Advice | Burner Phones and Why You Might Need Them

Wired recently ran an article on their top 6 burner phones, which brings up interesting questions on privacy in the digital age. With more and more apps tracking your location and recording your texts and calls, how do you hold space for safe communication? What happens if your phone or laptop is confiscated? There’s a lot of murky water regarding your rights, so you might want to make the effort to read up on them. In the meantime, why not check out some cheap phones that can be destroyed without much worry?

Burner phones often get a bad wrap (cheaters and drug dealers come to mind) but in fact burner phones and other forms of private communication such as Tor are a necessity for refugees and journalists in other parts of the world. But what exactly makes a burner phone burnable? Firstly, they use pre-paid data plans, all cheap enough to be paid for in cash, making it impossible to follow the money and track the user. Relatedly, being inexpensive makes them easy to destroy and replace if necessary, leaving no trace of your digital footprint. (That is, cough cough, the owner of the footprint.)

Here’s the rundown that Wired gives:

  1. Alcatel A206 by TracFone ($15)- A basic flip phone with talk and text. Great battery life, not much else.
  2. Samsung S336C by Total Wireless ($10)- Another basic flip phone but with a few luxuries like email and internet.
  3. LG 306G by TracFone ($8.50)- Touchscreen, wi-fi, 3G, and a 4GB micro-SD. Poor battery life.
  4. LG K3 by Boost Mobile ($30)- Runs 4G LTE, even has a 5 megapixel camera.
  5. LG Rebel 4G by TracFone ($60)- A smart-burner-phone. 4G and a decent camera.
  6. Samsung Galaxy J3 ($180)- Runs the latest version of Android, so it can be used with any modern apps.

Finally, the Burner App ($5 per month) for iPhone and Android can be used in a similar way, rerouting your calls and texts through a new telephone number. This number can also receive calls and texts, and can be deleted at any time. In the age of President Trump, “who knows what race, religious group, or professional sector will be scrutinized tomorrow?” Paul Sarconi writes on Wired. Better take the C.Y.A. approach and get yourself some disposable communication.

About William Enders

A sophomore Design and Technology major at Parsons School for Design, focusing on interactive media and video games.