalk, like the rest offering lifeline phones, is available to all US citizens, whereby anyone can apply. However, only the consumers who meet the eligibility requirements will be lucky to receive the benefit.
Technically, Lifeline free phone is only accessible to underserved families who are struggling with their bills. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the oversight of Lifeline program, requires proof of either low income or participation in a government assistance program.
If you’d like to apply with proof of low income, your total household amount should be at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines.
On the other hand, to get the AirTalk Wireless free phone program with a government assistance benefit, it must be either of the supported options, such as:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Veterans Pensions & Survivors Benefit
- Federal Public Housing Assistance Program (FPHA)
- Food Stamp or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Head Start, Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, and other Tribal programs
Network Coverage isn’t Bad
Well, here is where there has been the most significant change in the AirVoice lifeline brand after the HTH Communications acquisition.
Before, when the free government phone was Feelsafe Wireless, you would get the service through AT&T towers. After the new ownership, AirTalk Wireless dropped the network deal with AT&T for T-Mobile.
So, when you now apply for the free government cell phone service, you’ll receive a T-Mobile-compatible phone and SIM.
Of course, some AT&T phones are usually compatible with T-Mobile and its MVNOs. But when looking at the phones compatible with Easy Wireless (an ETC on T-Mobile), we concluded your device must have frequency bands 2, 4*, 5, 12*, 66, & 71* for LTE. Then bands n71, n41 (C-Band), n258, n260, & n261 to access 5G signal.
(AT&T and its MVNOs use frequency bands 2, 4, 5, 12*, 17*, 29, 30*, & 66 for LTE coverage. Then N2, N5, N66, N77 (C-Band), N258, & N260 for 5G).
*marks the primary frequency band, which your phone must have to work on AT&T or T-Mobile. Band 12 is the only frequency the two GSM carriers share. And for that, any old AirTalk Wireless phones with no bands 4, 12, or 71 wouldn’t work on the new hosting network.
Note: AirTalk Wireless isn’t only limited to ten states, as I’ve seen some people claim. The service is available in all the states across the country. You’ll even see the AirTalk Wireless coverage map shows availability in all 50 states. But then, the map has many spotty areas since T-Mobile doesn’t have extensive coverage like AT&T.
Domestic Roaming is still Available
Under the coverage map, AirTalk Wireless appears to cover all the states, albeit not areas are solid green. The company claims on the side notes the coverage isn’t just from its native network (on T-Mobile). It (the coverage map) also shows areas where the lifeline provider has partnered with other Carriers for roaming.
I’ve not been so lucky to identify these other Carrier Networks AirTalk has partnered with for the roaming benefits. All I could find is that the MVNO requires “you have data roaming enabled, and high-speed data remaining.
It’s worth mentioning AirTalk says you can use WiFi to call and text with your free phone. The feature can be handy when outside the native coverage or roaming areas here in the US. But I’m still skeptical about this as not many lifeline carriers allow WiFi calling, and AirTalk has replied to my email about it yet.
Tip: AirTalk Wireless currently doesn’t support roaming in Canada and Mexico, or any other international destinations. In fact, the company is strictly against using or attempting to use your mobile device outside the US.
Free Phones are Really Good
Indeed, the phones are better when you compare them with what other lifeline providers give you.
I mean, once approved, AirTalk Wireless sends high-end smartphones. A few examples include Apple iPhone 8/ 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy A51/ S9 Plus, Motorola Moto G Stylus, REVVL V+ 5G, Google Pixel 3a, LG G7 ThinQ, et cetera.
Of course, these phones are not brand-new. They are certified-refurbished models, but still far better than the Unimax, Wiko, or Schok Volt the likes of Assurance Wireless give you.
You will also find these entry-level devices on the Free phone catalog of AirTalk Wireless, for sure. The brands we know are more, though. And the best part of it all, AirTalk allows you to apply for the program with your preferred phone. If the phone you wanted isn’t available, the carrier usually sends an equivalent model from the same or different brand.
Alternatively, you can also bring your own phone to AirTalk Wireless with no issues. You just have to make sure the device is both carrier-compatible and network-compatible with the MVNO.
In network compatibility, it simply means the phone you intend to use with AirTalk should have the appropriate (T-Mobile) frequency bands. Then on carrier compatibility, the phone will need to be fully unlocked.
Tip: HTH Communications is one of the largest phone refurbishment and distribution companies in the country. It’s the reason its lifeline brands Cintex, NewPhone, and our AirTalk Wireless can offer high-end brands on the free phone program.
Free Phones Has a Bonus Tablet
AirTalk Wireless is one of the companies you can get a free tablet with EBT, Medicaid, or any other programs and income eligible for ACP. The lifeline operator does have several high-end names you love, thanks to its parenthood bond with HTH Communications.
Some of the best brands of free government tablets you can get with AirTalk Wireless include:
- Apple iPad 3
- Apple iPad Mini
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 4
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S2/ S3
- Samsung Galaxy Tab A (2020 Edition)
- Samsung Galaxy Tab A (2018 Release)
- KonnectONE Moxee Tablet
Keep in mind, you won’t be getting the free tablet offer if not applying ACP with AirTalk Wireless. The tablet is after all the one-time discount of the “connected device” the FCC promised with the new broadband program.
Tip: ACP is an acronym for the affordable connectivity program, the replacement for emergency broadband benefit (EBB).
Data Speeds are Decent Enough
Unfortunately, lifeline providers usually don’t have the best browsing/ data speeds. The new Safelink phone (on Verizon) is the first I’ve seen hold at 400Mbps on 5G recently.
As for AirTalk Wireless, I’m not going to lie I’ve tested the service myself. But based on the AirTalk Wireless reviews from other customers, you can expect about 100Mbps with a 5G phone on those calm days.
Nevertheless, many areas are still on 4G LTE, where most lifeline carriers cap the data speed to 25Mbps.
Free Phone Service Plans Could be Better
Once eligible, AirTalk Wireless will be giving you a monthly phone service at no cost. The service allotments you get depend on which free phone plan subscribed to:
|AirTalk Wireless Perks
|Lifeline-Only Phone Plan
|ACP-Only Phone Plan
|Lifeline + ACP Combo Plan
|15GB (then 2G speeds)
In the latest AirTalk Wireless free phone service structure, the Lifeline-only plan includes 1000 talk minutes, unlimited text, and 4.5GB of high-speed data. The high-speed data has a hard stop, meaning it will cut off your internet completely once you hit the limit.
Similar to Cintex, AirTalk Wireless offers the best service on the Lifeline + ACP combo plan. The plan includes unlimited talk, text, and data (with 15GB of high-speed browsing before dropping to lower 2G speeds).
If interested, AirTalk Wireless has an optional upgrade on the ACP-only and ACP + Lifeline plans. In the ACP-only plan, you can pay $12/ year (or $1/ month) to get up to 18GB of high-speed data.
The AirTalk Lifeline+ ACP combo plan upgrade fee is also $1/ month or $12/year. But you now get 25GB of high-speed data.
First, we’ve just seen AirTalk Wireless throttles data (reduce data speed based on usage) for all the customers on the Lifeline+ ACP combo plan. And what this means is that your browsing speed will drop after reaching the monthly limit (15GB).
At the same time, AirTalk Wireless offers deprioritized data (data speed drop based on network congestion). And just like with prepaid carriers like Cricket, Simple Mobile, or Mint Mobile, the data speed drop during deprioritization is usually significant. It can reduce by up to 60% or more.
Well, this should explain why you’ll find many AirTalk customers complaining to have less than 10Mbps data on LTE and around 30Mbps on 5G.
AirTalk APN Settings
AirTalk is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that operates on the AT&T network. The APN (Access Point Name) settings for AirTalk are as follows:
- Name: AirTalk
- APN: NXTGENPHONE
- Proxy: Not set
- Port: Not set
- Username: Not set
- Password: Not set
- Server: Not set
- MMSC: http://mmsc.mobile.att.net
- MMS Proxy: proxy.mobile.att.net
- MMS Port: 80
- MCC: 310
- MNC: 410
- Authentication type: Not set
- APN type: default,supl,mms
Note: These settings may vary depending on your device and location. If you are having trouble accessing the internet or sending/receiving MMS messages, please contact AirTalk customer support for assistance.
Key Takeaway: 14 Best Free Cell Phones Available with AirTalk Wireless
|ROM vs RAM
|Samsung Galaxy A22 5G
|5G & 4G LTE
|Apple iPhone 8
|Apple iPhone 7 Plus
|Samsung Galaxy A13 5G
|5G & 4G LTE
|Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
|Samsung Galaxy A51
|Google Pixel 4
|Google Pixel 3 XL
|Motorola G Stylus 5G
|5G & 4G LTE
|REVVL V Plus 5G
|5G & 4G LTE
|AirTalk REVVL 6 5G
|5G & 4G LTE
|Alcatel Go Flip 4
|LG G7 ThinQ
|Motorola Moto G Power (2022)
Commonly Asked Questions:
Is AirTalk Wireless free phone Legit?
Yes, AirTalk Wireless free phone is a legit offer. The government sponsors it through the Lifeline program (and ACP), where you will receive a free device and monthly service. Nonetheless, you should know AirTalk currently offers a free smartphone with the ACP-only or Lifeline + ACP combo plan. The lifeline-only plan only comes with a SIM card (plus monthly service), then you’ll have to use your own phone.
What kind of phone does AirTalk Wireless give you?
Most providers participating in the Lifeline program don’t have the option for you to choose the phone to get. But with AirTalk Wireless, you have the option to apply for your desired phone available in the catalog online. And to make it even better, the kind of phones AirTalk Wireless gives you include high-end brands like Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, LG, et cetera.
Does AirTalk Wireless offer a personal hotspot for the laptop?
Sadly, AirTalk Wireless still doesn’t support personal hotspot. So, you can’t share the lifeline or ACP data with your work/ study laptop, tablet, TV, or other smartphones.
Can I Use my AT&T phone with AirTalk Wireless?
AirTalk Wireless is a little confusing at the moment, as some part it claims they are utilizing AT&T and T-Mobile networks. In other parts, you’ll find the lifeline operator claiming to utilize T-Mobile towers and elsewhere AT&T.
In reality, though, AirTalk Wireless is using only T-Mobile. So, can use the service with only unlocked AT&T phones that support at least band 4, 12, or 71.
Only a Single AirTalk Wireless Free Phone per Family
If on a low income or receiving a government assistance program, that’s everything that matters you should know on the AirTalk Wireless free phone program. The monthly allowances you’re to receive are certainly not the best when we compare them with a competitor like SafeLink or Qlink. But they are decent enough if you won’t mind hanging without a personal hotspot.
Unlike these rival brands, though, AirTalk Wireless offers a far much better free phone (and tablet), including options from Apple, Samsung, Google, and LG. The devices are refurbished models, yes. But they are a pride to own and also you can see in my chart above they pack some lovely specs.
In any case, as you proceed to apply for the AirTalk Wireless free phone, do remember the government has limited a single enrollment per household. And a “household” represents an individual or group of people who live together on a shared income/ expense.