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Buy $20 Android Tracfone and use only for Apps?
Old 07-02-2016, 04:53 PM   #1
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Buy $20 Android Tracfone and use only for Apps?

There's a nice Android app that communicates with my LEAF (through a BlueTooth ODB2 connector):



It does a better job than the LEAF at estimating remaining range.

However, it would be nice to have a small dedicated device for this. I was wondering whether I could buy a Tracfone phone like this one, install the app, and never use it for phone calls.

Any of you fellow cheapskates tried that?
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Old 07-02-2016, 05:18 PM   #2
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Never tried it but I don't see why it wouldn't work.
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Old 07-02-2016, 06:08 PM   #3
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I have many smart phones I only use for wifi + apps. The best value Android phones are usually connected with expensive monthly contract providers, but youtube has instructions on how to set them up for wi-fi only.
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Old 07-02-2016, 06:15 PM   #4
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However, it would be nice to have a small dedicated device for this. I was wondering whether I could buy a Tracfone phone like this one, install the app, and never use it for phone calls.

Any of you fellow cheapskates tried that?
I would think it would work fine for that. The Moto E also takes cheap memory cards, so you could buy a big one and have yourself a heck of an MP3/podcast library for long trips (on the bike, in the car, etc). And a not-bad camera, etc. The only thing I'd worry about is battery longevity if left in a hot car all the time.

I have its cousin (the Moto X) and it has been 100% reliable.

Maybe activate the phone service so you could use it in an emergency, then put the phone in airplane mode until voice/data might be needed.
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Old 07-02-2016, 06:20 PM   #5
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I have an old HTC from Freedom Pop that works great as a GPS. It feeds data to the GPS and is completely free. But I don't use it much... instead I use my Republic phone... cheap enough.
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Old 07-02-2016, 09:04 PM   #6
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I've got one of those bluetooth ODBII dongles, and use it with an android tablet. That $20 Android seems capable, it's got KitKat OS, 1GB RAM, bluetooth, and even GPS (hard to believe, isn't it?)

Just make sure that by 'network locked', that it can be used with apps even without an active TracPhone account. I think I've seen some phones that just lock up at the "No Valid SIM" startup screen, and you can't get to any apps.

Another consideration - my cheap tablet screen is near impossible to read in any sunlight. Might want to check how the screen is in bright light. Or just spend the $20 and report back!

And for others - a $15 dongle, and a free app does far more than a $50 'code reader'. It's really a good buy if you want to check out fault codes on your car, or monitor other parameters.

-ERD50
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Old 07-02-2016, 09:11 PM   #7
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Just make sure that by 'network locked', that it can be used with apps even without an active TracPhone account. I think I've seen some phones that just lock up at the "No Valid SIM" startup screen, and you can't get to any apps.
That where youtube came in handy for me with instructions on how to bypass the sim card message.
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Old 07-03-2016, 07:38 AM   #8
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I have a Nexus 4 where the cellular radio went bad. It still works great for apps. I moved the cell service to another phone. As long as the app does not really need the cell radio/data, it works great. I use it for a development device.

I've also bought a couple 7" Fire tablets for development too. Again, works great.

The functionality will really depend on the app you want an if it requires the phone service. So many options .. old phones, cheap tablets.
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Old 07-03-2016, 02:48 PM   #9
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We have an older iPhone, no SIM installed, that we use for wifi and various FREE apps. Works great, only cost about 30 bucks as I recall.

I'm not a "smartfone" fan or user, but as a wifi/app toy it has it's utility and can be fun, i.e. watch youtube, take pics, etc.

HTH

_B
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Old 07-03-2016, 03:18 PM   #10
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A while back, bought an LG Sunrise on special from Amazon for $9.85... never registered, but use it when I don't wanna carry my tablet. Works perfectly, Google Play etc. apps, bluetooth etc. Only downside for me is the small screen... with neuropathic hands, have to use a stylus.

Bought a Fire tablet from Walmart a while back... also on special... for $25, but got it for free after the bonus $25 for opening a Walmart Account.

Aside... because I need a "button" cell phone, found an Alcatel Tracfone that works for me. $29.95 for the phone, 800 minutes and one year of service. Bought a second one for DW's car.
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Old 10-27-2016, 08:23 PM   #11
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A while back, bought an LG Sunrise on special from Amazon for $9.85
I finally did this. I got a Tracfone LG Lucky for $14.99.



Right out of the box it connected to our network, and I could download the Leaf Spy app that communicates with the car.

Next question: If I add a mount and leave this on the dashboard, will someone break in to the car, thinking it's sophisticated cell phone??
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Old 10-27-2016, 08:27 PM   #12
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No, it's too small. New phones are almost as big as a tablet.

By the way, my wife's iPhone3 phone function quit working and we could not make call on it. However, the WiFi and CPU still work. So, I use it as an MP3 player. With 32GB flash memory, it serves the function well. Plays youtube music too with the Internet connection. I left it plugged into the HiFi receiver.
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Old 10-28-2016, 11:55 AM   #13
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I wouldn't leave anything visible in the car that might act as bait.

I'm glad that phone works for you, it certainly was a bargain. You could load it up with music for your drive.

_B
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Old 10-28-2016, 12:30 PM   #14
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I've got a BlueTooth OBDC dongle in both my Jeep Wranger and Ram pickup, use a Moto X with the Torque app.
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