The 10 Best Uses For An Old Smartphone

Some phones are worth selling for a little extra cash towards an upgrade, but older models are often not worth much. To breath new life into your aging devices, we have put together a list of our favourite uses.

10. Home Security IP Webcam

Your smartphone has all the hardware necessary to be a powerful IP webcam. There are a range of apps to help you get started, from free to paid.

An IP webcam is an easy way to keep an eye on your house while away, or check in on the pets. You can also get apps that will send you an alert if movement is detected.

For the parents, there are apps available that turn your phone into a baby monitor that simply connects through your Wi-Fi.

9. A GPS Tracking Bug

Want to feel like a spy, or just find out where your dog really goes after escaping? Using a range of apps, your phone can be set to track and record its location. With the addition of a cheap sim card, it can also send you the information live.

Mount your phone in a waterproof box to use it as a tracking bug. Or mount it in a hidden location in your car for DIY GPS tracking if it ever gets stolen.

8. Media Control And Connectivity

There are plenty of apps that turn an old smartphone into a handy Wi-Fi remote control for media players and compatible TVs. If your phone has an IR output, it can also control devices directly.

You can also use your smartphone with a Chromecast, as a smart media access device. From YouTube videos to movies on your NAS, easily flick content from your phone to your TV.

If you really want to get DIY, you can actually turn your old Android phone into a Chromecast. Due to compatibility issues, CheapCast is not currently available through the App store, but you can still get the .apk file online.

7. Smart Alarm Clock/Calendar/Digital Photo Frame

Smartphones make great bedside alarm clocks. You can customise the look endlessly, and easily set multiple alarms in complex patterns.

That same phone can link into your existing calendar, letting you easily view, share and get notifications about upcoming appointments.

Since your smartphone is already sitting there, it’s not a bad (if slightly small) way to display some favourite photos. Or if you want a view to somewhere a little more exciting, a huge range of webcams are just an app install away.

6. Distributed Computing

Computer users can donate their otherwise idle CPU and GPU time to worthy causes, such as SETI@home and Folding@home.

Using the HTC app, Power to Give, smartphone users can now get in on the action. Each night, millions of phone sit on chargers, idling away. The app puts them to work, making calculations to help with everyone from aids research to exploring climate change.

HTC says that 1 million phones working together is about one PetaFLOP of processing power — which ranks in the top 30 supercomputers worldwide. There are also other distributed computing apps available.

It’s worth noting that running these apps isn’t totally free, as your phone will use more power overnight than usual. On the plus side, you can even run these tasks on an old phone with a broken screen.

5. A Dedicated Gaming/Ereader/Music/Media Device

Playing games on your phone can be a lot of fun, but has a few downsides. It’s an easy way to chew through your battery without realising and some games can take up a lot of storage space.

Re-purposing your old mobile as a games machine can be handy, especially if you also use it as an ereader plus a music and video player.

You can also get a range of different game pads for your smartphone, for a next level experience.

4. Car Or Bike Computer

A spare smartphone makes a handy car computer. Coupled with an affordable OBFII Bluetooth adaptor, you can monitor fuel use and check engine error codes.

You can also use a smartphone as dedicated GPS navigation. Make sure you use a solid car mount, not a flimsy clip in holder. To avoid data charges, use an app that makes maps available offline, or save the ones you need through Google Maps.

Your old smartphone can also make for a useful bike computer thanks for free Android and iOS apps. Not only can it track your speed via GPS, some models include a barometer for elevation change. Your smartphone can also link into fitness tracking, such as with a Bluetooth heart rate monitor.

3. Remote Control Your Computer

Thanks to an excellent touch interface and a bundle of sensors, smartphones make great input devices for a computer.

One of the coolest options is to use your phone as a wireless trackpad and keyboard. This is especially handy for using a media PC with your TV. Kick back on the couch, with free apps such as Gmote 2.0 for Android and Remote Mouse for iOS.

You can also use a smartphone as a controller for other functionality, such as turning torrents on and off or accessing your NAS.

2. Make It Kid Friendly

That old smartphone might be clunky and slow, but it’s still plenty fast enough to entertain and educate your kids. Of course, first you need to lock it down a little to keep things safe. You can do that through Android itself, or through a range of free apps for iOS and Android.

There are loads of free games and educational apps available. You can also set up timers to restrict how long the smartphone is used for.

A tough rubber case will help prolong the life of the phone, but at least you have not lost too much if it does end up in the toilet.

1. Build An Emergency Survival Device

Are you prepared for the zombie apocalypse? You might not realise, but a smartphone actually makes a great addition to your ditch bag.

First step is to download the entirety of Wikipedia. It’s only 3.6 GB for the full archive and you never know when that knowledge may come in useful. If nothing else but for settling fireside arguments.

There are also a range of free and paid survival guides available for your phone. From how to start fires to catching dinner, this info could save your life. Basic medical knowledge is also must have.

Download offline Google Maps for post-apocalypse navigation. The GPS satellite network will eventually degrade, but even then the maps will help you navigate by landmarks.

Don’t forget about a flashlight app either. Not only will it come in handy for when your torch breaks, but you can set it to flash warnings such as SOS.

Make sure to grab a solar charger to keep your phone running off grid. A tough waterproof phone case wouldn’t go astray either.

What did you do with your old smartphone? Give us your second life tips in the comments.
au, smartphones, mobile phones, recycling, lifehacker top 10

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