AT&T is catching some flak today for sending an email to customers that might make them think their phone will soon stop working with its network.
In the email, AT&T says that the recipient's device "is not compatible with the new network" and that they "need to replace it to continue receiving service." The email shared by Android Police goes on to say AT&T support reps can help affected customers find a new device so that their service isn't interrupted.
The problem is that the new email doesn't include any kind of date for when the customer's phone might stop working. The "UPDATE NEEDED" at the top of the email and the lack of any date could make some customers think that they should upgrade to a new phone right away, which is something many people might be unable to do right now because of the pandemic.
The support page linked in the email explains that AT&T is turning off its 3G network in February 2022, which means that devices without the capability to make voice calls over 4G (a feature AT&T calls HD Voice) will no longer work.
The thing is that AT&T only whitelists certain devices for use with HD Voice on its network, and it appears that those are largely just ones that it sells direct to consumers. That means that customers who opt for an unlocked phone could indeed lose voice calling when AT&T shuts off its 3G network, which could explain the person with the S10e getting this email.
Again, though, AT&T's own support page says that this shutdown isn't happening until 2020, meaning affected customers still have a year and a half to use their devices. Someone who doesn't pay close enough attention to this email could think they have to upgrade right now, which is an added pressure that isn't needed with everything else going on in the world right now.
AT&T has since responded to this email controversy, telling Android Police that the message "should have included the date that certain devices would no longer be supported." The big blue carrier went on to say that it apologized for any confusion that the email might have caused and that it "will be more clear in future updates."
The main takeaway here is that if you did get this email from AT&T, you don't need to upgrade to a new phone right now and can continue using your current device for a good while longer.