For the greater portion of the 3G era, smartphones enabled users to browse the web, share viral videos, update statuses, and connect with people from around the world. That all remains possible through 4G LTE, 5G, and Wi-Fi networks. With 3G turned off, the iPhone 3GS, for example, won't be able to make calls or text messages, but can still connect to Wi-Fi to access internet-based applications.
According to the CTIA, "fewer than nine percent of the US wireless connections are 2G or 3G subscriptions." If you're using a smartphone that launched after 2014, you likely won't experience any setbacks from the 3G shutdown. The same applies to flip phones that were released after 2017. Unsure of what year your device was manufactured? The best solution is to check with your local carrier -- in person or online -- to see if there are any compatibility issues.
More: ZDNet's top picks for cheap 5G phones
Carriers like T-Mobile and Verizon are also reaching out to 3G customers to help with the transition to 4G and 5G service plans. We're seeing trade-in offers and incentives that will have your 3G-supported phone swapped with a 5G-supported one for free. And for low-income consumers, the FCC's Lifeline program will discount qualifying monthly telephone and internet services, making the conversion all the more accessible.
In general, if you or a loved one are using an older phone, this is your call to upgrade.