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What is a burner phone?

You might have heard a lot about burner phones and wondered, “what is a burner phone?” “How can I use or get one?” Well, you need not worry about that any longer.

This article will tell you everything you need about them, and how to get your very own burner phone.

Read our article on How to know who called you with No Caller ID.

So, what exactly is a burner phone?

A burner phone is a temporary disposable phone that you can easily discard after use. It is a cheap mobile phone that costs you little to nothing. Mainly because you plan to dispose of it after using it.

Burner phones are designed to be discarded easily with no emotions attached. Most lack cameras for better privacy and to conceal your real identity. They tend to be dumbphones that do not have any smartphone features. Burner phones do not have GPS or location features of a smartphone. They are primarily for text messages and phone calls.

So, you’ll hardly see anyone using an expensive iPhone as a burner phone. It is most likely going to be a cheap Android or non-smartphone.

They also have exceptional battery life. So you can use them for several days without having to recharge them. This makes them handy for emergencies.

What is a burner SIM card?

A burner SIM card is an inexpensive, disposable prepaid SIM card that you can put into any phone. You could put the SIM card into your regular phone or a burner phone. Burner SIMs are cheaper and more easily disposable than prepaid burner phones.

You can have multiple burner SIM cards to switch from one cell phone number to another easily.

How to buy a burner phone

You can purchase a burner phone from mobile phone vendors, retailers, and convenience stores in your environs. You can also buy a cheap, prepaid phone from eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Craiglist, and other sources.

It’s best to purchase the burner phone with cash, as using a credit card will leave a traceable trail back to you. But be careful not to buy a stolen phone with a phone number. You want to preserve your anonymity while taking care not to engage in anything illegal.

Yes, using burner phones is legal as long as you use them for legitimate permitted uses.

For example, you might want to stay anonymous while talking or texting with someone. You might also want a second backup phone that you can use during emergencies. You might use a burner phone to contact insurance companies, home contractors, and others for inquiries and cheap deals.

That way, they won’t bombard your primary phone number with spam calls and unwanted texts.

You can buy burner phones to send an anonymous tip or message to someone while protecting your identity. They can also be used to register for social media apps to conceal your real-world identity.

You can also use a burner phone if you are traveling to an unknown or risky area, just in case you want to leave your primary phone safe at home. This will also keep you from paying roaming charges on your regular phone number.

As you can see, these are all valid legal reasons for having a burner phone. You are fine as long as you don’t use the phone for anything illegal.

Will a burner phone keep you truly anonymous from the authorities?

Not really. Using a burner phone doesn’t guarantee anonymity fully. It may offer you some degree of protection. But it isn’t fully anonymous. Even though you are anonymous to regular people, the authorities can still discover your identity through several means.

The authorities can get the identity of burner phone users by cell phone tower triangulation, tracking IMEI numbers, etc. The authorities can also contact your service provider for more information about your burner phone numbers.

So you might remain anonymous to the average citizen, but your identity can still be revealed to the authorities.

What features should you look out for in a burner phone?

A cheap credit-loaded burner phone doesn’t need the additional features that your smartphone with your real number has. You only need it to avoid detection.

The following are the essential features that a burner phone should have:

Affordability: A burner phone should be a cheap phone that doesn’t cost as much as feature phones.

Long-lasting battery life: A burner phone should come with very good battery life. It should be able to last for days without you having to charge it. It should afford you several hours of talk time and multiple days of standby battery life.

Purchased as anonymous as possible: Purchase the burner phone while revealing as little of your personal data as possible. Buy the phone without an ID.

Without a contract: A burner phone should come without a binding phone contract. You should be able to use it for a short time, then discard it without paying continually for it.

Using burner phone apps

You can use a burner phone app to obtain a burner number. This saves you the cost of purchasing a new phone and new SIM from a cellular carrier or service provider. This way, you can still use anonymous phone calls and text messaging features from your regular phone. Burner app companies will assign a burner phone number to you at a cheap price.

Some burner phone apps offer temporary numbers for free but with severely limited features. You will be required to pay more for features like extra talk time and a private number that you can reuse another time.

Some of the top burner phone apps include Burner and CoverMe.

Burner app Image source: Burner
Cover me burner phone app
CoverMe burner app Image source: CoverMe

You can use a disposable email to create an anonymous account on Google Voice, Skype, Telegram, and other VoIP platform services. You can then use these apps to make phone calls instead of buying burner phones

How to dispose of a burner phone

Disposable phones contribute a lot to global warming and climate change. They are a growing e-waste problem.

To dispose of a burner device carefully, you should first delete your personally identifiable information from it. Then you should reset the phone and wipe it clean. You can then take it to a recycling point where they can recycle the parts appropriately.

If you resell the phone or dump it in a regular bin, some hackers can still access information from it.


Can burner phones be traced?

A burner cell phone can be traced by the authorities but not by regular citizens. They can track them through cell phone towers, cellular carriers, call logs, and data usage.

Can an old phone serve as a cheap burner phone?

Yes, it can. This will save you money instead of having to purchase a new phone. But you should be careful to use an old phone that doesn’t have your personal details attached to it. Using an unwiped old phone means you risk your anonymity, and the burner serves no purpose.

What is the point of a burner phone?

The primary point of a burner phone is to keep you anonymous. Using a burner phone keeps your real number secret and prevents you from being in a tight spot.

How long can I use a burner phone?

You can use a burner phone for as long as you need. These phones typically don’t come with a contract, so you can use them for any duration. But, many people tend to dispose of burner phones immediately after they have served their purpose.

Why do criminals use prepaid phones?

Criminals use cheap prepaid phones or burner phones because they can quickly dispose of them. They use burner phones to preserve their anonymity and stay clear of legal authorities. But law-abiding citizens can also use burner or prepaid phones.

How do you activate a burner phone?

Insert the disposable prepaid SIM card into the burner phone and turn it on. Ensure that the phone’s battery is charged.

Are burner phones anonymous?

Yes. Burner phones keep you anonymous and protect your identity. You can also take extra security measures to preserve your anonymity. These measures include purchasing the burner phone with cash only and hiding your caller ID.

What does a burner phone cost?

Burner phones are cheap and cost about $10 to $50. But you could spend over $100 if you need a secondary cell phone with additional features.

How can I get an untraceable burner phone?

You can get an untraceable burner phone from local retail and convenience stores around you. It might be a prepaid phone or one that uses a postpaid SIM. You can also use burner apps to get a disposable phone number.

Toby Grey contributes as a How To expert for BGR. Typing away like a keyboard super hero, he covers just about anything you can think of. If Toby isn't writing, he's probably reading a book or playing video games.