Home Apple How to Turn an Old iPhone Into an iPod Touch

How to Turn an Old iPhone Into an iPod Touch

If you upgraded to the new iPhone 6s recently, you might be wondering what you should do with your old iPhone. Here’s how to turn an old iPhone into an iPod Touch.

Your primary instinct might just be to sell your old iPhone, but you’d be surprised what kind of use you can get out of an old iPhone, even if it doesn’t have a phone plan attached to it. One of the most popular repurposing methods is to use an old iPhone as a glorified iPod Touch.

Read: 5 Best Uses for an Old iPod Touch

However, there a few steps that you need to take first before you can use an old iPhone without a phone plan, and we’ll show you those steps needed so that you can quickly and easily be on your way with a retrofitted iPod Touch.

iphone-4s-ios7

Get a SIM Card

The first thing you’ll need to do is get a hold of a SIM card, and any SIM card will do — it doesn’t need to be active.

This might be tricky if you no longer have the SIM card that came with the old iPhone, as you’ll need a SIM card that came from a previously-activated iPhone. It can be a SIM card from any iPhone, though, which shouldn’t be hard to find if you have iPhone-toting friends with old SIM cards lying around. If all else fails, you can easily find SIM cards on eBay.

Once you have a SIM card, follow these quick steps:

  1. 2013-11-11 14.19.39Insert the SIM card into your old iPhone.
  2. Connect the old iPhone to your computer and launch iTunes.
  3. iTunes will see it as a new device and will need to activate it.
  4. Once it’s activated, you’re good to go!

You can certainly use an old iPhone without a SIM card, but you’ll get an annoying pop-up message every time you reboot. Plus, without a SIM card, you won’t be able to restore the iPhone if you ever need to.

Don’t worry, though, because even if you have a SIM card in your old iPhone, it won’t have a service plan attached to it, so you won’t be paying a monthly service charge.

Turn Off Cellular & Turn On WiFi

Since your new “iPod Touch” doesn’t have a service plan (which means you can’t make calls or send/receive text messages), you might as well turn off all of the cellular radios in your old iPhone, which can save battery.

However, your device will heavily rely on WiFi, so be sure to turn that on. Here’s how to do both:

  1. Open the Settings app and tap on Cellular.
  2. There will be a toggle at the top to turn off the cellular radio. Tap on the toggle until it turns gray (if it isn’t already).
  3. Go back to the main Settings screen and tap on Wi-Fi.
  4. Tap on the toggle switch at the top next to Wi-Fi to turn it on (if it isn’t already).
  5. Select your home network from the list below and enter in the password if you aren’t already connected.

old-iphone-ipod-touch

You don’t necessarily need to turn off the cellular radios, but it helps conserve battery, since your old iPhone won’t constantly be searching for a signal that it’ll never receive.

Download Useful Apps

After you’ve completed the above steps, you can now download any useful apps that you want to use on your new “iPod Touch,” like a music player, video player, podcast app, etc.

I suggest grabbing a handful of games to play, as well as keeping all of your music on the device, and maybe some movies and TV shows to watch while on the go.

ipod-touch

You can even just use the device as a dedicated music player to keep in your car, at the office, or in your home gym if you have one. Personally, I’ve always been a fan of carrying around a spare iPhone for music while I go for a walk, just so I won’t accidentally drop or lose my main iPhone.

Keep in mind that an iPod Touch is pretty much just an iPhone without the phone, so the only things you won’t be able to do are make/receive phone calls, send/receive text messages (you can still use iMessage over WiFi), and access the internet without a WiFi connection.

Furthermore, your new “iPod Touch” can also act as a backup phone for whenever your primary device breaks or fails. If that happens, you won’t need to rush out and pick up a loaner. Instead, you’ll already have a backup that you can use that will already have all of your preferred apps and games on it.

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38 Comments

  1. stafford5

    11/17/2013 at 12:30 pm

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    Reply

  2. Mike Bappe

    12/10/2013 at 5:54 am

    Does disabling Cellular Data really stop the phone from searching for any GSM signal and using the battery that way? Would leaving the SIM card out disable the GSM radio and signal search completely?

    Reply

  3. Earl

    05/07/2014 at 6:31 pm

    Will you still be able to dial 911 on your “iTouch”

    Reply

    • Bob

      08/22/2015 at 4:52 am

      No, dummy

      Reply

      • Grizz Mack

        09/17/2015 at 2:30 pm

        Name calling is a bit harsh. I think, by law, all cell phones have to be able to call 911, even if they aren’t attached to a carrier. Of course, that won’t work if you’ve turned the cellular off, but otherwise, it should work.

        Reply

  4. Hunter

    06/10/2014 at 5:41 am

    If I get my parents old iphone can I still use iMessage on wifi?

    Reply

  5. Dan

    06/25/2014 at 12:31 pm

    Whatever you do, don’t put your old 4S in the microwave! It will turn into a monster that will keep asking you to take it fishing. It happened to me!

    Reply

    • Poo

      01/17/2015 at 7:48 am

      That’s scary

      Reply

    • Derrick

      05/09/2016 at 1:44 am

      oh my god… o.o thank you for the warning!!

      Reply

  6. Samantha McClellan

    10/25/2014 at 11:40 am

    Can I still use apps, such as Nike running, to log my runs? I won’t be connected to a wifi while running.

    Reply

    • Bob

      08/22/2015 at 4:53 am

      Seriously?

      Reply

    • Mangostrike

      04/06/2016 at 11:52 am

      Yes you can. I regularly use RunKeeper on my iPhone 5s.

      I’m trying to figure out a music solution though (since I don’t own any music, just use Pandora).

      Reply

      • Dan

        06/08/2016 at 11:51 pm

        I use Spotify in this scenario. You can download the songs/albums for offline listening. Works pretty good for me, though I do have the premium service so it may vary for you.

        Reply

      • Frodo

        07/02/2016 at 11:16 am

        Soundcloud is perfect for this you can play a song with wifi and it will cache and you can listen without wifi

        Reply

  7. D

    11/24/2014 at 12:10 pm

    So… this is supposed to be instructions for activating an iphone without a sim card, yet the first step is to acquire an old sim card. IF I HAD AN OLD SIM CARD, I WOULDN’T NEED YOUR TUTORIAL!

    Reply

    • John Doe

      04/11/2016 at 10:48 am

      You can find old SIM cards on eBay that are only usable for just this sort of thing. That is because they are old inactive SIM cards. If you are lucky and got an old iPhone, it may still have a SIM card in it. You will need a small guage paper clip to eject the tray and look. If you need a SIM card but don’t have one, the ones on eBay are not expensive like a brand new one that can also be used. You can get a new SIM card and use it unactivated. Just explain to the clerk that you need it just to get the phone working. It is very unlikely that they will just give you an old inactive SIM card. They will likely sell a new one to you. Use it for service til it expires or use it as long as you like. You are not required to activate a SIM card just to use the iPhone unless you want service. If you are having any issue getting the phone usable even if just as an iPod Touch, take it to the place that sold you the SIM card and ask them to help you. I was able to get help with a SIM card free, I just had to have it and the bigger card it came in with me. They might need the numbers that are on that bigger card so keep that and don’t throw it away.

      If you don’t already have an iPhone, get an iPod touch instead or even an Android device. Some Androids have better specs than the older iPhones. The iPhones do have really good cameras and for quite a while the 8 MP camera has been used. Although just 8 MP, many people have used that camera and have taken some really nice photos. The iPhone camera is a very popular one.

      Reply

  8. janie

    06/02/2015 at 2:41 pm

    once the songs are downloaded onto the glorified itouch, and you leave your home where it was on a network, is there a setting or way to not ‘loose’ all of these songs /playlists?

    Reply

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    08/28/2015 at 11:21 pm

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  10. Tin

    11/09/2015 at 8:04 am

    How do I turn it (the new itouch) back to an iphone if I wanted to?

    Reply

    • Matt

      03/18/2016 at 7:40 am

      you put an active sim card in the iphone

      Reply

  11. Dan

    11/15/2015 at 12:40 pm

    I followed all of these steps but the apps are not downloading or updating. Please help.

    Reply

  12. Bryan Hill

    11/16/2015 at 7:36 am

    After I activated it I went to toggle the wifi but it didn’t let me. Does anyone no why or how to solve this problem?

    Reply

  13. erin121906

    01/25/2016 at 9:45 am

    Can i not use “Facetime” on the Wifi signal only??

    Reply

    • Ken

      02/04/2016 at 10:28 am

      yes!!!

      Reply

  14. zekoo

    02/08/2016 at 6:18 am

    Hello can use this method with iphone 6 plus

    Reply

  15. Al G.

    02/23/2016 at 2:15 pm

    that is precisely what I did with my old 4s 64GB. I loaded it to the gills with music and leave in my car attached to my stereo via usb cable to my stereo.

    Reply

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    • I hate scammers

      04/17/2016 at 9:44 am

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        06/13/2016 at 3:55 pm

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  17. Zak

    03/11/2016 at 8:31 pm

    Will these instructions work with an iPhone 3GS?

    Reply

  18. Sam

    05/22/2016 at 9:37 am

    I have a iphone 4 CDMA model, no sim card so no issue
    I turned on wifi and put the phone in airplane mode (settings:Airplane mode) to stop it from searching for a phone signal

    Reply

  19. Tacoma_Rick

    06/13/2016 at 2:52 pm

    how do you download stuff? if I use my icloud account then it starts downloading the apps to both the new iPhone and old one? Then when my new iPhone was ringing the old one was too? how is that possible with no calling plan? I’m confused

    Reply

    • b

      06/13/2016 at 3:51 pm

      because both phoners are logged into the same icloud – you need to create a separate icloud for each phone

      Reply

  20. b

    06/13/2016 at 3:53 pm

    to download go to the app store with your new icloud account. Be sure to record you new account names and password – it’s a pain if you forget them

    Reply

  21. J

    07/26/2016 at 12:41 pm

    A good music app to use is music tube if you have an older iPhone that still always you to download the app you can download with wifi and cache the songs so you can listen to with no wifi or data

    Reply

  22. jenna

    08/22/2016 at 4:14 pm

    Did this method work for anybody?

    Reply

  23. Eric

    12/27/2016 at 10:32 am

    Will the GPS on the phone still work or will that also need a cell signal?

    Reply

    • Ben

      03/29/2017 at 8:17 am

      old post, i know but someone actually asked a relevant question that didn’t get a response…

      Eric,

      The GPS, per se, will work but the backend data (like the map you actually care about) will not. Also, a large portion of the “GPS” on a phone is actually triangulation from cell towers, so for all intents and purposes, no, the GPS map apps will not work away from WiFi.

      Reply

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