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

Digital lifestyle
What is the difference between a prepaid cell phone and a burner?
Digital lifestyle

Is a burner phone anonymous and untraceable? How is it different from a prepaid cell phone? All the answers are here!

Are you looking for a temporary cell phone that you can team up with a prepaid sim card? There are plenty of affordable phones on the market that fit this bill. However, it’s important to know what phone to choose depending on your wants and needs. Do you want to browse online, chat, take photos and shop with your prepaid phone? Or do you need a phone solely for (emergency) phone calls? Do you want a no-strings-attached temporary cell phone with an anonymous number? A so-called burner phone may be what you are looking for. Basically a burner phone is a great temporary phone, an emergency phone, or a business phone. And, a throwaway-option when you don’t need it anymore.

What is a burner phone?

A burner phone is basically a prepaid phone with basic features only. These phones don’t offer app-use, or online browsing. They enable you to call, use a phone book and contact the emergency services or relatives, whilst your identity remains anonymous. If you need an emergency phone with simple features and without any additional options next to making phone calls, a burner cell phone may be a good choice. Typically you use these phones with a burner sim card. You can purchase the card anonymously and insert it into the phone. Burner phones are a great solution if you want to list a number in an advert, make use of dating sites, or need to temporarily publish a phone number for short term use. If you want to buy a prepaid phone with plenty of features, such as the option to use apps, browse the internet and chat, consider a prepaid cell phone instead of a burner phone. You can choose from a wide range of affordable prepaid phones without a contract.

Buying a burner phone or a regular prepaid phone

Of course, you can buy both prepaid phones and temporary cell phones (burner) with cash at a physical store. Is anonymity important to you? A burner phone might be a better choice than a regular prepaid phone. Keep in mind that if you order your burner phone from a web store, for example from Amazon, your purchase can be traced back to your personal details. A ‘classic’ prepaid phone that you want to use as a phone without a contract, is a great choice if you’re looking for more than just a temporary cell phone. It is also a great way to control your calling cost. With a set amount of prepaid calling credit you know exactly how much you can (and want to) spend on calling. This can be a simple cheaper cell phone or a smartphone. You can top up a burner phone online, as well as a regular prepaid phone or smartphone. If you want to buy call credit for your burner phone you can even do so anonymously, for example with a cash bought prepaid credit card or with digital phone credit.

What is a prepaid phone?

A prepaid phone is any phone you use with a prepaid phone plan. The device is up to you – ranging from a simple and easy to use phone to a sophisticated smartphone or a second hand sim lock free phone. An example of a prepaid phone plan is a sim card that youo can top up automatically with a certain amount of calling credit on a monthly basis. You can buy extra phone credit if you need it, at any time, online or in a store. Unlike a temporary cell phone, you can buy prepaid cell phones to use for a longer period of time. You get your own phone number with your prepaid sim contract. Prepaid cell phones offer a great way to stay on track with your phone budget. You don’t end up paying monthly for an expensive new phone (you choose and buy your own) and can set yourself an allocated amount of phone credit that you want to use. You pay as you go. Topping up your prepaid phone (from any carrier) is easy, safe and quick to do online, from anywhere in the world.

Are burner phones and prepaid cell phones untraceable?

No phone is entirely untraceable when used by an average citizen. As even an anonymous phone number used with a temporary cell phone (burner) needs a cellular phone service provider, calling traffic data can be released by a service provider, for example to law enforcement. Adding an extra hurdle to unveiling your personal data to anyone can be done by randomizing your use and switching cellular service providers often. Even using a burner phone number service for your phone use offers no guarantee of total anonymity, but it’s the closest option to an untraceable phone. Of course you can even use a WiFi network on your burner phone without a sim card. The same goes for prepaid cell phones. However, buying a phone and paying for it with cash, not registering a contract and using a prepaid sim does greatly help if you value your privacy. It is possible to top up your prepaid sim card with credit anonymously, by buying a prepaid credit card, or by paying for credit with PayPal. Using a prepaid smartphone or regular phone without signing up with a service provider is absolutely possible and easier than you may think!

How do burner phones and prepaid cell phones compare on phone security?

They’re not as different as you might expect. Both prepaid cell phones and temporary cell phones (burner) can be purchased anonymously, by paying with cash or a prepaid credit card in a store. You can use an anonymous phone number (or multiple anonymous numbers) on a prepaid cell phone through a burner phone app. You can discard your burner app phone numbers after use, as you please. This way you can create an untraceable phone with a regular cell phone, and of course also with a real burner phone. With the right mobile phone security and a burner app on your regular phone you can stay relatively anonymous. Always read the terms and conditions of a burner phone number app. These may state exactly how anonymous you will be when using these services.

How do burner phones and prepaid cell phones compare on cost?

One of the major differences between a burner phone and a prepaid cell phone is that burners are cheaper to buy. That’s unsurprising, as they have fewer features than a regular phone or a smartphone. You can basically buy a burner phone for as little as $20. Depending on the functionality that you are looking for, a prepaid cell phone can be purchased from around $50 (not a smartphone).

The right temporary cell phone for you

Now that you understand what is the difference between a burner phone and a prepaid cell phone, you can make the best choice for your situation. You can of course also choose to use both types of phones. For example, your temporary cell phone (burner) can be used as a private number and your prepaid cell phone could be your business phone. The options are countless.

Written by

Kristina Kalpaklieva