Will My Android Phone Work Without a SIM Card?

One question we get all the time is whether or not an Android phone will work without a SIM card. Basically without having service from a carrier. Including what to do with old smartphones. Whether you recently upgraded to something else, or just have an old phone laying around, we’re here to help. Read on for everything you need to know about using Android phones without a SIM card.

The short answer, yes. Your Android smartphone will totally work without a SIM card. In fact, you can do almost everything you can do with it right now, without paying a carrier anything or using a SIM card. All you need is Wi-Fi (internet access), a few different apps, and a device to use.

Read: 5 Uses for Your Old iPhone

Below we’ll go over a few different things owners can do with an Android smartphone that doesn’t have a SIM card. This can be a cheap Moto G, your old Galaxy S6 from a year or two ago, or anyone that has a phone without service from a carrier. Android phones can be used as a tablet, iPod, remote control, computer, and more. Lets get started.

N6-no-sim

When it comes to using an Android phone one of the first steps is the initial setup. Typically this is done with a SIM card. The little card from Verizon (or any carrier) that gives you service to make calls, texts, and browse the web. Then you connect to the internet to sign into your Gmail account, download apps, browse the web, get on Facebook, etc. Basically anything we do on our smartphones.

What you probably didn’t know, is that you can do all of that without a SIM card. Without paying a carrier. Just use WiFi at home. You won’t be able to make calls or send texts (without downloading some apps first) but you’ll be able to do everything else.

So how can you use an Android phone without a SIM card? It’s simple, do everything over WiFi. Using the wireless internet connection in your house, at a hotel, a nearby Starbucks and more is all you need. You can skip the setup process and go right into using the device as a tablet, music player and whatever else you want.

N6-nosim-music

Above we went over 5 uses for an old iPhone, and all of those apply to an old Android device. Or someone that can’t afford service from a carrier. The phone works 100% the same way, only you can’t make calls and texts through the traditional methods. A phone with no SIM card can be used as a dedicated music player, set it on your desk as a clock, or your bedside as an alarm clock. Or even connect it to your home security and use it as a dedicated security camera feed. The possibilities are endless. I have an old water-resistant Galaxy S5 Active I take on hiking and camping trips. It works perfect for music and taking photos. Why risk ruining my brand new device?

Here’s the good part, you can still use your phone to send messages, make phone calls or video chat. There are multiple different apps available on the Google Play Store that can do a variety of different things.

NoSIM-Apps

If you have an Android phone without service you can still send text messages with WhatsApp, Google Allo, Facebook Messenger, GroupMe, LINE and many more, all by just using WiFi. Millions of people use WhatsApp every single day.

Additionally Google’s Allo can send texts and picture messages, and almost everything iMessage does. This doesn’t require service from your provider or a SIM card, just make sure you’re connected to WiFi. Facebook has a calling feature with its standalone messenger app, and even Google has something called Google Voice. Allowing users to make calls via the internet. You can even port your old number into Google Voice, and still get calls through GVoice using an active WiFi connection. See what we’re getting at here? You can do everything you normally can do, as long as you have a Wifi connection to get online.

If almost every aspect of your life has WiFi, you’re set. WiFi at home and work will give you a fully functioning phone without paying anything. It just won’t work while you travel back and forth. Make sense?

Use an old phone as a Dash Cam
Use an old phone as a Dash Cam

Users can also head to the Google Play Store and download one of the many free WiFi Calling apps. Which allow you to make phone calls over the internet, instead of through a carrier with a SIM card. T-Mobile phones have WiFi calling enabled by default, and most carriers in the US allow it as well. This uses a wireless internet connection to make calls, rather than using your SIM card and carrier networks.

What this all comes down to, is if you can use an Android smartphone without a SIM card. The answer to that is yes, yes you can. As long as you have an internet connection you can do almost everything you normally can do.

On the flipside, you don’t even have to have internet access to enjoy a lot of activities. Owners can still play games that are installed, listen to music, and more. Just add it to the internal storage like you would an iPod. No SIM card and no WiFi will limit uses, but there are still plenty of things one can do with an old device. Heck, I have an old Galaxy S6 I use as a dash-cam while driving. Just be creative. In closing, try some of the apps above and if you’ve found other great alternatives drop us a comment below.

26 Comments

  1. peppino

    05/06/2015 at 4:24 pm

    I just don’t get it…my android warp zte phone wouldn’t connect to google..and was very slow.. so I tried EVERYTHING…finally, out of frustration..I took out the SIM card…now it works perfect!!! So I don’t need a SIM card?? And pay Boost Mobile $45 a month??? What’s the catch??? It just sounds too good??? If I leave my apartment, will my phone start to smoke or explode??

    Reply

    • solarya

      07/21/2015 at 4:20 pm

      same here I cannot log into google account

      Reply

  2. deeksha

    05/25/2015 at 3:57 am

    I don’t have sim card but vi want to use watsapp

    Reply

  3. danyeleread

    07/07/2015 at 4:50 pm

    What is the benefit of having a sim? Certainly it’s being able to use the phone without wi-fi. Are there any others?

    Reply

  4. Jonathan Wint

    07/12/2015 at 7:07 am

    My Samsung Galaxy S4 will only work connect to carrier with sim card out.. Keeps saying it Locked and needs to reboot with it in.

    Reply

    • praised one

      09/03/2015 at 1:34 am

      Sounds like your phone is locked by your carrier. Im pretty sure this guide was meant for people who already have unlocked phones.

      Reply

  5. Christopher

    09/06/2015 at 1:08 pm

    One thing the article didn’t mention is the date/time. By default it uses get from provider. Well without a SIM card it cannot get the date and time. So you need to manually set the date and time. Once I did that I was able to log into Google Play and was back to normal.

    Reply

    • Chris

      09/30/2015 at 6:24 am

      Christopher, how do I manually set the date and time? My phone only highlights the display mode but not the setting. The Wifi is highlighted but does not work.

      Reply

  6. Don

    09/27/2015 at 1:02 pm

    Is it possible to receive telephone calls this way? It seems you would no longer have a telephone number.

    Reply

    • pnaw10

      09/04/2016 at 6:50 pm

      As the writer said, yes, you could use the Google Voice app to make free phone calls over WiFi.

      Google Voice’s versatility can make it tricky, however. The writer mentioned that you can port an existing phone number into Google. If you’re setting up Google Voice on an OLD phone, but you port-in the number that’s active on your NEW phone, it may impact your service for the new phone. You should check with your current cell phone’s carrier first. (Sometimes, porting a number out from a cell carrier is perceived as you no longer needing their service, so they cancel your access, which would reduce your new phone’s functionality to the same level as the old phone.)

      Not mentioned in the article: you also have the option of requesting a NEW phone number from Google when you sign-up for Voice. So you can keep your current number on your current/new phone, and then set-up Google Voice with the old phone. But you’ll wind up with both your “legacy” phone number (on the new/current phone) and your Google number (on the old, WiFi-only phone). That could confuse friends/family when you call — they won’t recognize the number that shows up on caller ID, so they might not answer, unless you tell them in advance. You’d also have to explain that this number’s only good for that phone if you’re on WiFi, so they might be better off to keep calling you on your “regular” cell number instead of your Google number.

      Back to the porting thing… if you can do it without messing up your current cell service, you can have Google Voice ring both phones — the old phone when it’s active on WiFi, and the new phone whenever it has any kind of connection, be it WiFi or your carrier’s cell network. This might be the best option in terms of having calls ring through to any device — and you can call from either device and the other end of the call will see the same familiar number you’ve always had.

      Reply

  7. Chris

    09/30/2015 at 5:27 am

    This is great info but you didn’t explain how to do it! When I press Wifi nothing happens; also the date/time cannot be set. This is my first cell phone and I’m so clueless that I bought it without a SIM. It’s a Blu Studio 5.5S, android V4.2 Jellybean.

    Reply

  8. eddie

    12/06/2015 at 7:33 pm

    i cant get past emergency call to get wifi help please

    Reply

  9. Ayanna

    01/27/2016 at 10:54 am

    I have a one that I reset and it’s saying that I cannot connect to the App Store that I have to force quit why is that..?

    Reply

    • NJC

      01/28/2016 at 11:43 am

      REmove the sim card. was having the same force quit issue couldn’t connect etc. Removed the sim card can now access app store. Using my wifi of course. but removing the sim card apparently is the 1st step to do whatever. Android old Huawei

      Reply

  10. NJC

    01/28/2016 at 11:42 am

    REmove the sim card. was having the same force quit issue couldn’t connect etc. Removed the sim card can now access app store. Using my wifi of course. but removing the sim card apparently is the 1st step to do whatever. Android old Huawei

    Reply

  11. Miyoko

    01/28/2016 at 7:04 pm

    is it possible to use the smartphone with a pre-paid sim card in a foreign country? I saw some pre-paid phone sets come with the cheap phones and a SIM on sale. Will these SIMs for pre-paid phones work for the iPhones and HTC models? It could be the legal and safe answer for the people with no SIM cards.

    Reply

  12. Leo

    03/01/2016 at 8:09 am

    I use a ZTE Warp Sync (not activated) for lots of things. Almost everyplace has free wifi and it also serves as my e-book reader. It also can serve as a kid’s video player replacement for an ipod. Only aggravation is the “hands free activation” coming on now and then, which I just ignore.

    Reply

  13. Christine clayton

    03/22/2016 at 2:58 pm

    Sounds like a stupid question but can you just use a mobile with a decent camera just for taking photos i.e with selfie stick, without having to be on a network?

    Reply

    • EJ

      04/09/2016 at 11:26 pm

      Yes you can

      Reply

  14. Riddhi

    04/17/2016 at 9:12 pm

    after removing sim card, i am not getting sound in the apps. why is it so?

    Reply

  15. no

    07/11/2016 at 6:21 pm

    and here, I actually thought this author was going to give some pertinent information on how to “BYPASS” the annoying activation process every time I turn on my phone .
    Instead, all the author did was go around in circles on something that 98% of the people knew to begin with, good grief! There’s 5 minutes of my life, I’ll never get back.

    Reply

  16. Robbert H

    01/14/2017 at 9:21 pm

    Fixing date was the solution for me. After removing my SIM card, the date went back about 4 years. After resetting data, I got an update and Play Store started working. Flight mode made no difference.

    Reply

  17. Jim

    01/28/2017 at 10:32 pm

    I can’t get the android updates without the sim card.

    Reply

  18. James

    02/09/2017 at 5:36 pm

    Im an old guy living on minimum ss and try to save at every turn. I have a free safelink phone but also have given to me a couple of cast of smart phones. I have free internet where i live which is great but i keep seeing stuff on the internet saying i can use my old inactive smartphone to get free mobile internet (not wifi) via Bluetooth??? is that true??

    Reply

  19. Henry

    02/23/2017 at 9:08 pm

    This article is laughably silly. The question is, “will my android phone work without a SIM card?” And you say yes. Then later in your stupid article you say, but “you won’t be able to make calls or send texts”. Well what do you think people are asking? I mean, really, what the %*#! do you think that question implies? When someone asks if their phone will “work” without the SIM card what most of the non-inbred population means is, “can I call or text without a SIM card?” No matter. Clearly the answer is no, even though you took a million words to get there.

    Reply

    • james thibodeau

      10/18/2017 at 5:10 am

      Dumb f*** Henry, if you read the entire f****** article it goes on to say you simply download a few Sim free apps to enable calling and texting!!
      You are living breathing proof that we really can’t fix stupid!!

      Reply

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