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I have a Galaxy Nexus (running 4.2.2 if it matters but I'd presume the rules would apply to most Android OS' in general, it isn't currently rooted but I can root it if necessary) that I've recently replaced with a newer phone.

Now I'd like to give my 5 year old my Gnex as a basic "game/kids app device" that he can mess around with since he was used to playing a few kid games before on it. I still want WIFI access so airplane mode is out.

However, I'd like to be able to completely remove the PHONE functionality from the phone. The phone has no service, but can still make Emergency calls and I'm concerned about him possibly doing so before I can explain to 911 that it was an accidental call.

So, is there a way to completely disable:

  • the phone dialer
  • the ability to place emergency calls
  • the contacts/address book

Bottom line: If you think in Apple terms, I'd like an "iPhone" to become an "IPod Touch", but for my Android.

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My question is related. android.stackexchange.com/questions/35301/… –  Stephen Schrauger Mar 26 at 15:02
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@AndrewT - our children are too young to be left alone period, if they were old enough to know how to properly call 911 in an emergency and when not to, this wouldn't be an issue at all. I would simply say "don't make emergency calls on this unless you need 911 for real". –  TheCleaner Mar 27 at 2:29
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The reason you can dial 911 / 112 without a SIM-card is that the SIM identifies you as an user of a particular network. The phone can still see the towers with or without the sim. On a normal call, the action is somewhat like "Hi, tower, I'm AT&T user 12345678-123456, may I have my calls routed here, please?", and the tower may or may not answer OK. On emergency call, the action is "Hi tower, give me emergency now!" and the tower complies. The phone does not even pass the number 112 or 911, but a special emergency command, you can dial 911 in a country where the landline emergency number is 11 –  Lenne Mar 27 at 11:07
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(continuing Lenne's comment) 2 or vice versa. You can dial 911/112 from a phone even if it is locked. On androids, you can add a list of ICE, In Case of Emergency, numbers, like next of kín etc, which can be called without unlocking the phone, useful if you are found unconcious or worse. In this case, you do need a SIM to dial. –  onik Mar 27 at 13:26

7 Answers 7

up vote 11 down vote accepted

If you root the phone, go into Manage Apps and you can disable the dialer, it will remove it from the home page. Contacts can also be disabled. There are also numerous ways to put the phone in Airplane mode so it's persistent after restart.

enter image description here

Click image for larger version

NOTE: disabling dialer does not disable the emergency dialer, but airplane mode does.

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I need emergency dialer disabled as well. And can't really put it in airplane mode...although if I have zero choice I guess I'll have to. –  TheCleaner Mar 26 at 14:45
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In airplane mode you can turn Wifi back on. –  Ryan Mar 26 at 16:13
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There is an app called "Cell Radio Shutoff" which I use on my old phones to disable the cellular radio while ensuring WiFi and Bluetooth are still available. That might be worth looking into. I know it doesn't address removing the emergency call button, but it should help with ensuring the radio doesn't turn back on after a reboot. –  Adrian Mar 26 at 20:26

On rooted devices, you can disable the following packages to disable all telephony features:

  • Phone
  • Dialer
  • TelephonyProvider
  • Contacts
  • Contacts Storage
  • ContactsProvider

Depending on the device manufacturer and OS version, some of these apps might not exist, or be named differently.

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which one disables emergency dialing? –  BigHomie Mar 26 at 20:53

Does it have a removable SIM card? If so, remove the SIM and it won't have any network connectivity except for Wi-Fi. That's what I've done to turn my old iPhones into iPods for my kids.

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Emergency calls should work even without a SIM card. –  Ben Voigt Mar 26 at 18:30
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This won't work. The phone has no service currently, but can still make Emergency calls...same as your old iPhone can. –  TheCleaner Mar 26 at 18:30
    
I see that is the case, guess I've just been lucky that it's not been accessed. This definitely isn't the solution you are looking for. –  Alan Hyde Mar 26 at 18:55
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@landroni: Everything needed to communicate is in the phone: transmit circuitry, receive circuitry, antenna. The SIM card is just a memory chip, containing authentication information. The tower accepts emergency calls whether or not authentication has taken place. –  Ben Voigt Mar 27 at 14:26
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@landroni: The surest way to place an emergency call from a cellphone is to use one without a SIM card inserted - without the SIM card, the phone will request access to the strongest signal available, whereas a phone with a SIM card will try to use the SIM card carrier's network first. –  Piskvor Mar 27 at 15:10

You have not mention that you are rooted or not? If you are rooted then use titanium backup app to freeze three apk's

I hope Samsung has smae named apk as for my s2. SecPhome.Apk TelephonyProvider.apk Contacts.apk

After freeze them your calling and emergency call will be block down, you can use data connection without any problem from here.

If you are not rooted then first pull them using adb for backup and then delete them for make it safe.

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+1 If rooted you can also uninstall the dialer and contacts apks completely. While I haven't tried this myself, logic tells me this would not allow anyone to open the dialer application, therefore making it impossible to dial 911. Also, since you're going to be rooted, you can always make your nandroid backup just in case things go south... –  Dryden Long Mar 27 at 16:41

You can install a parental control app like Kids Place that limits the apps that the kid can launch. If it set as the default launcher the kid will only be able to access the apps that are defined within the app while full access is protected by a password.

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There's definitely not an "official" way to disable emergency calls - if my understanding is correct, that would actually be illegal.

Unofficially, I think the closest you can get is disabling the dialer. I haven't tested it, but even if removing the dialer doesn't disable the emergency calls functionality, it might cause any attempt to call to crash...

If you wish to go that route, you must be rooted. You open up your favorite file manager, navigate to /system/app, and rename dialer.apk (or similar, since you're on Nexus flavored AOSP it should be dialer) to something like dialer.apk.bak. Don't delete it - it's always a good idea to have a backup.

EDIT: Contacts would be the same process, removing contacts.apk

EDIT 2: Evidently it might be TelephonyProvider.apk. Pretty sure I've seen dialer too though. Most file explorers will show a phone icon, like below:

ES File Explorer with icon

Click image for larger version

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You could replace the radio firmware with one from a drastically phone. Having what would essentially be a "broken" firmware for the radio would prevent any cellular communications in or out of the phone. This link is an example of changing a Nexus's radio firmware (baseband) to another GOOD firmware, but the same process would apply to using a baseband that does not match your phone or your phone's cellular radio chip.

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@StephenSchrauger It might not be very complete, but it is a suggestion of how to solve the problem. –  Dan Hulme Mar 27 at 18:34
    
@StephenSchrauger This certainly does provide an answer to the question. It directly answers both the title question and the author's "Bottom line". –  pierce.jason Mar 27 at 21:44

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