AT&T has been proactively doling out its stock of LTE smartphones to subscribers still relying on its antiquated 3G network ahead of 3G’s death. The carrier has been pushing these devices to customers who risk not having an active cellular connection once it shuts off the network in February 2022. The shutdown will also affect devices that lack support for AT&T’s 4G VoLTE, a requirement for HD voice calls.
Folks were warned of the changeover last summer and encouraged to request a new compatible device to help with the transition. But in some instances, AT&T sent out smartphones without a request. Android Police’s founder received a Samsung Galaxy Note 9 unsolicited, and Reddit posts detail similar cases. The problem is that the Note 9 is more than three years old, and today we learned that Samsung will stop rolling out monthly updates to its aging Note.
Other devices that users have reported receiving from AT&T include the Galaxy Note 10, Galaxy S9, and the budget-friendly Galaxy A11. Android Police reached out to AT&T to ask about the updated device program. A spokesperson for the carrier responded that “inventory constraints mean we sometimes must find substitutes for some devices,” which explains why subscribers are receiving a variety of phones.
AT&T published a complete list of devices it would continue supporting after the network changeover. Some of the older Samsung devices include the Galaxy Note Edge and Note 4, which were released in 2014 and have long been off the software update list.
Other phone models are supported, too. Many Android devices from LG are on the list, including ASUS, Alcatel, HTC, and BlackBerry. There are even a few Windows Phone phones on the list, namely the Lumia 950 and Lumia 640 XL.
For those on iOS, AT&T will support the iPhone 6 and newer devices. Flip phones are also still compatible, somehow, and according to a few posts on Reddit, AT&T has also been providing those users with updated flip devices. Most tablets and smartwatches released in the last few years will remain compatible on the network, including the latest Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy smartwatches.
It seems like AT&T is merely clearing out its warehouses in an attempt to smooth the transition for customers who haven’t upgraded. If you’re one of the users that will be affected by the shutdown of AT&T’s 3G network, consider updating to one of the latest devices instead of sticking with what the carrier offers you. A free Android smartphone is certainly nice, but if you won’t get monthly software updates or 5G support, it’s worth considering a more current device that can take advantage of updated infrastructure and won’t leave you behind when it comes to new features.