Earning Money with Phone Farming — Simple but Effective Passive Income

Tom Blake

Edit: 6/28/2018: I’ve expanded my phone farming content on my blog, so you can check out my definitive list of the best phone farming apps (part 2) or my phone farming guide for more recent information!

When it comes to generating a passive income source, it can be difficult to get the ball rolling.

You can spend days reading articles on the most recent get-rich-quick schemes or passive income generation methods. Actually creating a passive income stream in your life can be more difficult.

As a college student, I don’t have thousands of dollars to invest or the funds to start my own business. However, creating a passive income source has always been a goal of mine, and that is why I have started phone farming: the process of using old smartphones to make money.

I’m going to share my phone farming guide with Medium. Phone farming definitely won’t make you rich, but it certainly provides an easy way to earn $40-$50/month of passive income for very little initial startup cost.

Let’s get into it!

What is Phone Farming?

Phone farming is a concept that has frequently been discussed on reddit, and involves utilizing several or even dozens of idle smartphones to passively earn income. How do these smartphones earn money? There are 2 variety of apps that reward users for certain tasks:

Video watching apps: These phone farming apps run short videos and display advertisements between videos/playlists. Users are typically rewarded in-app points per advertisement view and can then redeem these points for gift cards, cash, or cryptocurrencies.

Data collection apps: These phone farming apps run in the background of a smartphone, and pay users to collect personal data such as location, phone usage, and demographic information like gender or income status. The companies that own these apps then (theoretically) sell user data to companies that are willing to pay for the information, and give users a small portion of the proceeds.

Both forms of apps do not pay much. In fact, you can expect your average smartphone to earn around $0.40/day if you are in the United States or Canada. However, when it comes to a passive source of income that really doesn’t require much attention, you might be surprised at how quickly this money can accumulate.

My humble phone farming operation in action

Purchasing Smartphones:

  • Only buy Android phones: Android phones are cheaper, easier to buy used, and have a greater variety of available money making apps.
  • Buy Android phones that are version 5.0 or higher: KitKat (version 4) Android phones are gradually being phased out by certain money making applications, so buy yourself additional time and purchase more modern smartphones.
  • Look for 1GB of RAM (if possible): You can spend hours looking at different smartphone models, but at the end of the day you just want to make sure a phone can remain stable while watching videos. RAM is one of the best indicators of how well your phone will run, so look for 1GB RAM phones if possible. Additionally, looking around on reddit for phone farming phone reviews can’t hurt.
  • Don’t spend more than $15-$20: This is why I brought up the Antminer-Bitcoin problem. If you buy an expensive smartphone, it will take longer for your phone to pay off your initial investment and become profitable. If a phone earns around $0.4/day, buying a cheap smartphone will allow that phone to become profitable after about 40–50 days.
  • Only buy Unlocked devices: Don’t mess around with smartphone contracts, prepaid phones, or anything that could inhibit your smartphone from running.
  • Avoid Tablets: While tablets have worked for phone farming in the past, more and more applications are phasing them out. Additionally, tablets are generally more expensive than most used smartphone models.

Setting up your Phone Farm — Data Collection Apps that Pay

I argue that while video watching apps will be the primary earners for your phone farm, setting up passive data collection apps should be the first step as these apps take absolutely no effort.

Panel App:

Panel App is a data collection app that runs in the background of your smartphone and collects information relating to your location and phone usage. All you have to do is join the panel by completing a short survey that asks demographic-based questions.

The app pays approximately 1,000 points/month, which is equivalent to $1. Users can then redeem points for Amazon gift cards ($1 minimum), Starbucks cards, or enter sweepstakes.

$1/month ($0.03/day) might not sound like a lot, and you are absolutely right! It’s complete shit! But on the bright side if you install this on every single device, you’ll make $12/year per phone and it really only take 2 minutes to setup. Not a bad idea.

Embee Meter CX:

Embee Meter CX is the second passive data collection app you should look to install on all your phones. Now, unlike Panel App, Embee Meter is much pickier at what phones are accepted into the program.

In any case, assuming the app works on your smartphone you will earn between $0.1-$0.3/day depending on your location. I live near Toronto, Canada, and earn $0.1/day, but have heard the app can pay more in the U.S.

Your payout options only include PayPal, and you must earn $5 worth of points before cashing out. Payout happens fairly quickly, and I have never had an issue with receiving payment.

All in all, even if you only earn $0.1/day, that is $36.50/year per phone you successfully install Embee Meter CX on.


MobileXpression is another somewhat picky data collection application that doesn’t accept all devices or members. However, if you can get this application set up on a few phones it will be worth the effort.

New users will receive a $5 Amazon gift card after having MobileXpression installed and active for 1 week, and earning subsequent points is easy! Simply leave the app running in the background of your smartphones, and you’ll earn in app credits which can be redeemed for gift cards to Amazon, Starbucks, or Best Buy.

Currently, I have one device active with MobileXpression and it earns roughly $5/month. If you get a device accepted into the program I highly recommend doing so!

Passive Video Watching Apps — Earn Money for Watching Videos

Once you have installed your passive data collection apps on your phone farming devices, it’s time to install video watching apps that pay. Since this review is all about passive income, I will firstly recommend the most stable and consistent apps first.

Here goes!

Perk TV Live:

Perk TV is the first video watching app on this list because it is simply the most stable application for most phone farmers. Users can run up to 5 phones per account with Perk TV, making it an excellent application for beginners to make out on before expanding to other applications with their devices.

Perk TV has many video categories including App Trailers, Entertainment, and Sports news, with videos typically ranging between 1–2 minutes and advertisements playing in between.

Perk TV rewards users with 2–3 points after each video + advertisement view, with 1000 Perk Points being worth $1. Perk also rewards viewers with Perk Tokens, which can be used to enter sweepstakes or spend through their Scratch and Win App.

Users can redeem Perk points for Amazon gift cards, PayPal cash, Banana Republic gift cards, Tim Hortons gift cards, and a few more stores. Payout options begin as low as $5 for most payout options, and usually take 3–5 days for completion. I have never had an issue with payment.

Score: 4/5

Earning Potential: $0.2-$0.5/phone/day

Passive Earning Ability: 3 hours before interaction

Desktop Capable: No

Perk Pop Quiz!

Perk Pop Quiz is another application from the Perk Family and functions in a similar method as Perk TV. Users can play Pop Quiz categories, and advertisements will play in between quiz cycles. Of course, you don’t actually want to be playing a shitty quiz game, so thankfully a timer will move you onto the next round after about 10 seconds.

Perk Pop Quiz rewards users 1 Perk Point per quiz completion, which equates to roughly 1 point per minute or two. Perk Pop Quiz earns fewer points per cycle compared to Perk TV, but the app can be more stable, especially on older devices.

Overall, this increase in stability can make Perk Pop Quiz and excellent option to supplement your Perk Farm if you find many of your devices crash after watching videos on Perk TV for several hours.

Score: 3.5/5

Earning Potential: $0.2-$0.4/phone/day

Passive Earning Ability: Until application crashes

Desktop capable: No

Swagbucks Watch (TV):

Swagbucks is one of the most popular money making applications/services on the web, although it generally takes users a bit longer to familiarize themselves with the platform. Swagbucks has many earning options available including surveys, sign-up bonuses, cash-back shopping, and of course, video watching.

The best part about the Swagbucks Watch (TV) is that, from my experience, it is the fastest earning application. Simply watch video playlists for movie trailers, app trailers, fitness channels, or other categories and earn 2 Swagbucks ($0.02) every few videos. Videos pass fairly quickly, are extremely stable, and earn quickly.

The only downside to Swagbucks Watch (TV) is that it has an earning cap. On mobile, you can only earn up to 20 Swagbucks per day, which is equivalent to $0.2.

Swagbucks also has a list of daily tasks such as their daily poll and daily search which can also earn users Swagbucks. I’ve been given up to 20 Swagbucks from the daily search before, so it can be a nice random addition of points.

Swagbucks offers a wide variety of cashout options, including Amazon, Starbucks, iTunes, and many other stores. Payout options also include $1 options, which can be nice. Gift cards and rewards take roughly 1–2 weeks to payout, but I have never had an issue with payment.

Ultimately, Swagbucks is a consistent passive video application that can help you supplement your phone farm profits. I highly recommend trying it out!

Score: 3/5

Earning Potential: $0.2/day

Passive Earning Ability: Until maximum points

Desktop Capable: Yes

There are dozens of other popular video watching apps such as Engageme.TV, App Trailers, Rewardable TV, and others. I have not included them in this list for the sake of brevity, but be sure to research alternative phone farming options!

Is Phone Farming Worth it in 2018?

This question is a frequent one on forums like reddit. Ultimately, small scale phone farms are an excellent and low-effort way to generate side income that you can use redeem for gift cards or Paypal.

If you already have access to several old phones or can acquire a few devices for under $20, starting a small phone farm is a good idea.

Aim to have between 5–10 devices running so you understand the fundamentals and have time to decide if you want to phone farm.

If you are considering buying many devices to start a larger phone farm, consider technical difficulties you may encounter, router capacity, and even space issues.

The more phones you have, the more troubleshooting and optimization will be required, which could defeat the purpose of generating passive income with phone farming. Take time to make your decision and know how much time you have to spare.

Setting up a Phone Farm — A Recap:

While this has been a lengthy post, I hope it has served as a general guideline for beginning your journey towards passive income generation with phone farming. Ultimately, phone farming is truly an operation that is heavily based on optimization.

Not every application or device will work perfectly, and time of year, your geographic location, and other factors can contribute to or hinder your profits.

If you’re looking to get into phone farming however, here is a quick summary of how to go about it:

  • Collect unused phones from friends and family, or purchase 1–3 phones from device recyle websites, Amazon, or Walmart.
  • Download passive data collection apps such as Panel App or Embee Meter CX.
  • Download passive video watching applications. Begin with Perk if you’re looking for stability, and begin testing out other apps on the side or with new devices.
  • Track your earnings. For the first few weeks it is a good idea to track your earnings per device to both quantify your progress and discover apps that are not pulling their weight.

Phone Farming FAQs:

  • Is Phone Farming Legal? Yes, phone farming is legal. All phone farming apps have specific terms of service that include device limits, earning caps, and other information. As long as you remain within the TOS of apps and don’t abuse the system (with things like VPNs) you will be fine.
  • Is Phone Farming Profitable? What About Electricity Costs? Modern smartphones are incredibly efficient, and you will only pay a few dollars per year for a phone that is charging 24/7. Your phones will certainly make profit.
  • Fire Hazard Potential? Phone farmers must remain on the lookout for battery bloat or signs of device wear-out. Giving phones a “day off” every month isn’t a bad idea either. Ultimately, if one of your devices is regularly overheated, it might be time to recycle the device.

Earning Proof:

I’ve decided to include some proof-of-earnings to hopefully convince readers that phone farming can be a great way to earn $40-$50 a month with just a few devices.

I redeem my earnings via Amazon gift cards mostly, so here’s some screenshots!

Embee Meter PayPal earnings
Even redeemed some Bitcoin!
Amazon gift cards
Perk TV Earnings

As you can see, phone farming is a nice way to earn some additional income and kick start your passive income journey.

Phone farming won’t make you rich, but it can certainly serve as a stepping stone towards generating passive income.

Thanks so much for reading!
Tom from This Online World.


Tom Blake

Written by

Tom Blake

Blogger at www.thisonlineworld.com. I cover how to make money online, writing, & entrepreneurship. Currently based in Toronto but going nomadic!

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