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SafeLink Wireless is one of the most popular providers of free phone service from the government. But now, can I use my Safelink SIM card in another phone? If yes, how can I make sure my SIM card doesn’t develop problems later?
Well, I have seen quite a handful of people on community forums looking for answers to these two questions. Hence, the reason I’ve thought it’d be nice to share a couple of tips.
Use the Safelink SIM Card in the Phone You Get
Safelink is a registered eligible telecommunication carrier (ETC). As such, it has the license to offer free Lifeline phone service. After offering the free service, the government reimburses the amount of each subscriber through the Universal Service Fund.
The amount the government offers for the free phone service with the Lifeline program is the same for all participating providers. However, when you compare Safelink vs Qlink Wireless, you’ll notice the former has relatively better perks.
The feature of the Safelink free phone I like a lot currently is the Unlimited Data. While the terms say they can review your usage after 60GB, it’s possible to hit up to 2TB without getting throttled.
Besides the monthly service, you can get a free smartphone when you join Safelink for the first time. So, you can use your service SIM card with that phone instead of buying another one.
Then again, does the smartphone Safelink give you any good?
Situations You May Use Your Safelink SIM Card on Another Phone
We all have different preferences or things we need to do with a phone. So, the reasons for one to use a Safelink SIM card with another phone will also vary. But they always come down to:
- Upgrade: The kind of phone SafeLink gives you is an entry-level Alcatel TCL model. It’s a decent device with 32GB internal memory and up to 3GB RAM. However, the processor is relatively slow for someone hoping to run heavy apps, websites, or games.
If planning to run such high-graphic tasks, you’ll have to use your SafeLink SIM card in another phone with a faster processor.
Furthermore, the free Safelink phone service has access to 5G, including the Ultra-Wideband on C-bands. But like others, you’ll need a phone compatible with Safelink on 5G to take advantage of its super-fast data speeds.
- Replacement: the second time you may need to use your Safelink SIM card in another phone is to replace an old one. You can replace your old phone after it gets damaged, lost, stolen, or no longer compatible.
In the incompatibility, I’m sure you know Verizon has acquired TracFone and all its subsidiaries, such as Safelink. The Major Carrier plans to bring all Tracfone brands that were on other networks to its network.
Therefore, for the users that were using Safelink free phones on T-Mobile or AT&T, be ready for Verizon towers. “Being ready” means having a phone that can work with Safelink service on the Verizon network.
Now, this brings us to our topic of the day…
Can I Use My Safelink SIM card in Another Phone?
The answer is YES, you can use a Safelink SIM card in another phone. However, the answer to whether your SIM card will continue to get signal bars and all the service functions is not a guarantee.
Safelink is Wholly CDMA from Today
Previously, Safelink Wireless would use network towers of all the Major Carriers, including T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon. But after acquiring TracFone and its trademarks, Verizon no longer wants to continue paying airtime to its rival.
So, Safelink will now be available with only Verizon-compatible SIM cards. If your T-Mobile or Verizon-compatible SIM card is still operating, you have until the hard switch in November 2024.
The tech in a phone is very crucial if your Verizon-compatible Safelink SIM card is to tap into Verizon towers. If the phone doesn’t have the right tech, your SIM card won’t get any service.
For instance, Verizon is the carrier network of Safelink. So, you’ll need a phone with the following network bands:
|Primary Band Frequencies
|Secondary Band Frequencies
|5G Low-Band Frequencies
|5G Ultra-Wideband Bands
|2, 4, 5, 66
|N2, N5, N6
|N77 (C-band), N260, & N261
Band 13 is the primary frequency Verizon and its subcarriers use to distribute service on the 4G LTE. Worse, your phone must have this band to validate it successfully under the “keep my own smartphone” plan.
When I attempted to enroll with this plan, SafeLink couldn’t let me continue, as the Android “Device not compatible”. I know it was a phone band issue since the iPhone passed this check without a problem.
SafeLink Phone Compatibility Check Online
We have various providers of cell phone service here in the country. Each of these providers distributes their service on different frequencies. Hence, the reason it’s not always possible to swap phones even for the ones with friendly policies.
Nonetheless, the regular carriers have an online device ID checker so you can confirm if your phone is compatible with the service. The device checker usually requires you to enter the phone IMEI number in the input box and search.
Unfortunately, the SafeLink phone compatibility checker online isn’t the friendliest. For new customers, the device checker prompt will appear when you reach the stage to fill in your “device Info”
If you’re yet to join SafeLink, you can’t perform the compatibility checker online- at least in my case. The self-help link I could find always required a phone number active on SafeLink to proceed. (My numbers on regular carriers didn’t bite).
As for an existing user, you can only perform a SafeLink phone compatibility check through the 611611 service. To do that, you only need to text the word BYOP to 611611 and wait for the reply.
It’s worth noting 611611 service is an automated support without a customer rep on the other end. If you’d like to communicate with a live SafeLink representative, text the word CHAT to 611611.
Crucial Tips Before You Use Safelink SIM card on Another Phone
Again, you can use your SafeLink SIM card on another phone. But there are three crucial tips you’ll want to consider in this process, including:
Tip 1: Phone Compatibility with SafeLink Network
As you now know, a mobile carrier requires a phone compatible with its service to work. Then, to perform a SafeLink phone compatibility check, you’ll need to use the 611611 service.
In this compatibility check, SafeLink only wants to confirm your device supports its network. If your device has the necessary frequency bands, especially band 13, you’ll receive a success message.
As for those with a phone without the necessary network bands, SafeLink will still send a message. Nonetheless, the message is about the “Device not compatible”.
Note: while SafeLink supports 5G, the 4G LTE is the default network. So, having 5G network bands in your device is optional- but important to make the most of your free service.
Tip 2: Phone Compatibility with SafeLink SIM Card
Different phones have different types of slots to insert the SIM card. It never was a problem when cell phones used the same type of SIM card. But we now have varying sizes of SIM cards in use.
If you have a basic flip phone or feature phone, chances are it uses the Standard SIM (or Mini-SIM) card. The newer basic phones may be using the Micro-SIM card, though.
A Micro-SIM card, significantly smaller than the Mini-SIM, started with iPhones in 2010. But two years later, the Nano SIM, which is smaller than Micro-SIM, came.
A slot for a Nano-SIM card is now common in recent touchscreen phones. But those with older phones that have a Micro-SIM slot can still use their SIM card with a SIM adapter.
Note: when you join or purchase a SafeLink SIM kit, you’ll receive a 3-in-1 pack that has all the cards. Just pop out the card that will fit your phone.
Tip 3: Phone Compatibility with SafeLink ‘Software’
After SafeLink sends you a “Device compatible” success message, don’t rejoice yet. The check you just performed is for network compatibility. Then, you have to confirm the device’s “software” compatibility. What do I mean by this?
Most of the phone providers in the country lock phones to their service if on a payment contract. In some providers of the free phone from the government, this lock is kind of permanent.
When a phone is locked to another carrier, it’s usually tricky to use on another service provider. So, after SafeLink confirms your phone is compatible with their service, you’ll now want to confirm the “software” compatibility.
To tell if your phone is locked to another carrier, just insert the Safelink SIM card. Then, when you get an “Invalid SIM card…. Network locked SIM card inserted” error, the device is carrier-locked.
SafeLink can’t unlock phones from other carriers. When you have a carrier-locked phone, you’ll have to reach out to its previous carrier for the unlock code. The other company shouldn’t refuse to unlock the device for you if there’s no outstanding bill.
Complete Activation to Use Your SafeLink SIM Card in Another Phone
After inserting a SafeLink SIM card into the other phone, it may be able to work instantly. That’s it can get a signal and you can call, text, plus use data service without any problem.
However, SafeLink uses the old CDMA protocol, whereby they link your service to the device in use. When you just SIM swap, your phone may either have no service at all or lose some crucial functions.
For the best results, I’d recommend you configure the device, the same as you activate a new Safelink phone. It’s a simple process that only requires your SIM card ICCID and an IMEI/ MEID of the other phone. Then, go to the Safelink Activation Portal and follow the on-screen instructions until the end.
Enjoy Your SafeLink Service on the Phone You Love
In a nutshell, that’s everything you should know regarding to use your SafeLink SIM card on another phone. And the answer you were seeking is YES, you can use your SIM on another phone.
However, we’ve seen the other phone you intend to use must be compatible with SafeLink on the network, SIM slot, and software. If the other phone isn’t compatible with a SafeLink SIM in either of the three requirements, make the necessary changes.
Also, make sure you authenticate/ activate the new phone and the Safelink SIM card for the best experience. Even when all the functions of the phone work after swapping the SIM card, complete the activation to avoid future problems.
When you actually swap your SafeLink SIM card without the activation, the customer support team may fail to assist during future problems.