Which of the Free Government Cellphone Companies are Offering Smartphones?
We are often asked which of the free government cell phone providers offer smartphones. many individuals end up asking you this question, so we went and did a survey with the Lifeline Assistance companies that are top-ranked.

The free government cell phone is governed by an organization to call USAC, so we ask them first if any companies have to offer cell phones. We wanted to call them to save time as we would have to call over 20 companies and speak to their service departments.

We received the following answer on February 29th, 2016 from the USAC.

"There are no requirements currently for any Lifeline phone company to offer a smartphone. This policy may change in the future. If you have any more questions, please contact us."

When we received this answer, we knew that we would have to spend it more time to find out what companies are offering free smartphones. we felt that this was appropriate because it would answer all of the questions our readers have.

The bad news for you is that not every company is going to offer a smartphone but many of these companies do. The cell phone that a customer usually receives is often randomly selected. You may ask for a smartphone, but this doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to get one.

The good news is that the companies that offer smartphones will often let you upgrade to a smartphone for a small fee. This upgrade could cost you around $30 or more but by paying it you are going to get a smartphone.

In addition, there is a little bit more and bad news because of these smartphones are often refurbished older phones. You may get an older Android phone yeah I'm older iPhone and not the latest technology

The good news for most people is that even though these phones are a little bit older they should work just fine. They might not look as great as other phones but you shouldn't have any problems with them turn

What Exactly is a Smartphone?

Many companies offer what are called smartphones but some don't understand what a smartphone actually is. A company may offer you a data plan but this doesn't necessarily mean that they are offering smartphones. Here is the full explanation of what a smartphone actually is.

A basic phone is often referred to as a feature phone. This phone can send pictures attached to text,t to Facebook, Twitter, and other places. To do this sort of thing you require a data plan. If you don't have a data plan you can send a text message but you can't attach a picture to it as this isn't able to go over the text message Network or SMS.

A phone might be called a smartphone but it's not really. The smartphones that we think of today. a smartphone today is quite powerful and you can think of something like an Android phone, iOS phone, Blackberry Os, or a Windows phone as a smartphone. These will have applications installed by the maker of that phone and you can also install your own applications.

You can be fooled by feature phones into thinking that these are an actual smartphone. Some Lifeline vendors will probably stretch the definition of what a smartphone is because they may have Facebook, touch screen, photo gallery, and so on but they are not actually technically a full smartphone like the ones we know of today.

If a Lifeline vendor doesn't highlight what type of phone they are giving out even if a data plan is offered, they are probably not offering a smartphone.

Companies that offer smartphones

A Lifeline Assistance company might say that it offers smartphones but this might not mean that you get the full internet experience that you might be hoping for. You will have to investigate all of the capabilities of the so-called smartphone.

We did some research on our own into the biggest names in the lifeline assistance business. We start with some of the larger names and then work down to the smaller companies so you understand exactly what you're going to be getting

Safelink Wireless

We needed to do some work to determine if SafeLink offered smartphones to their customers. We looked within the terms and conditions of the company and found out that they seem to offer it. We wanted to confirm this so we called the company and we talked to a corporate spokesperson who said that the following:

"Smartphones are only offered in the state of California to applicants that are approved. The other states will offer regular phones. You can get further details about the SafeLink California program on the link we have provided for you. The BYOP Or bring your own phone program is not currently offered to our SafeLink customer."

The answer to this question is that if you are living in the state of California you will be able to get a smartphone from SafeLink. If you live in any one of the other states you will not be able to receive a smartphone through the company.

Info on Safelink Wireless

Assurance Wireless

In the frequently asked questions or FAQ from the company website we found the following information:

Am I able to use an Android smartphone with my account through Assurance Wireless?

"Only customers that are in certain areas of California are allowed to use approved Android devices with this account."

Can I use my iPhone device with my Assurance Wireless account?

"You are not allowed to use the data platform provided by iPhone with your Assurance Wireless account."

Info on Assurance Wireless

Access Wireless

You will sometimes have to do some detective work to determine if a certain company is offering a smartphone. Access Wireless doesn't mention that they offer smartphones on their website. It gives you a selection of phones from Motorola, Samsung, ZTE, Alcatel and some other manufacturers that are upgraded.

We called the help desk from Access Wireless and they indicated that the initial phone provided is usually going to be a smartphone.

Info on Access Wireless

Life Wireless

The Life Wireless company gave us this answer to our inquiry.

"We charge $45 for smartphones. If you have any other concerns or questions you should contact our customer service department by calling 1-888-543-3620. Our company is open between 8 am to 10 pm Est Monday-Friday and 8 am to 8 pm weekends."

Info on Life Wireless

Q Link Wireless

In the last year that Q Link wireless company has grown quite a bit and they are considered one of the largest free government providers of cell phones. This company serves Lifeline customers in Arizona, Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas, Maine, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan, Nevada, Missouri, Oklahoma, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, South Carolina, Washington, Vermont, Wisconsin, and West Virginia

We assumed that the primary reason for its Newfound success is its smartphone policy. You can have a look at their website and read the Frequently Asked Question section of their site.

If I upgrade my phone and what kind of phone will I receive?

"Qlink Wireless provides free phones but this all depends upon the availability of those phones. The models shipped to you and may vary. We only ship smartphones so you can take advantage of the latest calling features, connect your phone to Wi-Fi, do picture messaging, and perform other data tasks."

"Once we received your application and approve it then your order will ship and contain the tracking information. If you've already received your phone, you'll be able to login to your Q Link account and find your phone's model number there."

"If you're currently in existing customer and have a basic phone you may want to upgrade to a smartphone. You can upgrade your phone for a fee of $25 by clicking here. You can also call us toll-free at  1-855-754-6543  and we will take your order over the phone. You can also pay online or through the phone with a credit card or a debit card that is in your name or you can also use a prepaid gift card."

Another page Provided by the company indicated that:

"QLink wireless service differs from other providers of Lifeline. We provide each one of our new subscribers with a smartphone that is of a high-quality. This Smartphone can connect to Wi-Fi so you have internet access. Our customers have the ability to play games, download applications, access email, and surf the Internet. We offered the most UNLIMITED texting and the MOST minutes."

We consider QLink to be one of the better providers and which other companies would follow this one.

Tag Mobile

This company offers smartphones and you can also bring in your own smartphone. The smartphones are randomly given to customers so there is no assurance that you're going to receive a smartphone from them.

Info on Tag Mobile

Terracom Wireless

When we spoke to a representative of Terracon Wireless during a live online chat session we received the following information.

Company:" When you apply for any Services the first phone you receive is always going to be a randomly-selected refurbished phone we also have upgrade options for you."

Customer: "So this phone might be a smartphone or an older non-smartphone. Am I able to use my current smartphone with my Terracom plan?"

Company: "Yes the phone to receive could be a smartphone or a non-smartphone. You have the ability to use your own phone with our service if it is compatible."

Info on Terracom

Assist Wireless

We found out that assist Wireless does offer smartphones. On the company's website we found the following information for you:

Upgrade Your Cell Phone Today

You have the ability to upgrade your cell phone anytime that you want. If you want to date a phone we have this for you. If you want a smartphone we also have this available. You can choose to cell phone there's going to be a suit your individual needs and then put this into the shopping cart. Each one of these phones is going to work with your Lifeline plan.

If you want to upgrade your cell phone to something else we can cover you for this. If you want something that has more functionality this is not a problem for us. We offer a wide selection of flip phones, brick phones, smartphones, and data phones. All of these phones are going to work with your Lifeline cell service plan. All you need to do is to pick the Lifeline cell phone that is going to suit your current needs.

Info on Assist Wireless

Yourtel Wireless

This company is now a part of Terracom Wireless


When we reached out to EnTouch they implied that they offer smartphones for any one of their Lifeline assistance customers

What Will I receive?

We provide phones that are full-featured and Wireless. With your Lifeline phone service and phone, you will have the ability to text photos, call nationally, go to websites, and check your email. You may also bring your own smartphone when you choose our program.

We investigated this company further and got in touch with one of their representatives. The indicated that you will be signed up with a non-smartphone on most occasions. They do offer a bring-your-own-device program. Once you sign up for the program you'll be given the specifications of the type of phone you can use.

The website also indicated that a database is going to check to determine whether the mobile device can be activated on their network but this only takes a minute or less.

This means that an inactive smartphone could be used on your account through this company but not all phones are going to be compatible with the EnTouch system. If your phone has been reported as stolen or your phone is associated with any active Wireless account then it's not eligible.

An e-mail exchange with them indicated that they are not going to tell people what is available on their website because the inventory they have is always changing. We have no way of knowing what smartphones or other phones that they actually have available. they did indicate that some California residents will get signed up for a smartphone.

This is an indication that some California customers may get a cell phone right away but there's no indication of what other customers from other states are going to receive.

Info on Entouch

SafetyNet Wireless/Amerimex

You have to spend a lot of time at SaffeteyNet's website even determine if they offer smartphones. We looked at their terms and conditions and found this buried within it.

Handsets provided by SafetyNet could be refurbished incapable of making voice calls or texting. are free handsets are not capable of carrying data. The customer may purchase and then upgrade to a handset that is capable of carrying data. The free furbished handsets that SafetyNet Wireless provides are the industry standard grade of A/B.”

This California website but not in the terms and conditions on their sites in other states. The handset upgrades may only be available in California.

Info on SafetyNet Wireless

Cintex Wireless

We know that CintexCurrently offers only one smartphone model made Huawei. it's not clear if the company offers any other models. The model that they do offer is quite expensive. When we talked to the representative they could not tell us which model was provided but did indicate that the upgrade to this phone is going to cost you $75.99.

Info on Cintex Wireless

Wireless for Hope/Easy Wireless

HopeDoes business as easy Wireless and on its website FAQ we found the following information.

Can I use my iPhone phone or Android card phone with my Easy Wireless account?

"Yes. easy Wireless provides both iPhone handsets as well as Android-powered handsets. We have a selection of phones available for you in our catalog."

I received a different phone than my friend. Why did I receive one that is different than the one pictured on your Easy Wireless website?

"Each easy wireless phone model that is sent out is dependent upon the availability of that phone. The model ship to you could vary. We make efforts to ensure that each model we give to the customer is the best one that is available currently. We distribute used refurbished A&B phones at the present time. We can send you pictures upon request. We also offer  used, new, and refurbished models that you can purchase from us."

Info on Easy Wireless


We looked through the TruConnect website and found this comment for you

" We offer cheap mobile phones such as Moxie and BLU prepaid phones as well as a variety of mobile broadband devices. We offer 4G LTE smartphones, Samsung, Novotel, D-Link, and Unimax 4g LTE Wi-Fi hotspot."

Info on TruConnect


This summary should give you an indication of the smartphone offerings you'll receive from the free government cell phone companies to meet your needs.

Companies that offer smartphones to all of their customers: QLink

Companies that offer smartphones to just some customers:  Assist Wireless, Assurance (California only),  Safelink Wireless, Safelink Wireless, Budget Wireless, Access Wireless, SafetyNet Wireless, True Wireless, Life Wireless, Terracom Wireless, EnTouch Wireless (California only), Tag Wireless, StandUp Wireless, Cintex Wireless, Wireless For Hope (dba Easy Wireless)

No smartphone offering: US Connect

Only one of the lifeline assistance free government cell phone providers offers smartphones. Some companies make these available randomly to their customers but all of the companies will offer them as upgrades for an additional charge.

You should understand what you're going to be receiving when you upgrade to a smartphone. Not every smartphone is going to be created equal. Some of these phones have more capabilities than other phones and you should understand what you're going to be getting before you agree to pay for an upgrade.

It's important for you to be an informed consumer before you upgrade to any smartphone So know what you're getting into before you agree to make any sort of payment.