What is a Burner Phone?

So what exactly is a burner phone?

Is it a phone that is recyclable and can be converted into fuel for your car?

Is it a phone that runs so fast and can get so much work done for you that it burns?

While those first two concepts would be quite interesting, they are not a proper definition for the “burner phone”. A burner phone is a phone that you use to get by until you can buy the smart phone or cell phone that you really want. Many American cell phone customers are conditioned to buy phones on contract. This means that you can buy the latest Samsung galaxy android phone or iPhone about every two years at a discounted price of 200 to $300 (with the real cost being 650 to $750). We don’t realize the true cost of the phone, in fact many of you have told me that I was the first one to tell you the real cost of your smart phone. After all, you’ve got a computer in your pocket. So let’s say your premium smart phone breaks. You forgot to buy the warranty. What are you going to do?

A burner phone would be a perfect choice to help you get by. This type of smart phone isn’t just a second choice. For some of you a burner phone may be an entry point into the world of smart phones or it may be your preferred smart phone because you want to save money. I’m going to mention a new and expensive smart phone today and also share again to others that I prefer if you want to buy a phone at $200 or less without a contract.

Last week I had an interesting situation on my hands. I was visiting someone in another state. Of course, people like me become tech support for friends and family even when we aren’t expecting it. My friend had a Sony android phone that he paid over $300 for in September 2013. It wasn’t a top-of-the-line phone then but it was definitely above average. The phone just so happened to die when I was there. I wasn’t going to be seeing this friend for at least another month and I needed to set him up with a new phone right then and there before I departed from the city of brotherly love. It was getting close to 10 o’clock at night. I couldn’t order a phone from Amazon or eBay and any independent cell phone shops that might have had a good variety of contract free phones were all closed. Walmart was our only option. By the way, my friend uses a prepaid plan on the AT&T network which gets him unlimited talk and text and 1 GB of data for $40 a month. All of the phones that I mention in this write up are compatible with the AT&T and T-Mobile networks (and their prepaid variants).

Having done this before, I knew that there were some pretty inexpensive Windows phones in the big box stores. Windows phone is a competitor of iOS and android. It’s too bad that Microsoft didn’t release this platform back in 2007 or 2008 when the other two companies released their smart phone software. Windows phone does not get a lot of credit but it’s very easy to use. You can use most major apps on it including Facebook. Windows phone will also allow you to connect to a Gmail account and an iCloud account. You do not need to use a Windows computer to use a Windows phone. Last year Microsoft bought the primary manufacturer of Windows phones, Nokia. As a result of the corporate muscle that Microsoft has and their desire to spread the adoption of the Windows phone platform, there are some really inexpensive contract free Windows phones out there. The phone that I chose for my friend was the Microsoft Lumia 635. I was able to set up a client with this phone which was only $70 last year at Best Buy. However my friend in the Keystone State was very lucky that Walmart was selling this phone for only $50. I should mention that this particular one was compatible with the AT&T network. They also sell one that is compatible for T-Mobile and it only costs a bit more.

We purchased the phone and after needing to go back in to Walmart to buy an $.88 pair of scissors to open the package I opened it and set it up for him in about 20 minutes. We simply popped his existing AT&T network Sim card into the phone and he was off to the races. We signed him up for a free Microsoft account (aka Hotmail / Outlook.com) which allowed him to download updates and apps from the Windows phone store.

The Microsoft Lumia 635 is not an iPhone or a Samsung galaxy phone but I think it would be fair to say that it performs at least 75% as well as those industry leaders. It’s definitely good enough for a burner phone and even a basic smart phone for someone trying a device like this for the first time or a person with simpler needs.

Have a look at this phone for yourself


I should make a note that while this phone is contract free, it is not unlocked. I do not believe you can use it outside the United States without it being unlocked. For $50, who cares?

If you would absolutely like to get an android burner phone, I still recommend these two models.

Moto E 2015 ($120 to $150)


Moto G (larger screen – $180)


Motorola.com is the best place to order the Motorola phones from. These phones are compatible with either AT&T or T-Mobile

For any smart phone needs, I’m your guy. You won’t get burned when I’m involved,