December 28, 2015

The Future of Tracfone in 2016

What to Expect in 2016 with Tracfone and a Look Back at 2015

tracfone 2016 smartphones
What does the Future hold for Tracfone in 2016?
2016 is upon us and its time to share our thoughts on what to expect from Tracfone in the new year. We will cover what direction we think Tracfone is moving, any changes to the products and services they offer, and some things we hope they will do in the next 12 months.

While TracfoneReviewer is not associated or affiliated with Tracfone in any way, we carefully follow and try to stay up to date on everything going on with Tracfone so that we can share it with our readers and followers on the blog. Below we will give some general opinions and thoughts on what to expect from Tracfone in 2016, but remember that these are just educated guesses based on our experiences. Please share your thoughts and expectations in the comments at the end of this post.

Before we jump into 2016, lets review what Tracfone did in 2015, as it has been a year full with new phones, progression and expansion in service from Tracfone, and various other changes.

Tracfone Year in Review - 2015

While plenty has happened with Tracfone in 2015 we want to highlight three particular changes that were greeted with excitement and enthusiasm from consumers. The Three changes were airtime cards for smartphones, expansion of the BYOP program, and new smartphones available from Tracfone.

Data-Only and Text-Only Airtime Cards for Smartphones
When smartphones came to Tracfone in 2013, the airtime added to these phones was changed to split into three categories - Talk, Text and Data. What this meant was that if you ran out of one category, like text messages, you would have to buy more airtime for all three, even if you only need more texts!

A lot of Tracfone users were annoyed that they had an abundance of one or two categories, but were always running low on another category. Thus, when Tracfone released Data-Only Airtime cards and eventually Text-Only cards, many users were very happy to see them.

You can take a look at our post on the Tracfone Data Cards and Text Cards to learn more about them, and if they are a good deal.

Tracfone also released smartphone-only airtime cards that give you specific amounts of Talk time, Texts and Data and do no triple. We Analyzed the New Tracfone Smartphone Airtime Cards and offered our opinion on what ones are the best deal.

4G LTE BYOP for both GSM and CDMA
4G LTE coverage with Tracfone BYOP was probably the most exciting advance Tracfone made in 2015. They opened the door to a host of much more advanced smartphones that could be used with their service and many users took advantage of this and upgraded. Now you can bring an iPhone 6 or a Samsung Galaxy S6 to use with either GSM or CDMA cell service through Tracfone's prepaid service.

LG Sunset with 4G LTE Service
For all of 2014 Tracfone only offered 3G CDMA smartphones for sale and many consumers who didn't have good CDMA coverage were frustrate that they couldn't upgrade to a smartphone. But in 2015 Tracfone released the LG Sunset, which was the second Android phone from Tracfone that uses GSM coverage, and the first with 4G LTE service.

We hope the Sunset will be the first of many more advanced 4G phones coming to Tracfone.

Now that we've looked back at the year, time to see what's in store with Tracfone for 2016!

What to Expect from Tracfone in 2016

We believe Tracfone will move in two primary directions for 2016; release more low-end smartphones and continue to promote the BYOP program.

Already we have seen significant advertising and promotions for bringing your own phone to Tracfone. They have done a lot to improve the process, including webpages dedicated to checking your phone's compatibility and activating the device. Tracfone has also released a number of smartphone-only airtime cards, that can be used with either BYOP devices or Tracfone smartphones.

It would appear that Tracfone has found a successful niche for themselves in providing pay-as-you-go service to consumers who don't want contracts or don't need unlimited service. The major carriers like Verizon and AT&T don't really compete with Tracfone because they target very different segments of the cell phone market (heavy users vs light users).

Tracfone has the opportunity to release their own smartphones and we hope they will continue to advance and catch up with the kind of phones you can use on the BYOP program. However, Tracfone will likely only offer devices in the $100-200 range that are a few years old. If consumers want a high-end phone to use with Tracfone, they will have to bring their own.

We do expect Tracfone to continue offering non-smartphones, but don't expect they will be offering any new or updated devices. They released very few, if any, non-android phones in 2015, and that Trend will probably continue. You can still buy plenty of 'dumb' phones from Tracfone, so don't worry about that disappearing anytime soon, it is a strong part of their profitability.

One of the weaknesses that Tracfone faces and needs to fix in 2016 is their somewhat complicated airtime structure. For new users, it can be confusing to know what which airtime is best for them to purchase, and exactly how it will be added to their phone. Right now, Tracfone offers both regular airtime cards that triple when added to a smartphone, and also smartphone-only cards that don't triple. There are airtime plans that give you minutes and 30 days of service every month, and there are auto-renewal options that automatically add a new 90 day airtime card to your phone every 3 months. We will have to wait and see if any changes come, but it is a small barrier for new customers.

Finally, we would recommend our readers continue in the direction that best suits them. So if you prefer the features and speed that a higher-end smartphone can give, then buy your own phone on Amazon, eBay or other retailers and bring it to use with Tracfone. You will have a great device and only be paying a small amount each month for service.

If you prefer a more simple device and less hassle in activating it, then go with a Tracfone branded phone. These won't be disappearing anytime soon.

We also suggest looking into some of the value plans Tracfone offers, or at buying the 1 Year/ 400 Minute Airtime card because these are some of the better deals offered by Tracfone and will help save you money if you're currently buying a 60 Minute Card every 3 months or so.

Tracfone looks like they are growing and pushing their BYOP program and we think they will continue in 2016 as the leaders of pay-as-you-go service.

We hope this post was help and gives you some perspective and ideas on where Tracfone may be heading in the coming months. Please leave a comment below with any questions or thoughts from this post.

If you are still looking for gift ideas, or have a gift card to spend, take a look at our Top 10 List of Tracfone Gift Ideas which includes many fun ideas for Tracfone users.

Thanks for vising and for another great year here at TracfoneReviewer. Happy New Year!


gene tascott said...

Thanks Tons of good info. Happy New Year to You!!

Greg said...

The problem with the year cards is that it is very hard to come up with that kind of money all in one go and tie it up in phone minutes. Since many Tracfone users are, to be polite, "downmarket" users, that's a lot of up front money just sitting in your pocket. The 3-month cards are more flexible, and easier to afford in one go. Plus you don't have to buy it until absolutely necessary.

The "pileup" of time, etc is an issue to be sure. Tracfone could deal with that by offering a "extension only" card option. Say $10 or $15 for 90 days, but no added time or data allotments. That would allow truly low-usage customers (like me) to keep the service active, but save a few bucks and not have a ton of minutes tied up in the phone.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if those polaroid smartphones are compatible with tracfones. I dunno much what goes in the states. I have a friend in the states.

Anonymous said...

For that they do have the "TracFone Service Protection Plan". $5.99 per month only if you run out of days available on your phone. No minutes involved, just days.

Bill Schaller said...

Any thoughts on Blu phones on BYOP?

Peter Vanosdall said...

Yes, they should work!

Anonymous said...

We really would like to see an extension on the 90 days. I have helped several older people invest in a cell phone that they seldom use, but have in "emergency" need and don't understand when they have to buy more "time" when they still have so many minutes left. Hope we can get something like that going that can be purchased outright on a card.

Anonymous said...

Why won't blackberry tour9630 (verizon) work on tracfone?

BagAWind said...

Thank you for the helpful information about the BYOP program. I am now using my iPhone 5 with Tracfone and could not be more pleased. Great info for beginners.

Gran Puba said...

Can someone help me with info on the BYOP program? I'm under the impression that you "Need" a service plan for the phone to work. Or can it work like regular Tracfone and u put mins on as u like without having to pay monthly.

Peter Vanosdall said...

It can work like regular Tracfone's where you put airtime cards on the phone whenever you are running low!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all of the information about the BYOP program. I bought the Asus ZenFone 2 Laser and activated it with the BYOP with no problems. I love the phone and all my minutes/text/data transferred over from my Alcatel Pop one with no problems.

Anonymous said...

Are you going to review the new tracfone Samsung core prime? Is it cdma or GSM? 3g or Lte?

Anonymous said...

Yes they work fine. I activated a BLU 6.0 hd. Very nice phone.

Anonymous said...

I just added airtime to a smartphone, and before checkout I was offered an extension of 365 days (no airtime, just days) for about $50 as an add on.

I don't know if they will start listing this "days only" card along with the other new cards, but it sounds like just what others here have been asking for.

Anonymous said...

OK. Replying to myself, I was on the tracfone website again and I can't find this card. Apparently this only pops up when you have in your shopping cart another card. Seems sort of dumb not to have it available on the same area on the airtime page as the text only or data only cards, if extension of service time is the only thing you want to purchase.

Anonymous said...

I am looking on sites to purchase an unlocked cell phone because I am a tracfone user (samsung century) some of the phones say won't work on cdma network . Do I have to purchase a dual Gsm/cdma phone or once I put in the sim card from Tracfone the phone will work with the Tracfone who I was told used Verizon towers? GETTING CONFUSED ON WHAT PHONE TO BUY since tracfone does not sell one themselves with a 13mp camera which is what I am looking for. thanks! Sheila

Peter Vanosdall said...

GSM and CDMA are two different cell phone technologies. Tracfone will allow either one, it more of depends on what you have in your area. If you;re currently using a Centura, which uses CDMA, I would look for an unlocked CDMA phone that is compatible with Verizon service. If you go on Amazon or eBay and search for an unlocked Verizon phone you should find plenty of options, like an iPhone, Moto G, LG G2, etc.

Anonymous said...

thanks for your reply Peter I like the samsung brand I was told the samsung S4 has both CDMA and Gsm capabilities. think I might try to purchase that one...BTW love your photos! thanks S

Peter Vanosdall said...

Yes, it does look like the Samsung S4 has capabilities for both. Just saw an S4 on ebay for a little over $100 which looks like a great deal for the phone! And glad you like the pictures, I do it as a hobby.

Anonymous said...

I have been buying a new phone with minutes every year for my husband and myself on either QVC or HSN and today I noticed they do not offer any more Tracfones for sale! I called HSN to see if they could help and the CS guy just said they must all be sold out at the moment?? I saw 9 to choose from last time on HSN, so I am not too confident I will find any now. Do you know why they would drop Tracfone (if they have)and your advice on finding one that comes with the year long card? Thanks, I really want the new smartphone as my current one does not get some apps I use!

Unknown said...

Hi Peter, I am desperately in need of your help or anyone who reads this can help. First, let me say I truly appreciate your input in Tracfone reviews, especially the LG L41C which gave me far more information than any chats with Tracfone support or online searches. Allow me to explain my situation. I am deaf and really only care about text messages on cell phones. After years of searching/patiently waiting for a perfect cell phone provider that will allow text messages allowances to be separate from minutes/data etc. I finally found one last summer through Tracfone. Imagined my joy when I was able to simply add text messages for so cheap ($10 for 1000 text messages along with a one year time period for $49) I no longer have to pay high monthly fees ... until I moved from NC to KY. When I arrived at my new home in KY, my Tracfone cell phone had zero bars and was not working. I searched endlessly to find out if I can simply change a sim card and was not able to get answers. I was confused on why my Tracfone was not working when a WalMart near me was selling Tracfones, that is, till I read your piece about LG L41C which enabled me to finally understand on why so in regards to CDMA and GSM (Verizon vs AT&T towers) Do you have any idea on why I am able to switch my phone from CDMA to GSM (From Verizon to AT&T towers as based on cell phone tower searches, it looks like there are two AT&T towers close to me and one Verizon tower a little further away. If I drive 45 minutes in any direction, my Tracfone works but as soon as I turn around to go home, it stops working the closer I get home. The thing that drives me nuts is that my area is alike a donut, a hole in the middle while everything around me at 45 minutes radius is Verizon. I love my Tracfone, it was a major relief for me when I finally found what I want. Right now I am paying $35 a month ($420 a year instead of less than $90 a year which is huge for me because budget is so tight for me. Is there a way I can switch my phone from Verizon to AT&T towers? It looks like my phone has no sim card entry (I have yet to take my phone apart to see if there is a sim card hidden inside) I just may wait it out till Verizon signals gets closer to home if there is no recourse for me to continue using Tracfone. If you are able to help me figure this out, its greatly appreciated. Thanks, Chip

Peter Vanosdall said...

Hi Chip, glad you have found the blog useful! As for your situation, you can't make your phone switch from CDMA to GSM, but you can switch to a different phone. The LG Sunset is a great Android smartphone that uses ATT cell towers with Tracfone service and has 4G LTE. It should work just the same as your LG L41C, just on a GSM network. The LG Sunset can be found many places online like Amazon and eBay and retails for under $100. Just search for Tracfone LG SUnset. We have also written a review of the Sunset which you can see here:

Hope that helps!

CHIPKY said...

Hi Peter, thanks for taking the time to reply. Yes, I now know a phone cannot switch from CDMA to GSM, thanks to you for creating blogs helping me understand how cell phones work. You provide far more information than Tracfone proviodes. For example, when I moved to KY area code 42726, I chatted online with a Tracfone representative letting them know my Tracfone was not working and would like to continue using Tracfone. The representative told me that they do not service area code 42726. I end up buying a cell phone from Bluegrass for $160 so I can use prepaid services in case with the thinking that Tracfone will arrive in my area within a year. One day, I went shopping at Walmart that is less than 10 minutes from home and saw Tracfones on shelves. I was perplex why there were Tracfone at a Walmart near me when a Tracfone representative told me my area was not servicable. I then decide to do more research when I got home and found your website, which you helped expanded my understanding and knowledge of cell phones. Now, I chatted online with a Tracfone representative (I cannot hear on the phone) AND TOLD THEM MY ZIP CODE 42726 and then asked them if a LG L33L Sunset which you recommended to me would work in my area code. The representative told me they need the serial number to find out if it would work which would mean I would have to buy the phone first to get the serial number to find out if it would work which I am hesitant to do so (Buying a phone without being 100% sure it will work in my area code). I now know my area code will only work with GSM connection, my question is this, will any GSM cell phone in my area code work or if not, how would I know which GSM cell phone will work before buying the phone and give them the serial number? Again, thanks for all you do in Tracfone Reviewer, am sure you helped thousands of people like me understand the workings of Tracfones as well as making decisions on which phone to buy based on your input and knowledge. Thanks, have a good day. Chip

Anonymous said...

Hey- not to barge in and answer your question you have intended for the expert here, I have the exact opposite problem you do and I NEED a CDMA phone because the GSM phones I get in my area (IL) will not work well. I got in a panic when I saw Tracfones were not online at HSN or QVC. Today they offer several and the one Peter is talking about for you is available on HSN!

I am pondering one of their other phones to upgrade to but am in no hurry as my current phones package does not run out until the summer. Hurry and check out the deals in case they sell out. As I learned from the past, "you snooze, you lose" when it comes to phones on HSN.

Good luck with Tracfone, you will never beat the deals HSN offers. I think we are on our 4th package and they have all transferred fine including the number and minutes for us!

Anonymous said...

Chip, if you will go to the HSN Shopping webpage they have the LG Sunset phone and you can verify that there is coverage for you before you by the phone. HSN customer service is much more helpful than any of the tracfone service customer service I have received when trying to get their help on something. Hope this helps you out as I know how important it is to not waste money on something you can't use.

CHIPKY said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ciro Santacruz said...

I did that using a Droid 3 and they just charge a $10 fee, after that the plan functions like any other Tracfone. If your old Tracfone had triple minutes, your new phone would also have it. If you're using Tracfone for the first time then you may have to buy the triple minutes card if you want the extra minutes.

Anonymous said...

AT&T's 2G Networks will be Phasing out by the end of 2016. If you have a 2G phone, your phone will stop working entirely – and you will need to replace it. Go to click on Support, then Support & FAQ, then 2G Migration for more info.