Ideas for your old smartphone

When you get a new smartphone, you will quickly forget about your old phone. But that phone a few years ago was top of the line and can still pack a punch. Having faced this dilemma a few times, I suggest doing something with the phone and not just ignoring it. It should not become a paperweight. Without a SIM card, you can no longer take phone calls but you can get WiFi mostly everywhere you go along with having the GPS capability still. If you think of it like having an iPod back in the 2000s or a tablet of today, you will have the right mindset. Here some of the ideas I have come up with for repurposing your old phone.

Emergency Phone (Added on 2/14/2015)

Even without a SIM card, having a charged phone in your car is good for emergency calls. Most phones will allow you to dial calls in an emergency, so having an extra phone that can be ready for this situation is a good idea.

Sell it for money

You should be able to make around $100 or more by selling it on Craigslist. Someone will be looking for your phone because they love the model but keep breaking it (my experience) or they are looking for a cheap upgrade from an even older phone. Just be sure to wipe your phone’s data before selling!

Your only risk is not having a backup phone if you break your phone, but you can find and buy a similar model fun that has depreciated even more in cost if this happens. You just might have to wait a few days.

Dashboard camera

If you had a phone mount in your car but it is too small to fit your new phone, you could leave that in your car and download an app like AutoGuard Dash Cam. Your old phone has a camera and a GPS that you can use to record your drives. You might get something neat on camera or video to protect you in a court of law. Getting the phone to charge enough while you drive so it does not die when your car is parked is a balancing act and is really affected by the temperature (i.e. the coldness of winter will drain your battery).


Why should you buy a standalone GPS like a TomTom or a Magellan when you can download an offline GPS app? The map files will be a few GBs but will be incredibly helpful if you are lost and without cell reception. I have used Here, MapFactor, and Sygic. Sygic was the best but only gives you a week free trial. Here Beta is your best bet since it is done by Nokia. only offers an overhead view while MapFactor does not tell you street names to turn onto.

Media Streaming Device

Your old phone can be a media device. It is ready for playing music whenever you want, but your phone’s speaker is small. If you have speakers or a smart TV, download all the music apps you want and set up some widgets. You are ready to rock and roll quickly in the morning.

Security Camera

There are apps in app market places like the IP Webcam (I have not used yet) that will let you record motion in your room and even stream online with additional setup. Cheaper than buying a full system, good to use as a test system, or just to use when you are away on vacations.

Fitness Device

If your new phone is bigger or you hate getting text messages or phone calls when you are out on a run/bike, your old phone still have GPS to track your run and Wi-Fi to sync when you get home. You will not have cell reception so download your music before you go or just listen to the sounds of nature.

Alarm clock

Many people sleep with their phones near them since they talk or look at online news before bed. This means in the morning when the alarm clock goes off, it is so close and so easy to press the snooze button. With your old phone, you can easily put it on the other side of the room so you will wake up when it goes off.

Development phone

When doing smartphone development, each phone is a little different. Having multiple pieces of hardware to run on will make your testing better and if for some reason you want to run long overnight tests or run software that could mess up your phone, old phone to the rescue!

Game phone

Similar to a media phone, make your old phone a game phone. It may not be able to run all of the newer games, but try to optimize it. Remove unnecessary apps and download a Game Booster like Clean Master for game enjoyment, especially for younger children.

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