Is There a Way How To Upgrade My Qlink Phone for Free?

Qlink is one of the common names on the free government cell phone service program. The program may include a free smartphone when you apply for the first time. But then, is the device you get any good? If not, is there a way how to upgrade my Qlink phone at a discounted rate?

Technically, Qlink is a  decent lifeline and ACP provider. But like anything else, we all have different opinions. Some may find the phone the carrier gives out enough for their needs, whereas others may feel they need something better than it.

Verdict: Easy Steps How to Upgrade Your Qlink Online

  1. Visit
  2. Log in (or sign up) to your account
  3. Once signed in, select the “Shop Phones” tab
  4. Next, browse through the phones option available, then select your preferred choice
  5. Finally, “add to cart” the phone you have chosen. Then follow the onscreen instructions to place an order

Do I Really Need to Upgrade My Qlink Phone?

Similar to most providers with free touch screen government phones, Qlink doesn’t let you choose the device to get. The device the company sends is an entry-level brand, specifically Qlink Hot Pepper (HP) Serrano 3.

On the specs sheet, the HP Serrano 3 features: a 5.5” VGA+ display, 16GB built-in storage, 2GB RAM,  MediaTek MTK6739 processor, and WiFi 4 protocol. They’re decent specs for someone who uses the device for light tasks, like calling, texting, browsing, and social media. But for someone who uses a phone a lot or runs heavy/ high-graphic apps, the phone will have a high risk of overheating and freezing.

So, the first reason to upgrade your Qlink phone is to get a better-performing device that suits your needs.  Better performance in this case includes a faster processor, more memory status (ROM & RAM), the latest WiFi, and perhaps a larger display.

The other  reasons you may want to upgrade your Qlink phone include to enjoy:

  1. Extensive coverage
  2. ESIM activation (when available)
  3. Fast data speeds on 5G connectivity
  4. A rugged design with water resistance
  5. Crisp video recording and photos capture
  6. NFC for contactless payments & data sharing

What Exactly is to Upgrade a Qlink Phone?

First, the phrase phone upgrade is where you get a new device to replace what you’re currently using. But in the literal sense, it’s where the carrier gives you a discount on another device supposedly better in features and performance.

Carriers often give you a discount on your next upgrade phone after meeting certain requirements. For instance, they’ll want you to have an active service within a certain period.

How To Upgrade My Qlink Phone
Upgrade My Qlink Phone

That said, the phone upgrade program is most common among carriers that offer their own device financing.  A perfect example is T-Mobile, whereby the company allows you to upgrade after paying at least 50% of the previously-financed device. (I’ve used T-Mobile here as it’s the carrier network of Qlink).

Qlink, like any other lifeline provider, doesn’t offer its own device financing program. If you want a new phone, the solution is to either purchase upfront or finance through the company’s lease-to-own partner, Affirm.

Well, does this means you can upgrade your Qlink phone or not?

Can I Upgrade My Qlink Phone for FREE?

As I’ve just mentioned, the phone upgrade policy is usually available on phone carriers with their own device financing program. Qlink does not have its own device financing program. So, it also shouldn’t have an actual phone upgrade policy, like that of its carrier network, T-Mobile.

In the Qlink  Upgrade my phone section, you may notice the company claims you can get a $75 smartphone at about $35.  However, this seems a lot like for those looking to upgrade from the basic feature phone/ flip phone.

$75 is the price value of the HP Serrano and other low-end smartphones that only have basic features. A smartphone under $100 hardly qualifies as an “upgrade” in the current market, anyway.

If we’re to consider phone upgrading as just buying a newer phone, Qlink shop has an extensive catalog of well-known brands. A percentage of the stock is available at a discounted rate, cheaper than the usual consumer stores. But most of the options, especially luxury brands like Apple iPhones, are pretty pricey to purchase upfront.

The 3 Easy Ways How to Upgrade Qlink Phone

Again, Qlink doesn’t have the usual phone upgrade policy- where you can finance a new phone while still owing money on the previous device. If you want to upgrade your phone, you’ll have to go with either of the following options:

Method 1: Upgrade your Phone with Qlink  Upfront

The idea to upgrade your Qlink phone in this method is to place an order and pay for it upfront. Even when you want to upgrade from a basic phone to a smartphone for the standard fee of $35, Qlink requires an upfront payment.

But before you can place any phone order with Qlink, you’ll need to have registered with the carrier. The reason for this is that the carrier requires you to log into your online account at  to check out a device. Or else call the customer care number 1-(855)-754-6543, where the agent will want details of your Lifeline account before proceeding.

Keep in mind, Qlink will only process your order for the upgrade phone if you have the proper payment option. The “proper payment option” at the moment is either a credit/ debit card, prepaid Mastercard, or Visa gift card.

Method 2: Upgrade Your Phone with Qlink on Installments

Qlink has a buy now pay later phones financing option if you’d like to upgrade your phone at a low cost. However, the company offers the device financing program through Affirm service.

Affirm gives you a chance to own your desired Qlink upgrade phone in small bi-weekly/ monthly installments. The amount for each installment usually depends on the value of the device in question and financing interest.

If you finance your Qlink phone on the 4 interest-free payments basic Affirm plan, the total payments are the regular device value. The lease-to-own company has distributed the four payments at a bi-weekly frequency- i.e. pay after every 2 weeks.

In this interest-free payment plan, Affirm only makes money from the fees the merchant, Qlink in this case, pays for their deal. But when you opt for the extended monthly financing plan, Affirm now takes both the interest and merchant fees.

The interest fees when you upgrade a Qlink phone through the Affirm monthly plan range between 10 – 36%. Do know the first payment is usually when you place the order. So, you’ll still need a credit/ debit card with little money.

Note: Affirm runs a credit check before they can approve you for device financing on Qlink. The company has no minimum credit score to approve you for financing. But consumers with a high credit score (670 and higher) have the best chances of qualifying. You could also be lucky with a fair credit score (580 to 669 points).

Method 3: Upgrade Your Phone with Qlink BYOP Program

Qlink supports BYOP (bring your own phone) program. So, the third way we can say how to upgrade your phone is to purchase the device you want elsewhere.  Then bring it to the lifeline service.

Like any other carrier, though, the Qlink BYOP rules require the device you bring to be compatible. The Qlink phone compatibility check usually deems your device compatible if:

  • It has the necessary network technology- cellular bands for 4G LTE or 5G
  • It has no red flags- the previous owner has not reported the device stolen/ lost
  • It has no blacklisted IMEI/ MEID/ SN number- the previous carrier has not blacklisted it for outstanding payments

Contrary to what most think, the online phone compatibility check for Qlink (and any other carrier) doesn’t determine if your device is locked or unlocked. If the idea is to bring a phone from another carrier, you’ll want to make sure it’s fully unlocked.

Quick Note:

Below are some of the best 5G & LTE upgrade phones from Qlink under $250 value

 Supported NetworksROM vs RAM
Samsung Galaxy A32 5G5G & 4G LTE64GB, 4GB
Samsung Galaxy A14 5G5G & 4G LTE64GB, 4GB
Apple iPhone XR4G LTE64GB, 3GB
Apple iPhone XS4G LTE64GB, 4GB
Google Pixel 44G LTE64GB, 6GB
Motorola Moto G 5G5G & 4G LTE256GB, 6GB
Apple iPhone x4G LTE64GB, 3GB
Apple iPhone 84G LTE64GB, 2GB
OnePlus Nord N1004G LTE64GB, 4GB
Motorola Moto G Play (2021 Release)4G LTE32GB, 3GB
Motorola Moto G Power (2021 Release)4G LTE64GB, 4GB

Final Thoughts

In a nutshell, that’s everything relevant to know on how to upgrade your Qlink phone. The most crucial point of all is that the Lifeline provider doesn’t have its own device financing program. It finances your device through a third-party buy now pay later service, Affirm.

Unfortunately, part of the agreement between Qlink and Affirm seems to not include anything about phone upgrade privileges. In that, I mean you can’t finance another phone if you still have an outstanding payment on another.

Another thing, if you don’t qualify for device financing with Affirm on Qlink, you can bring your upgrade phone from outside. But don’t forget T-Mobile is the carrier network of Qlink Wireless.

So, for your BYOP device to work on 4G LTE, it should have the bands 2, 4*, 5, 12*, 66, & 71*.  Then for 5G, your phone should have band N71 for low-band access or N41 (C-Band), N258, N260, and N261 for mmWave.

* marks the primary cellular frequencies your phone must have to work or access the extended-range coverage/ work indoors.

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