Don’t Throw It Out! 12 Genius Uses for That Old Cell Phone
Are old phones taking up precious kitchen drawer space or cluttering up closets? Don’t throw them away (especially not in the trash) until you’ve checked out these ideas that can give your old devices new life—even if only for parts.
Not your grandma’s alarm clock
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Make your old 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 a 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.
A simple home security camera
Use that built-in camera and a Wi-Fi connection to turn your old 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 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.
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. Here are more cell phone accessories that will make your life way easier.
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 device 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. Here are some surprising things you didn’t know you could donate.
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 used smartphones, tablets, and computers. They get cash and your organization earns a 15 percent commission on every sale.
Fight spousal abuse
Spousal abuse centers will distribute 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 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.” Find out which electronics you should buy used—and which you shouldn’t.
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 via TuneIn Radio from all across the country.
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 have a back up cell in case of an emergency, but you can also track your vehicle if it ever gets stolen.
Take some photos
Most smartphones and tablets work as compact cameras, too. Let younger children practice taking photos 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.
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 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 these other household items you had no idea you could reuse.