How To Use Old Android Phone as WiFi Only Device

Purchasing a brand new smartphone can be a tough decision sometimes. You will have to think about what model to get, your budget for it, and so on. But, if you’ve decided to buy a brand new one to replace your old aging one, then, have you ever gave a thought about the things you can do with your old smartphone?

Nowadays, it’s a quite common situation that when you purchase a brand new phone, you will either sell the old one, retire it in your drawer, or throw it away. If your old phone is still working, why not dedicate it for other purposes such as using it as a Wi-Fi device only to download files, movies, etc.

Turning an old Android smartphone to a dedicated Wi-Fi device only is quite simple to do. As a matter of fact, all you have to do is turn off all cellular network and features and that’s it.

As a dedicated Wi-Fi device, not only you preserve the battery of your brand new phone, you also prolong its general lifespan. Since you can dedicate downloading, gaming, and other stuff to your Wi-Fi only device.

Turning Old Android Phone to Wi-Fi Only Device

To start off, the first thing that you can do is to factory reset your old Android phone. It’s also fine if you do not want to reset your phone. We do, however, recommend it to refresh the device and delete data and files that you are already using on your brand new phone.

Once done, below are a few more steps that you can do:

1. Enable Airplane Mode

Airplane mode
Airplane Mode Enabled

As the title suggests, the easiest and fastest way to ensure that the phone will deactivate any cellular activity and prevent it from search one is by enabling the Airplane mode.

2. Enable Wi-Fi

Once you enabled Airplane mode, every wireless connection will be turned off including the Wi-Fi connectivity of the device. Airplane mode is designed to stop the device from emitting and receiving any wireless signal and prevent it from causing any possible signal interference to the airplane.

Don’t worry, your phone will still be in Airplane mode after you manually enabled the Wi-Fi. This will allow the device to connect to any Wi-Fi that you have access to.

3. Consider Installing 3rd Party App Launcher

Popular Launcher Apps

To bring new user experience to your device, consider installing a 3rd-party launcher app. Launcher apps change the way you can interact with your phone. It also changes the way it looks and the way it functions.

Once you’ve done all the steps we mentioned above, you can now use your old Android smartphone as a dedicated smartphone for surfing the web, downloading files, and the internet of things. Heck, you can even use your old phone as a server to stream videos, access files, and more on your local network area.

Other Things To Do with Old Android Phones

Smartphones are more than just a phone and a device that can surf the web. They are also capable of other things such as turning one into a dedicated local area network server, a dedicated radio, clock, a gadget for kids, and more.

So, if you don’t find turning your old Android phone into a dedicated Wi-Fi device only useful or appealing, then here are other ways you can use your old phone.

1. Use Old Phones as a Radio

Most people, especially younger generations, may have forgotten that smartphones are capable of tuning in to your local radio stations. Unfortunately, some models have this capability turned off intentionally by the manufacturers.

FM Transmitter App

You can, however, listen to the radio through online means. With that being said, it’s best to download and install an FM Transmitter app for Android for this sole purpose.

2. Use Old Phones as a Clock/News/Infographic Source

Now you might be wondering why you would need to use a phone as a clock since you already probably have one, but an Android phone is more than a clock. You can load up certain apps to present the news to you in the morning, share stock info, tell you about the weather and even wake you up.

Finding the best clock app to pair it with can be challenging, but we recommend installing an app that displays the information on the screen without the need to unlock the device. Furthermore, it would be great if an app can display all the necessary information that you would want to know in one glance.

For that purpose, we recommend the Chronus app.

chronus app screen display news clock weather

Chronus is an app that offers a set of a Clock, Weather, News, Tasks, Stocks, Fitness and Calendar widgets for your Home and Lock screen.

Last but not least, if you ever decide to use your old phone for this purpose. We highly recommend ensuring that the device is always plugged into its charger. This will prevent the device from shutting down due to low battery.

Additionally, we also recommend pairing it with a stand or holder. Check out this UGREEN phone stand holder.

phone holder ugreen stainless steel protable

This universal phone cradle stand fits for 4 to 7.9 Inch smartphone, mini-tablet, e-reader with thickness up to 0.55″ (including phone case).


3. Turn Old Android Phone to a Kid-Friendly Gadget

If you have kids then why not use it to monitor them or give the phone to them to play games? Of course, before you hand it to them, you need to ensure that the device is configured to prevent the kids from surfing the web and displaying anything that should not be shown to kids.

Best Apps for Kids 3
Be sure to guide your kids while they play.

With that in mind, knowing the best apps for kids can be crucial. Most especially that some may appear friendly but once you use the app, you’ll find that the content is not for children at all. That’s why it is also important to which apps to use to keep your kids safe from using the phone.

4. Turn Old Phones to a Multi-Media Device

Smartphones, as is, is already a multi-media device. But for this one, we’re referring to turning it into a worry-free multi-media device. Since it’s an old phone. you probably won’t care about it as much, so why not use it for other purposes such as:

  • Using it to watch videos or read in the bathroom.
  • As a Gym music player.
  • As a Kitchen tool for watching guides.
  • As a garage tool for watching more guides as well.

5. Using Old Phones as a Remote

IR Universal TV Remote

Last but not least, using your old Android phone as a remote control at home. Depending on the phone model you have, you can either use it to control TVs with infrared receivers as well as air conditioners. Otherwise, you can use to control devices connected to the same Wi-Fi network such as SmartTVs, Wireless Speakers, and more.

Using Old Phones for Other Means

That’s about it for learning how to use old Android phone as Wi-Fi only device. These are usually quick solutions to finding uses for your old Android, so feel free to play around with them. Let us know if you have any questions about how to use your old device, and share other ideas for making a Wi-Fi only device.

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  1. You can use your old WIFI only devices for GPS navigation. Simply download any GPS app that has offline maps and the built-in GPS receiver should handle the rest without any need for a data connection. I’ve got Garmin USA running on a WIFI only iphone4, CoPilot works on my HTC One (M7). You can even use the offline maps feature in Google Maps.

  2. I am thinking of using my old phone with a free Freedom Pop 500MB data plan using a wifi hotspot and give it to my mom who still has a flip phone

  3. THANK YOU!!! I’ve been looking for an inexpensive way to provide Pandora for our coworking space. This is the ticket!

    Thanks again.


      1. I only use my old phone for daughter gave me an old sim card from her phone cant i use it for more space or to make it run faster?

        1. Unfortunately, no. All the sim card really does is allow the device to retrieve and send signal. What type of phone is it? Depending on the model, you may be able to use a micro SD card to get more storage.

  4. I bought an old Verizon Droid X just to use for wifi. But when I turn it on it wants to make me program the phone and I can’t figure out how to get around that screen.

    1. I have an old DROID 3 (I never throw anything away). It has been reset to factory and it recognizes my WiFI but I can’t bypass the programming…Tried the 4 corner thing

  5. No matter what I do, I get “Connection failed” when I try to access my WiFi with my old Samsung 4G LTE. Is the router’s WiFi technology too new for the phone?

    1. Hi!
      I can’t imagine this to be the case, however It also could be.
      Perhaps try our method on an alternative router to see?

  6. As long as I have my old HTC Incredible 2 on Airplane mode and wifi enabled but all roaming turned off, do I really need to do a factory reset to avoid any future charges from my cell phone carrier? I only plan on using it as an alarm clock and accessing wifi (in home or when travelling). For example, if my home network goes off line while I’m using the old phone in wifi mode, maybe listening to internet radio, is there any chance of the phone connecting through the carrier- (some kind of data roaming?) when it should just lose the wifi connection?

    1. Hi Lisa,
      Thanks for commenting and I will contact the author for you to get a solution for your problem. Will get back to you.

      1. Hi! I was just wondering if you ever found the answer to Lisa’s question, because I would like to know the answer to that, too.

        If you have the answer, I would greatly appreciate it if you told me the answer as well.

        I don’t want to get charged for using my old phone.

        Thank you!

      2. Did you ever find the solution to Lisa’s question, because I am wondering the same thing and I would greatly appreciate it if you tell me, too.

        1. Hi Mary,
          A factory reset is not necessary to avoid being charged from your carrier when traveling. Factory resets are usually done when your phone in giving your problems or when you think you might have spyware on your phone. These are two entirely different things. The best thing you can do is contact your carrier since carriers can sometimes charge for the silliest things, just to be on the safe side, but I don´t see why they should charge anything. Hope this helps. =-)

  7. Great advice. I have been looking for a better way to play Pandora out in my back yard on my speakers without tying up my phone and forgot about being able to use my old one. I could also use it with a Bluetooth speaker I just bought. What is a bonus is I have a casio gzone which can stay outside without worrying about rain. It could be a good reason for people to buy an older phone on eBay.

    1. Joe,
      Glad the article helped you. If you don´t want to miss even more helpful tips ( if you haven´t done so already), don´t forget to sign up to our daily or weekly Email subscription and share your positive experience with family and friends.

  8. o.k. i assume this works for newer phones also, cuz i wanna use my lg volt for phone calls w/wifi w/google voice. this should work, right ?

    1. Hi Joe,
      Google Voice has received some really bad reviews. I use Google Hangout for voice calls on my WiFi only device and it works just fine. Thanks for commenting.

  9. i don’t wanna use my lg volt as a clock, cuz i wanna use it as phone w/google. it’s never been activated. does your procedure makes sense as a first step ?

    1. Hi Joe,
      I would check anyways to make sure the settings are the way they should be, just to be on the safe side. Please let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.

  10. I was thinking of purchasing a Verizon android device such as LG Optimus Exceed just for wifi use. Can I bypass network activation on a new phone for wifi use only?

    1. Hi Ed,
      Luckily you can bypass the activation screen and it is also very easy to do. All you have to do is the following:

      1. Tap top left hand corner
      2. Tap top right hand corner
      3. tap bottom right hand corner (above grey matter)
      4. tap bottom left hand corner (above grey matter)

      With these steps you can skip the activation and use the smartphone. The only downside that you will face is that upon rebooting you will have to do the same pattern, but I think that is only a small price to pay. Thanks for you comment!

      1. I have a replacement ZTE Warp 7 smartphone that is locked to Boost Mobile(Sprint MVNO); will I be able to use this smartphone without actually first activating with Boost Mobile first as I would love to use it as a nice inexpensive above average mini-tablet; will the four corner trick work with this phone as it is a locked Boost Mobile smartphone; I figure for $65 at pickup) its still cheaper than buying overpriced $10 a month smart phone insurance hopefully($10 times 12 month is $120 annually) ?

  11. My Nettalk broke and I was getting ready to buy another and read your article, yeah! I live away from all cell towers and no signal reaches me, thus Nettalk through my wifi for a home phone.
    What I was wonder, is what is the best old droid to use just for a phone and can I call 911? Plus, I would love the music too. Do I need the sim card? I can spend about 60.00 or less.
    Thank you so much for saving me money!!! 🙂

    1. Hi Penny,
      Most phones let you, at least, call 911, so you have quite a few models to choose from. I am sure that if you go to your local store you can find many phones within your budget that also give the option to listen to your music. Thanks for commenting and your welcome. =-)

  12. This is SUCH good news and gives me hope! I am starting a “Coding and Computer Science Club” for 3rd – 5th graders at a Title 1 school. We’ll be using MIT APP Inventor and, since many of them will not have phones, was looking to see if we could use recycled or donated phones. Thanks!

    1. Hi Mary,
      I am glad you were able to find this post that has obviously helped you out. I hope all goes well and don’t forget to let me know how things work out. Thanks for commenting. =-)

  13. Thanks for all the good directions to use my OLD android as a radio. I get all the way to downloading Tune In and iHeart, and find that
    ‘ Your device is not compatible with this version”
    I have a Motorola Bravo Android version 2.2.2, System version 38..6.0.MB520.generic.en.US. I checked and my device is up to date.
    HELP, can I still use it?

    1. Hi Jeanne,
      iHeart Radio requires Android 4 or higher but Tune In only requires 1.6 and up. You should be able to use that one. Have you tried to reinstall the app? Hope that helps. =-)

  14. I bought a samsung galaxy s5 from textnow and theyre telling me i cannot use my phone as wifi only device, that i must subscribe to service for the phone to work. Are they bs’ing me or can it be done? Do i need to perform an unlock first then use as wifi only device?

    1. I wouldn´t believe it. I once took an unlocked phone to another country and used as a WiFi only device and it worked just fine.

  15. Hi. I hope this thread is still valid. I have an old Droid 3 with a deactivated sim card that I want to use as wifi only. I was able to do a hard reset ( i needed to delete a gmail account) and bypass the activation screen just fine. however, I still have the old browser and market apps and cannot access the internet to update to google play or a new browser. I was able to update before I reset but cannot now. Can you help?

    1. Hi, Melodie! We do our best to reply to all comments, regardless of the age of the post, so feel free to comment away with any questions you have.

      As for your question, I’m afraid I’m not quite understanding. Are you having trouble connecting to the internet at all?

  16. I have an old zte phone and I am trying to use if for a security camera and I can’t even get it to charge. I plug it into the charger and it won’t show that it is charging. I have no problem charging with my newer phone. The charger is the same for both. Can you help please. Any ideas?

    1. Hi, Shari! Fortunately we have a couple guides that will provide you with far more help than I could reasonably fit in a comment. I’ve linked to them below.

      11 Tips and Tricks to Fix Android Phone that won’t Charge Properly
      How to Fix an Android that Only Charges When Off

      You may also want to look over our guide to using an old android device as a security camera: How To Use Old Android Phone As Security Camera: Protect Your Home

      If you need any more help, whether with getting the phone to charge, using it as a security camera, or any other Android related problem, please feel free to ask! Good luck!

    1. Hi Henry! All you need is an account with the app store you wish to use, like the Google Play Store, to download apps. The exception to this would be provider related apps and app stores. It’s just like using a tablet without a data connection.

  17. Hmm, I’m stuck at step #1.
    I have an old Android phone. When I charge it and turn it on, I’m presented with a dialog to “Activate your phone”. There are two options: “Emergency call” and “Activate your phone”. The latter choice calls Verizon and says, “Please wiat while your phone is being programmed.”, concluding with “Programming unsuccessful.” Of course, because I don’t WANT a connection with Verizon, I just want to use WiFi.
    Is there a way to set/reset/cajole this phone for use on WiFi alone?
    Thanks for insights!

  18. Hi, Joe

    That is an awesome and really helpful Guide & Analysis and it was exactly what I needed!

    Thank you for sharing!

  19. Thanks for all the helpful posts.
    I’m in a hospital and have been using my Samsung Galaxy using only the hospital WiFi. I’ve canceled my cell plan and installed a VPN for security. It works perfectly for all internet use.
    The only thing is that I can’t make phone calls with Google Voice or send texts because it wants to use the phone # that was associated with the carrier and ask to disable airplane mode. I read that you use Hangout for calls. I’ve never used it for anything. Could you walk me through?
    My other question is: I’m running out of memory and need a newer phone. Will any unlocked phone work? Or does it need to be an Android? Anything special I should do or not do?
    Thank you very much.

  20. I use Cricket service. I just got a new phone and transferred service over to it. It’s a Motorola Android phone. They put my old SIM card into the new Android phone. It works just fine, thankfully. But I’m old and set in my ways, and I had used my old phone for years, and I’m partial to certain things that I had on it that I no longer have now that I got my new phone. Especially my old phone’s news/etc page. That’s where I always started from when I used my phone for internet. I thought I’d still be able to use that on my old phone even with no service, by connecting to my home wifi. But I tried and it won’t connect. First it says incorrect password everytime; then when I re-enter it, it just says “Your phone cannot connect to this network.” My old phone is not Android (so maybe you can’t help?)… it is a Windows phone. I’ve tried everything I know but cant get it to connect to my home wifi. It DOES connect to the wifi elsewhere, e.g., at the Cricket store. The only thing I can think of is that maybe my old phone is too old? Because our router is only a couple months old.

  21. Hello All here I tried what u said about trouncing the four corners, I’ve tried in many different ways and for lengths of time and nothing is working to bypass the activation thing. Help plz

  22. What if I don’t have an old phone but want to do exactly what this article says and have it for my child to use? Can I just buy a cheap prepaid phone and not purchase a plan and use it the same way?

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