After a few delays, Verizon seems poised to actually follow through on shutting down its 3G CDMA network at the end of this year. But the carrier is still contending with a subset of customers who sat out the 4G LTE era and haven’t yet upgraded their 3G phones. So, as 2022 rolls onward, Verizon is sending those wireless subscribers a free extremely basic flip phone to prevent them from losing connectivity when the 3G network goes offline.
According to its website, Verizon will provide customers with one of three phones: the Orbic Journey V, TCL’s Flip Pro, or the Nokia 2720 V Flip. The retail value for each of those devices is under $100: the Orbic is $99.99, with the other two running $79.99.
Verizon says customers can opt out of the free 4G LTE flip phone by calling customer service and saying they’d like to “decline the free phone for CDMA sunset.” All three have received overwhelmingly negative reviews on Verizon’s website, with the highest averaging two stars. These are very basic phones, after all. The company also notes that customers can exchange the free phone for something else after receiving it. Phones will automatically be activated 30 days after being sent out if customers fail to do so on their own.
Other US carriers have taken similar steps to prevent customers on older devices from being left in the cold after a network transition. Last year, AT&T sent Samsung smartphones to some subscribers with 3G devices. Sprint’s LTE network was switched off just days ago, allowing those resources to be better used by T-Mobile. The latter company shut down its 3G UMTS network on July 1st, saying “across the industry, wireless companies are working to retire older network technologies as part of an important progression that will greatly enhance the performance of 4G and 5G.”