Ever considered an Emergency Burner Phone?

Ever considered an Emergency Burner Phone?

Here’s why you should:

There was a time when we didn’t have mobiles. There was even a time when we didn’t have smartphones. And when you consider either scenario, it’s hard to image how we’d survive in that pre-always-on-world. Therefore, if you’re smartphone isn’t there to direct, record, message or even, I don’t know, make a call, here’s four scenario’s where having a burner phone could save you!

What it is:

A burner phone is just another name for a pay-as-you-go phone, but crucially, in these examples, it’s a pretty basic phone that has no or limited Internet capabilities.



Every mobile phone needs to have the capability to call the emergency services regardless of the network coverage of your provider. You’ll likely already know this as you would have seen the emergency option on your lock or dial screen.

Whilst this isn’t necessarily a reason to have a burner phone to hand, what is common in the smartphone era is dead batteries. The advantage of a basic phone is that it can carry a much better charge for much longer than your primary device, meaning if you need a backup with charge, your burner phone can deliver what you need.

Additionally, a more basic handset is also more likely to be navigable either to a user more fluent with a different operating system or a complete technological novice alike, meaning if you’re not able to call the emergency in, someone else can.

Further advantages to a more basic backup are that it will start quicker (no software) will never need to be updated (again no software) will have a keypad and so can be operated in gloves, or will still operate where a cracked touchscreen will not and can generally take more wear and tear than modern versions.



A family friendly, intelligent and sociable co-worker of mine once told me that it found it difficult to switch off and put his phone down during the weekend or during holidays. It isn’t something that I have an issue with, but I fully understood where he was coming from.

Cutting yourself off from emails and social media but without going survivalist can be a surprisingly liberating experience, and a burner phone can provide you with this luxury. If people really need to get hold of you, they can, and the phone will ring when the do. All other times you’ll be free to disconnect from the always on world and you’ll benefit from it when you do.


Keeping under the radar

In the movies or on TV, a burner phone is normally something that you use briefly and then discard, normally when infiltrating a terrorist cell. We aren’t suggesting that this is what you do because cost and practicality might be too much. However, if the cost is less than the requirement to remain anonymous – no GPS, no Google, no nothing – then this could be the option for you.


Getting Messages Out

Many people don’t realise that you can actually still communicate with social media via SMS. For Twitter, you just need to change your mobile setting to allow SMS updates from your burner phone. You’ll also receive updates as well so consider limiting the amount you want to receive or else you’ll run out of pay-as-you-go data quite quickly. Alternatively consider a burner Twitter account for emergencies and direct message the recipitant.

For Facebook, the settings are changed in a similar way, and you can SMS Facebook directly to post updates. Both these options are good for emergency messaging, use less battery, and will not require an internet connection to complete.


What phones are available?

There are plenty of great deals and really cheap pay as you go only phones available. Here are some that we’ve selected:

  • Tesco Mobile Nokia 106 – £9 from Tesco
  • Tesco Mobile Samsung E1200 – £9 from Tesco
  • Carphone Warehouse Nokia 105 – Free with £20 top-up
  • EE Alcatel 10.10 – 99p with £10 top-up from Argos
  • T-Mobile Alcatel 10.10 – £4.99 from Argos
  • EE Samsung E1270 – £2.99 with £10 top-up from EE
  • O2 Samsung E1270 – £4.99 from O2
  • O2 Samsung E1200 – £4.99 from O2

All these phones are pretty similar so it’s really down to personal choice and budget, but you’ll be using them so infrequently neither should really be a huge consideration.

156-6028_PI_TPS2097947 164-2461_PI_TPS1521184 NOKIA-105_BLACK_1


Credit image: Nokia 106

Credit image: Samsung

Credit image: Nokia 105

Main image credit

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