Can you use an Android phone on Wi-Fi only?

March 10, 2014
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Can you use an Android prepaid phone on Wi-Fi only without getting a plan?

What kind of limitations or restrictions am I looking at?

  1. Kelsey T
    March 11, 2014 at 1:10 am

    Heh heh...AT&T got me on this one...
    My wife and kids got on a contract plan a year and a half ago. I was using a pay-as-you-go phone. I got interested in my daughter's LG smartphone, and decided to get one as an added line on our family plan. I went and got signed up, added on, the phone set up, all that.
    So I go home to play with my phone, and use the net on our wifi and all that. Never had plans to use data, but of course AT&T REQUIRES a data plan when you sign up...$30 at that time. They told us you couldn't use the phone without the data setup. After a couple days I click on data just to see how fast 4g LTE is, and there isn't any! I went back to the AT&T store and they figured out that they'd never activated it.
    So basically, a data plan is NOT required because I was using the phone online through the wifi at home for two days without my data plan being activated. In short, the AT&T rep lied to us when he said the phone wouldn't work without the data plan. What a crock.

    • Dalsan M
      March 11, 2014 at 9:33 am

      Service provider sales people are notorious for lying just to make better commissions, especially with "you can't use these functions" or "you cannot use your phone without..." Without a service plan, you cannot use your "phone", but the rest of the device can be used, minus the cellular data.

      My family has been using smartphones (various operating systems) without service for years just to have a portable gaming machine, mp3/video player, and internet browsing through Wi-Fi.

  2. Hovsep A
    March 10, 2014 at 9:25 am

    It is still using their network but just using your wifi to reach it versus through a cell tower

    on your WIFI calling preferences, you should get some options:
    1) WIFI Preferred
    2) Cellular Network Preferred
    3) Never Use Cellular Network: Do not use Cellular Network even if available

    • Howard B
      March 20, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      I've yet to see a US cellphone that will let you make calls over WiFi only. Only Scratch Wireless and Republic Wireless do that.

  3. Dalsan M
    March 10, 2014 at 4:53 am

    The only limitation you would have is the same limitations as tablets and portable media players; you cannot use the phone for phone calls over cellular networks. You can, however, use VOIP apps to make phone calls and there are messaging apps to send text messages as long as you have Wi-Fi access.

    The GPS would still work, though it may take a little longer to get a location lock when the GPS application is first started; the quicker location lock with cellular data is from getting a coarse location from the cellular towers, and the fine location lock is from the GPS. You would need a GPS navigation app that allows offline use to use the phone for GPS navigation without cellular data access.

    Everything else should work as usual, including the Google Play Store, games, music, web browsing and Facebook/other social media apps through Wi-Fi, etc. One thing that you may have an issue with if you do not activate the phone is the Activation popup when you turn on/restart the device. There may be a way to disable this popup, but we would need the phone model and service provider name to figure out if there is a way.

  4. Rajaa C
    March 10, 2014 at 3:36 am

    Probably you can. You won't get incoming and outgoing calls and sms, no Edge, 3G or 4G data. Maybe you should be able to use the wifi internet only. However, lot of handsets may expect a SIM, so maybe have a prepaid active SIM inserted without any recharges in it.

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