man leaning on window on phone

What Is a Burner Phone and How to Get One?

These days it’s virtually impossible to watch a movie or TV show without catching a glimpse of a burner phone. You might already have a pretty good idea of how this type of phone works. It’s typically an inexpensive, prepaid phone for short-term use.

You might be wondering why anyone, aside from fictional characters avoiding authorities, would need a burner phone.

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about how burner phones work and why so many people choose them. We’ll also recommend ten excellent burner phone options for your consideration.

Burner Phone – a Closer Look

man on phone walking in market

Who remembers the popular series from the early 2000s called “The Wire?” Even if you watched the show, you might not be aware that the term “burner phone” was first popularized by this now cult classic.

It used to be that you’d only purchase a burner phone if you intended to get rid of it as soon as possible. However, nowadays, people mostly buy them with the intention of long-term use. Users are looking for features of traditional smartphones without phone plans that require them to sign a contract.

Burner phones contain prepaid SIM cards or “burner SIMs.” If you already have a cheap phone, you could turn it into a burner phone by inserting a prepaid SIM card.

For it to work, though, the phone must be unlocked and compatible with the SIM card carrier. Typically, people will buy a burner phone with the prepaid SIM card already in the phone and start using it immediately.

10 Reasons to Get a Burner Phone

Man looking at phone

Burner phones have always had versatile use, but they do get a somewhat unfavorable reputation, thanks to all those fictional characters on the TV screen.

That’s why we want to go over ten excellent and concrete reasons why you might want to get a burner phone.

1. It Can Be Your Kid’s First Cell Phone

Many parents struggle with the idea of giving their kids a smartphone too early. Still, they understand the importance of being able to reach them when they’re not at home.

For the younger bunch, a burner phone is the perfect middle ground. You control how much they can spend in minutes and data every month. Also, it’s improbable you’ll have to worry about excessive screen time use with burner phones.

2. It’s the Perfect “Vacation Phone”

If you’re planning a vacation overseas, there are two reasons why bringing a burner phone with you can be a great idea. Firstly, if you’re using one of the smaller carrier companies, they might not offer roaming services to the place you’re going.

A burner phone with a SIM card from the provider with the roaming services can save the day. Secondly, a feature phone offers fewer distractions which leads to a more enjoyable vacation.

3. It Replaces Your Very Expensive Phone

If you’ve spent $1,000+ on your phone, you might not be comfortable with taking it everywhere you go. Are you on a boating trip or a mountain hike? Constantly worrying about your expensive new phone might interfere with the fun you’re having.

A durable, even rugged, burner phone is an excellent alternative. You don’t have to use it all the time, only when the occasion calls for it.

4. Use It Until the Right One Comes Along

Every year tech giants offer new fancy phones, but these phones are not drastically different from the older versions. Sometimes, a phone brand will take several years before they implement meaningful innovations.

If you don’t want to jump the gun and purchase every new phone that comes on the market, you can rely on the burner phone instead. You can save your money while you wait for the next phone that can replace it. Plus, you always get to reach for the burner phone when you need it for other reasons.

5. Burner Phone Is Also a Kosher Phone

There are many more conservative communities that consider smartphones and all their features problematic. In Haredi Judaism, most modern technological innovations are frowned upon, and that includes the smartphone.

Members of their community are permitted to use the “kosher phone,” which is essentially a burner phone with absolutely no access to the internet.

Users can only use them to call and text. There are kosher smartphones, but these have minimal features and often require built-in internet filters.

6. You Can Use It for Online Dating

If you meet someone on a dating app and want to move the conversation to your phone, it’s natural to feel apprehensive. For a little extra caution, you can use a burner phone first and set up a face-to-face date using a number that you can throw away anytime.

The idea might seem somewhat cynical at first glance but being careful about these things is reasonably prudent. The same principle applies if you’re selling items online, like furniture, and you have to meet up with someone in person.

7. Redirecting Spam Messages From the Main Phone

With your standard phone, spam is virtually impossible to avoid. When marketers get their hands on your phone number, things can get annoying fast.

Robot callers and unwanted text messages are the worst, but you can get around this problem with a burner phone. When it’s time to sign up for a service, simply leave the burner phone number and rest easy.

8. Cust Costs With a Burner Phone

While they vary in price depending on the brand model, burner phones are typically cheaper than standard smartphones. By purchasing a burner phone, you’re already taking a low-risk investment.

Furthermore, burner phone plans are easier to manage, as you only spend as much as you want. If you don’t need your burner phone for a month or two, then you don’t have any associated expenses.

9. No Contracts

One notable perk of using a burner phone is opting out of a contract with a carrier. Many people hesitate to sign a two-year contract if they’re unsure where they’ll be or what they’ll be doing. A burner phone is an excellent alternative until you feel ready to enter a long-term contract with a carrier.

10. You Get More Privacy

Lastly, one of the biggest reasons many people choose burner phones is that they offer more privacy. If you don’t feel comfortable being tracked via your smartphones, burner phones are your best option for whatever reason.

Although, if you sign in to your Google or Apple account on your burner phone, you’re not getting as much privacy as you thought. Keep in mind that burner phones are more private, but they don’t guarantee absolute anonymity.

Top 10 Burner Phones

Man on crosswalk on phone

Now that you’re fully acquainted with all the tremendous benefits of using burner phones let’s take a look at several outstanding devices.

1. Samsung Rugby 4

Samsung Rugby 4 Front View

Samsung has created one of the best burner phones available. Rugby 4 features a well-known flip phone design and comes with Wi-Fi compatibility.

It also falls into the category of rugged phones as it comes with IP67 certification and a durable battery. Internal memory is expandable, and you also get a 3MP rear camera.

2. Asus Zenfone

Asus ZenFone 2E Front View

If you want a more sophisticated burner phone, the Asus Zenfone is an excellent option. It requires Micro-SIM prepaid card and runs on the Android operating system. The battery is exceptional, and it comes with both a rear and front-facing camera.

3. Kyocera DuraForce

Kyocera duraforce tilted front view

The DuraForce is a very well-made rugged smartphone that doubles as a burner phone. It has 16GB of internal memory and features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC connectivity. Plus, it’s waterproof, so you can carry it with you on vacations or even when hiking.

4. Samsung Galaxy S3

samsung galaxy s3 front view

If you want the benchmark model from a renowned smartphone brand, then consider Samsung Galaxy S3. This model has been around for a while, and it’s one of Samsung’s bestselling devices. If you want to take great pictures and use all the apps but still stick to the prepaid system, you’ll likely love this phone.

5. Apple iPhone 6

Finding an unlocked Apple product can be a challenging task. However, an unlocked iPhone 6 that can support a prepaid SIM will make those Apple supporters more than happy. You can’t use a MicroSD, but 16GB of internal memory will likely be more than enough for most people.

6. Motorola Droid Ultra

motorola droid ultra front view

A lightweight and incredibly durable – these are two main features of the Motorola Droid Ultra. Among many excellent features such as a Micro USB charging port, you also get 10MP rear camera resolution and great battery power.

7. Sonim XP5 Ultra Rugged

sonim xp5 front view

When you combine one of the world’s most rugged phones and a prepaid plan, you can plan a rock-climbing trip anywhere in the world.

Your phone will sustain any environment, and you can be reached as much as you want to. Sonim XP5 features military-grade ruggedness and is compatible with GSM-supported carriers.

8. Samsung Flight II

samsung galaxy flight II front view

Remember slide phones? If you appreciate this design, you’ll probably like Samsung Flight II as well. It’s not a smartphone, but it does have a touchscreen, slide-out QWERTY keyboard, and 512MB internal memory. The one and only camera is not high-res but gets the job done.

9. LG K10

LG k10 front view

It would be impossible to talk about burner phones without mentioning LG devices, especially K10. This is a well-built phone with great internal memory (32GB) and an Android 5 operating system.

It’s lightweight, has decent resolution, and most importantly, it’s compatible with prepaid GSM-supported carriers.

10. Samsung S7 Edge

Samsung s7 edge front view

Another impressive device from the Samsung S line of smartphones, S7 Edge. It has impressive specs, excellent performance, and rapid charging capabilities. If you want a full-featured phone with a prepaid plan, this is one of the best options on the market.

How to Get Plans for Burner Phones?

thinking man holding phone

Postpaid cell phone plans might be the norm these days, but they’re far from the only available option. If you decide to get a burner phone, you might not get all the additional services, but you’ll also keep the monthly expenses much lower.

It’s a trade-off, and for many people, that’s precisely what works for them. Every major carrier offers some type of prepaid plan.

If you already have an unlocked phone that will become your burner phone, you need to purchase a prepaid SIM card. Here’s what you can expect from Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile.

Verizon – $40/mo.

  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Unlimited texts internationally
  • 5 GB high-speed data
  • 5G nationwide coverage

If you are using a kosher phone, you can buy a prepaid plan without data for $35/mo.

AT&T – $25/mo.

  • Unlimited talk and text
  • 8GB high-speed data + rollover data
  • International texting
  • Sponsored data

These pricing and key features apply if you pay $300 in advance for the whole year.

T-Mobile – $15/mo.

  • Unlimited talk and text.
  • 2.5GB high-speed data
  • 500MB of data boost annually

You can opt for the 5GB option as well, which amounts to $25/mo.

Burner App vs. Burner Phone

multiple apps on phone

As we’ve discussed, there are many reasons why anyone might need a burner phone. However, you might be wondering whether you could get the same benefits by utilizing one of many burner apps instead. How do these apps work exactly?

We can examine the Burner app specifically, which you can download from App Store or Google Play, depending on what type of phone you’re using. The app eliminates the need to carry a second device, as it reroutes calls and messages by creating a disposable phone number.

While there are many ways the Burner app can be helpful, it still falls short compared to the burner phone. For one, the Burner app doesn’t support international roaming, so it’s not the solution if you’re going to travel abroad.

Unlike a burner phone, you also can’t dial 911 via the app. Finally, if you want a kosher phone or a rugged phone without Android OS or iOS, you can’t even use the Burner App. Overall, while the Burner app can be the answer in some cases, a burner phone provides a more comprehensive service.

A Burner Phone Will Never Let You Down

woman walking on phone

Well, it won’t let you down unless you forget to charge it or exceed your monthly prepaid plan. Even the low-maintenance burner phone requires users to pay attention to a few things. However, burner phones, especially those with very few features, have many purposes and tend to be very reliable.

As you’re likely to use them less for apps and streaming, the battery will hold up longer too. A burner phone isn’t just the old-school flip phone you see in movies.

It can be a smartphone, too, as long as it’s compatible with prepaid carrier plans. All you have to do is choose the one that serves the purpose you have in mind.

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