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Using Unactivated Cell Phone as iPod (No Contract) Suggestions/How-tos

Jennifer 455 203 November 29, 2011 at 08:16 PM More Slickdeals Deals
Long story short...finances made us give up smartphones on AT&T and go to TracFone. 12yo daughter misses her phone's capabilities (Her phone has since broken.), and I wanted to get her an mp3 player w/a camera. I posted THIS THREAD where ClubMed mentioned the possibility of getting a WiFi capable phone instead of an mp3 player.

As we do not have a current phone contract, is this a possibility for us? I cannot afford to purchase a phone if it won't do what I think my daughter would enjoy. To recap what I think she would like:
  • camera w/video would be great
  • MP3 capability
  • FM radio??? (She chose an old TracFone for this function, and it no longer works)
  • app downloads and/or WiFi access to Google and YouTube would be a HUGE surprise (We went no-contract before Angry Birds.)

ClubMed activated his son's phone by using his own active Verizon contract. All of my friends and family are AT&T.

Any ideas or suggestions on which phones may work for us? I'm hoping to give the phone to my daughter for Christmas...tick...tick...tick...

Thanks, everyone!



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Is an ipod touch or an unactivated iphone 3 too expensive? Those would be my choices.
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Original Poster
Quote from IceWeasel View Post :
Is an ipod touch or an unactivated iphone 3 too expensive? Those would be my choices.
My absolute limit is $100 - and that's stretching it, so I doubt we can afford an i-anything considering what options are desired. I'm trying to verify that buying a (most likely used) phone would work w/o activation/contract. If so, how can it be done?
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Last edited by Jennifer November 29, 2011 at 09:03 PM.
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palm pre (or pixi plus, not the plain old pixi because it doesn't have wifi)

Assuming there are no weird restrictions that I'm unaware of you would have full access to the preware/precentral app store

I looked this up for the pixi (I'm thinking of using mine as an mp3 player) and when there is no service you will be stuck at the 'registration' screen and the only way around it is to install the bypass-carrier-activation tool from

So, if you're unwilling to play a little bit it's probably not a good choice... and by 'play' I mean connect the phone to a PC via USB and install some stuff manually
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Last edited by vivahate November 30, 2011 at 06:50 AM.
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I understand the budget reasons on why you are asking this. The recommendation on a used cell phone will work for most of this but do understand the following. To do this you will be buying a used phone from probably ebay. This will not have a contract and will not need activated to use as a wifi device or a music player. So you do not need to worry about alot of what your mentioning above. If you were to buy through a wireless carrier you would have to have a contract or pay much more than you are looking to do. Do know that the experience is not going to be anywhere near an ipod. Unless your daughter is a techie or someone in your house is, you will probably end up asking tons of questions and may wish you would have waited to buy a device that is an entire package. People like iPods because they are super easy to use. They also have that "Cool" factor your daughter may want more than than the similar functions of a similar device. Most non idevices dont have this level of easy built in. You have to do things manually or hunt for software to do what you want.

I will just speak about android because that is what I know best and what I recommend. Buy the best device you can afford. The really low end android devices are mostly crap. They would work for an MP3 player but other apps might be pushing it. There also might be trouble running some of the music streaming or player apps on the really old versions of android. If the device runs android 2.2 you should be ok for a little while. I would recommend a phone with a removable MicroSD card so you can find a good deal on a larger card and upgrade capacity later if needed.

DoubleTwist is a pretty nice app to play both audio and video from local sources (The phones storage). However you manually move music from the computer to the phone. You are in charge or organizing it for the most part. Double Twist does have a PC app that helps with syncing but I personally don't care for it because it is really slow. The good thing is with Google Music you could at least buy legal music from the phone and stream it via wifi (Download for offline play also possible, more steps involved here)

Specific models of phones will have FM radios. These require headphones to act as the antenna. Performance is ok. Not every phone has this feature. Also don't expect great things from the camera. It's a cell phone so its slow, low res and is really bad in low light.

App store would work but again not all apps will work and performance could be poor depending on what all you are trying to do.

I don't mean to scare you with this post or tell you that what you are attempting to do is a bad idea. I just want to help clue you in on what you are getting involved in and heed a bit of warning that you will have to work at this a little.

If you are looking for specific recommendations of phones I can help out if requested.
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