Top Five Uses for Your Old Smartphone

Recently I have noticed that have a surplus of old smartphones floating around our house.  I started thinking about what I would do with these devices.  Here are my top five uses for old smartphones.

Top Five Uses for Your Old Smartphone

  1. Dedicated Media Player.  My old phones often serve as streaming media devices.  I don’t want to use my good phone to stream podcasts or Pandora while I’m mowing the lawn (because of obvious ramifications) so I use my old phone (wifi-streaming, of course).  If you have old PC speakers at home, hook it up to them and do something similar.  If you have an adapter and a stereo patch cable (to your car’s auxiliary port), then you can leave it in your car.
  2. MP3 Player/Camera for your kids.  Kids mimic their parents; it’s natural.  So, when they see us playing on our phones they’ll want to do the same thing.  Let them use your old phone.  Many phones come with “kid mode” or something similar.  Set up OpenDNS and the adult content filtering on your wireless router and let them use that phone in a supervised way.  (Most modern smartphones come with a significant layer of parental filtering.)

    Also, my kids have always wanted a mobile camera and they always want to play games.  Sometimes, I want them to do this, too!  Your old smartphone is the perfect combination device.  Plus, you can always make emergency calls on that device.  Teaching your child to dial 911 may save someone’s life.

  3. Safety Camera.  I was blown away when I first saw this article.  But, such an idea makes perfect sense.  If you have valuable stuff in your home and you travel, use this idea.  The phones use your home’s wifi network and upon sensing movement, snap a picture.  The image is even stored for later inspection.
  4. Remote Control.  Many of our phones already have the ability (with IR blasters) to be used as a remote control.  If you lose your old remote OR if you just want an upgrade, use that old phone.   Plus, there are apps to really capitalize on the concept of remote control.
  5. Learn!  On my old Motorola Atrix 4g, I learned to root, clean, and install a new Cyanogenmod ROM.  It was my first experience with modding a device but it was not my last.  Why not learn to do something like this?  Hack, mod, style, beat up, and code away on this old guinea pig of your phone.

Bonus Use for your Old Smartphone

Let me throw in a bonus use:  pass it down.

Many of us (me included) have completely bought into the consumerist American concept that we must purchase a new flagship phone every two years.  It’s clear from AT&T and Verizon, both, that they would like to reduce that window to 1.5 years.

If you have two users in your house and one REALLY wants the new phone and the other couldn’t care less, then let the phone swapping start.  This, of course, is presuming nothing is wrong with the used phone.  The person who receives the used phone probably still got an upgrade and the person who wants a new phone gets just that.

A new battery, a new phone case, a new memory card, and some new screen protectors can bring a “feels-like-new” phone to someone for under $60.  Heck, even a phone with a busted screen can be fixed (in many cases) for around $100.


It turns out that I’m not the only person who has thought of things like this.  Here are some good articles that focus on the same thing.

In the end, that “old” device would have been classified technology not that long ago.  Heck, my first smartphone is FAR more powerful than computers of a decade ago.  My point is that you don’t have to discard these devices, but instead you can continue to use them to a wonderful potential.

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