June 21st, 2011

Don’t Throw Away That Old Smartphone

You’ve just gotten the latest and shiniest smartphone there is, now what do you do with your old smartphone? In the old days of ‘feature’ phones that just made phone calls and maybe had a calendar we would just through them out or recycle them. But now our phones aren’t really phones anymore, they are mini-computers. Why not use them for various things around the house or on the go?

Personally I use my old iPhone as a replacement nightstand alarm clock. Its ability to do multiple alarms is much more useful than the $20 break it and throw it away alarm clock I used to have. Old smartphones have so many non-cellular uses these days that the only reason to get rid of an old one is because it’s broken. Here is a list of some of my favorite around the house uses for old smartphones.

  • Alarm Clock/Stop watch
  • Portable Email Reader – As long as you have Wifi
  • Ebook reader – iPhone and Android all have Kindle and Nook apps
  • DVR Remote
  • Wifi only phone – think Skype or Qik
  • Recipe Holder – Personal favorite
  • Portable Movie Player
  • MP3 player
  • Portable Voice Recorder/Note Taker
  • Personal Gaming System
  • Personal Information Manager (Address Book , Calendars, To Do)
  • Remote Control
  • Photo Album

These are just a few of the many uses your old smartphone still has. And the best part, if it breaks you still has your new smartphone. On that note, I like to use my old smartphone as vacation phone. I switch the SIM card out of my new phone and put it in my old phone for vacations. That way if it gets destroyed or lost while on vacation my new phone is still safe and sound at home. It also works the other way because I know I always have a backup phone if my new one has problems.

A little known fact is that all cell phones must have 911 support, even if they are out of contract and even if they don’t have a valid phone number anymore. This means that old cell phones (smart or otherwise) make perfect emergency phones. Keep one in your car while for emergencies, pack one in your camping gear just in case, or even give one to an elderly relative so they always have an emergency phone close to them.

If you don’t want to keep your old smartphone then you should consider doing one of the following:

  • Donate it to a worthy cause. Lots of charitable organizations collect old smartphones (and cell phones) for good causes.
  • Recycle your old smartphone (or cell phone). Most major electronics retailers have in store recycling programs and some will even give you a discount on a new phone if you recycle an old one with them.

Whether you recycle, donate, or throw away your old phone remember to always wipe your personal information off it first. Most smartphones have an option in their settings menu that allows for you to wipe your phone of all data. If your phone does not have that option or you can’t find it, take the phone to the phone carrier who sold it to you and request that they wipe the data for you. Most will do so as a courtesy. A smartphone is like any computer, if someone with bad intentions gets their hands on it, the only protection you have is if your data is not there anymore.


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