iPhone without phone contract?

Discussion in 'iPhone Tips, Help and Troubleshooting' started by Texas_Toast, Jun 1, 2016.

  1. Texas_Toast macrumors 6502

    Texas_Toast

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2016
    Location:
    Texas
    #1
    Believe it or not, I have never owned a smartphone before. In the past, I just didn't see the need for all of those bells and whistles, and I also didn't want to spend hundreds per month in a telecom contract that is longer than most mortgages! :D

    Lately I have become fascinated with learning how to make web apps and mobile apps, but I still don't have a smart phone.

    Is there a way to buy a new or used iPhone and be able to connect to the Internet and even send/receive text messages without having to buy some hideous contract from AT&T, Verizon, etc?

    A friend said he thought I could just buy the smartphone and then use free wi-fi. Is that true?

    And what about texting for free? Is that possible?

    I have an idea for a web app that I want to convince my boss to let me build, but I need an affordable way to test out my idea first.

    Can this be done?


    Larry
     
  2. Mr_Brightside_@ macrumors 68020

    Mr_Brightside_@

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    #2
    Yes, you can buy any new or used iPhone and use it this way.

    You will not be able to send SMS messages (i.e. to mobile phones) but will be able to use services like iMessage (via Apple ID), WhatsApp, etc.
     
  3. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502

    Texas_Toast

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2016
    Location:
    Texas
    #3
    What version of the iPhone would be the most practical to buy/own?

    I need something new enough to be able to test my ideas, but not necessarily the latest.



    Well, a half a step forward.

    Is there some way to make it so I could send and receive text messages? Or more specifically, I want the ability to receive SMS messages to test my idea out.

    Can that be done without a telecom plan?


    Larry
     
  4. Mr_Brightside_@ macrumors 68020

    Mr_Brightside_@

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    #4
    4S or newer I suppose as they will all run iOS 9. Probably a 6 or 6+ so you're designing for the bigger screens - you can always decrease resolution but not easily increase.

    No, you need a plan. To receive an SMS you need a phone number.
     
  5. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502

    Texas_Toast

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2016
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    Texas
    #5
    Isn't there someway around that?

    For my phone service now, I use VOIP and I bought a phone number from them that I use on my computer to make and receive calls.

    Isn't there some way I could map that to an iPhone I would by and avoid the telecom contract?
     
  6. Mr_Brightside_@ macrumors 68020

    Mr_Brightside_@

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    #6
    No.
     
  7. hallux macrumors 68020

    hallux

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2012
    #7
    You need a phone number on a mobile carrier. A PLAN, per se, not so much. You don't have to agree to a 2-year contract and pay outrageous fees. My sister's BF is on Ting (runs on Sprint towers) and hasn't had any complaints. There is also Virgin and many other MVNO's (Mobile Virtual Network Operator, they re-sell service on other carrier's towers, look it up) that you can get for very little cost but will give you what it sounds like you need (a mobile number that can send/receive text messages).

    Yes, no matter what you do, you will likely be paying monthly for service of SOME kind. In my case, I've been paying under $30/month for unlimited talk/text and 1 GB of data (with unused data refunded), but the service I'm on is not available on iPhones, just using it as an example.
     
  8. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502

    Texas_Toast

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    #8
    What about WhatsApp?

    What about Jott?

    FireChat?

    OpenGarden?

    http://www.howtogeek.com/229643/how-to-use-a-cellphone-without-any-service/

    http://www.inc.com/john-rampton/the-future-of-messaging-how-to-text-without-data-or-wifi.html
     
  9. Mr_Brightside_@ macrumors 68020

    Mr_Brightside_@

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    #9
    Sure, but none of those options are SMS.

    If you specifically want to send SMS messages, you need a carrier plan.

    If you don't, those are all options - except Wi-Fi calling, not sure why that's listed there.
     
  10. hallux macrumors 68020

    hallux

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2012
    #10
    The "Getting Started" section of their FAQ seems to indicate you need a phone number and data plan. I'm not a WhatsApp user so I can't say this for certain.

    WhatsApp FAQ - User Guide: Getting Started

    This looks to work, kind of. It can do peer-to-peer messaging when on the same network

    This looks to be similar to Jott

    Looks like OpenGarden owns FireChat.

    Bottom line, if you want to test actual SMS capability of an app, you need the ability to send/receive SMS messages, this requires a mobile number.
     
  11. Butchie-T macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2014
    Location:
    Colorado
    #11
    Check into Tracfone. You can get a simless iPhone and then get a Tracfone sim and get phone number for minimal costs. That is provided Tracfone is offered in your area, which I believe it is. Check it out, it may get you what you are looking for.
     
  12. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502

    Texas_Toast

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    Feb 6, 2016
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    Texas
    #12
    I'm not understanding how a smartphone and a sim and a telephone number and a telecom plan all relate to one another.

    For my home phone service, we use VOIP and I get a telephone number from them for like 25 cents per month. I prepay for calls, and only pay 1 cent per minute most places in the world.

    Could I get a telephone # from this VOIP provider and somehow link it up to a smartphone? Or does it need to be burned on the sim?

    Sorry, but I am clueless about cellphones and smartphones and texting!
     
  13. Mr_Brightside_@ macrumors 68020

    Mr_Brightside_@

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    #13
    To send an SMS:
    (Smart)phone - SIM card (giving it a phone number) - phone plan
     
  14. hallux macrumors 68020

    hallux

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2012
    #14
    To expand on the reply by @Mr_Brightside_@ SIM is short for Subscriber Identity Module - needed to make/receive phone calls, send and receive text messages and enable mobile data on the device. To get the SIM, you need SOME kind of "plan", even if it's not a long-term contract with the likes of Verizon or AT&T. If you want to test the SMS capabilities of your app, you will need to go that route in order to emulate exactly what your users will be experiencing.
     
  15. campyguy macrumors 68030

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    Mar 21, 2014
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    Portland / Seattle
    #15
    IMHO the "best" MVNO right now is Cricket, wholly owned by ATTWS. iPhone 5S/6/6S/6S+ variants and BYOP options. The widest cellular footprint of US MVNOs (identical to ATTWS's) plus CA calling/TM options; Cricket works in places that other MVNOs and TMo don't. Four data options, all UL data (high speed amounts plus throttled to EDGE after that except for the UL HS option) plus UL minutes plus UL TMs. Discounts for autopay and multiple lines. NO CONTRACTS, and one can change plans on the fly...

    As to a comparison with Tracfone, I was on a road trip with one of my employees just two days ago - he opted for Tracfone. My ATTWS phone worked and his Tracfone didn't even register a call until we reached "civilization".

    If I wasn't tied to VZW for work and ATTWS for personal, I'd opt for Cricket - no question IMHO. I get to write off my VZW lines and have UL data on all of my lines, and was able to get a BOGO for my ATTWS lines, Cricket's options are that good.
     
  16. Butchie-T macrumors regular

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    Oct 29, 2014
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    Colorado
    #16
    If you get a phone, you will need a sim to use it to make phone calls or send/receive messages through the cell network. Tracfone is pretty much the least expensive carrier out there that would support your testing of your apps. If your apps never need to traverse a cell tower to do whatever you end up making them do, then all you will need is a wireless connection.

    However, if you truly want to check out your apps, you are going to need some sort of phone plan to make that happen.
     
  17. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502

    Texas_Toast

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    Feb 6, 2016
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    #17
    Once I have a SIM card, then can I use it in other smartphones?

    Will I retain the original telephone # associated with it, if I cancelled my mobile plan?

    If I had a smartphone with a SIM, could I then send/receive calls and text messages using wifi or maybe my VOIP provider, or would the smartphone/SIM only work on the original telecom carrier?
     
  18. hallux macrumors 68020

    hallux

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    Apr 25, 2012
    #18
    The SIM will only work with the carrier that issued it. In the US, the SIM is branded by the carrier, there may not be any other difference except for the carrier's ability to register it to their network. Yes, the SIM will work in other smartphones, provided it's the correct size (mini, micro, nano) for the device and the device is compatible with your carrier (not all will be).

    Just HAVING a SIM is not enough, you can't sign up with a telecom company, get a SIM and phone number then cancel service and maintain a mobile connection and the phone number. If you cancel the service, the number goes with it unless you port the number to another provider before cancelling.

    The provider would need to support WiFi calling in order to make calls over WiFi using your carrier-issued number.
     
  19. BrianBaughn macrumors 601

    BrianBaughn

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    Feb 13, 2011
    Location:
    Baltimore, Maryland
    #19
    What you should do is look for the cheapest prepaid-per-use-type deal. Sounds like you won't need to make calls or use a lot of cell data.
     
  20. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502

    Texas_Toast

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2016
    Location:
    Texas
    #20
    Correct, I just want a cellphone where I can send and receive text messages to test out my website.

    As such, I don't want to have to get stuck in a contract that will cost me thousands of dollars. In addition, I don't want to have to start giving out my Social Security Number and Driver's License # and give DNA samples to get the stupid phone!

    This are two reasons I have never gotten a mobile plan.
     
  21. BrianBaughn macrumors 601

    BrianBaughn

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    Baltimore, Maryland
    #21
    Come back after you've done the research and tell us what you decided to do.
     
  22. aKansasKid macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2015
    #22
    OP: these horrors you mention are associated with traditional 2-yr contracts with the 4 major carriers. Folks here are trying to tell you that you don't have to go that route. Here's an example: Buy a used Verizon iPhone 4s on Swappa. It's a 3G phone, not LTE, so no SIM card needed. Buy a $10 prepaid PIN from Page Plus. Use Page Plus Chat to activate your 4s using that PIN you bought. You'll now have a smartphone, a phone number, and can text to your heart's content at $0.05 per text (sent and received). Add another $10 PIN to your PP account when you need more later.
     
  23. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #23
    I helped a friend from the EU setup and manage a T-Mobile account that she uses while visiting the US. In the past, their "pay as you go" was a very nice deal where the only requirement was that you kept a $10 balance (no monthly fee). Recently they changed it so that you must pay a minimum of $3.00/month, but that is a far cry from "hundreds per month" and it gives you a phone number you can keep with no contract.

    If you only want to send an occasional text message or make a few calls then you can pay for them individually. If you start using it more, they have various monthly plans. May not be the best solution for everyone, but it's something you could check out.
     
  24. Texas_Toast thread starter macrumors 6502

    Texas_Toast

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2016
    Location:
    Texas
    #24
    Here is what some research yielded...

    Cricket has basic Android phone for $50 and a monthly talk/text/data plan for $40/month, with no contracts or sensitive info.

    AT&T has a basic phone just for texting for $50 and a monthly talk/text for $30/month, with no contact.

    Better than I thought.
     

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