Handy uses for your old phone

15 July 2014

So, you’ve got a new phone. Great. But what do you do with the old one? Whatever you do don’t throw it out. That phone is crammed full of irreplaceable rare earth metals as well as various nasty things that are pretty terrible once they seep in to the ground. At the very least you need to recycle it, sell it, or give it to a friend, but maybe there’s a better use for that aging piece of tech.

Donate it

If you’re not too keen on turning your phone to new uses, then there are a number of charities that you can donate it to. Of course, your options will be different depending on your geographical location, but a quick web search should turn up some results.

There are plenty of people in the world less-fortunate enough for any phone to be well beyond their means. Portable communication is a useful and often crucial tool. You could very well change someone’s life by providing them with one.

Make it kid-friendly!

You could always use your phone as an educational tool if you have young kids. Both Android and iPhone have options for this. Some phones have it built-in, others can download apps like Kid Mode for Android that make learning fun while cutting your kids off from the rest of the device.

iPhones and iPads have the function built-in. It's called Guided Access, found under Settings > General > Accessibility > Learning. To use Guided Access, you simply launch an app and then triple-press the Home button. This will lock the device in to the app and require a password to exit. This way you can let your kids play with child-friendly apps without worrying where else on the internet they may end up.

Control your media/computer/home

There are plenty of apps that let you control your computer or media player with a phone, so long as they’re both on the same WiFi network. There are also numerous homeware products, like smart-lights and door locks, that let you turn your house in to a veritable Smart House, also controlled via WiFi.

On Android you can try Unified Remote or Smart IR Remote for controlling a PC or media centre. On iPhone you can go with HippoRemote Pro,or find your own preferred option.

As for turning your home in to a smart home, there are so many products and options that we couldn’t possibly name them all. They range from the aforementioned lights and door locks to thermostats, smoke alarms, doorbells with built-in cameras and many more.

Dedicated desk calendar

Already got a calendar on your desk? Bet you it doesn’t automatically update whenever you add anything to your computer or phone’s calendar. Why not ditch the old paper approach and go for something a little more high-tech?

It’s pretty easy to throw your phone on a stand, plug it in to a USB for power and leave the calendar app on. Now you’ll always have cloud-updated events wherever you put it.

As a security/nursery/dashboard camera

Your phone already has a built-in camera, so why not put that to use? You can keep tabs on or record important information with a variety of apps. You’ll need some kind of permanent power supply handy, and probably set the camera up to store its video files remotely. Alternatively you could manually manage the recorded content each day, depending on your levels of techy know-how.

Give a helping hand to SCIENCE

Even though it’s pretty old, your phone is a comparative powerhouse compared to even the most intimidating home PC of yesteryear. Why not put that computing potential to good use and further along scientific research?

Thanks to the magic of the internet, your phone can be connected as a virtual processor and work alongside thousands of other devices to process important scientific information. The app is the BOINC app (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing), available on Android but sadly not iPhone, and you can choose which areas you would specifically like to assist.

Car MP3 player

Instead of fumbling about with your phone whenever you get in to your car, why not use your old one as a music device? Grab yourself a car charger and connect your phone to your stereo. Music quality doesn’t improve hugely with each new generation of phone, so it should be useful like this until the day it dies.



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