I've read on PrepaidPhoneNews that TracFone phones are forever locked. But can a TF device be used as a wifi phone if it is never activated on TF at all? Or does TF force you to add money/activate the phone? (Someone I know is looking for a very inexpensive device to use for home security. I told him about swappa etc but he wants a new device, not a used one. So I was thinking of TF phones that they sell for 15-30 bucks at Family Dollar stores. He could buy just the phone without airtime to keep it inexpensive. What do you think - is it workable?)
Tracfone should work fine as a WiFi phone.
Another suggestion would be to purchase an AT&T Prepaid Alcatel Ideal phone at Walmart. It's currently on sale for $19.99 and it will work fine with the 99 cent FreedomPop LTE SIM (which runs on the AT&T network).
So he'll make a one-time purchase of less than $21 and then get 200 minutes, 500 texts and 700 MB of data every month, for free. (Assuming he makes 10 Freedompop Friends, which is trivial to do.)
That's tough to beat.
Speaking of AT&T Prepaid... Bestbuy has the iPhone SE for $150!
Yes, a Tracfone will work fine as a WiFi only device-- I'm currently using one that way to run the CellNuvo app. (Not activated on CellNuvo, just for the earnings app.) Like most phones from prepaid providers, it will probably 'nag' to activate. You can stop it by setting the phone in Airplane mode, and then turning WiFi on.
But.... Chelle's right. that AT&T Prepaid (formerly GoPhone) Alcatel Ideal is hard to beat for $20-- I have one. The Tracfone will never be able to activate anywhere other than Tracfone, while the Ideal could be pressed into service on any AT&T MVNO. I think it's nicer than the Tracfones you'll typically find at a similar price. It's the same price at Best Buy, and has been at that price most of the last few months.