CDMA vs. GSM has become quite confusing...I think?

To start with=>
Is CDMA now actually 100% or even mostly dead ??
What about all the folks with TF CDMA phones - are those folks SOL until they buy a new phone ??

I have a phone with a Textnow SIM in it which shows good cellular signal - no clue if it is CDMA or GSM for sure.
It is also on wifi with GV & as a low power use miner for Pi.
Tried making a cellular call & it didn't go through.
No biggie as both TN & GV can make wifi calls & it stays at home 100%.
But it is a bit confusing.

I also find VOLTE vs. LTE to be confusing terminology with TF making a fuss over needing VOLTE now - but our only TF (AT&T) using phone still has their 'obsolete' SIM & still works for calls.

This all strikes me the same way that the PC industry confused users with EVERYTHING being referred to as 'memory' such that all the poor users got thinking that all that mattered was how many mega or giga bytes something said it has for....something ?!?

HDDs & SSDs & USB sticks & RAM - yep - all being called 'memory'.

Seems like the cellular industry is aiming for this same level of confusion with all the recent changes.

I can't offer you complete certainty on this, but my understanding is that

  1. If CDMA is not entirely done with, it's close enough to it that if you're still somehow getting CDMA service you should assume it might stop at any moment.
  2. Yes, TF CDMA customers are probably basically SOL until they buy a new phone. I think.
  3. If you have a Textnow SIM, you're on GSM; if the SIM isn't from Textnow, you're on CDMA - this is one of the parts I'm definitely not sure I have right, but I thought they only ever supported phones on CDMA that could be switched to their service without changing the SIM.

As for VOLTE, I think I'm probably about as confused as you are, but this is what I thought was going on: Basically everyone (CDMA or GSM) had already been moving almost all data service over to LTE for the past several years. Then they started moving the actual cellular voice service so that it relies on the LTE connection instead of on CDMA or GSM, which is what VOLTE means (and which I originally thought meant that "regular" cell service was becoming part VOIP, but I don't think that was accurate)...but there has to be support for that built into the phone. Now the carriers are all wrapping up the process of shutting down their CDMA and GSM signals, and we're approaching the point where phones without VOLTE won't be able to make regular calls in most places at all. And depending on MVNO, we're already there.

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Just a data point .

Still running a CDMA only iPhone 4s on TF owned Page Plus (VZW towers). It drops calls a bit more than I recall in some areas. Recently had the 4s in a rural area that never had any VZW signal (regardless of phone) but recently reported new coverage. Also had a Moto e6 on Visible. The 4s had no service but the moto did have a decent, usable signal.

I'm keeping the 4s until VZW actually shuts down CDMA just out of curiosity & stubbornness, of course there is a chance Verizon may choose to shutter PP before that happens, we'll see. The most remote scenario is that they make an attractive trade up offer for a compatible phone but I'd be very surprised if that happens.

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Great replies - Thanks Folks !!

I did search on 'lte vs volte' & frankly the results did little to alleviate my confusion.
It looks like 'voice over' LTE is both the same AND different.
No indications of whether an LTE device is also capable of the VO part.

Oddly enough - as of today the TN phone beside me at my desk is now doing the spinny thing intermittently and then finds the cellular signal after a while - though it may be useless, I've no way to tell AFAIK,

As for the death of CDMA - my POV is that it was very wasteful to force folks to have those devices then to turn 'em all into either paperweights or e-trash.

My all time favourite devices remain the LG Fuel for its ruggedness & the LG Volt which is also quite rugged and has great added features.
Sadly both are now relegated to only being useful for simple things like playing MP3s in the car or running OBD2 s/w.

I refuse to simply toss out things which work fine because some company has declared them 'obsolete' !!

A bit later today I'll tackle contacting TF to try to get some answers about that cellular account and its remaining credits, etc...I've yet to work up the patience needed for facing the TF 'customer disservice' dept. .

iPhone 4s is not limited to CDMA. It can be unlocked to work on T-Mobile's 3G GSM network (until T-Mobile shuts that down). The ones sold directly by Verizon were mass unlocked circa 2016 and since then have worked fine on T-Mobile. They also used to work on AT&T until earlier this year. You should ask PP to unlock it for you.

Maybe you have the previous model, the iPhone 4, which is CDMA only. The two models get confused because they are so similar. However, the CDMA iPhone 4 can be distinguished easily because it doesn't have a SIM slot/tray.

All correct in my experience.

It is indeed a 4s (w/SIM slot) & has been unlocked since I bought it used from the original owner who I met at a VZW retail store to confirm it was clear of any obligations and to process the unlock before I bought it as she was purchasing her trade up phone.

I have used it, quite a few years ago, on AT&T in USA and overseas in a few European & many Caribbean countries with local SIM cards.

Never used it on T-mo. I guess I was thinking of it as "CDMA only" in re to using it on VZW network.

The battery life is still remarkably decent (always tried to keep it between 20-80%) but I suppose its days as a mobile phone are numbered.