Government-funded mobile phones are amazing. They can be truly life-saving. They are provided to low-income people who cannot afford to buy mobile devices and give them a better shot at life by helping them get a job, work, educate themselves, and contact loved ones, healthcare providers, emergency services, and much more.
Government phones range from entry-level Android phones to rather advanced smartphones and iPhones. They are provided by the FCC and distributed by wireless companies that participate in Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Program.
As getting a free mobile device from the government can be such a blessing for people in need, we will break down the Lifeline and ACP application process, the best free iPhone government phone providers, and help you receive your very own free device.
How to Find a Free iPhone Government Phone Provider Near You in Your State
While Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) providers are located in all U.S. states and territories, companies that offer free government iPhones are not that common and may not be available everywhere.
To check if there is a government iPhone provider available in your state and area, review the companies listed in the next section. To see a list of all Lifeline and ACP providers near you, visit cnm.universalservice.org.
List of Providers in 2023 That Help You Get Free iPhone Government Phone Service
Currently, the following wireless companies offer free iPhones through the Lifeline and ACP assistance programs. All of them are owned by a Texas-based telecommunications company, HTH Communications.
AirTalk is one of the best free iPhone government phone providers. To apply for the company’s free mobile device (cell phone and potentially a discounted tablet) and monthly phone and wireless service, visit airtalkwireless.com, press ‘Apply Now’, enter your ZIP code, and press ‘Apply Now’ once more. If the company operates in your area, you will be redirected to a page, where you can select the plan that best fits your needs. Then, you can proceed to fill out the application form by providing all the required information and documentation.
The company offers the benefits to eligible residents of California, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Cintex is another generous iPhone and free wireless service provider. You can enroll and receive a free phone (iPhone or Android smartphone), a free unlimited plan, and even a discounted ACP tablet by visiting cintexwireless.com, pressing ‘Apply Now’, and following the on-screen prompts to select your plan (make sure to aim for the most valuable Lifeline and ACP Combo plan) and submit your application.
Cintex is available to qualifying households in the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Like AirTalk and Cintex Wireless, NewPhone is a free government iPhone provider and a subsidiary of HTH Communications. Like its above-mentioned affiliate companies, NewPhone also offers free cell phones, discounted tablets, and free unlimited service plans with free monthly talk minutes, text messages, and data. You can subscribe to the company’s services by visiting newphone.com, pressing ‘Apply Now’, and following the prompts to select the most valuable plan, choose the device, and sign up.
NewPhone is only available to eligible residents of Louisiana and Wyoming.
List of Providers in 2023 That Help You to Get a Free Government Phone
At the moment, there are not many companies that would offer free government iPhones. However, there are many Lifeline and/or ACP companies that offer free government Android smartphone models, including:
- Access Wireless
- American Assistance
- Assist Wireless
- Assurance Wireless
- Easy Wireless
- enTouch Wireless
- Infinity Mobile
- Life Wireless
- NewPhone Wireless
- Q Link Wireless
- SafeLink Wireless
- SafetyNet Wireless
- StandUp Wireless
- Tag Mobile
- True Wireless
- U.S. Cellular
List of Free iPhone Government Phone Models in 2023 That You May Get From the Government
As the government spends its money on many other things besides free phones and as free phones are provided to simply help make communications services more affordable for low-income customers, the government doesn’t provide enough funds to cover the most advanced phone models. Instead, it offers entry-level to mid-range flip phones, Android smartphones, and iPhones free of charge. Wireless companies that participate in both government assistance programs (Lifeline and ACP) have the most funds and are more likely to offer customers better and more recent phone models.
The three Lifeline and ACP providers that currently offer free government iPhones, provide customers with the following iPhone models:
- Apple iPhone SE
- Apple iPhone 6
- Apple iPhone 6 Plus
- Apple iPhone 6s
- Apple iPhone 6s Plus
- Apple iPhone 7
- Apple iPhone 7 Plus
- Apple iPhone 8
The Process of Getting a Free iPhone Government Phone From the Government
As you can see above, the government offers high-quality iPhones with many advanced features free of charge. But just like everything else in life, getting a free iPhone from one of the best free iPhone government phone providers takes a bit of effort on your part. Luckily, the process of getting a free government iPhone is rather quick and simple – if, of course, you qualify for the two assistance programs.
- First, you must check the Lifeline and ACP eligibility criteria and make sure you meet the requirements. If you don’t, you won’t be able to enroll. See the eligibility criteria in the following section.
- Secondly, check which are the acceptable documents that may prove your eligibility. You may need them during the application process, therefore, make sure that you have a document to prove each of the requirements. See the acceptable documents below.
- You can then proceed to apply for a provider’s Lifeline and ACP program and free iPhone. See how to do so in the following sections.
Complete Eligibility Rules for Each State to Receive a Free iPhone Government Phone Service From the Government in 2023
All three companies that currently offer free government iPhones do so through both government assistance programs – Lifeline and ACP. This means, that you must apply for the company’s Lifeline and ACP Combo plan, as this is the only plan that will give you the benefits you are looking for. As such, you must qualify for both government assistance programs. While the eligibility criteria are similar (being Lifeline-eligible even automatically qualifies you for the ACP program), it is not the same. You can check out the eligibility requirements for both programs below.
Lifeline Eligibility Criteria
To become a Lifeline subscriber, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor.
- Be a resident of one of the states where the selected provider operates.
- Meet one of the following FCC-determined criteria:
- Income-based eligibility: Your annual household income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines. The guideline depends on the state and household size.
For instance, a 4-member household must have an annual income of $37,463 or lower in 48 contiguous states, $46,832 in Alaska, and $43,092 in Hawaii.
- Program participation-based eligibility: You or another member of your household participate in one of the following federal or Tribal assistance programs:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Head Start (only households meeting the income qualifying standard)
- Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
ACP Eligibility Criteria
To become an ACP subscriber, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor.
- Be a resident of one of the states where the selected provider operates.
- Meet one of the following FCC-determined criteria:
- Income-based eligibility: Your annual household income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. The guideline depends on the state and household size.
For instance, a 4-member household must have an annual income of $55,500 or lower in 48 contiguous states, $69,380 in Alaska, and $63,840 in Hawaii.
- Program participation-based eligibility: You or another member of your household participate in Lifeline, one of the Lifeline-qualifying programs listed above, or one of the following assistance programs:
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program, including at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Eligibility Provision schools
- The household received a Federal Pell Grant in the current award year
Documents Required When Applying for Free iPhone Government Phone Service From the Government in 2023
To successfully enroll in Lifeline and ACP, you will be required to prove your age to show that you are old enough to apply (or emancipated), your address to prove that the selected provider offers its services there, and one of the FCC-determined Lifeline/ACP criteria (income-based or program participation-based). To prove any of it, you will have to make and provide copies of valid official documents that show that you meet the requirements. Acceptable documents include:
- To prove your age or emancipation: An official document that includes your full name and date of birth, such as:
- A valid 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
- Certificate of emancipation or court document (if you are an emancipated minor)
- To prove your address: An official document that includes your full name and physical address, such as:
- Driver’s license
- A valid government, state, or Tribal ID
- Utility bill
- Mortgage or lease statement
- Most recent W-2 or tax return
- To prove your household income: An official document that includes your full name and annual income, such as:
- Current income statement from your employer or a paycheck stub
- Prior year’s state, federal, or Tribal tax return
- Unemployment or Worker’s Compensation statement of benefits
- A Social Security statement of benefits
- Veterans Administration statement of benefits
- Divorce decree or child support award
- A retirement/pension statement of benefits
- To prove your qualifying assistance program participation: An official document that includes your full name, the name of the program, the name of the institution that issued the document, and an issue date within the last 12 months or a future expiration date, such as:
- Benefit award letter
- Approval letter
- Statement of benefits
- Benefit verification letter
- School documentation
You may also be required to provide your social security number or other personal details. Depending on how you wish to apply, make clear digital or physical copies of one of the documents mentioned in each category.
Application Process to Get a Free iPhone Government Phone From the Government
To apply for the Lifeline and ACP programs and get a free iPhone from one of the best free iPhone government phone providers, do the following:
Step 1: Apply for assistance programs through the National Verifier
You can do so online or via mail.
To do it online, go to nv.fcc.gov/lifeline/?awsl=link-from-how-to-apply&ebbp=true&id=nv_flow&ln=RW5nbGlzaA%3D%3D. Through this official website, you can apply for both programs at once. Simply provide all the required information, press Next at the end of each page, and finally submit the form.
To do it via mail, print out physical application forms. The Lifeline form is available at lifelinesupport.org/wp-content/uploads/documents/get-lifeline/LI_Application_NVstates.pdf and the ACP form can be found at affordableconnectivity.gov/wp-content/uploads/ACP-Application-Form-English.pdf. When applying for ACP, it’s also strongly recommended to include a Household Worksheet available at affordableconnectivity.gov/wp-content/uploads/lifeline/images/ACP-Household-Worksheet-English.pdf. Fill out the forms, add physical copies of the proof documentation, and send the package to Lifeline/ACP Support Center, PO Box 7081, London, KY 40742.
National Verifier will soon let you know whether or not your application was approved.
Step 2: Apply through your selected Lifeline/ACP free iPhone provider.
First, make sure to find a provider that operates in your state of residence, otherwise, your application will not be approved. Then, you can visit the company’s website, find its Lifeline and ACP application form, fill it out by providing all the information and documentation (make sure it matches the information provided at the National Verifier or give them your National Verifier application ID), and submit the application.
Some Lifeline and ACP companies will send your application form to the National Verifier anyway. If so, you may be able to skip step 1 and just apply through the provider.
Application Process for a Free iPhone Government Phone if You Are Already a Part of the ACP/Lifeline Program
If you are already a Lifeline/ACP subscriber, you can skip step 1 described above, and go straight to step 2 – applying through the company.
If you are currently receiving Lifeline/ACP benefits from another provider, you can switch to one that offers free government iPhones (if it operates in your area). You can do so at any time. Note that you won’t be able to get benefits from two companies at once and if you already have a free government phone, you must return it if you are hoping to receive a free iPhone from the new provider.
Instead of visiting the provider’s website and filling out its application form from scratch, you should contact the company’s customer support service and tell the representative that you wish to switch to their services. Also, make sure to say if you wish to keep your phone number and the agent will advise you on what to do next.
How to Fill Out a Free iPhone Application Form
To fill out a free iPhone application form so that it will almost certainly get approved, follow these tips:
- Make sure to only provide true information and valid documentation.
- Provide everything that is required.
- Make sure that the information and documentation provided at your National Verifier application match those at the provider’s application.
- Make sure that the provided documentation copies are clear.
- Make sure that you are the only applicant in your household, as only one benefit is available per eligible household.
- Make sure that you meet all of the Lifeline/ACP requirements.
How Can You Follow Up on Your Application Status for the Free iPhone Government Program?
There is no need to check your Lifeline/ACP application status, as you will be notified as soon as there are any changes in the status.
However, if you still wish to check it, you can log into your National Verifier account or the provider’s account. There you will be able to see your status.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Free iPhone From the Government?
It depends on how you apply. If you apply through the National Verifier online and if your provided information is complete and valid, you may receive immediate approval. Approval via mail takes a bit longer. The provider may also take a few days to review your application and reach a decision. After being approved, however, the company will immediately try to send you a free device (if it’s available). When exactly you will receive it, depends on the phone availability and where you live.
Reasons for the Rejection of the Free iPhone Government Phone Application
If your application got rejected, one of the following may be the reason:
- The information/documentation provided on the two application forms (National Verifier and the company’s) doesn’t match.
- The provided information is incorrect or incomplete.
- The provided documentation is blurry, invalid, incorrect, or incomplete.
- You don’t qualify for the Lifeline, ACP, or either of the two programs.
- You don’t live in one of the states where the selected company operates.
If the reason is one of the first three, you can simply ask the company to reapply and reload the documents. This time, make sure to only provide correct, clear, valid information and documentation and to fill out all the blanks.
Other Benefits You May Get With a Free iPhone Government Phone
If your National Verifier Lifeline and ACP applications get approved and one of the best free iPhone government phone providers listed above operates in your state of residence, you can apply for its services and receive a free iPhone. But a free phone isn’t the only thing that you will receive, as the listed providers also offer the following Lifeline and ACP benefits:
- Free unlimited monthly service with:
- Free monthly minutes
- Free monthly texts
- Free monthly data
- Nationwide network coverage
- Other perks, such as caller ID, call waiting, etc.
- A one-time ACP discount on a tablet
Challenges and Limitations of the Free iPhone Government Phone Program
The free government iPhones are provided through two government assistance programs – Lifeline and ACP. Both of these programs come with certain rules and limitations, including:
- Only eligible households can participate in either one of the two government assistance programs.
- Both programs are limited to one benefit per eligible household.
- Both are non-transferable. It cannot be transferred to another person or household, even if they are eligible.
- You can only get benefits from one provider at a time. Nonetheless, you can change your Lifeline/ACP provider at any time.
- You must use the benefits at least once every 30 days to keep them.
- You must reapply once a year to keep the benefits.
- If you no longer qualify for any of the programs, you must inform your provider within 30 days.
Benefits of Having a Free Government iPhone Government Phone
Getting a free government iPhone comes with a long list of benefits. To just mention a few:
- Having a free government iPhone enables the customer to stay in touch with loved ones.
- It enables the user to stay in touch with their employer and education provider.
- It enables the client to contact their healthcare provider or emergency services at any time.
- It enables internet browsing, reading/writing emails, social networking, using apps, etc.
- It provides great entertainment, including video streaming, music and podcast listening, playing games, etc.
Discussion of Any Potential Changes to the Free iPhone Government Phone Program
The program that offers free government iPhones has already undergone certain changes.
First, there was only the Lifeline program since the 1980s. The program had limited funds, therefore, it only covered entry-level to mid-range Android smartphones.
Then, during the pandemic, when the need to have a stable internet connection and a connected device became more obvious than ever, the FCC launched a temporary government assistance program called the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB). This program offered discounts on monthly broadband services and connected devices.
As the program was hugely popular and truly necessary for all the people in need that had to work and educate themselves from home, the government decided to modify and extend the program. The new Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) was launched. Unlike the EBB, ACP was designed as a long-term program, therefore, customers should not worry about losing their benefits any time soon.
In case the government decides to change the program or eventually end it, your Lifeline/ACP service provider will inform you about the government’s decision in time for you to make other arrangements. If you fail to withdraw from the program in approximately 30 days between the announcement and the deadline, your provider will probably continue to offer you the exact same services but at the company’s regular service rate.
Other Ways You Can Get a Free iPhone Without the Government Program
If, after a thorough review of the Lifeline and ACP eligibility criteria, the application process, and the best free iPhone government phone providers, you have come to the conclusion that you are unable to receive a free iPhone from the government (perhaps due to ineligibility or the fact that none of the free government iPhone providers operates in your area), don’t worry! After all, nowadays, there are plenty of other ways to get a free iPhone. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Carriers and retailers often offer promotional deals on mobile devices. In fact, currently, all three major carriers (Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile) as well as several MVNOs offer one of the most recent Apple iPhones completely free of charge. However, you must know that these deals come with certain conditions and requirements. For instance, you may be asked to switch to the company’s services, add a line, sign a lengthy contract, activate the phone on a pricey select plan, trade in an old device, buy another device at full price, etc.
Take Online Surveys
Online surveys can also come either paid or you can get a great reward for taking them. A mobile device (such as an iPhone) is usually the reward for participation. As, such, this option is worth the consideration. Some of the best, most trusted, and most generous survey services include:
- Life Points
- Opinion Outpost
- Survey Junkie
- InstaGC (offering free gift cards for completing tasks, surveys, videos, and more)
- Swagbucks (you can get money, coupons, and free gift cards with survey participation)
Participate in Online Contests and Giveaways
There are also many online giveaway contests that offer attractive prices, such as free iPhones. Entering an online contest is usually easy. You may be asked to perform a simple task and provide some personal information. A word of caution, though! Nowadays, there are many scams on the internet. As such, make sure to find a legitimate offer and do not provide your personal information to any shady websites that may take advantage of this information. Trusted giveaway websites include:
- Re+public Giveaway
- Giveaway Monkey
Become a Reviewer
Becoming a reviewer also often comes with special perks and benefits. One of them is the opportunity to receive a free iPhone. All you have to do is to join a trusted reviewing service or website and write the best and most honest review of a service or product. Amazon Vine is a great and trusted reviewing service.
An Option for People in Need: A Charity or Non-profit Organization
Charities and non-profit organizations also sometimes provide people in need with mobile devices. However, they usually offer used or refurbished flip or Android phones instead of notoriously expensive iPhones. Your chances of getting a free iPhone from such an institution may be slim, however, it’s worth a try.
How to Get a Free iPhone From Apple?
Apple generally isn’t that generous when it comes to providing free iPhones. Nevertheless, there are certain ways to get a free iPhone from Apple, including:
- Find an iPhone giveaway program online
- Trade in your old phone to receive an iPhone
- Join an iPhone beta testing program (go to beta.apple.com/sp/betaprogram and review your options).
What Are the Basic Features of the Free iPhone Government Phones?
The government does not offer the most advanced iPhone models free of charge. Instead, it offers a bit older phone models with all the most important features. For example, one of the most advanced iPhone models currently offered by the government is the iPhone 8. It comes with iOS 11 (up to iOS 16.3), 64GB to 256GB of storage (with no card slot), a 4.7-inch 750 x 1334 px display, 2GB of RAM, 1821 mAh Li-Ion battery, a 12 MP main camera, a 7 MP selfie camera, fingerprint sensor, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and much more.
How Many Free iPhones Can I Get From the Government?
You can only get one iPhone from the government.
How is the Free iPhone Program Funded?
It’s funded by the government and managed through the FCC.
How to Choose the Right Program?
We keep mentioning two government assistance programs – Lifeline and ACP. You may wonder which one you must choose to get a free iPhone. Well, all the companies that currently offer free iPhones offer them through both programs. As such, you must qualify for both. When it comes to choosing the right provider, you can’t go wrong! All three companies have the same owner and services. As such, simply choose the company that operates in your area.
How Are the Free Phones Distributed?
If your application gets approved, the company will send you a free iPhone via mail.
How Can Free Phones Help Eligible Individuals?
They help people stay in touch with loved ones, work, school, healthcare, and much more.
What Do You Do if Any Terms or Concepts Are Unclear?
If anything is unclear, it’s best to contact your selected provider’s customer support service.
Is the Free iPhone Program Only for Low-income Individuals?
Yes. Only people with a low annual income or a government assistance program participation (which also requires a low income) are eligible to apply.
Is the Free iPhone Offered Under Warranty?
Yes, the three companies have a 15-day warranty on all handsets, as well as a one-year warranty from the manufacturer.
How Do I Determine if I Am Eligible for the Free iPhone Government Program?
See the eligibility requirements listed in the section ‘Complete Eligibility Rules for Each State to Receive a Free iPhone From the U.S. Government in 2023’.