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New 5G phone but Vodafone say it will not work once 3g turned off

3: Seeker
3: Seeker

Vodafone have sent me a message saying my 6 month old phone (release date for it 19th of July 2023) will not work for calls once you switch off the 3G network.  I double checked it's IMEI on Vodafones website which also says it will not work.

Obviously my phone, an Honor 90 (model REA-NX9) supports most of the bands for 4G and 5G and even uses 4G for data, so it should work for calls.

Can you tell me how to resolve this?  Do I need a new SIM or do you need to enable VOLTE or something for my model of phone on your network? I remember when the Oneplus 3 came out VOLTE would not work on some networks because they needed to whitelist the type of phone or something similar.

Here are the Honor 90 specs that shows it supports the 4g and 5g bands:


TechnologyGSM / CDMA / HSPA / CDMA2000 / LTE / 5G
2G bandsGSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 - SIM 1 & SIM 2
 CDMA 800
3G bandsHSDPA 800 / 850 / 900 / 1700(AWS) / 1900 / 2100
 CDMA2000 1x
4G bands1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 19, 28, 34, 38, 39, 40, 41
5G bands1, 5, 8, 28, 41, 77, 78 SA/NSA
SpeedHSPA, LTE-A, 5G

17: Community Champion
17: Community Champion

Unless it's on their approved list of devices it'll not work with VoLTE. (same as WiFi calling)
It should fall back to 2G for calls in that situation though. As far as I'm aware there are no plans to turn that off until nearer 2030.

How does one go about adding it to the list of approved devices?

Vodafone sell an 18 month old Honor 70 which will work on their 4g/5g network fine after switch off but a newer Honor 90 they don't sell is banned?  That's not on and I did not see any clause when I signed up that said I had to buy a phone from Vodafone to use their network.  In fact I think there are anti-competition laws against something like this.

If all it takes is for them whitelist my phone, which is pretty much to the same one they allow, then they should do so.  How do I go up the support chain to get this resolved? 

I'm happy to speak to Ofcom and the media to lobby to get this practise banned if I can't get this resolved with Vodafone.  There is no way I should have to get rid of a brand new phone, which suits me perfect & features I can't get with another phone, just because of an intentional unneeded block.


17: Community Champion
17: Community Champion

It's been a hotly debated topic since Wifi and VoLTE Calling were launched, unfortunately, it seems to be only devices that Vodafone have tested and approved that will ever be allowed to access the features. 
It's not unique to Vodafone, I believe all other UK networks do the same so I'm not sure how much traction you would gain from an anti-competitive angle and I'd imagine as long as your device can make/receive calls (which it will be able to via the 2G network) Ofcom won't be interested. 

They (all the networks) have been able to get away with it as the lack of VoLTE or WiFi calling doesn't necessarily impede your ability to use the device. Once the 2G network is switched off then they may be forced to change policy but until then I don't think there is anything that can/will be done to change their mind.

I used to have a OnePlus 7T which whilst capable of WiFi and VoLTE would never work on Vodafone UK. 
I've since upgraded to a Pixel 8 Pro (purchased outright not via Vodafone) which is compatible, and I did have it enabled, but the experience was terrible and after a week of very bad quality and/or many dropped calls I had to turn it off. I'm now back to using 2G for calling which works just fine. 

EDIT: Just checked the IMEI of my Pixel and it's showing not compatible... maybe that's why it never worked properly... 🤔 

So you are not getting all the features of your phone, because you use Vodafone but did not buy your phone there....for example much clearer voice calls.

To me that is anti-competitive, nerfing phone features purchased from other places.

Brand new phones forced to use old backup technology due to an unneeded artificial block. How many people will they trick in to buying phones from them with these blocks and emails saying their phones not compatible.  That is cartel type way of working...

I really do think the media would be interested in this as a story and i'll go that direction if I have to

3: Seeker
3: Seeker

OK I am documenting this here because I am guessing it will be needed....

I went in to a local shop.  They said it should work but have no idea why they say it would now.  He was limited in what he could tell me there but told me to call 191 and ask to speak to level 2 support.

I called 191 asked to speak to level 2 support but they said to tell them the problem and they will contact level 2 support.  They tried telling me that everyone gets the SMS and email messages telling them that their phone is not compatible.  That was my first red alert that I was not getting good info.

I followed that by telling them that I followed a link to the Vodafone website where it asks you to put in your IEMI and that also told me my phone will not work on the Vodafone network.  I asked if the Vodafone network was giving me wrong info?  After going away to speak to second level support(?) he came back and told me that they checked all the specs of my phone and it will work on Vodafones 4g and 5g network despite the site telling me otherwise.  That was my second red alert.

I asked to make a complaint because I kept being told to wait until they switch off the 3g network and see or buy a new phone and I felt I was being given incorrect information.  The phone conversation contradicts the email, sms message and Vodafones own website. The guy went away and said he checked again and my phone has all the right technology (bands?) to connect, so I think they just assumed that it would based on bands and not considering any whitelisting/blocks.  

I was just told to wait until the 3g is turned off and see if I get cut off.  Which is far from ideal.

Despite trying to progress this I feel I have achieved nothing, except to document this so i can make a complaint when I get cut off.

Any help on how to actually get somewhere with this?

17: Community Champion
17: Community Champion

It sounds to me like the advisor on 191 was getting confused around your phones data connection working on 4G/5G which of course it will work absolutely fine after 3G switch off, and the VoLTE calling functionality.

You wont get "cut off" when they turn off 3G you'll just get rolled back to 2G for calls and texts. 

The social team may be able to provide an update when they get to this thread but i'm not aware of any upcoming changes so it's unlikely we will see any changes in the short term.

For what it's worth none of the the latest flagships; iPhone 15, Pixel 8 or Samsung S23 are on the
official list of supported devices. 
I suspect that may be tardiness in keeping the list up to date though if the same is true of the IMEI checker it could be listing phones that are compatible as not. 

You would think with the switch off of 3G looking this month, they would have updated the Supported phones + the list and IMEI some months back as a priority considering how useful it would be to everyone as well as cut down on their support call man hours .

I still don't understand the reasons for carriers limiting VoLTE.  Is it because they want their firmware on the device to limit bit rate/bandwidth used or something like that where as one from elsewhere might not be?  Racking my brain for reasons and that's all I could come up with

Community Manager
Community Manager

@Hon90U - thanks for explaining what's happened. I'm sorry to hear the experience you've had and the different information you're getting. If a phone has been purchased from a third party, we can't guarantee that it will be supported with Vodafone 4G and WiFi Calling (except for iPhones). I understand this is frustrating to hear. Please contact my team on Social Media and we can then make sure your number is set up on the network, to work with 4G/WiFi Calling, if your SIM was in a supported phone. 

Thanks for the reply. I shall ask on social media.

Can I just confirm, your last sentence says "we can then make sure your number is set up on the network, to work with 4G/WiFi Calling, if your SIM was in a supported phone"

By supported phone do you mean a phone that supports all your 4G/5G bands, or a phone Vodafone supports? Because if it's one Vodafone supports for the 4G network, Vodafones emails and IMEI checker tell me its not supported on Vodafones network. So I am in the same position I am at the start