Gen Mobile Free Phone: How to Apply, Qualify, & Deal

Gen Mobile is one of the best MVNOs to consider when looking for a cheap cell phone service. It has the cheapest service at only nine bucks a month. And in some cases, you can even qualify for the Gen Mobile free phone program.

Many people still don’t know about this deal, or even Gen Mobile service. But DISH Network has just acquired the cellular brand through its other prepaid carrier, Boost Mobile. So, we can expect some great changes in the Gen- and certainly a wider recognition in the market.

5 Best Things of the Gen Mobile free phone

  • Gen Mobile free phone has a free Smartphone
  • Gen Mobile free phone has unlimited talk & text
  • Gen Mobile free phone has unlimited mobile data
  • Gen Mobile free phone comes with a bonus tablet
  • Gen Mobile free phone allows calls to Canada Mexico

Gen Mobile Free Phone: A Summary Of The Deal

FeatureGen Mobile
Carrier NetworkAT&T/ T-Mobile
eSIM supportNO
Free MinutesUnlimited
Free DataUnlimited (with cap)
Free Mexico/ Canada CallVaries
Mobile HotspotYES
WiFi CallingYES

First, Gen Mobile is a decent cell phone service in the prepaid category. The cheapest $9/ month plan brings you unlimited talk & text, plus 1GB of data and international texting. Then you can get the 3GB plan at $20/ month (or $18 on a 3-month bundle) to enjoy the bonus international calling.

In case eighteen dollars is still much, Gen Mobile has ways how to get free cell phone service without paying. And the best part, the freebie brings you up to unlimited data, talk & text, plus a bonus smartphone.

Similar to the AirTalk Wireless free phone, though, the Gen Mobile free phone isn’t available to everyone on a low/ no income. There are some crucial requirements you’ll need to satisfy, and even provide official documents as proof.

That said, let’s jump to our main Gen Mobile free phone review and see what to expect from the amazing offer.

Gen Mobile Free Phone Deal: 8 Things to Know Before You Join

Below are eight things you should know about the free government phone & service with Gen Mobile. It only covers the crucial points, starting with the availability:

Available in Two Different Options

Gen Mobile brings you the free phone service deal in two different ways: ACP and Lifeline.

In the affordable connectivity program (ACP), Gen Mobile brings you discounted service through the $14.1 billion fund the Congress passed in late 2021. The idea behind the budget was to create a longer-term replacement for the 2019 emergency broadband benefit (EBB).

Of course, the pandemic situation is now not as severe as before, and businesses are up again. But many people still have limited income and others are unable to work from issues like old age, terminal illness, or disability.

As an ACP provider, Gen Mobile provides each eligible customer a discount of $30/ month ($75 in tribal lands) toward broadband service.

If you won’t qualify for the free phone with the ACP program, Gen Mobile is an eligible telecommunication carrier (ETC). And what ETC means is that the carrier has the license to offer the free lifeline government phone.

The government, through the USAC, reimburses $9.25 to Gen Mobile for each user registered for the Lifeline program. But like ACP, lifeline consumers on the tribal lands get to enjoy more discounts (of up to $34.25). Thus, the free monthly service allowance on Tribal lands will be slightly better than in non-tribal areas.

Note: Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) is the institution the FCC put in charge to distribute the monies for the free government phone.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) oversees the free government phone program. It’s also the body that implements and enforces communications laws and regulations here in the US.

How to Get the Gen Mobile Free Phone

The free Gen Mobile phone from the government is only for low-income families. As a low-income family, you’ll need to have either a qualifying government assistance program or low income.

The two eligibility requirements apply when applying for the free phone with Lifeline or ACP program. But the specifics do vary. See below:

         ·            Gen Mobile free phone with ACP

If applying for the Gen Mobile free phone with ACP, the low-income requirement is that your total household amount must be at or below 200% of federal poverty guidelines. Then when you want to apply with a government assistance program, the qualified programs include options like:

  1. Medicaid
  2. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  3. Veterans Pensions & Survivors Benefit
  4. Federal Pell Grant in the current award year
  5. Veterans and Veteran’s Survivors Pension Benefit
  6. Federal Public Housing Assistance Program (FPHA)
  7. Free and reduced-price School Breakfast/ Lunch Program
  8. Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  9. Food Stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  10. Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
  11. Head Start, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and other tribal-based programs.

To apply for the Gen Mobile free phone service with ACP, you just need to enter your zip code. Then follow the onscreen instructions to fill up your information on the online application form and choose your plan offer.

Keep in mind, you’ll need to upload documents to prove your identity, physical residence, and eligibility. Some of the documents you can use as proof include:

  1. Proof of identity: a valid ID card, birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, Green card, emancipation certificate/ letter (for students), etc.
  2. Proof of eligibility: paycheck stub, tax return, a statement of your income, retirement/ pension benefits, social security benefits, Veterans Administration benefits, or worker’s compensation benefits, or approval/ verification for the assistance program or benefits statement.
  3. Proof of Address: valid driver’s license, tax return, utility bill, or lease/ mortgage statement will work.

         ·            Gen Mobile free phone with Lifeline

If you want to apply for the Gen Mobile free phone with Lifeline, the low-income requirement is slightly more relaxed than ACP. You can qualify with a low income at or below 135% of the latest poverty guidelines.

To apply for the lifeline phone with a government-funded assistance program, most of the options eligible for ACP will work. In fact, it’s only Pell Grant, WIC, and School Lunch/ Breakfast Program not eligible for Lifeline in almost all states. (I’ve noticed California can accept Lifeline enrollments with WIC and School Lunch Program).

Once ready in most states, you can apply for the Gen Mobile free phone with Lifeline program by calling customer care at 1-833-528-1380. The agent will take you through the rules, then get in touch with your local lifeline agency to send your enrollment form (e-form).

As for Californians, you can easily apply for the program directly from the California Lifeline portal. You’ll just need to have copies of the documents proof I mentioned earlier, including identity, eligibility, and address.

Network Coverage

As an MVNO, Gen Mobile doesn’t have its own cell towers. Instead, it usually runs off the cell towers of a Major Carrier. And as of now, the Major Carrier the MVNO has entered a deal with is AT&T (which happened after DISH acquired the brand).

Sprint was the Major Carrier Gen Mobile used to use initially. But after the 2020 merger, T-Mobile continued to offer service to new and existing customers.

So, Gen Mobile now offers phone service through AT&T and T-Mobile. You’ll have a chance to join with the network that works best in your area. (AT&T is a much better option if you travel, as the coverage extends to various rural areas).

Note: DISH, the parent company of Gen Mobile, came to have a misunderstanding with T-Mobile over Sprint’s CDMA bands. And based on how things have been going over Boost Mobile, Gen Mobile may be in the process to ditch T-Mobile too.

Do I Get a Free Smartphone?

Once you’ve submitted your application for the Gen Mobile free phone on ACP or Lifeline, the carrier will forward your information to the National Verifier. National Verifier is a database system of USAC that will now go through all the information you’ve provided to determine if you’re eligible for either program or not.

If lucky and gets approved, Gen Mobile states under the terms & conditions that “ACP does not provide or subsidize phones”. Thus, there’s no guarantee you’ll qualify for a phone or not in this method.

However, when trying to apply for the ACP with my aunt’s California address, there was an option to select a free phone. I guess the phone discount depends on which state you are in. Then again, on the final part of the Gen Mobile terms & conditions, only the California Lifeline section mentions you “receive a free data-enabled phone”.

Regardless, I’m still unable to find out the kind of phone Gen Mobile give you for the free California Lifeline. All I could find is that the device will be new or refurbished (like new, albeit pre-owned).

You May Get A Bonus 8” Tablet

As you may know, there’s not only a broadband service discount but also a free tablet for low-income families on ACP. Gen Mobile even mentions under the ACP terms and conditions of the “one-time discounted connected device”.

Sadly, again, I’ve not been able to confirm the kind of tablet you may get if approved. Then do know the tablet offer doesn’t always include a full discount. There’s a co-payment fee between $10.01 and $49.99.

Free Phone Service Plans Are Good

You already know the Gen Mobile free phone program is available in two main options: Lifeline and ACP. The service plan you get will depend on whether you’re on the basic (non-tribal) areas or tribal lands. See below.

FeaturesGen Mobile Lifeline (Basic)Gen Mobile Lifeline (Tribal) Gen Mobile ACP (Basic)Gen Mobile ACP (Tribal)
Government Discount$9.25/ mo$34.25/ mo$30/ mo$75/ mo
Free SmartphoneVariesYESVariesYES
Talk Minutes (in Other States)1000 minutesUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Talk Minutes (in California)Unlimited  UnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Text Messages1000 messagesUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Text Messages (in California)Unlimited  UnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
High-Speed Data (in other states)4.5GB  11GB7GB35GB (10GB hotspot)
High-Speed Data (in California)4.5GB11GB7GB35GB (20GB hotspot)
Slower Data SpeedNONON/AYES (2G speeds)
Add-On Minutes (in Other States)$5/ 500 minN/AN/A  N/A
Add-on Data (in All States)$10/ 1GB$10/ 1GB$10/ 1GBN/A
Free Emergency CallsYES (411, 611, 911, & N11 numbers)YES (411, 611, 911, & N11 numbers)YES (411, 611, 911, & N11 numbers)YES (411, 611, 911, & N11 numbers)

You can see in the chart that the Gen Mobile free phone program is a great deal.  You’ll get to enjoy various phone services free of charge.

However, the ACP option has better benefits than the lifeline. Then the consumers on the tribal lands get to enjoy more allowances than those on non-tribal lands. Reason?

Well, the reason for the varying service allowances on the free phone program is the government, or rather USAC, also pays Gen Mobile differently. Say the ACP program, the carrier gets $30/ month per user registered in the non-tribal lands and $75/ for those on tribal lands.

As for the free phone with lifeline program, USAC reimburses Gen Mobile $9.25/ month for each user registered in the non-tribal lands, and $34.25 in tribal lands.

If a Californian, the California government often gives lifeline providers some extra funds on top of the regular nine bucks the FCC has instructed. And this is why you get to enjoy more data allotment on either the Lifeline or ACP plan.

Upgrade if Desired

In case you’d want to enjoy the Gen Mobile allotments dedicated to tribal areas on non-tribal areas, it’s easy! The trick is to upgrade your free plan on the 16GB Plan at $10/ month or Unlimited Data (with 35GB high-speed) at $20.

Data Deprioritization & Throttling

Unfortunately, Gen Mobile, as with most MVNOs, is on lower QCI priority of its Carrier network, AT&T (and T-Mobile). You’ll notice a drop in data speeds during network congestion (deprioritization). Hence, the reason it’ll be best to have a phone with high-capacity LTE or 5G support.

Also, all the lifeline plans offer capped high-speed data and a hard stop. If your data allowance depletes, you’ll have to buy the extra add-on data to access data services. (The add-on data cost $10/ 1GB).

As for the free phone with the ACP program, Gen Mobile throttles the data they give you. And what this means is that your data speed will drop (to about 2G speeds) when you reach your high-speed allowance.

Network Data Settings

If the cellular phone or tablet you’d want to use with Gen Mobile doesn’t work on data features, the APN settings could be the issue. Adjust the APN profile of your device on the values below and it could work as intended:

APN Settings Profile 1:

Name: Gen Mobile (or whichever you prefer)

APN: pwg

Username: (leave it blank)

Password: (leave it blank)

Proxy: (leave it blank)

Port: 8080

Server: (leave it blank)


MMS Proxy: (leave it blank)

MMS Port: (leave it blank)

MCC: 310

MNC: 260 (enter 240 for T-Mobile-compatible SIMs)

Authentication type: PAP

APN type: default,supl,fota

APN protocol: IPv4

APN roaming protocol: IPv4

Bearer: Unspecified

APN Settings Profile 2:

Name: (or whichever you prefer)


Username: (leave it blank)

Password: (leave it blank)

Proxy: (leave it blank)

Port: 8080

Server: (leave it blank)


MMS Proxy:

MMS Port: 80

MCC: (leave default)

MNC: (leave default)

APN type: default,supl,fota

APN protocol: IPv4

APN roaming protocol: IPv4

Note: as you can see in the MMSC and MMS proxy settings here, the values are for the AT&T network. So, don’t expect it to work if configuring a device with T-Mobile-compatible Gen Mobile SIM.

Key Takeaway: You May Need to Pay a One-time Activation Fee

Unlike most MVNOs, Gen Mobile charges a one-time activation fee of $39 on prepaid service and even the free phone program.

Lucky for Californians, the California Lifeline fund cover even the activation fees. But for other States, Gen Mobile may ask you to pay, unless they agree to waive it for you.

Keep an Eye on the Annual Renewal

Be it low income, unemployment, or inability to work, these are the most relevant details on the Gen Mobile free phone. The offer is cool as you can enjoy unlimited talk, text, and data at zero cost. But, of course, the ACP program brings you a better offer (with up to 35GB of high-speed data) than the lifeline plans.

Remember, there’s still no confirmation if ACP will be permanent like the Lifeline service or not. If the $14.1 billion ACP fund depletes, we can expect the program to end, or the government will set aside another budget.

Conversely, Gen Mobile Lifeline is a permanent program (unless the carrier opts out), as the premium telecoms pay for it through taxes. What this means is that when on the ACP program and it happens to end, the provider will downgrade your subscription to the regular Lifeline plan.

Speaking of your subscription, the Gen Mobile free phone you may get is only a one-year ticket. After twelve months, you’ll have to renew your application manually (it can renew automatically sometimes). Otherwise, you’ll lose your discount and your monthly phone service will be due at the respective regular rate.

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