More than half of landfill waste is composed of e-waste, and with over a billion phones bought each year, it’s anybody’s guess how much of it is just old phones. Before chucking that old phone in the trash, here are some ideas you can consider.
15 Things You Can Do Instead of Throwing Away Your Old Phone
1. Backup Phone
Just because you’ve recently bought a new phone doesn’t mean you have to retire your old one. In fact, you can use your old phone as a backup phone.
A backup phone can serve a myriad of functions.
- You can use it to store important data, so you know your files are safe even if your new phone gets lost or corrupted.
- On trips where your new phone could potentially get damaged, such as campings or beach outings, you can bring your old one instead. This will allow you to enjoy your day of adventure without worrying about ruining an expensive new gadget.
- You can also use an old cellphone as a burner phone for when you need to make anonymous calls.
Burner Phone Definition: Contractless, prepaid, and inexpensive mobile phones for temporary use.
2. Emergency Phone
Nobody wants to make an emergency call, but everyone should be ready to dial those emergency numbers when the need for it arises.
An old phone sitting can be used as a dedicated emergency phone. Regardless of how old it is, it can still reach 911 because US laws require all phones to be able to place emergency calls even when they’re not connected.
If you think you have no need for a dedicated emergency phone, you can give an old phone to someone who might need it more, such as an elderly family member. They can use it to dial 911 should a health scare occur while they’re alone.
3. Children’s Camera
Your old smartphone could be your children’s introduction to photography, thanks to a company called Pixl Toys.
Pixl Toys came up with a product called Pixlplay Camera, which looks like a classic camera and serves as an outer shell for smartphones. With it, your kids can reuse your old smartphone to take pictures like a little pro.
4. Participate in Crowdsourced Science Projects
Did you know you can do minor science experiments with an old mobile phone? Measuring the speed of sound is just one of the cool tricks you can do.
Or, if you want your retired phone to be more useful, you can participate in crowdsourced science projects. For instance, downloading the University of Berkeley’s BOINC app will let you in on science projects in need of old phones’ computing capabilities.
5. Gaming Device
Are your kids into gaming? Old phones are noteworthy alternatives to dedicated game consoles and systems.
A lot of Android and iPhone games are free to download. There are even those that don’t require Wi-Fi.
There’s a strong argument to be made for refusing to overindulge children with expensive gaming gadgets. Giving them an old smartphone as a gaming device should be enough to make them feel they are not quite deprived.
6. Music Player
An old smartphone can also be used as a dedicated music player, whether you prefer streaming music or playing them offline.
For uninterrupted listening, just get a smartphone stand or if compatible, a charging hub so you don’t have to constantly move your device when the battery’s running low. Finally, just connect it to a Bluetooth speaker, and you’re good to go!
7. Dedicated Video Chat Device
We’ve all been there — having your marathon Netflix binge or getting through that intense level in the mobile game you’re playing interrupted by a video call. To avoid this, you can employ a retired smartphone as a dedicated video chat device.
In this way, you can receive video calls while still keeping your main phone active for other purposes. Just be sure to log out of your video call apps in your main phone.
8. Audiobook Player
Love audiobooks? If you have an old smartphone, you can use it as a dedicated audiobook player. You can even download them on your phone so you can still continue listening even when you’re offline.
9. Alarm Clock
Your old smartphone might be too old to connect to the internet. It could also be too old to audibly receive or place calls.
One basic function that all phones have, regardless of age, is the ability to set alarms. If you need to wake up at a particular time for certain days of the week, you have a reliable alarm clock with an old smartphone.
10. eBook Reader
eBooks enable bookworms to feed their love for books without it taking over their homes. If you have an old smartphone, why not use it as a dedicated e-book reader? Now, you never have to worry about being distracted by a notification that suddenly pops up on your screen as you’re about to get to that exciting twist at the end of the chapter.
11. VR Headset
VR tech can be quite pricey, but if you have an idle Samsung smartphone, you can actually play VR games on the cheap.
You just have to purchase a Samsung Gear VR that’s compatible with your phone. Next, use your old smartphone to download the Oculus app.
Samsung phones fit perfectly into the Samsung Gear VR. These two gadgets will allow you a VR gaming experience that’s as good as that promised by expensive VR gaming gadgets.
12. TV Remote
Want a backup remote for your streaming device? If you have an idle and old smartphone in your house, you can reuse it as a backup remote control. Just download the app that comes with your media streaming device on your old smartphone, then link it to the device.
13. Dedicated Car Stereo/GPS Device
Having a dedicated car stereo and GPS device phone saves you from a few inconveniences. For one thing, you no longer have to plug and unplug your phone each time you hop into your car.
Also, while driving, you don’t have to worry about being interrupted by phone calls and other messages. You can be totally focused on the road instead.
14. Digital Photo Frame
If you have a smartphone with a big screen, you can use it as a digital photo frame. All you need is a strategically placed table to accommodate your digital photo frame.
Continuously stream digital pictures of you and your family in your living room. You can even download slideshow apps so you can further customize how your pictures would appear.
15. Baby Monitor/Security Camera
You don’t have to purchase an expensive baby monitor or security camera to keep your family safe. Instead, you can repurpose an old mobile phone.
Next, strategically place your DIY baby monitor or security cam. You can also use this to keep an eye out on your fur babies.
Genius ways to repurpose your old phone and tablet in this video from WatchMojo.com:
It only takes a little creativity and imagination to turn old phones into something useful. The smart ideas included in this list are just a few examples of what could be limitless possibilities.
Got creative ideas on what to do with an old phone? Please share them in the comments section below.