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[Update: Free replacements] T-Mobile will kick devices that don’t support VoLTE off of its network in January

Carriers are evolving their networks to better support new technologies, and as a result, some phones are being dropped off. Now, some T-Mobile documents reveal the carrier has plans to drop any phone that doesn’t support VoLTE in just a few months.

Internal documents obtained by Android Police (pictured below) reveal what’s in store for T-Mobile customers in January.

T-Mobile will be shutting down its 2G and 3G networks, and as a result, leave many phones without support for voice calls and potentially the network as a whole. Apparently, the carrier has plans to require that all new phones on its network support VoLTE starting on August 4, 2020. After that, all devices using T-Mobile will be required to support VoLTE by January 31, 2021. That’s regardless of whether or not the device is currently in use by a customer.

Update 12/24: In the time since this change was originally reported on, more details have come to light. The change will take effect on January 29, 2021 and includes the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, Galaxy S5 Duos, the HTC Desire 10 Lifestyle, Desire 650, and Nexus 9. Huawei’s Mate 8 and P9 are also included on the list, as are the OnePlus One, Sony Xperia Z3, Z3 Compact, and Z3 Orion. The ZTE ZMax, Soyea M02, Quanta Dragon IR7, Netgear’s Arlo Security Camera System, and the Mikrotikls SIA_R11e-LTE6.

For customers affected, Android Police reports that T-Mobile will be offering free replacement devices. The offer for those free devices starts today and includes the Samsung Galaxy A21, Galaxy A11, Alcatel GO FLIP 3, and T-Mobile REVVL 4.

What does this mean for customers? Potentially, many will need to buy a new smartphone. T-Mobile does support VoLTE on most unlocked smartphones, and most devices sold in the US have supported the tech for years. I’d argue that, for the vast majority of customers, this won’t be an issue.

Still, customers who may have imported a smartphone not officially sold in the United States that still works on T-Mobile’s network — think Oppo, Huawei, or Xiaomi — will likely find that their device can no longer make calls, and it could cause data issues as well.

Customers who are affected by this change will apparently be getting a text sometime in the near future to inform them of the change. T-Mobile documentation also confirms that Metro (formerly MetroPCS) will also be affected by this change. It’s unclear if other MVNOs using T-Mobile’s network such as Google Fi, Mint Mobile, Consumer Cellular, and others will be affected, though.

Notably, too, this comes just a day after AT&T started informing (and misleading) customers of a similar change, but their cutoff is over a later year.

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