Author: Janet Kathalu
Wednesday, December 22, 2021

What Is a Burner Phone, and When Should You Use One

Category: Device Technology

I have been wondering how a burner phone can be used or if it is necessary to have one. I am sure I'm not the only one with such questions, so I did my research and wrote this article on burner phones and in which instances they can be helpful to both you and me.

There are many reasons to use a burner phone; some are; 

  • When you visit a different country
  • To stop the stalker from contacting you further
  • To avoid carrying your smartphone to dangerous places
  • To diverge spam messages from your smartphone
  • To protect your smartphone from theft
  • To check out the social world.

Those are just a few reasons to use your burner phone, more reasons in the article.



Do you know how to tell if someone is using a burner phone to contact you? How about why criminals use burner phones? Read on to find out everything you need to know about burner phones, their differences from other phones and how to use them appropriately.

What Is a Burner Phone, and When Should You Use One

A burner phone, at times referred to as a 'burn' phone, is a cheap, prepaid, no-contract phone. It can be easily discarded when no longer valid. It's a simple phone that lacks the fancy features of modern phones; no internet access or touch screen enabled. They look more like those old models of the 2000s. Its primary function is to call and receive and send text messages.

What Is a Burner Phone, and When Should You Use One

When should you use a burner phone?

You may be asking yourself, under which circumstances can you use a burner phone, bearing in mind that it has no internet. Here are some reasons why you might need to use a burner phone;

  1. When you visit a different country-when traveling abroad, it would be good to have a phone with you for emergency reasons. However, some sim cards don't work in other countries, either experience high roaming data and at times no data at all. 
    In such a case, a burner phone comes in hardy. Before your travel, get yourself a cheap simple telephone and get a sim card compatible with carriers at your destination. You'll be able to use your burner phone to make calls while in the country without having to spend much.
  2. To stop stalkers from further contacting you-met someone you like, say on a dating site or just randomly, and want to know them more, but you don't want to give out your phone number for trust issues; you are worried they may become toxic, plus use your phone number to harass you.
    If that's the case, you can give out a burner phone number, and you'll still be able to communicate through not as efficiently as with a smartphone.
  3. Avoid taking your phone to dangerous places-imagine going on a hike or a boat trip with an iPhone in your pocket, and you'd sure get so uncomfortable. You know anything can happen in a hiking event; you might fall or worse, your boat capsizes, you don't want to imagine what will happen.
    To avoid all that, leave your phone behind at home and get a cheap burner phone for bringing along when you have such adventures. That way, if anything happens, you can easily replace your burner phone.
  4. Diverge spam messages from your smartphone-you probably know how annoying spam can be. Some marketers won't let you be once they have your phone number. They start sending tons of unwanted texts and unnecessary calls to convince you into buying their products or services.
    Good, this burner phone will solve this issue for you. When signing up for such, giving out your burner phone number is also very helpful if you are a seller or a marketer yourself; let's say you sell a piece of land or a car. You can give out your burner phone number and discard it once you've made a sale.
  5. To protect your smartphone from theft-carrying your burner phone if you think the area you are going to ain't safe is a good idea, like when going for a protest, or those not so safe streets in a city, etc. In such a case, if your burner phone gets stolen, you won't have lost much; additionally, you won't have lost any information in your phone.
  6. Check out the social world-you could be having an urgent assignment to finish up, a test to study for, want some time off without social media or want to experience living without modern conveniences for some days. What better way to do this than using a burner phone?
    A burner phone will render an excellent way to disconnect from the internet and reachability. Just have a  few contacts on your burner phone or use it only for emergencies.

What Is a Burner Phone, and When Should You Use One

Are burner phones necessary?

You'll probably think that a burner phone is an old-fashioned trend that could not be any help to you. But is that the case? Is a burner phone essential? Let's dive in and find out if it's a necessity.

Have you ever read or heard controversies about social media collecting data from beings using certain apps? Having yourself protected in terms of sharing personal data is among the benefits of keeping a burner phone.

Times have changed, and it's hard for people to get through without a phone. A burner phone is a good option to always take with you, even if you carry your smartphone. Take it with you because it retains charge longer, and you surely don't want to be unreachable when your smartphone runs out of charge.

Peace of mind from unwanted calls; we all need that at times to relax without unnecessary bugs. Set your burner phone to only priority contact calls only. If your burner phone rings, then you'll know it's an important phone call; you can choose to ignore your smartphone.

How about being tracked down by GPS tracking devices? Sometimes you want to disappear and work or relax in private. A burner phone is a fantastic option in such a case, be it for a vacation, work, or when you want to be alone.

Imagine having downloaded several apps, and now each app is competing with each other on your phone. A burner phone will help you take care of such situations, and you'll be able to do away with such nuisance.

A burner phone is affordable.  You don't have to break a bag to acquire one. You can own a few burner phones; at home, in your bag, and at the office. They are beneficial additions to add on.

What Is a Burner Phone, and When Should You Use One

How can you tell if someone is using a burner phone?

Burner phones came to help out in living a more private life. At first, they were associated with low-budget people who lacked credit scores to get a smartphone, needed a short phone, or wanted to get out of long-term cellular service ideas.

But all the above is not the case now, and you can own both a smartphone and a burner phone-they are good in marketing, and having one is not a cause for alarm. How can you tell if someone is using a burner phone, though? Read on.

By observing them

observing is among the most straightforward ways you can use it; if someone is using a burner phone in secret, they won't risk using it around you; This means that you'll have to work hard to put all the information together.

For instance, you can install a CCTV camera in your home to monitor everyone. Here is what to do when your CCTV cameras are not working, and you can also use your phone with different sound recording apps and leave it around the suspected person. You might catch them using a burner phone.

Some apps that can help you out in this are; smart recorder, sec voice recorder, voice recorder, automatic call recorder, excellent voice recorder, etc.

Trace the phone number

You got a call or a message from a phone number and want to know if they are using a burner phone or not. The best way to track the phone number is to find out who the caller is.

Although a burner phone doesn't require users to register their numbers under their names, it might prove a little complicated. You can try discerning the location of the caller through the following approaches;

  • Search engine results-you can try more than one search engine. Type the phone number in the search engine like Bing, yahoo, google, etc. If the phone number is associated with someone or an organization, it will appear on the results. More importantly, you will get info on the phone numbers area code.
  • Report the phone number to the relevant authorities. You might feel harassed or threatened; reporting the number to the police will be a big help; they will be able to follow up and trace, leading to knowing who the person is and using a burner phone to make your life uncomfortable.
  • Seek for reverse lookup services-This is more profound than a google search. Lookup services will scan public records or even private to know about the phone number.
    Through receipts and pay statements

Check the payment accounts.

If you share one with a suspect, you might be able to find something, maybe a purchase history. Check papers or email receipts suggesting a burner phone or electronics.

Cell phone detector

A phone detector scans for nearby cellular signals-This should be the last resort to finding out if someone uses a burner phone.

What Is a Burner Phone, and When Should You Use One

What is the difference between a burner phone and a prepaid phone?

Are you looking for a temporary phone? A phone for emergency calls? A business and discard option? A run to option when you want some quiet time alone without much disturbance? Then a burner phone is all you need.

A prepaid phone is used with a prepaid phone plan (a sim card topped up with call credit every month automatically). You can get more top-up in a shop, though, and it's not entirely every month.; This can be a simple, quick to use phone to an expensive smartphone.

Both burner phones and prepaid phones are traceable and can be purchased at a store with cash payment. So what are the differences between a burner phone and a prepaid phone? Here you go.

Burner phones  Prepaid phones
Burner phones are cheaper Prepaid phones are more costly compared to burner phones.
Burner phones are used for a short period. Prepaid phones can be used for a much more extended period.
Burner phones are better when it comes to anonymity. Prepaid phones don't' guarantee anonymity.
Burner phones don't' have a prepaid plan. Prepaid phones are an excellent way to control your calling cost with a prepaid plan.
A burner phone is a simple phone with no internet or apps.  Prepaid phones have options for the internet and chatting, and the use of apps.
Burner phone sim card is not topped up automatically, and you have to buy credit and recharge. Prepaid phone sim card is topped up automatically. 
Burner phones are hard to trace  Prepaid phones can be easily traced.


Can a burner phone be traced?

All mobile phones, burner phones included, go through a virtual number operator or a cellular carrier; tracing is possible via call logs, approximate location, text messages, and data usage. Law enforcement can also enquire about all these from cellular carrier companies.

A burner phone is only traceable if it's still active. No one will trace you if you destroy the phone number; all data will be wiped off, including texts, photos, and voicemails. Destroying a phone number is irreversible, so make sure to pull out the data you need before the destruction. In all this, we can say that the only way to trace a burner phone is by using a burner phone number.

How do burner phone numbers get traced?

You might be wanting to trace someone who is using a burner phone, and maybe you have been receiving anonymous calls and texts or for personal reasons. Here are ways that you can trace someone;

  • Via a service provider.

The service providers are involved in almost all the activities you perform with your phone. They can provide information about someone using a burner phone by checking the account information or call logs.
When one buys a burner phone and gets a phone number, it's registered under a cellular service provider; this means they have no rights to the data collected as long as they are active on any service. Service providers are a sure way to help you trace a phone number.

  • Via law enforcement

If you are an ordinary citizen, it can be hard to trace the call details of another citizen. Only law enforcement can enquire from a service provider to get the data on a subscriber and their activities. They use different policies to get the information depending on the company policy and the operating jurisdictions.

So if you want to trace any phone number, it would be wise to do it the legal way. Get some help from law enforcement and make the whole process easier and safer for yourself. 

What Is a Burner Phone, and When Should You Use One

Why do criminals use Burner phone?

In movies and films, you've at one point seen criminals associated with burner phones. Not just in cinema only, but in reality, criminals use burner phones for communicating anonymously. They do this to ask for ransoms, set drop-off points, and other illegal doings.

They use burner phones because it is hard to trace them; the cellular carrier can have the call logs and messages, but they can't tell you the exact contents of where the caller is. Burner phones are easily discarded with all their content when no longer needed.

If you are caught, chances of being incriminated by your phone are very slim as there's very minimal data and data history. Burner phones don't have GPS features or apps to check for evidence.

Law enforcement can trace back to the store where the phone or sim card was bought. If you had paid using a traceable form of payment or CCTV recorded you, they may recognize you, but getting the evidence will be challenging.

Does a burner phone guarantee anonymity?

If you think buying a burner phone will ensure much privacy other than using it to avoid spam and valid personal reasons, you are wrong.

Picture this out, you go to a store and get yourself a burner phone. You pay with your credit card and head back home. When you have carried along with your smartphone, your cellular carrier will already know where you were.

Don't also forget that the camera in the shop or area cameras may have spotted you and recorded. In addition, the credit card has the records of you making the purchase. When you get home and turn on the burner phone, your cellular carrier will have an idea of your location.

Another instance is you carry both your smartphone and a burner phone, and both are on; if anyone is looking at your cellular records, they will tell that the phones belong to the same individual.

But if you are not looking for complete anonymity, it's OK to get a burner phone. In this case, you may want another phone with longer battery life or to keep some people off.


A burner phone is a necessity. It would be best if you had it for so many reasons, you might not be needing it now, but soon you will. That budget-friendly phone can make your life more silent and peaceful at times. Use it for the right and legal reasons only.

You now know how to use it and which instances you might need one. You also have an idea of how it operates compared to other phones. Get a burner phone that fits your needs too.

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