Instead of throwing it in the landfill
“I can’t throw them out, they still work…sort of. But I don’t know what to do with them!” Did you read that in your own voice? Yeah, me too.
There are several cool or useful things to do with an old iPhone or Android. You already know about using it as a media server with Plex and Spotify, or make it a remote control for tv and smart home devices with SURE for Android or Home for iOS. So, let’s look at some less obvious uses.
Pay the Phone Forward
Cell phones have become a necessity almost everywhere in the world. That means it’s a necessity for people who can’t afford to buy a new one. Why let them get tied into a punishing contract when you can refurbish your phone cheaply and donate it?
Check around for the place that speaks to your heart. Here’s a few:
- National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- CellPhone Bank: All phones can call 911 even without a SIM card. CellPhoneBank gives the phones to victim services and law enforcement to equip people at risk.
- Rainforest Connection: Uses the phones in a monitoring network to protect critical habitats.
- AmericanCellPhoneDrive: Search by ZIP code for charities near you.
Give Your Pet an iPhone
Or an Android, it doesn’t matter. Cats and dogs typically only fuss about food brands. There are apps for them to play like Paint for Cats and App for Dog for iOS. Your cat paws at a mouse on the screen and the app adds splashes of color as art. App for Dogs has a few activities and painting is one of them.
On Android, Cat Alone is a big hit. Different things move around the screen and your cat tries to catch them. For your pup, there’s Dog Squeaky Toy or Games for Dogs on Android. Games for Dogs has a piano as one game. Better tinkling the ivories than tinkling on the floor.
Whether you’re a seasoned geek or just curious, why not operate on your old Android or iPhone? Think of it like a cadaver to practice surgery on. Try rooting your Samsung, Pixel, or Nexus phone. Or try jail breaking your iPhone. If you brick it, no big deal.
You could also experiment with putting different operating systems on it. Yes, even the iPhone if it’s really old. There’s one called Whited00r for iPhone 2G and 3G. People have even put Android on iPhones using Project Sandcastle.
Spare Camera or Phone
This seems obvious, but there’s more to it. All cell phones can dial 911 without a SIM card or phone plan. Leave it fully charged and in the car in case your daily carry phone dies. If you’re in an accident, you can still make a 911 call and take pictures.
Take your old phone while traveling in case something happens to your good camera. If it’s action shots you want, get a rugged case for your Android or iPhone to use in situations that are too dangerous for your good camera or phone. Some people have even hacked out the phone camera and built their own GoPro-style camera.
Baby Monitor or Spy Cam
In keeping with the camera theme, you can use the old iPhone or Android as a special-purpose camera. With apps like Dormi for Android and Baby Monitor 3G for iOS and Android, you’ve got an easy-to-lug baby monitor with 2 way sound. It’s great for when you take the baby to see friends or family.
If security is your concern, you can make an old phone into a hidden in plain sight security cam. Or hide it inside a tissue box as a spy cam. Nobody thinks twice about a phone but they get cautious around dedicated security cameras. Try Presence Video Security Camera for iPhone or Alfred for Android and iPhone.
Car Security with an Old Phone
An old phone and the right apps can turn your phone into a car security system. It may require a SIM card and a constant power source. Car Alarm is available for iOS and Android. Using the motion sensors in your phone, Car Alarm will alert you if someone steals your car or abuses it.
Haven for Android does all that and adds sound and light and power detectors to the mix. So even if someone unplugs it, you’ll get an alert. It’s also great for personal security anywhere. If an app subscription and extra SIM card are expensive for you, record the phone’s IMEI number. In theory, law enforcement could track it if it’s on.
Use an Old Android or iPhone as an In-Car Computer
We say car, but you could use it on your motorcycle, bike, boat, or whatever moves you. Android Auto for Android and iCarMode for iOS work great for directions, music, and hands-free calls. You might already use Android Auto or iCarMode, we know. It’s important to mention them again for people that don’t know and are not driving safely while using their phones.
Push to Talk Walkie Talkie
This requires SIM cards, but consider this scenario. The family goes on vacation to another country. You’ll probably get local SIM cards, anyway. Put them in the old phones, install an app like Voxer for iOS and Android, plus from any computer. Now you just push a single button to talk back and forth like a walkie talkie.
If half of you want to go to the amusement park and half to the museum, you’re covered. Voxer encrypts your call, has group chat, and sends multimedia. Plus, if you lose the phone, it’s not your good one. It’s free for personal use.
White Hat Hacking with an Old Phone
We touched on putting a different OS on an old Android or iPhone. But this is a whole different ball game. Did you know Kali Linux was one of those that you can use on Android? It’s called Kali Linux Nethunter.
If you’re a penetration tester, this is great! No one questions the person with a clipboard and no one questions you using your phone. NetHunter currently runs on only about 20 devices, though.
What Will You Do with Your Old Phone?
Let us know which idea you want to try. Or tell us about the unique way you use your old Android or iPhone smartphones. We’re sure that our smart readers have done some pretty cool things. Let’s talk about it in the comments.