Waze is amazing. It cuts time off my commute, helps me avoid major back-ups and has even taught me traffic avoidance tricks in a town I’ve lived and driven in for more than 20 years. But Waze is on my phone. And I need my phone when I drive. I make hands-free calls, I receive notifications, I listen to podcasts and music from my phone. So, I made a stand alone Waze GPS. Scroll down for how or I’ll make you one for $300. (You will have to continue to pay for cell and GPS service after the initial one I give you runs out.)
Waze GPS for for $300. Free shipping in the U.S.
HOW TO MAKE A STAND-ALONE WAZE GPS
- Get another phone. For my first one, I used an old Iphone 4. You can buy an unlocked Iphone 4 for $89.99. That proved to be too slow, so in February 2017, I bought a Moto G Play 4 with ads from Amazon for $99.
- Procure an inexpensive SIM card and pay-as-you-go plan. I bought an H2O wireless card from a 7-11 store for $35 and signed up for the pay as you go plan. I’m paying 10 cents a minute for data and I have 90 days to run through $30 in credit. I bought the SIM on November 3, 2015 and have been using it daily for commutes to work and extra trips, including 12 hours round trip driving for Thanksgiving, and a month and 10 days later, still have lots of data left. So, it works out to about $10 a month. You can get an H2O SIM on Amazon for $0.01, and then you call them to activate a pay as you go plan. Once this starter SIM runs out, I’ll probably sign up for the $100 a year plan, which will work out to $8.33 a month. UPDATE March 2017: I ran through the $100 a year SIM in less than a year, so at this point I’m probably running about $15 a month.
- Download the Waze app on that phone. I used Wifi in my house to accomplish this.
- Preserve SIM card usage. Turn off all notifications and all pushed data. When you get out of the car, set your Waze phone to airplane mode to preserve data usage.
- If you are like me and you charge your primary phone in your car, this charger splitter may come in handy to charge both phones.
- For now, I’ve been fine with setting the phone down in the ashtray, but I’ve enjoyed having a dash mount in the past and if I were to invest in one, it would be the Hippo Series.
- Theft. I leave the Moto in the car, hidden under the front seat. There is a risk of theft, as a working smart phone of any kind has some street value. My previous Iphone 4 was in fact stolen out of my usual work garage a few years ago. To get around this, you can a) take the phone with you every time you park; b) take the phone with you when you park and another human will have access to your car (e.g. in a valet parking situation); or c) don’t worry about it and note the serial number (you can find it in ITunes) in case it does get stolen. I retrieved my stolen Iphone 4 simply by giving the local police the serial number.
- A bonus is now you have a back-up phone for calls and internet searching if your primary phone dies or is temporarily misplaced. I have all my contacts and email going to my secondary phone just in case (but with push notifications off). An unlocked smart phone also makes a great international traveling phone. You just buy a SIM card at the airport and you’re connected while traveling abroad.
- Other cell phone activation options – I considered “adding a phone” to my regular cell phone plan, but that was a minimum of $25 a month. I’m able to use my Waze GPS for cheaper by using pay as you go and conserving data.
As mentioned above, if you don’t want to go throgh the trouble, I’ll build you one and ship it to you with a starter SIM card.