Verizon’s plan to shut down its 3G network later this year came as no surprise to most people, who are now largely using 4G or 4G-enabled phones. But the carrier’s move meant the relatively few people who still rely on older phones, which only support 3G signals, would be left in the dark on New Year’s Eve.
Now, Verizon says it will start shipping free 4G-enabled phones to affected customers. However, the new phones aren’t like the typical freebies Verizon uses to lure customers, like aor . Instead they are Flip phones including Orbic Journey V, TCL Flip Pro and Nokia 2720 V Flip.
The move marks Verizon’s latest effort to resolve any outstanding issues before its aging 3G network shuts down. The company first announced plans to shut down its 3G network in 2016, then with a three-year timeline. However, it has delayed those plans until later this year, despite not allowing customers to do sosince 2018.
Carriers are shutting down these older technologies to free up resources for the latest iterations of their respective wireless networks. AT&Twhile at the end of March , with Sprint’s 4G LTE network being separated at the end of June. T-Mobile shut down its own legacy 3G service on July 1st.
Verizon said 99% of its customers are using 4G or 5G, with “less than 1% still accessing the 3G network.” Many of these customers seem anecdotally to be low-income people who can’t afford a better phone, or seniors who can.
Bad phone reviews
Unfortunately for Verizon, each of the phones it sends out for free has pretty bad reviews. That’s where the Nokia 2720 scores the highest average of 2 stars out of 5, according to Verizon’s own online store. When CNET reviewed an iteration of the phone in 2010, we weren’t overly impressed either.
“As far as looks go, the Nokia 2720 Fold isn’t too bad,” wrote CNET’s Jessica Dolcourt, but she added, “You’ll never get outstanding photos out of its camera.” The Flip, which Verizon is giving away for free, doesn’t even seem to have a camera.
It also doesn’t have a lot of storage space, although that might not matter as much, she added. “Without a dedicated store to easily buy music, but like the camera, music is a secondary selling point; the Fold just isn’t positioned or deployed to be a powerful music device.”
Customer reactions weren’t much better. One customer noted that the TCL Flip Pro doesn’t support group messaging, and “Seniorlady” left a complaint about the Orbic Journey V, saying the battery was low and navigation was difficult. “Hard for seniors to learn the details,” the user wrote.
The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about why it decided to ship such poorly-received flip phones.
Verizon said customers can opt out of receiving their free phone by calling the company and asking to “decline the free phone for CDMA Sunset.” work.
Verizon has announced it will not extend its plans beyond the end of this year. So if you’re still holding a 3G phone on January 1, 2023, it probably won’t work anymore. At this point, Verizon recommends that you take it to the company’s store for battery recycling.
Correction 10:40 am PT: This story initially gave an incorrect date for AT&T’s closure of its 3G network. This shutdown happened in February.