WhatsApp is a well-known messaging application that replaces your phone’s basic SMS functionality with a way to easily chat, call, send photos and videos, and more with friends from all around the world without requiring an international phone plan. For those of us who enjoy traveling all around the globe, it remains one of our favorite cross-platform messaging apps, since it works well on Android, iOS, KaiOS, and Windows phone. Plus, with the support of Facebook behind the application, it’s easy to trust the application isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, some businesses are even using WhatsApp to link colleagues on every corner of the planet.
One of the biggest reasons people love to use WhatsApp is the simple signup process. When you first create a WhatsApp account, you sign up using your existing phone number, which allows you to connect to users stored in your device’s contacts list. While they are plenty of benefits to using your phone number to sign up for WhatsApp, not every user is going to want to use their phone number to connect their WhatsApp account to their devices, especially if you’re interested in chatting privately with new connections online. Giving someone your real phone number can be a real risk when you’re browsing the web online, and it makes sense that users would want to avoid giving out personal information in this day and age. So, how can you get around this requirement while still managing to chat using WhatsApp?
Unfortunately, there’s no simple method for hiding your phone number from WhatsApp—you need to use a valid phone number to sign up with the service. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t deploy a secondary or alternate phone number to hide your device’s actual identifying digits on your device. This way, you can give out your WhatsApp number to people you meet in the real world without having to worry about them using your real phone number for any sort of malicious purposes. To start, all we’ll need is a service that gives users free numbers to communicate and text with, and a fresh WhatsApp account to continue using on your own device. Let’s take a look how it’s done.
Getting a New Phone Number
To start, we’ll need to utilize one of several different services and apps to gain you a new phone number. This won’t replace your current number—think of it as a secondary addition to your primary number. There are more than a dozen services online that promise to give you secondary numbers, either for free phone calls and messages or as a temporary number, but not all of these services are created equal. So instead of relying on a random service online, pick from these trusted services:
- Google Voice: By far our top pick for secondary numbers, Google Voice offers personal and business services, and is frequently updated on both web and mobile, once again making it a great choice for users of all types. Google is a trusted company, and Voice even allows you to use your number to forward calls, making free phone calls in the United States, and text your family and friends with ease. Plus, when you select your Voice number, you’re able to customize it to make sure you get the number that’s right for you. Your number can be both called and sent text messages, making it just like a standard cell phone. It’s a great service, especially for free, and it comes as our top recommended service for anyone looking for a new phone number to use with WhatsApp.
- Talkatone: Like Google Voice, Talkatone is built around providing alternate numbers to call and text US-based users for free (and to call and text numbers outside the United States for small charges). As such, you gain an alternate phone number for calling and texting when you join the service, complete with an US or Canada-based area code. Talkatone even lets you change this number when you need to, a great feature that, as far as we know, isn’t allowed with Google Voice. The downside to Talkatone are the ads included within the app, but if you’re only using the phone number to verify your account, it’s easy to ignore the ads within the app itself to just focus solely on the alternate number you gain within the app.
While Voice and Talkatone are our top two picks because of their lack of cost and ease of use, if you’re looking for an app with a bit more functionality beyond simple calls and texts, or an app with the ability to create more than one number incredibly easy, check out these applications:
- Burner: Named after “burner phones,” or the usage of temporary phone numbers, Burner is an app that automatically gives you a new number whenever it’s needed. You get a real phone number that can be used to place phone calls and texts from within the app, and you can set up information about that number automatically. When you’re done with that number, you can easily delete it from the device. Burner comes with a free number for seven days, but after that, you’ll have to pay a subscription service to use the app, or purchase a burner using credits. This can get expensive pretty fast, but if you see yourself using multiple phone numbers with multiple WhatsApp accounts, it might be worth using Burner over something like Google Voice.
- Sideline: With apps for both iOS and Android, the ability to use local area codes, and the ability to place texts and calls easily, Sideline is a great addition to this list. Unlike most of the apps on this list, sideline uses your normal minutes instead of using VoIP interfaces, saving you data when you’re not on WiFi. There are a ton of advanced features here, but if you’re only looking for a number to verify your WhatsApp account, Sideline might be a bit overkill—especially since it costs $9.99 per month for personal users. There is a free 7-day trial though, which may be enough to help verify your account.
- Flyp: Flyp is very similar to Sideline, in that it’s an app created to replace your current phone number with an easy way to contact business associates, while also allowing you to separate your business accounts from your personal numbers. You can easily mirror local area codes while calling someone, masking your out-of-state code. And Flyp’s audio quality is excellent. But at $7.99 per month, it’s probably a bit expensive to use just for verifying a WhatsApp account. Like Sideline, this app has a free 7-day trial.
- Hushed: What makes this app excellent is its end-to-end encryption when talking to other users. This makes it the most secure phone number app on this list, and that may be important if you’re trying to hide your identity both inside and outside of WhatsApp. All numbers are disposable, there’s no credit card needed to make an account, and calls can be sent and received from anywhere. That said, starter plans begin at $1.99 per month and run all the way up to $4.99 per month for unlimited calls and texts. There is a free trial, and if privacy is your main concern, this is a perfect app to use to call users outside of WhatsApp.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll be using a number from Google Voice, along with screenshots from Voice as we set up our new WhatsApp account. Google Voice’s own setup process is fairly straightforward; the app and website will both walk new users through picking a new number, and you’ll need a Google account to create your Voice profile. Once you have your new Google Voice number handy, you’re ready to move onto the next step in the process. Make sure you keep either the Google Voice app on your iPhone or Android device to view the confirmation SMS message WhatsApp sends during an account creation, or keep voice.google.com open on your computer’s browser.
Setting Up a New WhatsApp Account
Alright, once you’re armed with your new number from any of the services we outlined above, you’re ready to begin setting up a new WhatsApp account. Alternatively, you can attempt to change the phone number on your current WhatsApp account if you don’t want to lose your conversations. We’ll explain that further down in this guide, so if you’d like to try that step first, skip down to that section below. Also, we’re using the Android version of WhatsApp to test out this service; your mileage may vary on iOS or other operating systems.
Start by logging out of your WhatsApp account completely. Alternatively, you can uninstall the application and reinstall from the App Store or Play Store to guarantee a fresh install. Once you’ve reached the login screen for WhatsApp, WhatsApp will ask for your phone number to register your account and verify your device. Instead of entering your current phone number, enter the secondary number you created through Google Voice or Talkatone (or the alternative you chose above). Hit the “Next” icon, and WhatsApp will alert you to the number they’re going to verify. Make sure you entered your number correctly; once you’ve ensured the correct number has been entered into your device, hit “OK” to continue to the next step.
After this, WhatsApp will give you a prompt to automatically detect your verification code through viewing your SMS messages. While this is typically an easy method to skip manually entering a confirmation code, do not allow WhatsApp to do this. Because the text is going to your Google Voice or Talkatone number and not to your device’s SMS inbox, WhatsApp won’t be able to detect the code from within your phone. Instead, click “Not Now” to send the code. Once you’ve received your code inside your alternate inbox, enter the six digits into the field on your device. Once you type the sixth digit, your device will automatically verify the number. You’ll be asked to input a name for your WhatsApp account (this can always be changed later; it isn’t a username), and once this is done, you’ll be brought to your new inbox. Despite using your alternate number, you can still view your contacts automatically from within the device, though take note that they won’t see your name in your account unless you give them your alternate number or you start messaging them through the service.
Changing Your Current WhatsApp Phone Number
If you’ve been using WhatsApp for years and don’t wish to erase your messages and contacts to start over with a secondary number, it is possible to change the number inside the settings of your WhatsApp account on your phone. On WhatsApp’s own FAQ about the subject, WhatsApp makes it clear that your contacts need to have your new number saved in their device for a seamless experience, so while this will obscure your current number for your new number, it won’t necessarily remove the ability for people to have your old number through WhatsApp. The benefit to changing your number within the app rather than simply creating a new number is that you’ll retain your contacts and messages, but use the new, more private phone number. That said, here’s how to edit your old number to your alternate number created in the steps above. Once again, the steps below are using the Android version of the application, though iOS users should be able to follow similar steps on their own platform.
Start by opening up WhatsApp, which should open to your inbox. Tap on the triple-dotted menu icon in the top-right corner (for iOS users, you’re going to be heading into Settings) and tap on the Profile view at the top of your display to load your profile. At the bottom of this screen should be your phone number used to sign up for the service. Tap on your phone number to open a prompt that allows you to edit your number. At the top of the display, tap on the “Next” icon, then enter your current phone number into the “Old Phone Number” field. Below this, enter your new alternative number in the “New Phone Number” field. Also remember to make sure your country code is correct, if you’re using a non-US based temporary number.
- Go to WhatsApp, then “More options,” “Settings,” “Account,” and finally, “Change number”
- Enter your current account phone number in the top box
- Enter your Google Voice, etc number in the bottom box
- Tap “Next”
- Here you have the option to “Notify Contacts.” This will allow WhatsApp to tell your contacts that you are associated with a new number. This feature does offer a few modifications, though: you can choose to notify all contacts, contacts with whom you’re currently chatting, or specifically choose who you wish to notify (the “Custom” option).
- If you select the “Custom” option, you’ll need to carefully select the contacts you want to notify, then tap “Done” in the notify screen.
- Tap DONE to save and verify the new phone number.
What to Do If You Need a New Number
Nearly every service mentioned above allows you to burn your old number for a new one. The premium offerings, including Burner, Flyp, and Hushed, are all built around the idea of being able to burn a temporary number and gain a new one. Talkatone allows you to burn a number for free once; after that, it’ll cost you a few bucks to redo the same thing. That’s not too bad, though, especially since most users shouldn’t have to burn numbers too often. Google Voice also allows you to change your number; however, once you’ve burned your old number, you can’t regain access to that number. There’s also no free trial with Google Voice—it’ll cost you ten dollars upfront every time you want to change your number.
Once you have the new number in hand, you’ll have to either create another new WhatsApp account or use the guide above to change the number on your account. Again, changing numbers is a pretty easy transition on WhatsApp, and users will need your new number to continue speaking with you and adding your account through the service.
There’s no way to hide your phone number from being able to be seen by your fellow contacts in WhatsApp. Unfortunately, the entire premise of WhatsApp was built around using a phone number to contact users while simultaneously providing a far more rich experience than what basic SMS message provides users. While WhatsApp requires your phone number to add users and for contacts to message you using the app, there’s nothing to stop you from using an alternate or burner phone number to effectively “hide” your real number. When you choose to use an alternate number on WhatsApp, you can give you that number freely to your contacts, friends, family, and associates, while simultaneously protecting your standard phone number from people you don’t know well.