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  1. #1
    iPhone as a wifi device

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    iPhone as a wifi device
    I have been thinking about buying a used iPhone, perhaps a 6 or 7, to use as a navigation device for Waze and/or Google Maps. My idea is to not activate it on a cell network but use it, via my cell hot spot, to run the nav software through my vehicle's display. I have a Ford Sync 3 system which interfaces with the CarPlay app on the phone, or at least does so with my wife's iPhone.

    I don't want to add it to my Verizon plan because I don't plan to use it as a phone, only for the nav stuff, and I was wondering if I could do that without adding a SIM card to the phone. That is, buy a used iPhone without a sim and without activating it and just connect it to the hot spot and, via a usb cable, to my vehicles Sync 3 system. Is there any reason that an iPhone without a sim and without activation would not work as a network device?

  2. #2
    iPhone as a wifi device
    pm-r's Avatar
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    I have been thinking about buying a used iPhone, perhaps a 6 or 7, to use as a navigation device...
    I don't plan to use it as a phone, only for the nav stuff, and I was wondering if I could do that without adding a SIM card to the phone. ...

    Probably yes. I did the similar thing with my older iPad, and used the GPS navigation software successfully without adding any SIM card.

    But be aware that Apple has just recently provided an iOS 9.3.6 update for some older and specific iOS models with the main purpose to correct some GPS navigation errors.

    That may have some impact as to what you are planning to do.

    I'd do some Googling to find out more specific information... I'm just posting a bit of an alert here so that you are aware of the situation.



    - Patrick
    ======

  3. #3
    iPhone as a wifi device
    Slydude's Avatar
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    AFAIK that should not be an issue if Mike can find an Phone 6 or 7 as they will run IOS versions 10 and above which I think already have that fix in place. I'm not sure about that though so we'll need to do some checking.

    One thing that might be worth checking simply because I don't remember the answer. IIRC in early iPhone models GPS was most accurate earn both wi-fi and cellular was available to assist with triangulation. My bet is that even without cell service the GPS would be accurate enough for Mike's uses but I'm not sure about that.
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  4. #4
    iPhone as a wifi device

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    Thanks for the replies. I have been having a difficult time trying to figure out what is the best approach.

    I first thought I would use my iPad for this, but it is only wifi and so gets no gps signals. My second thought was to get a used cell iPad to replace my current wifi version, but then I found out that CarPlay is not on the iPad and can not be added, so that stopped my thought about using an iPad. I need CarPlay to run the software through the entertainment system and display the routing on a large screen.

    Next I thought about getting an iPhone and adding it as a tablet on my system (I don't want to pay that high monthly phone fee just for a nav system but would pay the tablet fee) but my carrier (Verizon) told me that I can not do that. If I add a phone, then the system will charge me for the phone. So I am down to the last choice - buying a phone but not putting a SIM card in it, but I am not even sure that will work. Do the GPS receivers in a phone even work when there is no sim? The guy at the local warehouse store (Costco here) told me that they do not work without a SIM card in the cell tablets so I don't know.

    The easiest thing would be if CarPlay existed on the iPad, but it doesn't. Don't know why that is.

  5. #5
    iPhone as a wifi device
    MacInWin's Avatar
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    Mike, I have an iPhone 5s that I use as a security camera. I just tried what you want to do and it worked fine. I don't have CarPlay, but there is no reason why it shouldn't work. I'm running iOS 12.4 and a fresh copy of Waze just downloaded for the test. No SIM card, but connected to my home WiFi.

    EDIT: checked and it's a 5s, not a 6.
    Jake

  6. #6
    iPhone as a wifi device

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    Thank you for testing. So I an assume this will work.

    I think the next step is to find a decent used iPhone.

  7. #7
    iPhone as a wifi device
    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Hey there Mike...thought I would chime in on this.

    I use an iPhone 6s...and have an older iPhone 5s that I used to use until recently. The iPhone 5s has no SIM card in it...I setup the iPhone 6s as a hotspot...and the iPhone 5s connected to iPhone 6s via WiFi no problem.

    Good luck,

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  8. #8
    iPhone as a wifi device
    pm-r's Avatar
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    As I mentioned previously, I used the navigation (Navionics.app for boating) with my Wi-Fi / GPS iPad 2 both with and without a SIM card, but I'm not sure what my devices are necessary to use at work with CarPlay.

    I have a feeling that that came later.


    EDIT:
    CarPlay is compatible with these iPhone models.
    iPhone XSiPhone ten s
    iPhone XS MaxiPhone ten s Max
    iPhone XRiPhone ten r
    iPhone X
    iPhone 8
    iPhone 8 Plus
    iPhone 7
    iPhone 7 Plus
    iPhone 6s
    iPhone 6s Plus
    iPhone 6
    iPhone 6 Plus
    iPhone SE
    iPhone 5s
    iPhone 5c
    iPhone 5
    iOS - CarPlay - Apple (CA)


    Gee, I am actually quite surprised they started back with the iPhone 5 that seems to be fully CarPlay supported.

    So just make sure the iPhone is a GPS supporting model.

    EDIT II:
    iOS 9.3.6 addresses an issue that could impact GPS location performance and could cause system date and time to be incorrect. This update is recommended for all users.
    Alongside the launch of iOS 12.4, Apple today released new versions of iOS 9.3.6 and iOS 10.3.4 for older iPhones and iPads that aren't able to run iOS 12.4.

    The iOS 9.3.6 update is available for the iPhone 4s and cellular models of the original iPad mini, the iPad 2, and the iPad 3, while iOS 10.3.4 is available for the cellular version of the iPad 4 and the iPhone 5.

    So it looks like you wouldn't need the iOS update for the GPS problem as the iPhone 4S cannot run CarPlay.

    PS: That's an interesting project you have created for yourself. I hope it works and maybe post back when you get it all sorted out and working properly.



    - Patrick
    ======
    Last edited by pm-r; 08-05-2019 at 12:27 PM.

  9. #9
    iPhone as a wifi device

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    I think that people on this forum are probably the best judge of what works and what does not. Generally they are posting out of personal experience, and that probably trumps theory.

    Out of curiosity I called AppleCare and asked for technical support for the iPhone. I asked the "techie" if a used iPhone could be used as a wifi device without a SIM card or with an inactive SIM card, and she put me on hold, clearly indicating that she did not know the answer. After a couple of minutes she came back and told me that if the iPhone did not have a SIM card, or if the SIM card was inactive, then it could NOT be used even as a wifi device, and I find that hard to believe.

    I am going to remove the SIM card from my wife's iPhone 8S and check, but am pretty sure it will still work as a wifi device.

    UPDATE:

    Yup. Worked just fine.
    Last edited by MikeFromMesa; 08-05-2019 at 01:06 PM. Reason: Result after testing

  10. #10
    iPhone as a wifi device
    pm-r's Avatar
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    I am going to remove the SIM card from my wife's iPhone 8S and check, but am pretty sure it will still work as a wifi device.

    UPDATE:

    Yup. Worked just fine.


    So much for some official Apple support!!!

    Maybe you could call them back and let them update and correct their knowledge base, at least as a courtesy attempt for other users.


    - Patrick
    ======

  11. #11
    iPhone as a wifi device
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    Yup. Worked just fine.
    LOL, we could have told you that Mike. The only thing that will show on the screen of the iPhone without a sim card is "No Service" but it will do WiFi just fine.

    By the way, try to find an iPhone 5C as they are small, colorful, and inexpensive. The only problem with the 5C is that the largest storage size was 64GB and those are hard to find. I had one that was 32GB and it was a great little phone to carry around.

  12. #12
    iPhone as a wifi device
    pm-r's Avatar
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    Lot's of hits available here for using iphone without a sim card:
    using iphone without a sim card - Google Search

    I imagine any GPS stuff would also work just as it did with our old iPad 2 and no SIM card indstalled.



    - Patrick
    ======

  13. #13
    iPhone as a wifi device

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    Quote Originally Posted by pm-r View Post
    So much for some official Apple support!!!
    Maybe you could call them back and let them update and correct their knowledge base, at least as a courtesy attempt for other users.


    The only problem with that idea is that I would not get the same person and they would tell me "Of course it will work without a SIM card", or something similar.

    Quote Originally Posted by chscag View Post
    LOL, we could have told you that Mike. The only thing that will show on the screen of the iPhone without a sim card is "No Service" but it will do WiFi just fine.

    By the way, try to find an iPhone 5C as they are small, colorful, and inexpensive. The only problem with the 5C is that the largest storage size was 64GB and those are hard to find. I had one that was 32GB and it was a great little phone to carry around.
    My initial idea was to get something with CarPlay and at least 32GB, so an iPhone 6 seemed like a good idea, but I then started thinking that if I ever wanted to add the phone to my service, for any reason, then I needed to get a 4G LTE phone and that meant an iPhone 7. At the moment I am undecided which would be best. I have no plans to add it to my service - I already have my wife's iPhone 8 Plus and my Samsung S10 Plus and we do not need another phone - but it might be best, just in case, to get something that could be added. On the other hand I see no reason to spend any more than I have to, and that means an iPhone 6 or, perhaps, an iPhone 5.

    My only plans for the phone are to use it for CarPlay and Waze/Google Maps, so 32GB should be sufficient, but I worry that 16GB might be too small in case I want to add something like Sygic with its on-board maps.

    Decisions, decisions, decisions ...

  14. #14
    iPhone as a wifi device
    MacInWin's Avatar
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    I could not find details on Sygic's map sizes, but from other map applications, the on-board maps are not that large. If the 16GB is only storing maps and not other things (music, etc), then it should do nicely. I seem to recall that a previous app I used had maps for the entire North America that combined were under 1GB and maps for Europe were about the same size.
    Jake

  15. #15
    iPhone as a wifi device

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacInWin View Post
    I could not find details on Sygic's map sizes, but from other map applications, the on-board maps are not that large. If the 16GB is only storing maps and not other things (music, etc), then it should do nicely. I seem to recall that a previous app I used had maps for the entire North America that combined were under 1GB and maps for Europe were about the same size.
    I don't know how much space is left on a 16GB iPhone after the OS and related apps are installed, and that is why I was thinking about 32GB. As far as the Sygic maps are concerned, I currently only have the maps for those states around where I live (California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Louisiana and Utah) and they take up more than 1.5GB, so all of the maps are probably in the order of 9-10 GB.

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