What Kind Of Phone Does Life Wireless Give?

Life Wireless is one of the providers with free touch screen government phones. But is the free phone worth it? If yes, how do I get the free phone? And most importantly, what kind of phone does Life Wireless give when you qualify?

In a nutshell, Lifeline Wireless is an eligible telecommunication carrier (ETC). What this means is that the phone provider has the license to participate in the Lifeline program, where they give free phones and services. Then the government, through the USAC, reimburses the money for each of the subscribers enrolled.

Important Note:

USAC- stands for universal service administrative company, the institution the FCC has authorized to administer Lifeline & ACP programs

FCC- stands for federal communications commission, the government body that oversees Lifeline & ACP service

Life Wireless as a Phone Provider

As I’ve just said, Life Wireless is an eligible telecommunication carrier (ETC for short). And as a “carrier”, the company offers cellular phone service across all states in the US (not 31 states as I’ve seen some people claim).

Life Wireless is a brand of Telrite Holdings. In the Pure Talk Reviews, we saw the prepaid carrier is also part of Telrite, and so is H2O Wireless.

While Life Wireless and its two sisters target different “consumers”, they all are MVNOs- mobile virtual network operators. MVNOs mean the cell phone carriers have no network towers of their own. Instead, they’ve partnered with a Major Carrier with network infrastructure.

The Major Carrier Life Wireless (plus H2O Wireless and Pure Talk) use is the AT&T network. In case you didn’t know, AT&T is the largest GSM carrier in the country, with coverage even in rural areas where T-Mobile is still unavailable. (A perfect example is in various areas of Oregon, like Prineville and Paulina).

As an MVNO of AT&T, Life Wireless will require network bands 12*, 17*, 29, 30, and 66 to access 4G LTE. Then bands N2, N5, N66, N77 (C-Band), N258, and N260 for 5G access.

Ps. * marks the primary Life Wireless/ AT&T network band, which offers extended-range frequencies. Your phone should have at least one of the bands (preferably band 17) to make the most of your free service.

I’ve just noticed Life Wireless claims it now “provides access to reliable 5G (where available)”. But you’ll need to have a compatible 5G phone.

Life Wireless as an ETC/ Lifeline Provider

Again, as a Lifeline provider, Life Wireless has the FCC license to offer free government phone service. Then the USAC will refund the amount used on each of the registered subscribers to the carrier.

Like any other Lifeline provider, Life Wireless offers free phone service to low-income individuals. In the low-income requirement, you’ll need to have either a “low income” from your current employment or participate in a government-funded welfare program.

Before we come to the policies of these low-income requirements, you should know Life Wireless is participating in the new affordable connectivity program (ACP). So, when you apply for the free phone service, you’ll have to choose between three plans- Lifeline-only, ACP-only, and ACP + Lifeline.

Sadly, the availability of each of these Life Wireless plans varies by state. In most (not all) states, you can get Lifeline-only and ACP + Lifeline combo plans, while few (about 14 states) have ACP-only packages.

The perks of the free phone service Life Wireless gives you vary with the plan you choose. One of these perks is a free smartphone, which, as we shall see shortly, isn’t available on all the plans.

Join Life Wireless with Low Income or Assistance Program

Join Life Wireless with Low Income

If you’d like to join the Life Wireless Lifeline service with a low income, the rule is that gross income should be at or below 135% of the latest Federal Poverty Guidelines. Then for the ACP program, your gross income should be at or below 200% of the latest Federal Poverty Guidelines.

“Latest” is the key word here as the government tends to update the poverty guidelines periodically, where it can be higher or lower than the previous year. Then, the “gross income” means the total annual income of all the working adults in your household.

To Join Life Wireless with a Welfare/ Assistance Program

If you’d like to join Life Wireless with a government-funded program, the requirement is that it must be either of the accepted options. The Life Wireless online form has listed the programs to choose from, including:

  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • The Veterans Pension or Survivors Pension
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
  • Section 8 Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
  • Food Stamps / Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
  • Head Start (Tribal only, meeting qualifying income standards)
  • Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TTANF)
Important Note:

Life Wireless is one of the easiest providers to apply for the Lifeline and ACP programs. You’ll only need to enter the Zip code, choose a plan, select eligibility requirements, fill up personal information, then submit.

After you’ve submitted the information, Life Wireless will forward your application to the National Verifier (USAC Database system). Then when the National Verifier confirms you are eligible, the carrier will start processing your order.

Not all Orders on Life Wireless are Eligible for the Free Phone

Sadly, YES, Life Wireless doesn’t offer a free touchscreen phone on all the three plans I’ve mentioned above. In fact, the Lifeline + ACP combo is the only plan you can get the free phone, which is a bit disappointing.

The reason this Life Wireless idea is disappointing is that not everyone is interested in the Lifeline + ACP combo. Many prefer to redeem their ACP discount with a fixed internet provider- say Verizon, Xfinity, Frontier, since it’s more convenient. In the Simple Mobile reviews, we also saw the Tracfone brand is amongst the prepaid carriers with ACP, which some people may prefer.

So, Life Wireless pushing the free smartphone discount behind the Lifeline + ACP combo plan is a bit inconvenient. Before 2021, when Lifeline was the only service plan the carrier had, you’d get a free cell phone.

In any case, I told you the other day various providers of the Lifeline program claim the government doesn’t provide them with free phones. The companies fund the free device themselves, which can explain why they change the (free phone) policies now and then.

What kind of phone does Life Wireless give?

Once you’ve applied for the Lifeline + ACP Combo plan and got approved, Life Wireless will start processing your order. The order will include a free phone and SIM card (SIM kit only for customers on ACP-only or Lifeline-only plans).

Unfortunately, Life Wireless does not say about the phone they give on their website. The company also never replied to my email about the matter. And on the terms & conditions page, the only statement related to this is that they select the devices at their sole discretion. But the devices “comply with the FCC’s minimum requirement”.

After hours of extensive research, I’ve come to learn the kind of phones Life Wireless give you is either a BLU or Sky Devices. If I’m to be specific, the phones the ETC has been sending to eligible consumers this year have been either the:

  • BLU C5L Max
  • Sky Devices Elite R55

Nevertheless, the kind of phone you get with most Lifeline providers varies with availability. And this means if the BLU Max or Sky Elite R55 isn’t available, Life Wireless will most likely send one of their other alternatives, namely:

  • Blu C5L
  • Sky Elite B55
  • Sky Elite C55
  • Sky Elite H55
  • Sky Elite N55
  • Sky Elite P55
  • Maxwest Astro 55R
  • Maxwest Nitro 55A
  • Maxwest Nitro 55C

Is the Free Phone Life Wireless Give You Worth it?

When you look at the dozen phone brands/ models I’ve listed above, what can you make of them? Unfortunately, the phones Life Wireless gives you have some of the lowest recommendations on the US market, including Amazon. Does this mean the devices are still worth it?

First, a phone is a gadget we now use in almost every part of our lives. Call family/ friends/ relatives/ personal physicians, apply/ pay for services, work/ study online, and entertain yourself with movies, games, and other things.

So, a phone is something everyone (or at least every household) should have today. And this means the free phone Life Wireless gives you is worth it, even life-saving for those who can’t afford to purchase.

However, when you go through the specs on each of these Life Wireless phones, they’re not the most convincing. YES, they do have at least a 5-inch display and 4G LTE connectivity, albeit other features are lacking.

For instance, some of the Life Wireless phones have up to 28nm chips. Then the built-in memory for most is 16GB and 2GB RAM (some options have 1GB RAM).

With an inferior processor and low memory status, a phone tends to struggle with heavy tasks (like high-graphic apps and games). The heavy apps/ games can be incompatible with the device or won’t run properly- they may force-stop or lag.

Important Note:

When you go through the community forums, you’ll notice many Life Wireless users are complaining of their devices overheating and freezing. But I guess the subscribers experiencing these issues are those running heavy tasks or overworking the devices (having too many background apps open).

If using the Life Wireless free phone for the basic functions, it can handle them with no issues. Some of the basic functions include calls, texts, browsing, streaming, and maybe social media,

Final Thoughts:

If looking to join, that’s what you should know about the kind of phone Life Wireless. The BLU and Sky Devices phones are what the Lifeline provider was sending as of early this year.

Of course, the specific models vary with what’s available in stock. But they’ll have at least a 5-inch screen and 4G LTE.

One thing you should know is that the Life Wireless free phones come locked to the carrier. You can only be able to use the devices with another service carrier if the MVNO approves your unlock request.

Another thing, Life Wireless does support BYOP (bring your own phone) program, whereby you can bring your favorite device to the service. The option can be effective where you don’t qualify for the free device (on Lifeline-only or ACP-only plan) or needs a more decent brand to make the most of your service.

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