It's arguably Apple's greatest skill: making your previous gear look obsolete next to their new releases. So what do you do with your devices after they've been made redundant? Here's a handful of ways to reuse that spare, older-gen iPhone.
Photo by Gonzalo Baeza Hernández.
There's nothing saying that you can't continue using your old iPhone for years to come, but whether you ended up switching network carriers, switching operating systems (say, to Android), or upgrading to an iPhone 4 and its new features, there's a good chance you've got an extra phone sitting around.
Straight off the bat, it's important to realise that if you can no longer make calls on your old iPhone the way you're used to, you've only lost one major feature. Luckily it's not really that big of a detriment. The functionality of the iPhone is still there, much in the form of an iPod touch. You can continue to use it as a dedicated audio and video player, run most of the apps you were already using, still use your Wi-Fi access (and even something like Skype if you want to make calls), or you can get creative with it. Rather than sell it or let it collect dust, here are a few of our favourite things to you can do with an extra or spare iPhone laying around the house.
Install Android on It
Adam's been desperately eyeing this Android-on-iPhone project for months now, waiting for the day ready to install and use (dual-boot, mind you) on an iPhone that you still plan to use every day (and you can bet you'll see a guide here when that day comes). Until then, your old, out-of-use iPhone is a perfect playground to try running Google's Android operating system. The power management isn't up to snuff yet, so don't expect it to last too long, but the project's wiki page offers a few guides to installing iDroid on your older iPhone.
Jailbreak and Unlock Your iPhone
Jailbreaking is a process that allows you to install third-party apps that aren't available through the App Store and access the innermost software workings of your device. (It will also void your Apple warranty, but depending on what you plan to do with your iPhone, that warranty may be completely useless or expired anyways.) There are a couple of things available to your iPhone once you jailbreak it, including the power to unlock your phone. Unlocking your phone — not to be confused with jailbreaking — allows you to use the device on any GSM carrier in the world, provided the frequency bands are supported.
Photo by Gizmodo.
There are a couple of good things — and bad things — that come along with jailbreaking and unlocking an iPhone. If you unlock, you can keep on using your phone, even if you've switched carriers. You don't have to ditch your iPhone just because you're on Vodafone, for example. Unfortunately, jailbreaking and unlocking is contingent on the iPhone's firmware and baseband: there's not always an available jailbreak or unlock for the latest software. This means you won't have the latest and greatest features all the time, and some things like notifications might not work correctly. But you're repurposing here, so it's not all that bad, and an unlocked iPhone only increase its value if you plan to sell it.
While we aren't going to cover how to jailbreak and unlock your phone, many guides are available across the internet.
Your iPhone As A Webcam: Stream Video
We've mentioned some benefits to jailbreaking your phone, but here's another reason. If you need a webcam, it's possible to turn your spare iPhone into one instead of resorting to purchase one at the nearest store. This procedure requires a jailbroken phone and utilises video-sharing service Qik.
Use Your iPhone as a Remote Control
The iPhone, as we mentioned earlier, is an extremely functional multi-purpose device. Among its greatest assets is its ability to remotely control a number of things. Apple already has a simple app called Remote that will enable you to control iTunes and Apple TV, and your iPhone armed with Remote makes for a great multi-room wireless music remote.
Photo by brennan.v.
Controlling iTunes is only really the tip of the iceberg. Your iPhone can be used as a remote control with media centre software like Boxee with the Boxee remote, or XBMC with the XBMC Remote. It's fantastic for easy home theatre control access, when you're sprawled out across the couch.
The iPhone can function as a remote for many types of software, including one of our favourite video players, VLC Media Player. There's iPhone remote control app for the video player available. Also, for another little trick of iPhone magic, the DSLR Camera Remote Lite can review images and can fire the shutter on your Canon EOS or Nikon DSLR camera once it's been hooked up to your computer. And for wide-ranging remote control, take a look at the very cool HippoRemote.
Turn Your iPhone Into a Dedicated Ebook Reader
It's also possible to use the iPhone as an ebook reader, with its easy-to-use, big touchscreen. There are several jailbroken ebook apps available, along with i2Reader app found in the iTunes App Store. Still, by itself, the device lacks a tactile feel of a true ebook reader. Technology magazine Wired has a tutorial on how to encase your iPhone into a Moleskine notebook, making it easier to hold.
The Moleskine notebook, although you can really choose just about any notebook, adds a tactile element to your iPhone, while simultaneously disguising your device. The project requires a Moleskine notebook, an iPod Touch (or your extra iPhone), an X-Acto knife and some PVA glue. The end result is that it becomes a lot easier to hold your iPhone, enhancing the overall ebook reading experience wherever you are.
Scan Documents With Your iPhone
Since the advent of cameraphones, taking quick snapshots of documents and other objects instead of writing them down have become a way of life. We've covered a DIY book scanning machine that utilises an ordinary digital camera before, but you can also build your own scanning device for your iPhone.
Unfortunately the specific instructions no longer seem to be free, but if you're willing to put in a little time and effort, all it requires is that the device places places the iPhone on a stand at a specific distance from the bottom surface, where the papers are scanned. That way, it's at the optimum distance without relying on the steadiness of your hand for blur-free photos.
Use It as a Fancy Clock
Really don't think you're going to get much active use out of it? It may make a great nightstand clock. If you've still got some of your iPhone's original packaging around, it's pretty simple to turn it into a quick and effective night stand for your iPhone.
Photo by piPhotos.
The truth is we've only scratched the surface of what's possible to do with an old iPhone. For example, you could also turn it into and dress it up as an actual photo frame. What other things have you found to do with your old iPhone? Let us know in the comments below.