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Using an old phone and an app to call?


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Anyone have a suggestion for a good phone app that we can use on an old extra phone that doesn’t currently have service? I’d like my youngest to have a phone so he can call me if there’s an emergency while I’m out running errands, but I don’t want to add a whole new phone plan for him. 

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My husband and I use Skype to video call on phones without cell service as well as on tablets. My kids could Skype call us from their laptops. All that’s needed is WiFi. Before my kids turned 13, they use my hotmail account to login to their windows laptop (technically I login for them) so that Word, Excel, PowerPoint backups to my OneDrive.

ETA:

My husband use an Android phone, I use an iPhone and my kids use their laptops and their Android phones. Voice calls hasn’t been a problem. Video calls hasn’t been a problem in malls but can be less stable while walking on the sidewalks due to WiFi being less stable.

Edited by Arcadia
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I know you're asking specifically for apps, but we use a Trac phone for that purpose, keeping it loaded with a minimal plan which only allows texts and calls.  It's not part of our cell-phone plan and if we know we won't be using it for several months, we simply turn it off and don't load anymore minutes on it when it runs out.

I got ours for $15 at the store, and could add a 30-day plan for $10 or a 90-plan for $30.  (But, I've heard there are even cheaper pay-as-you-go phone options.)  Of course using an app would be free, although a Trac phone works even outside of wifi, which comes in handy for us.

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3 minutes ago, crazyforlatin said:

I’ve used WeChat and Line apps. I think these can work just on WiFi. 

 

WeChat requires a phone number for an account. I can’t use WeChat on my backup iPhone unless I scan the QR code on my iPhone with SIM.

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The key word in the OP is "emergency".  I fully understand the desire not to spend $ for something that probably will not be used. However, to play "Devils Advocate", those apps (2ndLine, magicApp (which in my experience is outstanding) and others all require strong WiFi.

What happens if there is a power failure and the need to contact you with an App and there's no WiFi in your house? Impossible to communicate...

Or, if not in the house and there's no WiFi?

There is probably a low cost method that could provide more dependable communications if there should ever be an emergency, which I sincerely hope will never happen.

 

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Lanny was posting what I was basically saying... I'll add though... I don't know his age but if you're really only leaving him for a couple of hours occasionally in the middle of the day and there are neighbors... this is a risk I'd be willing to take and wouldn't necessarily invest in something else. Anything much more than that though and I probably would. Like, I leave my teens late in the evening or for most of the day occasionally. I feel like I need for them to have the ability to call 911 or me in a real, no wifi emergency. But they're teens. And staying alone for longer.

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2 minutes ago, Farrar said:

I think it's fine if you assume that his only emergencies will be kid things where he needs to reach you. If he ever needs to call 911, those apps don't work.

Isn't it still a thing though where ANY working cellphone can be used to dial 911, regardless of whether it has wi-fi or is connected to service?   I remember donating old phones to a women's shelter several years ago just for that purpose.

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2 minutes ago, Lady Marmalade said:

Isn't it still a thing though where ANY working cellphone can be used to dial 911, regardless of whether it has wi-fi or is connected to service?   I remember donating old phones to a women's shelter several years ago just for that purpose.

Oh, you're right! I had read that. So if it's just an old phone without a carrier, then that'll be fine. If the phone is busted in such a way that it can't get a signal or if it's an ipad or an ipod or something, then that won't work.

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Since the keyword in the OP was "emergency"...  I know you were looking for "Free", but that is not going to work if there is no Internet in your house, no WiFi, no AC power, etc.

If your budget can allow $60 for 360 days of very limited cell phone service, this will provide 100 minutes Voice, 100 SMS messages and 500 MB of Data, each 30 days, and a SIM card. $60 for 360 days... $5 a month...

https://www.ebay.com/itm/5-Mo-Red-Pocket-Prepaid-Wireless-Phone-Plan-Kit-100-Talk-100-Text-500MB/133058476404?hash=item1efae73974:m:mSyleaRtzx9Ed9lQVJGNpnA

That's the least expensive plan that Red Pocket Mobile has.  I have my DD on Red Pocket Mobile GSMA (runs on the AT&T network) and she has a temporary plan to test it on her phone, that allows more voice and SMS on her phone each 30 days.   I bought the SIM card and 90 days of service for her for $29 and am probably going to upgrade her to a plan with much higher limits before the 90 days ends.

This plan on a yearly basis is $7.41 a month but you pay upfront for 360 days which is $89.00 total:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/7-41-Mo-Red-Pocket-Prepaid-Wireless-Phone-Plan-Kit-500-Talk-500-Text-500MB/133051277200?hash=item1efa795f90:m:mblRGSYtqMy9DonnU0KzRdQ

I hope there is never an emergency, but, that in the unlikely event there is an emergency, that he can communicate.

 

 

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This tracfone is only $5 a month: https://www.hsn.com/products/lg-premier-pro-53-hd-16gb-tracfone-with-1500-mintextdat/8930985

Here is another $5 tracfone offer: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Tracfone-ZTE-ZFIVE-C-Cell-Phone-1-Year-of-Service-w-1500-MIN-1500-Text-1500MB/283552671927?epid=27033789784&hash=item42050e68b7:g:MnwAAOSw0tNdTdbp

Edited to add that wifi calling can be done on this phone (in addition to the minutes provided by the carrier) when it is available (via google voice or another app).

Edited by Midwest Momma
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These are examples of real emergencies, where phones were used to request emergency services:

(1) My late friend was not home. His wife was sleeping. Her Honda (car) was parked in the garage and caught on fire. Cat woke her up. She called my friend on his cell phone and told him their house was burning down. He went home and Fire trucks were on the scene.

(2) Neighbor down the street had a medical emergency. Ambulance was requested and went to their house to transport him.

If one could be positive that the only "emergency" the DS of the OP might have is where the Peanut Butter is located, he would not need a working phone that does not require WiFi, AC power, Internet, etc. However, one cannot assume that his needs would be  limited to things that are not of a life threatening nature.

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