12 Genius Uses for Old Cell Phones
Don’t throw those old phones away until you’ve checked out these ideas that can give your old cell phones new life—even if only for parts.
Not your grandma’s alarm clock
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Make your old cell phones permanent bedside companions with an app that can help you fall asleep or ease you into your day. Try CARROT Alarm, a fun twist on an alarm clock with witty dialogue, songs, and an innovative wake-up system. Or download Pzizz to help guide you into a deep sleep and then gently wake you up in the morning. Since there’s no need to schlep that extra phone around all day, leave it bedside to recharge. But don’t keep it charging all day. Find out how keeping your electronics plugged in could mean you’re wasting a lot of money.
A simple home security camera
Use that built-in camera and a Wi-Fi connection to turn your old cell phone, tablet, or laptop into a security system. Download an app like Presence or, as Popular Science suggests, “set up a separate Skype account on an old laptop, then set the program to automatically accept incoming video calls. This will allow you to call home from the office or the commute and check in on your pets whenever you like—with no complicated software to set up and no price to pay.”
Baby monitor on call
Old cell phones or tablets can make a great baby monitor, especially when you’re traveling and want to check in. Try an app like Dormi. Once connected to Wi-Fi, the app will alert your current cell phone if the little guy starts making noise. You can even soothe your babe remotely by talking back to them. But beware of these 8 creepy things your smartphone knows about you.
Make reading more accessible
Download a simple reading app to your old phone and hand it off to the kiddos. They’ll enjoy looking like Mommy or Daddy while they learn. Think downloading another app is slowing down your phone? Here are 13 easy ways you can make your cell phone speed up.
Donate your device
There are many organizations that can benefit from selling your refurbished or recycled device. Try donating to Cell Phones for Soldiers, which then buys troops prepaid international calling cards and provides emergency funding to veterans. They’ll even wipe your old cell phone clean of all your personal information first. Or try HopeLine from Verizon to benefit victims and survivors of domestic violence. They’ll accept devices in any condition from any service provider. Want to wipe your own device first? Try a factory reset.
Create your own fundraising campaign
Looking for a way to raise money for a non-profit organization? Selling old devices can be an easy-to-manage fundraising program. Try sites like gazelle.com to create your own fundraising page and encourage your community to trade in old cell phones, tablets, and computers. They get cash and your organization earns a 15 percent commission on every sale. Make sure you also save money cell phone bill with the best ways to lower your cell phone data usage.
Fight spousal abuse
Spousal abuse centers will distribute old cell phones to women and children who are in abusive situations so that they can use the phones to call for help in the event of an abusive situation. This works because all cell phones are required to allow you to dial 911, even without an active service plan on the phone. Call your local police station to find out how and where to donate.
Sell your cell
If your discarded device is in good shape (and even if it’s not), it may be worth some bucks. Try selling your old cell phone directly to a buyer through Craigslist or eBay to reap the most cash. Sites like sellcell.com and even retailers like Best Buy and Costco have buy-back programs. Bonus if you have the original packaging, cables, and cords. Colin White, SellCell.com’s managing director, told Business Insider, “Many Americans are looking for ways to earn some extra cash, especially in a sluggish economy…So, it is very surprising that consumers are literally sitting on billions of potential dollars in their unused smartphones and feature phones, often stashed away in boxes at home.” Don’t forget that if you bought any of these electronics you could be owed big money!
Let music soothe the soul
Set up your old phone as an mp3 player. Then if you’re beach or poolside, there are no worries if it gets wet or sandy. Or use it as a radio; you can stream music on your old cell phone via TuneIn Radio from all across the country. Just make sure you remember that this is the worst place to store your cell phones.
Find your car
Keep your old smartphone on a very cheap plan hidden in the back of your vehicle (make sure you keep it charging). Not only is it good to use your old cell phone as backup in case of an emergency, but you can also track your vehicle if it ever gets stolen. Don’t miss the cell phone accessories that will make your life seriously easier.
Take some photos
Most smartphones and tablets work as compact cameras, too. Let younger children practice taking photos on old cell phones then learn to edit shots by downloading an app like Snapseed. Don’t forget to back up those photos to another device later. Check out these impressive iPhone hacks you never knew you needed, like finding a way to take more photos when your storage is full.
Time to recycle
Whatever you do, don’t throw those old phones in the trash. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be saved from every one million old cell phones recycled. Check out the EPA’s Electronics Donation and Recycling page to find out where to go and what to do. Next, don’t miss the best ways to save your cell phone from water damage.