11 things to do with your old phone

How-To

Trade it in? Pass it on? Or do something a little different...
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11 things to do with your old phone

The smartphone story goes a little like this... for two years you’re inseparable. You're lost when you're apart. And just as quickly as it started, the love affair’s over and you’ve moved on, upgraded to something better.

Your faithful old mobile is left alone to be forgotten about. But things don’t have to come to such a sad end. Try out some of these alternative uses for your old phone to rekindle the lost magic...

1. Trade it in

Top of the list - you can trade your phone in. Sure, it might be a little out of date, it could still be worth a lot of money. To cash in, head to the Carphone Warehouse trade in site. You can even trade in broken phones and they’ll all be reused or recycled responsibly.

2. Turn it into a smart remote

Any old phone is good enough to use as a really handy smart remote for your TV. Some phones can even be used as a universal remote for everything around your home. There are a couple of ways to get it working:

If your old phone has an IR blaster (if you’re unsure whether it has one, just Google the model of your phone followed by ‘IR blaster’ and the internet will let you know), you can use it to control anything with a remote control. The chances are the phone already has an app built in to help you get things set up, but if not try downloading Smart TV Remote.

If your old phone doesn’t have an IR blaster, get a Google Chromecast. The £30 streaming stick is really cheap and lets you cast stuff from apps like Netflix and YouTube straight to your TV. And as everything’s controlled from your phone, you can browse what you want to watch with simple taps and swipes.

3. Turn it into a handy kitchen tool

Kitchen phone

If you’ve got an old Android phone, download the Google Now Launcher from the Play Store and start using ‘OK Google’ voice commands to get things done in the kitchen hands-free. You can find recipes, convert weights and measures, and loads more without getting your messy fingers all over the screen.

Alternatively, put a few key apps on your phone’s homescreen, like a recipe app or a timer, and get kitchen help with just one tap.

4. Use it as a digital photo frame

Phone digital photo frame

All you need to turn your old phone into a digital photo frame is a stylish stand and the free Dayframe app. The app can connect to all your online accounts, like Facebook or Google Photos, and will automatically scroll through your photos. Of course, you can also choose to show a particular photo or album if you don’t want every drunken night out shown in your living room.

5. Give it to the kids

An old phone can be great for keeping the kids entertained, but you need to make it child-friendly first. The free Kid Mode app is full of free games and videos that are fun and educational. And you can set up a lock so the kids can’t leave the app and get at things they shouldn’t be using.

6. Turn it into a security camera

Phone security camera

Whether you want to keep an eye on the house while you’re on holiday or watch over the kids with a video baby monitor, your old phone is the perfect tool. Just download IP Webcam and you’ll be able to see what your old phone’s camera sees from your web browser.

7. Let it help scientists

Your old phone could make a real difference to scientific research. There are a couple of apps that let you donate your phone’s spare computing power to crunching data for scientists. First up, there’s Samsung Power Sleep, which hands over processing power while you’re asleep. Then there’s BOINC - an app that’ll grab whatever power it can when you’re plugged in.

8. Use it as an in-car MP3 player

In car music

You could use your new phone to play music in the car, but then you’ve got the hassle of connecting and disconnecting it all the time. Instead, load your old phone with all your tunes and leave it connected to your car all the time. Put a music widget on the homescreen and you’ll have quick access to your favourite songs every time you go for a drive.

9. Use it as a wireless computer trackpad

You can use an old phone as a unique way to control your PC or laptop by turning it into a wireless trackpad and keyboard. Get the Remote Mouse app and you can use your phone to browse the web, control presentations, and do everything else on your computer. Doing all that on a touchscreen feels much easier than using a normal mouse.

10. Keep it as an emergency phone

This might not be as exciting as some of the other ideas here, but it's a practical one. Fully charge your old phone, switch it off and keep it in your car’s glove box. Then you’ll be able to make a call even if your main phone’s out of battery. You don’t even need to keep a SIM in it if you only want the old phone in case of a 999 emergency as you can always call the police.

11. Donate it

Your old phone is worth money. So these days, most charities take old phones as donations, selling them on to raise funds for the good work they do. You can find out which charities take old phones by searching ‘Donate phones to charity’.

If you wanted your old phone to do good in a more direct way, Rainforest Connection will use it to detect illegal logging and scramble the authorities to the spot.

Bonus. Use it to explore the world

Your old phone can be a window into the world. Take a look at our article on how to explore the world from the comfort of your sofa.

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation here…

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