Some AT&T customers are getting free Galaxy Note devices amid looming 3G shutdown

AT&T Sign Storefront
AT&T Sign Storefront (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • AT&T customers have reportedly begun receiving free Galaxy devices from the carrier.
  • Replacement phones are being sent due to the company's impending 3G shutdown.
  • Phones include the Galaxy Note 9, Note 10, and other older devices.

With companies preparing to shut down older networks, customers stuck with incompatible smartphones are left needing to replace their devices. And while affected customers can always request a new device, AT&T has apparently decided to take a more proactive approach with its replacement program.

A report from Android Police highlights how the site founder Artem Russakovskii received a Samsung Galaxy Note 9 out of nowhere, and others on Reddit have apparently received "new" smartphones as well without requesting one. And while the Galaxy Note 9 is a bit aged, it's admittedly better than the Radiant Core device some users were getting before.

Android Police states that among the confused customers, some are receiving Galaxy Note 10 devices among other phones, and received this statement from an AT&T spokesperson when inquiring about the phones:

We have not changed our plans to replace 3G network-dependent devices. However, inventory constraints mean we sometimes must find substitutes for some devices.

Additionally, AT&T has informed Android Central that replacement devices will carry the same operating system.

AT&T is preparing to sunset its 3G network in February 2022, which is only five months from the time of writing, so the carrier seems to want to get ahead by more or less "upgrading" customers proactively.

T-Mobile has indicated that customers that will be affected by its impending 3G CDMA shutdowns will be able to take advantage of free 5G upgrades but hasn't indicated that it will proactively provide free devices.

Verizon has set a much later date than both carriers for its 3G shutdown in order to give customers more time for the transition, something that Dish Wireless would appreciate. Because of this, it wouldn't be surprising if the carrier didn't offer a similar replacement program; however, we've reached out to clarify plans for the shutdown.

If you are on AT&T and have received a Galaxy smartphone as a replacement device, let us know. For affected customers on other networks, you may have already received correspondence from the carriers on the network shutdown, but you can always contact them for options. Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable options among the best cheap Android phones.

Derrek Lee
News Editor

Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.

  • Samsung A52s where are you...
  • I received a Galaxy S9 from AT&T to replace one of my kids phones.
  • A phone that is out of its support window? Wow. Lame AT&T.
  • I was sent a Refurbished Note 9. AT&T did not have records of my current phone which is 4G compatible. I spoke with a rep, she said "Just keep the phone" I sold the phone and was paid $150. As an AT&T retiree, stock owner and user, this refurbished phone offer did nothing for me other than to net me $150.
  • My wife got a free Note 9 to replace her Pixel 1, just days after we got her a Pixel 4a. Because my Pixel 3 just crapped out, I'm using the Note and surprisingly happy for a non-fan of Samsung. I made it as Pixel-like as I could with Nova Launcher, and the battery, screen, camera and speed are all pretty good. For $0, I can wait until the Pixel 6 goes on sale, or maybe wait for the 7.
  • My friend had a two Samsung s7 edge phones that he really liked. AT&T sent him two $20 Alcatel phones that weren't even worth taking out of the box and told him he had to switch. Happy somebody got a decent replacement. Just not my experience with AT&T!
  • We have 4 phones on our plan, 3 are unlocked and weren't purchased from AT&T. We were sent 2 refurbished phones, which we don't need. Keeping one for a back-up, might try to sell the other. At first I thought the email about delivery was some kind of scam and had to call AT& T. Then got a health care provider discount, but the emails they sent me about that had blanks and weird code in them so I figured those were a scam also. At& T needs to do a better job with their communications. Also be careful that they don't activate these phones if you don't need them!
  • Received the same "spam" looking emails & text messages from AT&T. Contacted them about it & the rep I spoke with didn't know anything. I deleted them & a couple of months later had some more stating I had been shipped a phone to replace my current "non comatible" one (Pixel 4XL that is compatible with their network). Deleted them because different rep knew nothing about this. One day a LG Xpression Plus arrives. I think they are just cleaning out inventory of old cr_p. The phone is a joke & ,after numerous calls, my Pixel will work on the non 3G network (like I kept telling them).