Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Clever Ways to Repurpose old Smart Phones

As newer models of smart phones with additional features are released, it is often tempting to upgrade.  But what can you do with your existing smart phones when they still work fine?  Replacing a perfectly working phone can seem wasteful.  There are obvious choices, to sell them directly or using a service, or giving them away to a family member or friend.  Aside from the obvious uses, there are also some clever ways to re-purpose smart phones so an upgrade feels less wasteful.  Most of the ideas below require a connection to a wireless network, but not all of them.

As a Slim Camera
An old smart phone can be re-purposed as a slimmer than traditional camera.  There are various manufacturers and types of add-on lenses compatible with smart phones at prices to meet anyone's needs and budget.  Many of these lenses could work with older and newer smart phones so they would still be useful if the older phone stopped working.  Since smart phones are designed to be extremely portable and light, an older smart phone with an added camera lens is a simple solution to being able to take great pictures.  This can be helpful in saving the battery on the new phone when traveling to reserve the battery for location information, map searching, phone calls, and more.  Another benefit to using the older phone is the amount of storage space saved on the new phone which can then be used for other things.  

As a Music Player
This seems like an obvious choice, but there are unique ways to use an old smart phone as a music player.  For one thing, you can play songs already loaded into the phone, or you can listen to music via streaming services if you are connected to a wireless network.  Listening to music using a separate speaker, like a UE device, can really change up a room.  Try setting up music in these places:

  • An office, so the new phone can be used for all other tasks without running the battery down.
  • A hobby room, leaving the new phone in another room for some uninterrupted time.
  • In a baby's room, with soothing music to help them sleep.  Set the music to turn off automatically by setting a timer to stop the music after a specified amount of time.
  • At family events, BBQ's, backyard parties, or game nights as background music without sacrificing the new phone or needing other devices with cords.

As an Game Console
Whether you have the latest PlayStation, Wii, XBox, or none at all, an old smart phone can be used as a device for children to play games on.  Any games downloaded onto the phone will still be playable, though they may require wireless access.  New games can also be download just as they were before as long as the phone is connected to a wireless network.  The benefit of using an old phone for games is it allows children to play without needing or cluttering up the new phone and removes the risk of damage to the new phone.

As a Phone
While you will no longer be able to use your phone by connecting to a service carrier, you can still use the phone to make phone calls using a VoIP service if the phone is connected to a wireless network.  Many of these services are free to use since you are using them over a wireless network which is already being paid for.  Using the phone this way is sensible for teenagers, or other children in the home, who do not have cell phones of their own because it keeps them from monopolizing the home phone line.

An older smart phone connected to a wireless network can still receive operating system and application updates.  Replacing your current smart phone does not necessarily have to mean your previous phone is useless, especially if the phone is still in working order.  Also, many of the re-purposing ideas do not require the battery to be as good as it was when it was new.  Whatever you decide to do with an older smart phone, it is good to know there are more options than simply selling it or giving it away.


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