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How to Use Your Phone Without a SIM Card

by on March 17, 2023
in Tips & How-Tos, Phones and Mobile, Cell Phones :: 11 comments

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You don't need a SIM card and cellular service to use most features of today's iPhones and Android phones. Most apps and services run just fine as long as you have access to WiFi, and you can even set up a free virtual phone number for making and receiving calls and texts. 

Samsung Galaxy A52 on green table with a flag and elephant showing. On the screen, you see Check SIM/SD card tray. No SIM card detected. You won't be able to make calls, send messages, or use mobile data.

If your phone is already set up with the Google or Apple account you want to use, you can simply turn off cellular or remove the SIM card. And you only need WiFi to set up most Android phones and iPhones (iPhone 5s or later running iOS 12 or later). When you get to the step of activating cellular service during setup, you can skip it. However, if you have an iPhone 5c or earlier model (an iPhone that can't update beyond iOS 10), you can't bypass cellular service activation unless you use iTunes on your computer to set up your iPhone.

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. Connect your iPhone to your computer.
  3. Find your device in iTunes and select it.
  4. If you get an alert that says "Set up as New" or Restore from Backup," proceed with setup.

How to set up a Google Voice number for calls and texts

Without a SIM card, you won't receive calls and texts. However, you can get set up a Google Voice number to use when you're connected to WiFi. The only catch is that you must have a landline or mobile number to set up Google Voice.

  1. Download the Google Voice app.
  2. Sign into the app with your Google account.
  3. Select a phone number.
  4. At the bottom of the screen, select "Verify your account with a different phone number."
  5. Input your landline or mobile phone number.
  6. Input the code you receive on your mobile or landline phone.

Two screenshots of Google Voice app setup. On the left you see the screen to start selecting a Google Voice number with the Search link in a red box. On the right, you see the option to verify your regular phone number with device other than your cell phone.

Your new phone number will be ready to use through the Google Voice app, but your phone won't ring. Google Voice defaults to forwarding calls to the phone number you used to verify your account. To change that, you need to enable the app to answer calls.

  1. Go to Settings (triple bars) in the Google Voice app.
  2. Select "Incoming calls."
  3. Toggle on "this device" to receive incoming calls.

[Image credit: Suzanne Kantra/Techlicious]

For the past 20+ years, Techlicious founder Suzanne Kantra has been exploring and writing about the world’s most exciting and important science and technology issues. Prior to Techlicious, Suzanne was the Technology Editor for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and the Senior Technology Editor for Popular Science. Suzanne has been featured on CNN, CBS, and NBC.

Discussion loading

Not avaible

From Goldfarb on April 25, 2023 :: 2:56 pm

Google voice is not available in Canada!!!!


Trade you!

From Terri Welsh on April 25, 2023 :: 4:34 pm

I’ll trade you your health care for Google Voice!


You can use WiFi

From Otocpa on April 27, 2023 :: 2:47 am

You can use WiFi



From henok on May 28, 2023 :: 10:19 am



My mobile is gone way

From Kundharam ajay on May 18, 2023 :: 5:33 am

In my home is gone I am using this phone very carefully but is gone way is so important for me


what do i do

From Maria Cabbab on May 19, 2023 :: 11:11 pm

what do i do


unable to use wifi to make a call

From steve on June 03, 2023 :: 5:51 pm

my android s21 does not allow wifi calling without a phone plan in place.  I think the rosy picture you paint needs to be updated.


Call Rosie O'Donnell, see if

From SR on June 17, 2023 :: 9:45 am

Call Rosie O’Donnell, see if she can help with your ‘rosey picture’.  Oh, wait, you can’t call w/o a SIM.  Then call Rose Marie.  Oh, wait, she’s dead ... and that SIM thing.  So watch the old 70s show PRIMROSE LANE, maybe that’ll help.  Oh, wait, ...  ” ... PrimRose Lane, life’s a HoliDay on PrimRose Lane, ... “.  Aw, s/h/y/t, just turn on and use WiFi calling, complainer.  Oh, wait, ...


iOS 12

From Jeannie on July 23, 2023 :: 9:20 am

We are trying to add Wi-Fi calling to a 5s for my son. It only updates to iOS 12, but google voice requires iOS 14 to be installed. Do you have a work around for this?


You can read our detailed

From Josh Kirschner on July 24, 2023 :: 4:09 pm

You can read our detailed guide to updating an old iPhone for more information. However, the short story is that the 5s is a very old device and iOS 12.5.7 is as high is it can go. Many apps won’t work on these older iOS versions (as you’re discovering) and there isn’t a good workaround for most of them. In some cases, you can work with older versions of the apps, but that is the exception, not the rule. You can get more details in the story I linked to above.


what is the name of the app

From Barry Jay Salam on August 13, 2023 :: 3:50 pm

what the of the app


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