Android without a carrier?


  1. amigabill

    amigabill Member

    I haven't found any discussion about using Android devices without a phone carrier at all, is this possible or must the device be activaed on a carrier before it does anything at all? What I'm thinking of is basically the Android equivalent of the iPod Touch. It's still a smart device, still does wifi, still runs all those apps, but there's no phone service at all. More than blocking data plan that I have seen discussed, I want no voice plan either.

    I know that some people think it's stupid enough to want a smartphone with no data plan on a carrier, you guys will probably think I'm ******ed to want to leave out voice service as well. Well, I'd use it as a phone if I didn't have to pay for data plans and stick to wifi, as those other discussions want to do, but now that the monthly fee is absolutely mandatory on my carrier, well, I'm just not willing to pay that much. I've thought about buying an iPod Touch to compliment my dumb phone, but I'd rather have the Android equivalent so I'm not limited to apps approved by Apple.

    I suppose some might say the Phillips GoGear Connect is what I should get, but I'll be annoying and say I want a front facing camera so maybe Evo 4G with no carrier service is even better so I can video skype with it. Would the Evo 4G work for me, or is it a useless zombie util it's activated on a cell carrier? What about other smartphone devices, do they all work or all not work?

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  2. Guamguy

    Guamguy Well-Known Member

    No you don't need a carrier to activate your Android.

    The only thing you need is a Gmail account.

    You can use an Android completely without any data plan. You can use Wifi to get apps, do your web and run email. You need to activate your Android through wifi by setting up the wifi and then once you have an internet connection, login to your GMail account.

    I use various unlocked no carrier Androids by the way. My SIM is carried over from a Nokia smartphone.
  3. staffsmatt

    staffsmatt Well-Known Member

    I'm not 100% sure but I think you may need a connection when you initially turn the phone on (you activate it before getting to the menus to set up wifi) you could always use a pay as you go SIM and just not update it again... (I think you will need a sim in the phone for it to not give you errors, a deactivated one or again a pay as you go one with no credit would be fine)
  4. SlowRain

    SlowRain Well-Known Member

    Just use the SIM from your old phone, that's what I did. I use very, very little talk time on my cell, so I use prepaid phone cards. It's a lot cheaper. My Galaxy S is an e-book reading device and a secondary internet device at home (WiFi only).
  5. takeshi

    takeshi Well-Known Member

    Nope, not needed. You can bypass that screen.
  6. AndroidSPCS

    AndroidSPCS Well-Known Member

    Wonderful thing about Android - no carrier needed. Totally open and free. Love Android!
  7. Raftysworld

    Raftysworld Well-Known Member

    i hate to break it to you but you wont be able to make calls without a carrier
  8. amigabill

    amigabill Member

    I know and expect that. My carrier mandates an expensive data plan for a smartphone, whether or not I intend to use data over the carrier. I don't want to pay that expensive monthly fee, so I cannot use it as a voice phone there either. I have a dumb phone that does not incur extra monthly data fees which I'm happy with for voice phone calls and texts. All I want is an Android equivalent of iPod Touch, which also cannot make calls.


    It sounds like this is quite doable, I'm happy to hear than but I do find it odd that I was unable to find discussion of this from the google. Thank you all for your help!
  9. clutchy

    clutchy Well-Known Member

    there are certain phones that are unlocked and you can get voice w/o having a data plan if you don't buy the phone from them.

    I have a nexus one and if i wanted i could go in tomorrow and cancel my data plan. They only "require" a data plan if you're under contract and soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo many people are under contract they think they have to do it. You do not.
    SlowRain likes this.
  10. SlowRain

    SlowRain Well-Known Member

    Thank you sooooooooooooooooo much for saying that. Living in Taiwan, I've just come to accept that people know you have a choice to tie yourself into a carrier or just buy a phone and pop a SIM card into it. It wasn't until recently that I realized, particularly in the US, people just automatically sign contracts with carriers. No wonder people think smartphones are prohibitively expensive. There most certainly are advantages to a data plan, but those advantages come at a a very high cost. I'd like to see more people explore the alternatives as it would take some of the power away from the carriers.
  11. Guamguy

    Guamguy Well-Known Member

    I got a carrier tied Droid Incredible as my business phone, but I have a whole bunch of SIM free, contract less Androids that I consider as my hobby. On them I use a single SIM with phone and data plan, and then alternate use of the phones each time I'm bored. Sort of like the phone of the week.

    That's the real difference of having SIM capability and having lock free phones. Let's say if I buy a new CDMA contract tied Android and apply it to my existing number that has my Droid Incredible on it right now, my Droid Incredible has to be deactivated as the new phone takes over. The DInc faces its future like an Android iPod Touch. Let's say if I have both a Droid 2 or X or Droid Incredible, its either I have separate lines for each, or I would have to periodically go to my carrier and have them switch the lines, activate and deactivate the phones. Will only take them minutes but they may get annoyed and charge me for their time.

    On the other hand, if I buy another SIM free GSM phone, the older phone will not be wasted. I can always switch back to the older phone anytime I want by putting the SIM back in. If without SIM, I can still use the phone like an iPod Touch or internet PDA.

    What's neat is that since all the phones are sync'ed to Google's cloud, the moment they get access to the Internet, the contacts, GMail and calendar gets mirrored one phone to another. I don't have to worry about changes as they self replicate.

    When I travel, I always try to find prepaid data SIMs, even those that don't have voice and text, and are used by Huawei or ZTE made 3G dongles. I fit these SIMs into the Android phone and hola, I got a 3G Internet MID, sort of like a mini iPad. I use this for my walking Internet access, email, social networking, even mobile wifi for my netbook. You know how fun it is to explore a new foreign city with an Android equipped with Layar and Google Maps with a few days of unlimited data connection, with zero roaming charges? How convenient it is to visit the homes and offices of friends and business contacts just because Google Maps can map their addresses on the contact folder? How easy it is to find new restaurants, find malls, stores, and hotels? How easy it is to regain your position if you are "lost"?

    I pop a voice and text only SIM to a second Android and viola, I got a pure voice and text only phone, with Internet only on Wifi. Boy, an Android without data can seriously last for days. A whole day won't dent the battery. A third Android I keep with my roaming SIM, in case if I get any business calls, but I am telling to all my contacts, hit me on Gmail or Facebook for any messages. If the Internet only Android runs out of battery, all I do is change the SIMs on the phones so they rotate roles.
    damagedLIVER likes this.
  12. Jetter

    Jetter New Member

    I really appreciate this post. My wife and I are searching for smart phone/device solutions that won't cost a fortune.

    I am currently looking at purchasing a Droid 2 through Verizon Wireless and the deal is a Buy One Get One.

    Do you think it would be possible to get this deal, activate and use the first Droid 2 with a voice/data plan and then use the second Droid 2 without a voice/data plan, basically like an Android Touch for lack of a better turn of phrase?

    Or would the expectation be for me to use that second phone on my second line? We would rather not have to do this, as my wife wants to keep her phone and music/wifi/video device separate if she can.

    Again, great thread, just looking for clarifications on these things.
  13. clutchy

    clutchy Well-Known Member

    no, to get that deal you have to activate data on both.
  14. JoJo_

    JoJo_ Well-Known Member

    That's how I am using my Evo!
    I use it exclusively via WiFi and love it.
    I make calls via Skype and nettalk.

    @slowrain: the Evo doesn't have a SIM slot..it's a CDMA phone...thus the reason I can't use it in my country actually :)
  15. Tom S

    Tom S New Member

    From this I have learbned you do not need a carrier. I am no way aware of what you can do with "smartphone". I have a dumb phone now to call and that is it. No texting Tweeting or other.
    I would like to use a smartphone for GPS with an app Navionics.
    Question is can I use the GPS on a phone with out a carrier on the water away from a wifi hot spot? Does the GPS work without a carrier.
  16. John Bean

    John Bean Happy Wanderer Guide

    GPS will work fine without any data connection. Of course any maps/charts it may need must be stored locally on the phone.

    I don't use marine apps but it looks like the Navionics app does not need a data connection except for things like the option of overlaying Google Earth info so it should be fine. I use land mapping all the time in many areas with no signal when I'm out walking and long ago gave up using a dedicated GPS - my Nexus 4 does a better job of all my GPS needs :)
    funkylogik likes this.
  17. Tom S

    Tom S New Member

    Thanks John,


    The navionics I can download on to a microsd and they do have a compatibility list for phones
    You helped me a lot!!
  18. John Bean

    John Bean Happy Wanderer Guide

    Glad to help, Tom. When you get an Android phone you'll find all sorts of things become easy with the help of useful apps - mapping and navigation is just a start. Not everyone uses them for "social" apps; even if you don't have a Facebook account (I don't) and think Twitter is for the birds (as I do) after a while you'll wonder how you managed for so long without an Android phone :)

    Incidentally, if you haven't yet decided it's worth remembering that the display is very important for the kind of app that interests you so make that a priority. Not just size but resolution and quality of display; maps are hard to use on the small and/or low resolution displays seen on most budget smartphones.
  19. Tom S

    Tom S New Member

    Have a Driod x2. What free app is good for GPS. REally worried about current position. Want to run it with Navionics
  20. John Bean

    John Bean Happy Wanderer Guide

    Depends what you want; to just check out the actual GPS functions (without mapping features) you could try one of the so-called GPS test apps, like GPS Test which I use (there are both free and paid versions available) or others like GPS Status and Toolbox.

    If a GPS test app works on your Droid x2 - and it should - I see no reason the Navionics app shouldn't work too. In any case you can install the app free to see if it works and buy the charts you need later, so it should be pretty free of financial risk.
    Tom S likes this.
  21. Stuntman

    Stuntman Well-Known Member

    I have a Transformer tablet. It has no cellular radio and it works fine. My old Android phone still works without a SIM.
  22. Tom S

    Tom S New Member

    Thanks John Bean!! Got everything working. The Test was good enough for what I wanted. Got my app off of Google play for the navionics

    Again,,,,Thanks
  23. funpig

    funpig Well-Known Member

    I have an old phone running 2.3.5 which I use without a SIM card. It is just a spare phone, but I use it to download and backup/save each version of my paid apps. My jelly bean tab will not let me backup paid apps. I like to backup each version because the latest versions are sometimes unstable. Ivan Dropbox transfer any backed up apk from the old phone to my newer devices.

    BTW, If you already own your own phone you can often bypass the mandatory data plan requirement by signing up for a pay as you go data plan (some ridiculous price per kB) and then just ask the provider to block its usage. You technically satisfy the data plan requirement but do not incur any costs if there is no usage.
  24. rui-no-onna

    rui-no-onna Well-Known Member

    That's not an option for recognized smartphones on AT&T. If they recognized your IMEI as a smartphone, they'll force you into a fixed monthly data plan. AT&T does not allow pay as you go data on smartphones (even unsubsidized ones). That said, I've used factory unlocked Xperia's on AT&T without being forced into a smartphone data plan. I guess AT&T doesn't have the IMEI range for those phones. :p
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