When you have a new smartphone, what do you do with your old mobile phones? You can trade it or sell it for a few dollars. But you can get a bad end to this deal. Reconfiguring your phone is a much better idea.
I think about it. This old phone, whether it’s an outdated Nokia or a recent Android or iPhone, has some complex circuitry inside. As we move into the world of smart homes and connected devices, your phone’s technology is becoming more useful than ever before.
So while it may be technically obsolete like a telephone, it can still serve several other purposes — any of which are better than contributing to the mountains of e-waste in the world that . You just need to get creative. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Any phone: overcome your tech fears
Some of the DIY fixes and other tricks you read online seem amazing. For example, you can replace a damaged screen yourself. But it can be intimidating to do so. What if you can’t do it? What if you do worse?
An old phone is the perfect way to overcome these fears. Nothing to lose now and everything to gain. Practice whatever you want on your old phone. You can start with something small like jailbreaking an old iPhone or installing a custom ROM on Android. If you’re comfortable, try something difficult, like taking apart and reassembling your phone.
There are things on your smartphone that you know are possible but you never explored. This is the time to explore them.
Dumb phone: turn it into a smart watch
Do you have an old Nokia or some kind of candy bar with a numeric keypad? Get ready for the arrogant DIY project of your life. Webmaster’s favorite Tinkernut enthusiast has a guide on how to turn this phone into a modern smartwatch!
This is a tricky question, so we wouldn’t recommend it to anyone new to the DIY world. You will be taking apart your old phone and using some of its circuits. You will also need an Arduino board to hack everything. The recommended version is the Arduino Pro Mini, which costs about $10. The total cost of parts other than the old phone is less than $50. Not bad for a new smartwatch that you can proudly show off and say you made yourself.
The question is not “do you need a smartwatch or not?”. The question is, «Do you have a smartwatch in you?».
Android / iOS: secure, completely untraceable «ghost phone»
Right now, a hacker can easily trace all data from your phone back to you. If you have an additional smartphone, you can turn it into a «ghost phone» with the help of Lifehacker’s guide. It is completely untraceable.
The ghost phone is important in today’s world. It will keep your identity safe on online dating sites or if you are selling something on Craigslist. And who knows, you might want to leak sensitive information like Snowden.
It’s actually quite simple to set up.
- Install one of the apps to get a temporary phone number. Recommended options: Hush or Burner.
- Add a secure VPN (virtual private network) service that encrypts all data coming from your phone. CyberGhost and Hideman both do this.
- Create a new Google or Apple account from this phone. Do not sign in to your existing account in the app stores. Similarly, create new accounts for any application you wish to use.
- Don’t buy any apps or services. Online transactions leave a money trail.
This is a handy gadget for you. Any time you want to perform a data-aware online action, it will give you more security than your regular phone.
Any broken phone: transfer it to a wallet or piggy bank
Most of these tricks are useful if you have a working old phone. But what if it’s a broken old flip phone or a broken iPhone? Roll up your sleeves and turn it into the coolest wallet ever.
This project requires you to disassemble the phone and remove all the gadgets inside. You just want an outer case, nothing else. Sites like iFixit will show you how to take things apart.
Depending on what phone you have, you can get creative on how to use it as a wallet. Instructables has a couple of inspirational guides for this. Someone turned a broken iPod Touch into a wallet, while an old phone with a stand makes a nice modern piggy bank for kids.
Any phone: turn it into a camera safety net
Instead of spending good money on buying a few security cameras, why not just use old smartphones? They work brilliantly and it’s easy too.
There are two ways to do this. First, you use apps on popular mobile platforms if your old phones are smartphones. Secondly, you set everything up manually so that the operating system doesn’t matter.
For Android-only installations, nothing is easier than Perch. Download the app, place your phone where you want, and you can watch all the activities on another phone or computer.
For Windows Phone, Gotya seems to be the preferred option for many users.
If you want to reuse non-wifi smartphones, you will need to set them up manually. As long as it connects to your home Wi-Fi network, we have a complete guide to setting up older phones as a home security network.
Android / iOS: make a universal remote control
This is one of the most popular ways to reuse an old smartphone. Whether it’s Android or iOS, you’ll be able to control just about everything in your smart home.
You need to check if your Android phone has an infrared (IR) blaster. This will allow it to connect to TVs, air conditioners, and other devices that would normally use a remote control. The iPhone does not have an IR blaster.
If it is equipped with an IR blaster, you are already ready to control your smart home from your old phone. manage manage Get an app like SURE (free) or Smart IR Remote ($7), connect it to all your devices, and start using it.
If your phone doesn’t have an IR blaster, you’ll need to get IR communication somehow. You can add an IR blaster to your phone using a third party accessory. They usually cost around $40-60. You could even make it cheap. Or you can buy a Logitech Harmony Hub for around $100. The Harmony Hub acts as an IR base for all your devices and then connects to your phone via Wi-Fi. If you have the money, Harmony Hub is the easiest option.
Android/iPhone: Dedicated handheld gaming device
I hope your old phone is an Android phone with an expandable memory card slot or a lot of built-in memory. If so, turn this into a portable gaming device for your kids (or yourself).
Actually, add a gamepad. Buy a Moga controller that starts at $30 and load up your phone with some exciting games. Besides Moga, we’ve covered some of the best controllers for Android. and everything you need to know about gamepads for iPhone
This is perhaps the easiest way to repurpose an old smartphone and your kids will love you for it. Considering the amazing games released on Android and iOS these days, it’s also a cheaper option than buying a PlayStation Portable or Nintedo DS. And just in case you feel like playing retro with emulators, the touchscreens are terrible and the gamepads are awesome.
Android / iOS / Windows Phone: Wear this in your car
It’s funny how many people forget about the simplest use of an old smartphone. Grab your car phone holder, dual port car charger and lock your phone in place.