Does anyone have any recommendations for a TracFone / SafeLink flip phone? Primary consideration is for the least expensive phone (that has good voice service.)
Also, does TracFone permit using any unlocked phone in addition to their own proprietary handsets (that only work on TracFone brands)?
On the same topic, is anyone familiar with the process with TracFone/SafeLink when swapping handsets from one carrier to another (i.e. T-Mobile to Verizon) and if TracFone does a quick and seamless internal carrier port for the customer that works right away?
Tracfone does allow BYOP smartphones-- about anything that would be allowed by the specific carrier. (For example, an AT&T Prepaid phone will work without being unlocked, since AT&T allows use of their phones on all AT&T MVNOs.) I think they might need to use a SIM card, which would rule out older Verizon 3G models. I don't think you could make it work with a feature phone, though, because those need Tracfone's proprietary software to handle allotments.
You either need to get a Tracfone BYOP kit (for $1 at many stores), or have Tracfone CS send you one. If you already have an active Tracfone using a SIM card, you can likely just hotswap the SIM card to the new device. (But you need to hang on to the old phone that originally used the SIM.)
In my expierence, swapping networks inside Tracfone will not be instantaneous. It's really a port, and takes however long the port would take if 2 different providers were involved. I swapped one recently from Verizon to AT&T, and it took 5 days & only completed after I called Customer Service to complain. It probably hung up because the agent helping me with the original change didn't note that both phones were feature phones, and needed active intervention.
Tracfone, and I assume Safelink, will assist in moving an active phone to another carrier, IF the phone itself supports multiple carriers, and you tell them that you have service issues where you need the phone to work. Typically, they'll send a SIM at no cost to make the change.
Is the Tracfone MyFlip A405DL the most economical flip phone you're aware of that works with Tracfone? Can current Tracfone branded phones work with non-Tracfone providers?
When switching a line within Tracfone from one network provider to another, your existing service continues working until you receive the new network's SIM and activate it (at which point the number seamlessly transfers to the new handset)?
The MyFlip is the cheapest one in the current retail chain, and has some special features-- besides the all-carrier (for Tracfone-- no Sprint option), it's also Verizon VoLTE compatible, which should mean it's usable on the Verizon network into the future. (Last timetable is Verizon won't allow phones without VoLTE at the end of 2019, but that might change.)
There is a ZTE flip phone available on Tracfone's website that is reconditioned and free with a refill card purchase. It has gotten poor reviews, and I would not recommend it.
You cannot use a Tracfone-branded phone outside of the Tracfone family-- Simple Mobile, Total Wireless, StraightTalk, PagePlus. It might take some talking with CS to use it in some of those, but most reports indicate it's possible. In theory, Tracfone will unlock a phone after 12 months. There are few reports of this actually working, and a lot of reports of Tracfone offering to buy the phone back for a small amount, or give a credit against another phone, when an unlock is requested.
If you request a new SIM from Tracfone, the phone will continue working until you actually submit the port request. I would count on there being some downtime during the port, just as with any port. Maybe 30 minutes, possibly a day or longer. (At least they don't have to wait to hear back from your old provider!) I haven't switched providers enough to have really useful info. If you know what network you want to be on, the smart thing would be to order the new SIM before actually activating the phone, so that it starts on the network you prefer.
I got the Alacatel Tracfone MyFlip A405DL, as recommended, and so far everything is going great. The transfer from the old TMobile network TracFone to this Verizon TracFone completed 10 minutes after I called customer service. Somehow, though, when the transfer completed my minutes, text and data all zeroed out and I couldn't call, text or use data. Customer service wasn't able to fix it last evening but a call to TracFone corporate in Florida this morning got that fixed within 15 minutes and my balances were transferred before I hung up with them.