What The Tech: How to Use Old Smartphones
CHARLOTTE: We once paid hundreds of dollars for a shiny new smartphone. Remember that great iPhone 6 or the Samsung Galaxy 4? They did everything we needed them to do at the time. Now they’re probably gathering dust in a junk drawer. They’re not worth anything to anyone else, but
provided you can remember the passcode, you can find a good use for them. Even if they’re cracked, old smartphones have some great uses.
Once upon a time, people spent money on iPods for music on the go, but if you have an old smartphone you’re not using, convert it to a portable music player. First, delete all of the apps and photos and load the device with your favorite tunes from your computer. 16 or 32-gig phones can hold a ton of songs. Use it at the gym or plug it into the USB port in your car and you’ve got a music player that won’t stop when your new phone rings. You can also connect it to your current device’s mobile hotspot and stream music from Spotify, or another service. Old smartphones make excellent bedside or desktop clocks. Apps that display the time and forecast are free and even the stock Apple or Google app can display the clock. To use it as a bedside alarm clock, plug it in and change the display set to ‘always on, or turn off the automatic screen close. You can set an alarm just by asking Siri or OK Google.
The FCC requires all smartphones to be able to call for help, even if they don’t have any cell service. Keep one in the car or in the kitchen so the kids can always call 9-1-1, even if they don’t have a smartphone. Teach them how to call 911 by hard pressing the side button 5 times.
Old smartphones make excellent TV remotes. Download the app for Roku, Amazon FireStick, Google TV, or Apple TV. The apps are easier to use than the remote that came with the streaming device.
You can use old smartphones as security cameras. Download the app “Alfred” to your primary device and any old smartphone. Connect the old phone to a power source and prop it up where you want to watch for movement. You can use it as a nanny cam or a pet cam to speak to your dog or cat while you’re at work. You’ll even get a notification if it detects movement.
Your kids can use an old smartphone to play video games, provided you can still download the game app or the app is already installed on the phone.
Use it as a portable web camera with the app EcoCam.
You can also use it as a dedicated Facetime or Zoom camera so the kids don’t have to borrow your phone when they want to video chat with their grandparents.
Or, use it as a dedicated camera so you don’t run out of space on the phone you have now.
If your phone can connect to your home WiFi or your primary phone’s hotspot, you can use these ideas to give the phone a new life or you can probably think of other uses for old smartphones. Whether they’re cracked or not, they’re not dead yet.