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There are many reasons that you might want to avoid giving out your real cell phone number. From remaining anonymous when buying or selling on Craigslist to establishing trust with someone you’ve just met, Burner is a unique technological solution to a decidedly first-world problem.
The concept is simple: Install Burner on your iPhone, then purchase in-app credits to use for one or more limited-use phone numbers. Voice calls or text messages to this number actually arrive on your handset, keeping your real number anonymous to the sender; outgoing calls or texts are also made inside the app. The app comes with three credits, which is enough for one "mini-burner" good for 20 minutes of voice, 60 text messages, or seven days, depending on which passes first. The life of a Burner number can be extended by buying more credits, or "burned" (destroyed) at any time.
While the service does consume cell phone minutes for calls forwarded to your handset, text messages are pushed to the app itself, so they don’t use carrier SMS allocations. For this reason, MMS picture and video messages are not supported, nor are 911 or emergency calls. Each Burner can be assigned a custom name. Incoming calls display the actual Burner number, but adding it to Contacts will then display who’s calling – quite handy after you’ve set up more than one.
Burners are available in three other configurations (Standard, Large and Long) and discounts apply for buying in bulk. Users can stop incoming text messages or call rings on any Burner, and it’s easy to share your new number with others via copy and paste, Twitter, or Facebook. Burner can get expensive for frequent users, which makes a free service like Google Voice more enticing. Google Voice makes better use of a single number by allowing users to easily block specified callers without the need to "burn" it, all without restrictions on calling, SMS or time.
The bottom line. If you don’t mind paying a few bucks every so often, Burner is an elegant solution to an age-old dilemma. No more jotting phony numbers on a cocktail napkin or feeling anxious about disclosing your number when selling online – Burner makes it fast, easy, and almost fun to remain anonymous.
iPhone running iOS 4.3 or later
Easy to use, with a streamlined user interface. Threaded view keeps recent activity organized. Incoming call rings or SMS notifications can be stopped independently.
Burner credits can get expensive with frequent use. No MMS or 911 calls. No calls over data, so it doesn't work with iPad or iPod touch.