All major US cellular networks are shutting down legacy 3G support in 2022. AT&T already shut down its 3G GSM network in late February, T-Mobile will begin shutting down part of its network at the end of March, and Verizon is slated to sunset its legacy network in December.
After these changes take place, users with older phones may see diminished service or may find themselves unable to connect to their wireless provider entirely. Is your phone affected? Will you still have wireless service after the upcoming changes are made? Keep reading to learn what you have to do to stay connected.
Why are cellular networks changing in 2022?
Wireless networks such as AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile purchase rights to operate within chunks of wireless spectrum known as network frequencies and bands. Specific network bands can be used by multiple wireless generations such as 3G, 4G, and 5G. However, each network band can only be used for one wireless protocol at a time.
With a finite number of available bands and consumer demand for faster and more widely available 4G and 5G coverage, all major carriers are repurposing spectrum currently allocated to legacy networks for use with their next-generation networks. In other words, legacy 3G networks are going away in order to make 4G and 5G networks better.
Which wireless networks are shutting down in 2022?
Many legacy wireless networks operated by major US carriers are being shut down in 2022. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon will sunset their legacy 3G networks, and T-Mobile will also shut down all support for Sprint 4G devices later this year.
When is the 3G sunset?
- AT&T 3G GSM/UMTS – February 22, 2022
- Sprint 3G CDMA – March 31, 2022
- Sprint 4G LTE – June 30, 2022
- T-Mobile 3G GSM/UMTS – July 1, 2022
- Verizon 3G CDMA – December 31, 2022
Is my phone or wireless device affected?
Any device that relies on a legacy 3G network connection will be affected by the ongoing network shutdowns. In addition, legacy Sprint 4G LTE devices that have been grandfathered under the T-Mobile umbrella will also be affected.
This means that older phones such as the iPhone 5S and Galaxy S4 won’t be able to connect to wireless networks after the sunset dates listed above. The same holds true for the majority of Sprint-branded phones that previously connected to the Sprint 4G LTE network. Newer devices such as the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S5 can connect to 4G LTE networks from major carriers – so they should be fine for now, as long as you are happy with your existing network and coverage.
Are other cellular devices affected?
Yes. Any device with a 3G cellular connection or a Sprint 4G LTE connection will be affected by the 2022 3G Shutdown. For example, many automotive connected devices may be affected, including older OnStar systems and certain remote start systems. If your vehicle features an OnStar system and you wish to find out if you’re affected by the 3G sunset, please refer to the OnStar 3G Network Sunset support page.
Which phones will work after the 3G shutdown?
Apple iPhone Network Compatibility in 2022
In general, 3G iPhones (iPhone 5S and older) won’t work properly after the 3G sunset this year. Conversely, iPhones starting with the iPhone 6 will continue to work on 4G LTE. Here’s a comprehensive iPhone network support list:
|2G/3G Only (Won’t Work in 2022)||Support 4G LTE and/or 5G|
|Original iPhone||iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus|
|iPhone 3G||iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus|
|iPhone 3GS||iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus|
|iPhone 4||iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X|
|iPhone 4S||iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max|
|iPhone 5||iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max|
|iPhone 5S||iPhone 12, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max, 12 mini|
|iPhone 13, 13 Pro, 13 Pro Max, 13 mini|
|iPhone SE, iPhone SE 2, iPhone SE 3|
Samsung Network Compatibility in 2022
Older Samsung Galaxy phones such as the Galaxy S4 and earlier won’t work anymore in 2022 and beyond. However, since Samsung was relatively quick to adopt 4G LTE way back in 2014 with the Galaxy S5 (LTE model), the majority of Samsung devices will continue to work in 2022 and beyond.
|2G/3G Only (Won’t Work in 2022)||Supports 4G LTE and/or 5G|
|Galaxy S||Galaxy S5 (US models)|
|Galaxy S2||Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+|
|Galaxy S3||Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, S7 Active|
|Galaxy S4||Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, S8 Active|
|Galaxy S5 (3G International Model)||Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+|
|Galaxy Note 1 (T-Mobile, International)||Galaxy S10, S10+, S10e, S10 5G, S10 Lite|
|Galaxy Note 2 (Sprint, International)||Galaxy S20, S20+, S20 Ultra, S20 FE|
|Galaxy S21, S21+, S21 Ultra, S21 FE|
|Galaxy S22, S22+, S22 Ultra|
|Galaxy Note 3|
|Galaxy Note 4, Note Edge|
|Galaxy Note 5|
|Galaxy Note 7 Fan Edition|
|Galaxy Note 8|
|Galaxy Note 9|
|Galaxy Note 10, Note 10+, Note 10 Lite|
|Galaxy Note 20, Note 20 Ultra|
Google Pixel compatibility in 2022
Every single Google Pixel phone supports 4G LTE. In other words, if you own a Pixel, you won’t be affected by the ongoing 3G shutdowns in 2022.
|Supports 4G LTE and/or 5G|
|Google Pixel, Pixel XL|
|Google Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL|
|Google Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL|
|Google Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL|
|Google Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL|
|Google Pixel 4a, Pixel 4a 5G|
|Google Pixel 5, Pixel 5a|
|Google Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro|
What should I do if I have an older device?
This is the easy part. If you’re currently using an older device, now’s the perfect time to upgrade and preserve your network access. Our best recommendation is to get an unlocked iPhone or unlocked Samsung phone, or unlocked Google Pixel with broad network band compatibility. This lets you stay connected through the upcoming changes, and also gives you the freedom to jump between wireless carriers if you ever find a better deal.
iPhone Upgrade Options
Although all US-sold iPhones from the iPhone 6 onward are compatible with the 4G LTE bands used in the US, we suggest going with an unlocked iPhone XR, unlocked iPhone SE 2020, or newer. This gets you a relatively modern iPhones with a fast processor, great software features, and access to the very latest iOS 15.4 software update.
Android Upgrade Options
Things are pretty simple for Android buyers as well. Samsung has offered broad 4G network support on most phones since the Galaxy S5. However, we suggest going a bit newer and getting something like an unlocked Galaxy S10 or unlocked Pixel 4 instead. Just like with the iPhone recommendations above, a cheap Galaxy S10 or Pixel 4 gets you a speedy device with a great camera and access to the very latest Android 12 update.
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