Why is Smartphone So Important for People?
Nowadays, smartphones are so important due to the connectivity and security they provide. They enable us to get in touch with virtually anyone from nearly everywhere (as long as we have a phone signal). In addition, they allow us to access the internet, work, study, take photos and videos, check emails, use social media, access useful and entertaining apps, contact healthcare providers and emergency services, and more.
Who Needs a Free Smartphone?
Smartphones are a vital tool that is indispensable in the 21st century. Even though the prices of cell phones (including touchscreen smartphones) are significantly lower than they were 20 years ago, certain individuals and households are still unable to afford to buy one. Low-income people who don’t have the freedom, connectivity, and security that comes with a smartphone are in dire need to receive a free one.
Fortunately, there are certain government aid programs that help people in need get more affordable communications services and devices.
What Kind of Free Phone Can You Get From the Government
The government offers several assistance programs, which provide different kinds of free services and goods for low-income people who struggle to afford them themselves. Two of those government aid programs are designed to help make communications services more affordable, as these services are considered a basic need. One is called the Lifeline Assistance program. It was launched in the 1980s and offers discounts on monthly phone and wireless services and devices. The second one is called the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). It is a new program that provides discounts on monthly internet services and connected devices.
Wireless companies and service providers that participate in the Lifeline and ACP programs all offer discounts on monthly services. However, whether or not they also offer discounts on phones and other wireless devices and what kinds of devices they offer, depends on the individual provider. Wireless providers that participate in both government assistance programs have more funds, which enables them to provide better and more advanced phones. Depending on the provider you choose, you can expect to receive:
Note that most providers do not offer the latest phone models but somewhat older mid-range smartphones instead.
What are the Steps to Get a Free Smartphone From the Government?
In order to receive a free smartphone from the government, you must prove that you need one yet are unable to afford it. In order for people not to abuse the assistance programs, the government has established a list of eligibility criteria, which must be met to enroll and receive the benefits. Not only must you meet the eligibility criteria, but you must also follow some other steps to get a free smartphone from the government.
- Step 1: Check whether or not you meet the Lifeline/ACP eligibility requirements, which are listed in the following section. If so, you can proceed to the next step.
- Step 2: Prepare the official documents that prove your eligibility. You will be required to submit them during the application process. See the list of acceptable documentation below.
- Step 3: Apply for the Lifeline and/or ACP government assistance program. There are several ways to do so, all of which are described in the ‘How Do I Apply for Lifeline and ACP?’ section of this article.
- Step 4: Find a Lifeline/ACP participating wireless company in your state of residence that offers free smartphones from the government. Apply to receive the company’s Lifeline/ACP benefits. You can see the best Lifeline/ACP smartphone providers below.
- Step 5: If accepted, simply enjoy the free smartphone from the government and other benefits.
How Do You Qualify for a Free Smartphone From the Government Through the Lifeline and ACP Programs?
The first step in the process of obtaining a free smartphone from the government is to make sure that you qualify for it. You must meet the FCC-determined Lifeline and/or ACP eligibility criteria.
A household is Lifeline-eligible if it (or one of its members) meets one (or more) of the following eligibility requirements:
- Income-based eligibility: The annual household income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines.
- Program participation-based eligibility: A household member participates in one of the following qualifying federal or Tribal assistance programs:
- SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as Food Stamps)
- SSI (Supplemental Security Income)
- FPHA (Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- Head Start (only for households that also meet the income qualifying standard)
- Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
Affordable Connectivity Program Eligibility
A household is ACP-eligible if it (or one of its members) meets one (or more) of the following eligibility requirements:
- Income-based eligibility: The annual household income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.
- Program participation-based eligibility: A household member participates in one of the following qualifying federal or Tribal assistance programs:
- Any of the Lifeline-qualifying federal or Tribal assistance programs listed above
- WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children)
- Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program, including at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Eligibility Provision schools
- Federal Pell Grant (received in the current award year)
In addition to these Lifeline/ACP eligibility criteria, the applicant must also be at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor and a resident of any U.S. state (Lifeline and ACP are available in every state, commonwealth, territory, and on Tribal lands).
What are the Main Reasons for Not Qualifying for the Lifeline and ACP Program?
If you meet the eligibility requirements above, you will surely qualify for the government aid program and be able to receive a free smartphone from the government. However, if it turns out that you do not qualify, one of the following must be the reason:
- You are not 18 years old or more or an emancipated minor
- You are not a U.S. resident
- You do not meet the Lifeline/ACP eligibility criteria above
- You are unable to prove your eligibility
What Documents are Required When Applying for Lifeline and ACP to Receive a Free Smartphone From the Government?
The only way to receive a free smartphone from the government is through a government assistance program. Therefore, you must not only meet the government eligibility criteria but also prove it. As such, applicants must provide certain official documents that prove their eligibility during the application process. Depending on your eligibility criteria, you may be required to provide one document that proves the following information:
Household Income Documents
To prove that your annual household income is low enough for you to participate in the program, you must provide an official document that contains your first and last name and annual income. Acceptable documents include:
- Consecutive paycheck stubs
- Current income statement from your employer
- Prior year’s state, federal, or Tribal tax return
- A Social Security statement of benefits
- Unemployment or Worker’s Compensation statement of benefits, etc.
Assistance Program Participation Documents
To prove that you or your dependent participate in one of the qualifying assistance programs, you must provide an official document that contains your first and last name, the name of the qualifying program, the name of the organization that issued the document, and a recent issue date (within the last year or a future expiration date). Acceptable documents include:
- Approval letter
- Benefit award letter
- Statement of benefits, etc.
During the application process, you may also be asked to verify your identity. You can do so by providing an official document that contains your first and last name and date of birth, such as:
- A valid government, military, state, or Tribal ID
- U.S. Driver’s license
- Birth Certificate
- Permanent Resident Card or Green Card, etc.
You may also be required to verify your address. To do so, provide an official document that contains your first and last name and physical address, such as:
- A valid government, state, or Tribal ID
- Driver’s license
- Utility bill
- Mortgage or lease statement, etc.
Depending on your unique situation, you may also be required to provide some of the following:
- A duplicate address
- An emancipated minor confirmation (a court document or emancipation certificate)
- Social Security Number or Tribal ID Number
- Prove of life
During the application process, you will be asked to provide copies of certain official documents. Make sure that the documents are unexpired and that the copies are not dark or blurry. Make sure to never submit original documents.
How Do I Apply for Lifeline and ACP?
There are three ways to apply for Lifeline and/or the Affordable Connectivity Program:
To complete the Lifeline application online, log in or create an account at nv.fcc.gov/lifeline. Select your state or territory and press ‘Get Started’. When redirected to the National Verifier website, fill out the online application form by providing and submitting all the information and documentation.
To complete the ACP application online, visit nv.fcc.gov/lifeline/?id=nv_flow&ebbp=true. Log in or create an account. Fill out the application form and press ‘Submit’ at the end.
To apply to Lifeline via mail, you will first have to print out a paper application, which is available at lifelinesupport.org/wp-content/uploads/documents/get-lifeline/LI_Application_NVstates.pdf. Fill it out, add physical copies of the proof documents, and send the package to Lifeline Support Center, P.O. Box 7081, London, KY 40742.
To apply for ACP via mail, print out an application at affordableconnectivity.gov/wp-content/uploads/ACP-Application-Form-English.pdf and Household Worksheet at affordableconnectivity.gov/wp-content/uploads/lifeline/images/ACP-Household-Worksheet-English.pdf. Complete both forms and send them, along with copies of your proof documentation to ACP Support Center, P.O. Box 7081, London, KY 40742.
Through the provider
While some Lifeline/ACP providers require customers to apply through the National Verifier first anyway, others enable customers to apply directly through them. Depending on your selected provider you may be able to apply online on the company’s official website, via mail, or by phone.
How Can I Check My Lifeline and ACP Application Status?
After you submit your application, the National Verifier or your selected provider will let you know whether or not your application got approved. If you apply online, the process will be that much faster. In case they are unable to verify certain information, you will be asked to provide additional documents for review.
In case you are feeling impatient, you can also check your application status by applying to your account (your National Verifier account on your provider’s account). There you will be able to see your application status and other details.
How Do I Apply for a Free Smartphone From the Government?
By now you have probably already made sure that you qualify for Lifeline/ACP and that you are able to prove it. Once you do so, to apply for a free smartphone from the government, you must then find a Lifeline/ACP provider that operates in your state of residence and offers free government smartphones in your area.
In case you have already applied for Lifeline/ACP through the National Verifier, you can simply contact the provider that you have selected and ask them how to apply your government assistance discounts to their services. You will probably have to fill out another application and submit it online or via mail. While completing this application form make sure to use the exact same information as you have provided in the National Verifier form, otherwise your application may not be valid.
How Long Will My Application Take to Receive Approval?
How long it will take for your application to get approved depends on your selected provider, however, most of them strive to process each application and provide feedback in a few days. In case you apply online, you may be able to receive confirmation in a matter of minutes.
Apart From a Free Smartphone, What Other Benefits Will You Get After Qualifying for the Lifeline and ACP Program?
In addition to a free smartphone from the government, Lifeline and ACP subscribers can also receive the following benefits:
- A Lifeline discount on cell phone or wireless services of up to $9.25 or $34.25 on Tribal lands.
- An ACP discount on monthly internet services of up to $30 or $75 on Tribal lands.
- A one-time ACP discount on internet-connected devices of up to $100.
- Free or discounted monthly wireless services with a certain amount of monthly minutes, texts, and data.
Note that the exact list of benefits depends on the provider, the state, the plan, availability, and other factors.
What are the Lifeline and ACP Plans That You Can Get With Free Smartphone?
The list of plans provided by Lifeline/ACP providers depends on both the provider and the state. However, wireless companies that offer both types of benefits tend to offer Lifeline-Only, ACP-Only, and Lifeline + ACP plans for eligible customers. The latter generally comes with the largest benefits – the largest amount of free monthly minutes, texts, and data and the best free smartphones from the government. To see the plans, you must check out your selected provider’s official website.
Which Free Smartphones Can You Get From the Government?
Lifeline providers historically provided eligible customers with entry-level to mid-range Android smartphones. However, since some providers now also receive the ACP funds, they offer more recent and better phones, both Android and Apple. Depending on which provider you select and on whether he offers both benefits or just one, you may be able to receive one of the following free smartphones from the government.
Samsung Galaxy A32
This is a high-quality device from one of the most esteemed brands that sports a powerful 5000mAh battery with fast charging, a 48 MP camera, 5G connectivity, an HD+ 6.5-inch display, ample and extendable storage room, and more.
Apple iPhone 8
Certain providers also offer slightly older iPhones, including the iPhone 8, which comes with a fast A11 processor, a 12 MP camera, an HD Retina display, True Tone, a 1821mAh battery with wireless charging, and other advanced features.
LG V50 ThinQ 5G
This Android phone from another reliable brand offers a large battery with wireless charging, three rear cameras, two front cameras, a powerful processor, a 6.4-inch OLED screen with Quad-HD resolution, a memory card slot, and lots more.
Motorola G Stylus
Motorola is another giant when it comes to advanced smartphones. This model has an impressive 48MP camera, a large 4000mAh battery, ample storage room, a 6.4-inch HD display, a water-repellent design, a fingerprint reader, and other exciting features.
OnePlus N200 Nord 5G
This Android device comes with lightning-fast 5G connectivity, an immersive 6.5-inch full HD display, a massive 5000mAh battery with decent battery life, a set of powerful dual speakers, a 13MP main camera, and more.
Samsung Note 8
Another phone model by Samsung – this one features a stylus for taking notes, a professional dual camera with optic image stabilization and 4K UHD video, a 6.3-inch vivid display, expandable memory, a 3000mAh battery, and other great features.
This advanced phone model by OnePlus sports a 6.55-inch OLED display, a great triple 48MP main camera with ultra-wide angle, a highly responsive 90Hz refresh rate, the latest HDR10+ technology, a fast-charging battery, and lots more.
Samsung Galaxy S9
This phone model introduced the revolutionary Dual Aperture phone camera that performs brilliantly in the dark, a large infinity display, Dolby Atmos speakers, ample internal storage, a fast charging camera, and much more.
Google Pixel 4
Google devices are also on the list of free smartphones provided by the government. This particular model comes with a dual-lens camera (16MP + 12.2MP) with motion sense, a 5.7-inch Always-on display, up to 128 GB of storage, a fast-charging battery, etc.
Apple iPhone 7
Apple fans will be happy to hear that the government offers several older iPhone models, including the popular iPhone 7. The device features a great UI design, a 12MP iSight camera with 4K video, a powerful processor, decent battery life, a vivid display, and more.
The Government Also Offers Other Android/Apple Smartphones and Flip Phones:
- Samsung A10E
- OnePlus N100 Nord
- OnePlus 6
- Samsung Galaxy A21
- Samsung Galaxy A20S
- LG V40 ThinQ
- Motorola moto g7 play
- Motorola moto g7 power
- LG K51
- Wiko U307
- LG G7 thinQ
- LG Tribute Empire
- Samsung Galaxy A01
- Motorola Z2
- Google Pixel 4XL
- Google Pixel 2
- Apple iPhone 6
- Apple iPhone SE
- Unimax U693CL
- Samsung Galaxy On5
- Coolpad Belleza
Who are the Best Free Government Smartphone Providers?
All of the following are reliable Lifeline/ACP providers that offer free smartphones from the government. While they all offer services in various US states, you can check if they also operate in your area at lifelinesupport.org/companies-near-me.
Q Link Wireless
Not only does Q Link offer free monthly services with free talk, text, and data, and free smartphones. It also offers ACP discounted tablets. Get more information on Qlink Free Phones And Service Guide and enroll at qlinkwireless.com.
This Lifeline/ACP provider offers free monthly services with unlimited talk and text, high-speed data, and a free flip phone or a free smartphone from the government (Android and Apple). You can read more about How to Get AirTalk Wireless Free Government Phone and enroll at airtalkwireless.com.
StandUp also provides qualifying customers with free monthly services, free Android smartphones, and even discounted tablets. Find out more about How to Get Standup Wireless Free Phone and begin the application process at standupwireless.com.
The company offers a free monthly plan with free data, unlimited talk and text, and a free smartphone from the government. To learn more about American Assistance Free Phone, Enroll at americanassistance.com.
AirTalk’s affiliate company also offers free flip phones, Android phones, and iPhones to eligible customers. It also offers free monthly talk, text, and data. See details for Cintex Wireless Free Phone and visit cintexwireless.com.
enTouch is a company that provides qualifying customers with free unlimited monthly talk and text, free data, and a free 5.5-inch smartphone. See details about How to Get enTouch Wireless Government Free Phone and sign up at entouchwireless.com.
The company offers free monthly services with unlimited talk, text, data, hotspot data, and a free smartphone from the government (Android).To learn more about Access Wireless Free Phone and Apply to accesswireless.com.
The provider offers free unlimited monthly minutes, texts, data, 10 GB of hotspot data, and a free smartphone from the government. To learn more about How To Get Assurance Wireless Free Phone and, Receive the perks at assurancewireless.com.
Another nationwide provider is True Wireless. It offers free smartphones as well as free monthly services.To learn more about True Wireless Free Phone, Begin the application process at gotruewireless.com.
This is another wireless provider that offers free monthly data, unlimited talk and text, hotspot data, and a free smartphone. Find out more about the company’s government benefit program Easy Wireless Free Phone and Sign up at myeasywireless.com.
Along with free monthly talk, text, and data, the provider also offers free flip phones, Android smartphones, and iPhones from the government. You can learn more about How to Get NewPhone Wireless Free iPhone and Apply at newphone.com.
SafeLink offers free monthly services with unlimited talk and text, high-speed data, and a free smartphone. Get more info at safelinkwireless.com/Enrollment/Safelink/en/Web/www/default/index.html#!/newHome.Learn more about How To Get SafeLink Government Free Phone.
This company offers free phones and monthly services with unlimited talk and text, free data, and international calls. Learn more TruConnect Free Phone From the Government and enroll at truconnect.com.
Can I Get a Free Smartphone From Another Source if I Don’t Qualify for Lifeline and ACP?
Do you wish to receive a free smartphone from the government but you don’t meet the eligibility criteria? Worry not! There are also several other ways to receive a free smartphone, including:
- From a charity or non-profit organization (only for low-income people)
- From a carrier (find a carrier deal)
- From a retailer (find a retailer deal)
- By becoming a reviewer or a marketing agent
- By joining Amazon Vine
- By entering an online giveaway
What to Do if My Free Smartphone is Not Working?
Contact your Lifeline/ACP provider immediately. The company may have a warranty.
What to Do if My Free Smartphone Phone is Lost or Stolen?
Again, make sure to contact your provider at once so that they can disconnect your service.
Why Does the Government Offer Free Phones?
Because having a phone is considered a basic need and some people are unable to buy one.
How Do I Extend My Lifeline Benefits After One Year?
Before the end of the year, you will receive detailed instructions from your provider via mail or email.
Do I Need to Pay a Registration Fee for a Free Smartphone?
Can I Add Airtime and Data From Lifeline Providers?
Yes, some providers offer top-up plans.
Which is the Best Free Government Phone Company?
It depends on your needs and preferences. AirTalk, Cintex, and NewPhone Wireless are among those providers that offer the most benefits.
Can I Keep My Number?
Yes, most providers allow customers to keep their numbers.
Can I Upgrade My Existing Free Government Flip Phone to a Smartphone?
It depends on the provider – some offer upgrade phones.
Does the Government Provide Free Tablets?
The government provides ACP subscribers a discount of up to $100 on tablets.
Some Providers Load Their Free Phones With Malware. Is It True?
While it did happen in the past, this is not a common practice.
What are Buy-one-get-one Promotions?
These promotions give customers who buy a phone at full price another device for free.
What Kind of File Formats Are Allowed for Uploading My Proof Documents Online?
Allowed file types include jpg, jpeg, png, pdf, or gif.
Are There Hidden Fees?
It depends on the provider, however, mostly the answer is no.