T-Mobile VoLTE cut-off date: Old phones living on borrowed time

Internal communications at T-Mobile USA revealed this week show how customers will require VoLTE tech in their phone in the near future. T-Mobile USA is evolving to the newest in new mobile network and cell connectivity, and the oldest still-active tech is about to be retired. This information was revealed not long after AT&T sent out notification to some customers about a similar update and requirement for new phones.

As it was with AT&T's update earlier this week, T-Mobile is getting prepared for the future of smartphone and cell phone connectivity with a necessary step: Phasing out service for older phones. The difference between the two companies here is the idea that T-Mobile USA has the opportunity to avoid the less-than-ideal wording of the messages sent to AT&T customers about needing a new phone to avoid losing service.

Don't panic

The time between now and T-Mobile's big cut-off date isn't particularly long. Starting January of 2021, T-Mobile will require all devices to have VoLTE capabilities if they wish to connect to the T-Mobile network.

"In order to reduce the impact to new customers, we will no longer be activating new devices to our network after August 4 that do not have VoLTE capability," says an internal document obtained by Android Police. The first customers that'll be affected by thsi change are BYOD (bring your own device) customers that'd otherwise have been able to bring older devices to the network.

The change, said the T-Mobile document, "benefits customers by ensuring they are using a device that will provide them the best network experience on our nationwide 4G LTE and 5G network." To further reduce the impact of the change on current customers, all customers who activated a non-VoLTE device prior to August 4 "will not be impacted at this time."

If you activated a non-VoLTE device before August 4, 2020, with T-Mobile service, you'll be getting an official SMS message soon. This message will be from T-Mobile, "advising [your] device will become incompatible with [the T-Mobile network]."

Still, there's a cutoff

If you activated a non-VoLTE device with T-Mobile before August 4, 2020, you'll still have service with the network until the year 2021. The exact cut-off date was not shared by T-Mobile in the documentation we've seen – but it's a safe presumption that the month of January will see some confused T-Mobile customers demanding answers.

Which devices won't work?

The entirety of T-Mobile's current new device collection is VoLTE compatible at this time. VoLTE has been in a wide variety of smartphones for several years... to the point where you're REALLY going to have needed to have kept an old phone around for a long time to be in the category that's affected by this situation.

Phones that'll need to be replaced to work after 2020 with T-Mobile:

• Sony Xperia Z2 and older

• Samsung Galaxy S6 and older

• LG G2 and older

• HTC One M8 and older

• Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and older

• Google Nexus 5 and older

• All BlackBerry before the Priv

• All iPhone devices before iPhone 6

The cut-off date is right around 6 years ago. If you have a phone that's older than 6 years, right this minute, there's a good chance you'll need to replace said phone with a newer phone in the very near future, even if you're not using T-Mobile, or AT&T – all the networks will almost certainly be requiring newer smartphones for service within the next year or two.