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14 uses for your old phone

  • 28 May 2019
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14 uses for your old phone
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World Environment Day on 5th June is the ‘people's day’ for doing something to take care of the earth. Everyone is free to choose, so if you need some inspiration, why not think about recycling your old smartphone?

If you throw out an old smartphone, it could end up being bad for the environment. If not disposed of properly it might end up in a landfill site, slowly corroding and leaking out hazardous substances like lead, nickel and mercury. The best way of stopping this from happening is to recycle it.

With just a little imagination, you can use your old smartphone for another purpose. Need some inspiration? We’ve got a few ideas…

1. Home security camera

If you want to keep an eye on the house while you’re on holiday or at work, your old phone is the perfect tool. Just download a decent webcam app (like IP Webcam on Android or Presence on iPhone), and you’ll be able to see what your old phone’s camera sees from your web browser. So place it somewhere that gives you a good view, and is suitably out of sight!

2. Music player

Download your favourite music onto your old smartphone, and use Bluetooth to play it back through smart speakers at home or when you’re out in the park. Or do it in your car, and you’ll have easy access to your favourite songs every time you go for a drive. You won't have to worry about phone calls or notifications spoiling your listening pleasure either.

3. Digital photo frame

All you need to turn your old phone into a digital photo frame is a stylish stand and a free slideshow app that automatically scrolls through your photos. Dayframe is a good one for Android handsets, while Picmatic does the same sort of thing for iPhones. Just remember to disable the screen dimming and lock features on your phone before you put it on display!

4. E-reader

Are you a bit of a bookworm? Then why not use your old phone as a dedicated e-reader? Download all your favourite books onto it from Apple Books or Google Play Books, or use the official Kindle app and sync your reading across multiple devices.

5. Alarm clock

There are loads of apps that will let you use your old phone as an always-on alarm clock. If you’ve got an old charging dock to sit it in and keep it powered up, all the better. That way, you’ve got no excuse for not getting up on time.

6. Give it to the kids

Your old phone can be great for keeping the kids entertained, but you’ll need to make it child-friendly first. The Kid Mode app for Android is full of free games and videos that are fun and educational. You can also set up a lock to prevent your kids seeing anything they shouldn’t. If you’ve got an iPhone, the Guided Access mode (under ‘Settings' > ’General’ > ’Accessibility’) does exactly the same thing.

7. Radio

Most radio station broadcast online now, and there are also heaps of online radio apps that you can make use of. Check them out, choose your favourites, and enjoy your favourite sounds.

8. Barometer

There’s a very good chance that your old phone has an inbuilt barometer, as phone makers use them to improve their GPS results. So search for a barometer app, hang your phone in the hall, and use it find out if you need a brolly when you’re heading out.

9. Baby monitor on call

Your old phone can make a great baby monitor. An app like Dormi (Android) or Cloud Baby Monitor (iPhone) will alert you if the little one starts making a noise, and you can then soothe them remotely by breaking into a rendition of their favourite lullaby.

10. Donate it

Any old phone is worth money, and most charities are happy to take them as donations. If you’re interested in doing a bit of good, pay a visit to your local charity shop or check out the Oxfam recycling webpage.

11. Find your car

You can use your phone as a tracker to locate your car if it’s lost or stolen, and it’s lot easier than you might think. Simply keep your old phone running on a low cost SIM only plan, and register it on 'Find my Device' (Android) or 'Find my iPhone'. Then hide it in your car somewhere, and don’t forget to keep it charged. That’s all there is to it - you now have your very own car tracker.

12. Use it as a camera

Okay, it might be an old phone – but the camera on it’s as good as ever. So why not let your kids practice on it and gains some valuable photography skills? If you’ve got the Google Photos app (Android or iOS) on the phone, the photos will be saved to the cloud and you can view them on your current device.

13. VR headset

VR headsets for your smartphone are a lot of fun. But if you use your current phone to get your VR fix, constantly moving it in and out of the VR headset can get a bit tiresome. Plus, it can eat up your precious battery life. That’s not so much of a problem if you use your old phone as a full time VR gadget. You’ll only ever need to take it out when it’s time to recharge it again.
Not got a VR headset yet? Google Cardboard is a great low cost option.

14. Use it for emergencies

Last but not least, you can keep your phone for emergencies. The main point worth remembering here is that you can call 999 even if you don’t have a SIM card in it. So just be sure to keep it charged, put it in a safe place like your purse or glove compartment of your care, and you’ve got an emergency phone you can use if your main one’s out of battery or unavailable.


Will you be recycling your old phone? Will you be going with one of our tips above, or do you have one of your own you’d like to share? Post a reply below to comment!

4 replies

Userlevel 4
My old phone always gets saved as my backup - and its saved my skin a few times. My last but one phone tends to get used by family or friends kids - they don't need the latest phone and being a bit slow is fine as well. They don't have a sim in, but usually they are tied to wi-fi and have kids you tube and some simple games on which keeps the kids happy 🙂 Thanks for the suggestions though, much more ideas up there than I had thought of. Jase.
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My old phone always gets saved as my backup - and its saved my skin a few times. My last but one phone tends to get used by family or friends kids - they don't need the latest phone and being a bit slow is fine as well. They don't have a sim in, but usually they are tied to wi-fi and have kids you tube and some simple games on which keeps the kids happy 🙂 Thanks for the suggestions though, much more ideas up there than I had thought of. Jase.

I second this @JaseA,

Always keep my last phone as a backup and then give the phone before that to a younger friend or family to use with WiFi for games etc!

Mohammed
Userlevel 4
OMG I should have sooo kept my old iPhone, the original one that my parents bought me! I could have had all my old photos on display, I would have totally had the third option in the bag! 😂

Rebecca
Find my car is a great use. Walking in mountains and wild areas, my old phone hidden in my car allows me to find my car ensuring that I get straight back to my car on my return from the trek.

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