Uber is a smartphone app, so naturally as an Uber driver you’ll need to use a smartphone with a data plan to receive ride requests. The Uber app for drivers works with almost all modern smartphones, but there are some crucial phone requirements that you need to be aware of before you go out and buy a phone.
It’s also important to know what types of phones work well with Uber, what phone features and accessories you’ll need, how much data the Uber app uses, and how to lease a phone from Uber if you don’t want to own the phone yourself. I cover all of these topics in this article.
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Uber cell phone requirements
iPhone requirements to run the Uber driver app
- Must be iPhone 4S, 5, 5C, 5S, 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, SE, 7, or 7 Plus running iOS 8 or later versions
- For best results: Use iPhone 5 or newer
Android requirements to run the Uber driver app
- Any smart phone from 2013 or newer, running Android version 4.0 or newer
- For best results: The phone should run Android 5.0 or newer
Phones that work well with the Uber app
- iPhone 5 and up
- Samsung Galaxy Note
- Google Nexus
- LG G series
- Sony Xperia
The newer the phone, the better Uber and navigation apps will function. If you don’t want to get the latest model, make sure the one you get was released in 2013 or later. Anything older won’t perform well and is more like to freeze or crash.
How to run the Uber driver app on a tablet
Some Uber drivers choose to use a tablet to run the Uber app because they prefer a larger screen. Tablets can also create a better entertainment system for your car. There are two ways to run Uber on a tablet:
- Tablet with a data plan: You can buy a tablet that is 3G or 4G enabled and will be able to run the Uber app and receive calls/texts all by itself
- Tablet tethered to your phone via personal WiFi hotspot: Tether your WiFi-only tablet to your phone to run the Uber app from a tablet. Your tablet will display the Uber app and navigation, and your phone will receive calls and texts from passengers.
Phone features to think about when you’re choosing a phone
- Screen size: The bigger, the better, especially when your phone is mounted to your dash or windshield.
- GPS reliability and accuracy: Some lower-cost phones are known to have GPS connectivity issues. Make sure to Google search “your phone’s model + GPS connectivity” to see if other users have GPS problems on the phone you’re thinking about getting.
- Battery life: Not as crucial of an issue because you’ll likely keep your phone plugged into a charger while you’re driving, but for everyday use outside of your car you want the best battery life you can get.
Phone accessories all drivers need
- Phone mount: Holding your phone while driving is one of the number one reasons for low ratings from passengers, so always use a phone mount. I recommend the iOttie Easy Mount. It’s cheap and works well.
- Charging port and cables: Your phone needs to be plugged into a car charging port for the majority of your driving shifts. Get an Amazon Basics dual charger so you can charge your phone and another device at the same time.
- 3.5mm aux cable: If you want to play music from your phone or allow passengers to play music from their phones, you’ll need a 3.5mm auxiliary cable. I use the Belkin 6-foot cable
Phone problems you may experience, and how to solve them
- Overheating: It’s normal for the Uber app to make your phone hot to the touch, but if your phone feels extremely hot, you may be overtaxing your phone’s processor. Keep your phone out of direct sunlight if possible, don’t use bulky cases or fabric/leather cases, and only charge it when it needs to be charged. If the problem persists, you may need to get a newer phone.
- Freezing, crashing, slow operation: Prevent freezing and crashing by making sure to only run necessary apps like navigation and music. Restart your phone if you’re having this issue.
- Can’t see or hear notifications: Dig into your settings and make sure that all notifications are enabled for the Uber app, and if you use an external Bluetooth device, check to see if the notification sounds are playing through that device instead of out of the phone.
A good go-to thing to do when you’re having phone issues is to fully restart the phone.
You can lease a phone from Uber — but it’s expensive
In some cities, Uber will lease you a phone that is modified to only run the Uber app, navigation apps, and phone/texting apps. The main reasons why you might want to use an Uber-issued phone: You can’t afford to buy a phone outright, you want to separate your work phone from your personal phone, or you’re not interested in owning a smartphone because you’ll never use it for anything other than driving for Uber.
How leasing a phone from Uber works
- There is a $200 refundable deposit, deducted in $50 increments (this price varies based on location)
- There is a $15 weekly data fee whether you use it or not
- Locked down operating system: You can’t install/uninstall any app you want
- You are responsible for all damage, and you must turn in the phone if you get deactivated or quit driving
- Not available in all cities, and slowly being phased out
I don’t recommend leasing a phone from Uber. Over time, leasing a phone from Uber is much more expensive than buying your own phone, and even if you don’t think you’ll want a smartphone, you’ll eventually come to use it a lot more than you might expect.
How much data does the Uber app use?
You might be worried that running the Uber app while you drive will use a lot of data and cause overage charges, but in reality the Uber app and navigation apps don’t use too much data. Uber says that the app should use no more than 3 GB per month, and drivers report using around 1 – 3 GB per month.
5GB data plans cost around $50/month, which is cheaper than leasing an Uber phone, and when tax time comes, you can write off most of your phone expenses.