In the wake of the pandemic, the importance of affordable internet services became even more evident. Many individuals and families struggled to access essential broadband services for staying connected with loved ones, working remotely, attending virtual classrooms, and accessing critical healthcare and emergency services. To address this issue, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) introduced the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program as a temporary relief measure, which became the permanent Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) as soon as the government recognized the program’s impact. ACP offers discounts on monthly broadband services and connected devices. In this article, we’ll learn how to get an ACP free phone.
Which Smartphone Devices Does ACP Offer?
All ACP providers offer discounts on monthly internet services and many of them also offer discounts on connected devices. While most ACP providers offer discounts on computers, laptops, and tablets, some of them offer smartphones.
The smartphone ACP-eligible customers may be able to receive depends on the provider, state, and availability. Most ACP providers offer entry-level to mid-range smartphones, both Android and iOS. Unfortunately, as the free phone depends on so many factors, it’s impossible to know in advance which phone model you will receive.
Nevertheless, many Lifeline and ACP providers offer mobile devices such as the following. Keep in mind that some of these devices may only be available through a combination of both the ACP and Lifeline programs.
Top 7 ACP Free Phone Models in 2023
Apple iPhone 7 Plus
The Apple iPhone 7 Plus is a feature-packed device. It offers three storage options: 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB, and comes with 3GB of RAM, ensuring smooth multitasking. The device boasts a 5.5-inch Retina IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1080×1920 pixels, delivering vibrant visuals. Equipped with a powerful dual-camera system, the iPhone 7 Plus features a 12MP wide lens and a 12MP telephoto lens. For selfies and video calls, it has a 7MP front-facing camera with Face detection and HDR capabilities, ensuring high-quality self-portraits. The device includes a non-removable 2900mAh Li-Ion battery, providing ample standby time of up to 384 hours and talk time of up to 21 hours. Noteworthy features of the iPhone 7 Plus include a front-mounted fingerprint sensor for secure unlocking, stereo speakers for immersive audio, and support for Apple Pay for convenient mobile payments. Overall, the Apple iPhone 7 Plus offers powerful performance, excellent camera capabilities, a vibrant display, and a range of features that make it a reliable choice for smartphone users.
Samsung Galaxy S9
The Samsung Galaxy S) packs impressive features into a sleek design. With storage options ranging from 64GB to 256GB and 4GB of RAM, it offers ample space and smooth multitasking capabilities. Featuring a 5.8-inch Super AMOLED display with HDR10 support, the Galaxy S9 delivers stunning visuals with a resolution of 1440×2960 pixels. The device is equipped with a powerful 12MP rear camera, allowing for excellent low-light photography. For selfies and video calls, the Galaxy S9 boasts an 8MP front-facing camera with a wide lens and autofocus. The device comes with a 3000mAh non-removable battery, providing sufficient power for a day of usage. It supports fast charging and wireless charging, ensuring convenient and efficient charging options. Special features of the Galaxy S9 include an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance, stereo speakers tuned by AKG for immersive audio, and support for Samsung Pay, allowing for secure mobile payments. Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S9 offers a compelling combination of powerful specifications, a stunning display, excellent camera capabilities, and useful features, making it an attractive choice for smartphone users.
Samsung Galaxy S9+
Step up to the Samsung Galaxy S9+ for an enhanced smartphone experience. With a larger 6.2-inch Super AMOLED display, you’ll enjoy immersive visuals on its HDR10-supported screen. The dual rear camera setup includes a telephoto lens for 2x optical zoom and improved photography versatility. Choose between 4GB or 6GB of RAM for smooth multitasking, and store your files in options ranging from 64GB to 256GB of internal storage. The Galaxy S9+ also features a larger 3500mAh battery, providing longer-lasting power. With added special features like Samsung DeX support and the option for 6GB of RAM, the S9+ is a compelling upgrade for those seeking more from their smartphone experience.
Apple iPhone 8
The Apple iPhone 8 offers impressive specifications. It comes with three storage options: 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB, and is equipped with 2GB of RAM for efficient multitasking. Featuring a 4.7-inch Retina IPS LCD display, the iPhone 8 delivers crisp visuals with a resolution of 750×1334 pixels. The device boasts a 12MP rear camera with a wide lens, ensuring sharp and vibrant photos. For selfies and video calls, the iPhone 8 features a 7MP front-facing camera with Face detection, HDR, and panorama capabilities, enabling you to capture stunning self-portraits. The device includes a non-removable 1821mAh Li-Ion battery, which supports 15W wired charging and wireless charging (Qi standard), ensuring convenient and fast charging capabilities. Special features of the iPhone 8 include a front-mounted fingerprint sensor for secure authentication, stereo speakers for immersive audio, and support for Apple Pay, allowing you to make secure payments using your device. In summary, the Apple iPhone 8 offers powerful performance, a vibrant display, impressive camera capabilities, and convenient features that make it a reliable choice for smartphone users.
Motorola Moto Z4
Elevate your mobile experience with the Motorola Moto Z4. Its 6.4-inch OLED display delivers vibrant visuals, while the 48MP main camera captures stunning photos and records 4K videos. With 128GB of storage and 4GB of RAM, you’ll have ample space and smooth performance. The Moto Z4 supports Moto Mods, snap-on accessories that enhance functionality. Enjoy the convenience of a fingerprint sensor under the display and a 3600mAh battery that keeps you powered throughout the day. Upgrade to the Moto Z4 for a feature-rich smartphone experience.
Motorola G Stylus 2021
Unleash your creativity with the Motorola Moto G Stylus (2021). Its 6.8-inch IPS LCD display provides a spacious canvas for your content. Capture stunning photos with the 48MP quad-camera system, and enjoy smooth performance with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The built-in stylus allows for precise input, while the water-repellent coating provides durability. With a 4000mAh battery, you can stay powered up all day. This device is designed to inspire and empower your productivity.
Google Pixel 4 XL
Experience the power of Google Pixel 4 XL. Its 6.3-inch P-OLED display with HDR and 90Hz refresh rate brings your content to life. Capture stunning photos with the dual 12.2MP + 16MP rear cameras, and take beautiful selfies with the 8MP front camera. With 6GB of RAM and up to 128GB of storage, this phone delivers smooth performance. The IP68 rating ensures water and dust resistance, while the 3700mAh battery keeps you going all day. Unlock your phone with Face ID and enjoy the convenience of wireless charging. Elevate your smartphone experience with the Google Pixel 4 XL.
List of Other ACP Free Phones:
- Samsung Galaxy A02s
- Samsung Galaxy S8
- Apple iPhone 6
- Apple iPhone 6S
- Motorola Moto G Power
- Samsung Galaxy Note 9
- Motorola Moto G9 Play
- LG G8 ThinQ
- OnePlus 7T
- Alcatel Volta
- OnePlus Nord N20 5G
- Motorola Moto Edge 5G
- Nokia 8 V 5G UW
- CAT S62
List of Providers That Offer ACP Free Phones
As mentioned before, most ACP providers that offer discounts on connected devices provide discounts on tablets, computers, or laptops. However, some of them offer ACP free phones instead.
ACP providers that offer ACP free phones include:
- AirTalk Wireless
- Assurance Wireless
- Cintex Wireless
- Clear Wireless
- Easy Wireless
- enTouch Wireless
- Gen Mobile
- NewPhone Wireless
- SafeLink Wireless
- Selectel Wireless
- SFone Wireless
How to Choose an ACP Free Phone Provider?
Given the fact that nowadays, you have plenty of options when it comes to choosing an ACP free phone provider, you may be wondering how to go about it. To choose the company you qualify for and that best suits your needs follow these steps:
- Visit https://cnm.universalservice.org/.
- Enter your location and choose the ACP program. Press Search.
- You will then see a list of all the ACP providers in your area.
- Visit each company’s website to see what kinds of benefits they offer.
- Choose the company that offers ACP free phones along with benefits that best fit your needs (perhaps you need unlimited international calls, the largest amount of high-speed data, or an extra discounted tablet).
- You can also see if any of the above-mentioned companies operate in your area, as they all offer amazing benefits.
What Other Benefits Does the ACP Program Offer?
ACP program offers lots of benefits for eligible low-income households. As we have discussed above, some ACP providers offer ACP free phones.
In addition, some ACP providers provide one-time discounts of up to $100 on connected devices, such as desktop computers, laptops, or tablets. Qualifying customers may receive this discount if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.
While discounts on devices are only offered by some ACP providers, all of them also provide a discount on monthly internet services. Eligible households can get a discount of up to $30 a month on broadband services, eligible households on Tribal lands, on the other hand, can get a discount of up to $75 a month toward internet services.
The Affordable Connectivity Program is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.
Ways to Get an ACP Free Phone in 2023
In addition to other ways to get a free phone, such as getting a carrier deal, from an employee, as a reviewer, from a giveaway contest, etc., eligible people can also get a free phone from the government. In fact, there are two ways to get a free phone from the government – through the Lifeline or the ACP (former EBB) program.
Lifeline Free Phone
Ever since the 1980s when the government has acknowledged the fact that having a phone and phone service is a necessity rather than a luxury, low-income people can get a free service and mobile device from the Lifeline Assistance program.
Participating Lifeline providers offer monthly cell phone service with free calls, texts, and data, as well as free mobile devices. They generally offer free entry-level to mid-range Android smartphones, however, some providers also offer free iPhones.
ACP Free Phone
For a long time, Lifeline was the only government-funded program that provided free phones. However, in 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the FCC launched the temporary EBB program that provided discounts on internet services and connected devices. While the EBB program has recently expired, the new ACP program was launched instead and it, too, offers both internet services and connected devices.
Generally, ACP providers offer discounts on desktop computers, laptops, or tablets, however, certain ACP providers also offer free phones, sometimes in combination with their Lifeline program.
In order to receive a Lifeline or an ACP free phone, you must qualify, provide certain documentation, and apply for the program. Find out how to do all that in the next sections.
Process of Getting an ACP Free Phone in 2023
Now, let’s move on to the big question – How to get an ACP free phone? To receive an ACP free phone, you must follow a strict yet relatively simple process. The steps are outlined below and you can see exactly how to execute those steps in the following sections.
- First, you must check whether or not you qualify for an ACP free phone. See the eligibility criteria below.
- Check if you can prove your eligibility, which is something that you will have to do during the application process. See the acceptable documents below.
- Finally, apply for an ACP free phone. To do so, you must first find a suitable provider in your area and then apply. Learn more below.
Who Is Eligible for the ACP Free Phone in 2023
To receive an ACP free phone, you must be ACP-eligible. You are ACP-eligible if you or another member of your household meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Your annual household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
- You or another member of your household participates in a qualifying government assistance program, such as:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP
- Federal Housing Assistance
- You or another member of your household participates in a qualifying Tribal specific program, such as:
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Tribal TANF
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- You or another member of your household was approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year.
- You or another member of your household received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year.
- You meet the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income program.
Documents Required to Apply for ACP Free Phone
When you apply for the ACP program from any provider, the provider will do its best to verify your information and eligibility automatically. If, however, they fail to do so, they may ask you to provide some documents that may do so.
Depending on your eligibility criteria, you may be required to provide some of the following documents:
- An official document that includes your full name, date of birth, and address to verify your identity and address. For example, a passport, a government, military, state, or Tribal ID, birth certificate, U.S. Driver’s license, certificate of U.S. citizenship or naturalization, permanent resident card or Green Card, and so on.
- An official document proving that your household’s annual income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. For example, prior year’s state, federal, or Tribal tax return, current income statement from your employer or a paycheck stub, a Social Security statement of benefits, or a similar official document showing your income, or a retirement/pension statement of benefits.
- An official document proving your participation in a qualifying assistance program. For example, a benefit award letter, approval letter, statement of benefits, or a benefit verification letter.
- An official document proving that your household is approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program.
- An official document proving that you or a household member has received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year.
Only customers who are 18 years old or more and emancipated minors can enroll. Therefore, emancipated minors must also provide an official document that proves their emancipated minor status, such as an official court document or a certificate.
Most ACP providers enable you to attach the supporting documents to your online application. However, you can also send the documentation via mail to the provider’s address. Make sure to only submit copies of the documents, not originals.
Application Process for ACP Free Phone in 2023
To apply for an ACP free phone, simply follow the easy steps below:
- Step 1: Make sure you are ACP-eligible. You can check out the ACP eligibility criteria above.
- Step 2: Find an ACP provider that offers services and benefits in your state of residence. You can see the full list of ACP providers by state at fcc.gov/affordable-connectivity-program-providers. Note: Some ACP providers only offer discounts on monthly internet services. In addition, not all of the providers that do offer discounts on connected devices offer free phones. Some of them offer one-time discounts on computers, laptops, and/or tablets instead. Check out the ACP program benefits from the ACP providers that have a ‘tick’ under ‘Offering Connected Devices’.
- Step 3: When you find an ACP provider that offers ACP free phones in your state of residence, visit its website. There, you will be able to find their ACP online application form. Fill it out by providing your personal information and attaching supporting documents.
- Step 4: Once you submit an online application, wait a couple of days for the provider to contact you and let you know if you qualify for an ACP free phone.
In case your provider will require you to apply through the National Verifier yourself (instead of them running your application through the national system), you can do so online or via mail:
- To apply through the National Verifier online, visit https://getinternet.gov/apply?id=acp&awsl=link-from-how-to-apply. Log in or create a new account if prompted. Fill out the application form by providing all the required information and digital proof documentation. Submit the form and wait for approval.
- To apply via mail, print out an application at https://www.affordableconnectivity.gov/wp-content/uploads/ACP-Application-Form-English.pdf, include a Household Worksheet available at https://www.affordableconnectivity.gov/wp-content/uploads/lifeline/images/ACP-Household-Worksheet-English.pdf, complete the forms and add physical proof documentation copies, and sent the papers to ACP Support Center, PO Box 9100, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18773.
How Do ACP Free Phones Help Low-Income People?
ACP free phones, which are funded by the government and provided by wireless companies can help low-income people in several ways:
- Communication Access: ACP free phones enable low-income individuals to stay connected with their families, friends, employers, and emergency services. Having a reliable means of communication is crucial for personal safety, job opportunities, and accessing essential services.
- Job Search and Employment: With access to a free phone, individuals can actively search for employment opportunities, respond to job offers, and communicate with potential employers. This can enhance their chances of securing stable employment and improving their financial situation.
- Access to Emergency Services: ACP free phones ensure that low-income individuals have the means to reach emergency services, such as calling 911 in case of accidents, health emergencies, or other dangerous situations. This access to emergency services can be vital in times of crisis.
- Educational Opportunities: Access to a phone can help low-income individuals engage in educational opportunities, such as online courses, distance learning, and educational resources. It allows them to access educational materials, communicate with instructors and fellow students, and broaden their knowledge and skills.
- Bridging the Digital Divide: ACP free phones help bridge the digital divide by providing low-income individuals with a device that enables them to access the internet, stay informed, and engage in online activities. This can promote digital inclusion and empower individuals who may otherwise lack access to digital resources.
By providing free phones, ACP programs aim to reduce the barriers faced by low-income individuals and enhance their connectivity, access to vital services, and overall quality of life.
Have There Been Recent Important Emergency Broadband Benefit Program Updates?
On December 31, 2021, the temporary Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) has expired. The program has already been replaced by the new, long-term, $14 billion Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The new permanent assistance program will help ensure that people who are struggling to afford internet connections can enjoy them anyway and for a long time.
Households that have enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit prior to December 31, 2021, will continue to receive their current monthly benefit during a 60-day transition period. Afterward, they can enroll in the new ACP program (most former EBB providers now offer ACP benefits).
There are Some More Important Things to Know About ACP Free Phone
How Can I Transfer My ACP Enrollment to Carriers?
You can enroll in the ACP program by submitting an application at acpbenefit.org and then contacting your preferred participating provider to select a plan and have the discount applied to your bill. You can contact your preferred ACP provider’s customer support center. Alternatively, you can visit your selected provider’s website and apply to their ACP program directly through their online application.
When Will I Receive My Free Phone and Free Service After I Sign Up?
Once your application is approved, the provider will usually begin shipping your order within 7 to 10 business days. The free service may be applied next month.
How Long Will It Take to Receive Approval?
Generally, it only takes about 30 minutes for an application to be approved. However, in some cases, you may have to wait up to 4 days for approval. This usually happens if the documents need to be reconfirmed. Anyhow, most providers allow you to check your application status by logging into your account.
Which Smartphone Devices Does ACP Offer?
Many Lifeline and ACP providers offer mobile devices such as:
- Samsung Galaxy S7
- LG Stylo 4
- LG M150
- Motorola E5
- Motorola G Stylus
- Apple iPhone 6
- Apple iPhone 6S