If you’ve ever watched a movie or TV show dealing with the depths of crime in modern society, you’ve heard of a “burner” phone. While Hollywood might suggest that burner phones are only used by criminals and other shady characters, ordinary law-abiding people can benefit from their use as well.
What is a “Burner” phone?
Burner phones are generally inexpensive, contract-free prepaid phones that can be thrown away when no longer needed. In shows like breaking Bad and Thread, burner phones are used when criminals want to avoid detection by the police. The term “burner” comes from the idea that when the phone is no longer needed, it can be “burned” along with all the other evidence of the crime.
Burner telephones are generally equated with so-called “stupid” telephones. These are mobile phones that do not have all the sophisticated features of the latest iOS or Android device. While you certainly can’t do as much with a burner phone, eliminating features like internet access and touch screens can dramatically reduce the cost of the phone (not to mention increasing the lifespan of the phone. drums). That being said, there are cheaper smartphones that can function as a burner phone – it all depends on what you need to do with your burner phone.
As we mentioned earlier, although burner phones are synonymous with criminals, there are legitimate reasons why a law-abiding citizen might consider using a burner phone as well.
One of the most obvious uses of a burner phone is privacy. This is, after all, why so many TV criminals use them. However, everyone, criminal or not, can benefit from a little privacy these days. Buying a cheap phone with a SIM card that’s not tied to your identity can give you a bit of anonymity in today’s hyper-connected world. This can be useful in a number of different scenarios.
For example, if you use dating apps, you might not want to give out your primary number – at least at first. Instead, give your correspondence the phone number of your burner. That way, if things turn south, you can just ditch the phone and say goodbye to that bad game forever. Another situation could be that you want to protect your real identity. It doesn’t have to be for nefarious reasons – you might want to phone an anonymous tip or act as an informant.
In many countries around the world, dialing emergency services (such as 911 in the United States or 000 in Australia) does not require an active service plan. This means that you can use any phone, whether it has a SIM card or not, and still call for help. That being said, there must be network coverage for your call to go through.
Additionally, you may want to keep a burner phone in the event of a natural disaster. Extreme weather events like tornadoes, floods and forest fires can leave you without access to electricity for long periods of time. Many modern smartphones find it difficult to get through the day on a single charge, which can leave you without a means of communication.
Due to the fact that many burner phones are ‘dumb’ phones that omit most of the bells and whistles of today’s smartphones, their batteries provide significantly better battery life. Dumb phones can last for weeks on end and provide hundreds of hours of talk time. Having one could be a lifeline if your smartphone attacks you. So grab a super cheap phone, charge it up, and put it in your first aid kit.
Unsolicited calls and texts have been the source of many rude tirades. With a secondary burner phone, you don’t have to worry about spam flooding your primary phone. If you need to provide a phone number for a service, like finding housing, there’s a good chance your number will end up in the hands of unscrupulous marketers.
Or maybe you need to post your number on an online marketplace, like Craigslist, in order to facilitate a sale, but you don’t want everyone to see your primary number. In these situations, using a burner phone can protect you from robocalls and other spam.
Alternatives to a Burner Phone
If you don’t want to buy another phone, you can just buy a secondary SIM card. Inserting the second SIM card into your main phone gives you a brand new number. You can then use the “burner” sim card to avoid spam or persistent Tinder matches that cannot take a hint. Once the SIM card is used for its use, you can simply throw it away and replace it with your primary SIM card.
You can also try an app like Burner. The app creates a secondary mobile number that you can give out. When calls or texts are sent to this number, the Burner app redirects them to your primary number. This protects your personal number and ensures that it remains private. If you are using an Android phone, check out these apps to get a virtual phone number.
Have you ever used a burner phone? Why did you use it? Let us know in the comments!
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