Are you thinking of switching from your current lifeline provider? TruConnect is one of the free government companies that offer unlimited free talk minutes and text messaging. So, it could be a great choice if the free minutes from your current provider are getting depleted before the end of the month. Nonetheless, what kind of phone does TruConnect give you when you move to their program? And can you bring your favorite phone brand to their service?
Well, this will be our main focus today. In the article, we’re going to share with you everything you need to know about the phones compatible with TruConnect. That includes the answers of whether you can use the iPhone 12 and Samsung Galaxy S21 with the lifeline program as some bloggers say.
Should I Switch to TruConnect?
First of all, every free government cell phone provider out there has its strengths and weaknesses. TruConnect is no different. But, again, should you switch to them, or do you stick with the QLink Wireless?
Part 1: Strengths of TruConnect
Here are the eight benefits and perks of TruConnect
- Provide a free smartphone
- Offer Unlimited free talk minutes:
- Include Unlimited free text messaging:
- Has 12.5-14GB of free browsing data
- Features low-cost paid cell phone plans and data
- Promises Nationwide coverage with T-Mobile
- Support bring your own device option
- Offer global text messaging in 80+ countries
Note, the free 12.5GB and 14GB of free data that TruConnect is giving consists of both lifeline and EBB (Emergency Broadband Benefits). The EBB allotment consists of 8GB data and the regular lifeline is 6GB (in California) and 4.5GB (other states).
If you’re a heavy data user, providers like Cintex do have a free cell phone service for life unlimited, which comprises the lifeline and EBB program. Alternatively, you could opt for the TruConnect Pay-Go prepaid plan, which includes unlimited data, talk minutes, and texting.
But again, this upgrade plan renews at $40/ mo., which is similar to the Cricket 10GB plan that includes limited high-speed data and unlimited reduced (128 kbps) speeds. So, you might want to check the prepaid MVNO if you want to upgrade from Lifeline. Actually, it might even be better in terms of network coverage. Then, you can get the iPhone SE 2020 or another latest free phone when you switch with your existing number.
Even so, TruConnect does lease cell phones at a monthly payment schedule in case you wanted to continue your service with the carrier. The online store, smartphones.truconnect.com, features both basic and high-end phones. But again, the carrier is pretty selective on the devices when it comes to compatibility with the Lifeline service.
Part 2: The Pains of TruConnect
As we said earlier, having TruConnect, just like any other carrier, has its pains too. One that many people have complained about is lack of service. Now, there are two things you have to know here.
First, TruConnect is an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator), which means it lease network from major carriers. So, you might experience better coverage if you’re in a densely populated area like a city/ town than those in rural areas.
Second, TruConnect used to operate on the old Sprint CDMA network and T-Mobile GSM before the pair merged into one. In the past year, T-Mobile has been integrating Sprint in its operations. And that might be another reason you’re experiencing connection problems if you were on TruConnect with Sprint-CDMA.
NB: As of 2021, many (not all) old TruConnect subscribers on Sprint-CDMA scan still get service despite the merger. However, be warned, T-Mobile has scheduled to shut down all Sprint’s networks, including 4G LTE, in June 2022. In simple words, all Sprint-related devices, including TruConnect-CDMA, will no longer have service even if you have an active cellphone plan.
Apart from signal issues, other drawbacks associated with TruConnect include:
- Poor customer service: a lot of users have been complaining about not reaching customer service agents after calling.
- Outdated devices: Similar to most lifeline providers, the devices that TruConnect gives are low-end models to make calls, texting, and basic browsing.
- Does not offer minutes rollover: TruConnect doesn’t carry your unused minutes or data to the next month. It doesn’t matter if they’re add-on and haven’t used them.
What Kind of Phone Does TruConnect Give You
If you’re eligible for the TruConnect Lifeline service, you’ll get a free phone (one-time), SIM card, and cell phone plan. The operator does have the paid “Pay-Go” plan as well, but that one doesn’t include the free device. So, you’ll only receive a SIM card that you then insert into a compatible phone.
As for device compatibility, many of the latest devices are compatible if you’re on the TruConnect Pay-Go plan. That includes luxury phone brands like iPhone 12 Pro Max, Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G, Note 20 Ultra 5G, Motorola RAZR 5G, and others.
Nonetheless, when it comes to the lifeline program, TruConnect will give you an entry-level smartphone or flip phone. As was mentioned earlier, these devices are sometimes a few years old. As we shall see in the few examples below, the operating system, memory, and camera specs are also not the best. Then, modern features like NFC (for contactless payments) are mostly unavailable.
Comparing the Features, Pros, and Cons of TruConnect-Compatible Phones
|Cell Phone Brand||Type||Cellular Technology||Key Features|
|Alcatel Go Flip3 (2020) LTE Phone||Basic phone||4G LTE||2.8” colored display, Snapdragon 210, up to 32G Memory card|
|BLU C6L (2020 Edition) Smartphone||Smartphone||4G LTE||5.7” capacitive display; 16GB built-in Memory, Fingerprint reader|
|Cloud Mobile Stratus C5||Smartphone||4G LTE||5.5” capacitive display, 1.3 GHz Quad-Core, 16GB internal memory|
|Cloud Mobile Mist Android Flip Phone||Basic Phone||4G LTE||2.4” TFT display, Android 8.1 Oreo, up to 32GB MicroSD support|
|Maxwest Gravity 55 GO Smartphone||Smartphone||4G LTE||5.5” capacitive display, 8GB internal memory, Dual (Nano) SIM|
|LG Aristo 3 16GB GSM-Phone||Smartphone||4G LTE||5.0” capacitive display, Snapdragon 425, up to 32GB external memory|
|Nokia 6300 TFT Basic 4G Phone||Basic Phone||4G LTE||2.4” TFT display, Snapdragon 210, WiFi, and Bluetooth support|
|NUU A5L Silver 8.0 Oreo Cell Phone||Smartphone||4G LTE||5.5” capacitive display, MediaTek MT6739, up to 64GB memory card|
|NUU A7L Android 10 Go Smartphone||Smartphone||4G LTE||5.0” capacitive display, MediaTek MT6739, 16GB internal memory|
|ZTE Maven 3 (Z835) 4G Android||Smartphone||4G LTE||5.0” capacitive display, snapdragon 210, 8GB built-in (expandable)|
Alcatel Go Flip3 (2019) LTE Phone
If you love classic tech, the Alcatel Flip 3 is a great piece you can use with your TruConnect lifeline or prepaid SIM. It has the Snapdragon 210 processor, with 4GB internal memory and a built MicroSD slot that you can insert up to 32GB card.
Even better, the flip phone supports up to a 4G LTE network and can also connect with WiFi. So, you can upload and download stuff at high speed in less time.
The BLU C6L is another entry-level device with up to 4G frequency bands. So, you can continue to use it with your TruConnect line even after T-Mobile retires the 3G service. It has 16GB internal storage and also a slot that supports up to 64GB MicroSD card.
Moreover, the BLU smartphone has an 8MP camera, rear-mounted fingerprint reader, WiFi, and Bluetooth connectivity. So, we could say it’s not all that bad if you’re not expecting to do much.
At 5.5 inches, the Cloud Mobile Stratus C5 can be good for streaming on the go. It also has dual SIM technology and supports up to 4G LTE cellular technology. So, you should have crystal-clear HD voice call quality and fast download speeds when you’re on full bars.
As for the memory, the Cloud Mobile handset has 16GB ROM and 1GB RAM, which, to be fair, are pretty few. However, there’s a built-in slot that you can use to expand the space with a MicroSD card.
Cloud Mobile Mist Android Flip Phone
Just as the name advertises, the Cloud Mobile Mist is a flip phone, which you can also get with TruConnect lifeline service. Unlike many basic phones, however, this model is on the Android operating system, Android 8.1 Oreo to be exact. It also does support up to 4G LTE connectivity, Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi. Then, the memory sits at 4GB built-in and has a MicroSD support of up to 32GB.
Maxwest Gravity 55 GO Smartphone
The Maxwest Gravity 55 GO is a phone without many, but it still does deliver what’s needed of it. You can use it to make calls, chat on WhatsApp/ Facebook, stream music or videos on YouTube, read the latest news, et cetera.
The phone could also handle few decent mobile games. But then, it only has 8GB internal memory and 1GB RAM, which, in our opinion, is pretty little for a smartphone.
LG Aristo 3 16GB GSM-Phone
The LG Aristo 3 is yet another option you might get from TruConnect when you qualify for their lifeline. Many things are quite similar to the other smartphones above but do have some lovely unique features too. For instance, the rear-mounted camera has a 13MP sensor and even has autofocus, plus a single LED flash. So, you can capture detailed images during the day and at night.
Furthermore, the smartphone has 2GB RAM, 16G ROM, and up to 32GB MicroSD support. It’s also M3/ T3 HAC compatible to ensure you can operate with even a hearing aid without getting interference.
ZTE Maven 3 (Z835) 4G Android
Last on the list is the ZTE Maven 3, yet another smartphone with 4G LTE support. So, it won’t be a must you upgrade when T-Mobile, which hosts TruConnect, phases out the 3G bands. The display is also an average size and relatively enough for basic streaming and simple gaming on the go.
Speaking of gaming, the ZTE device is not the best option for heavy gamers. Why? The manufacturer designed it with only 8GB built memory and 1GB RAM. Of course, you could add a MicroSD card of up to 32GB, but that’s still little considering high-end smartphones now have up to 512GB of internal memory.
We can say TruConnect isn’t the best, but, at least it’s a better free phone service than living without one. The free minute, data, and texting plan allotments that they give are also quite more than what Access Wireless, Assurance Wireless, and many other lifeline providers offer. So, it could be an excellent choice if you’re a heavy phone user and don’t want to add extra bills that you might be unable to settle.
As for the kind of phones that TruConnect gives you on their lifeline service, none fits the description of perfect. As of 2021, a good smartphone should have at least 32/ 64GB built-in memory, 3GB RAM, and a minimum of 256GB MicroSD support. But, anyway, the LG Aristo 3 has 2GB RAM, 16GB ROM, and a 13MP camera. So, it’s a bit decent than the rest.