If you're patient enough to ride out your entire carrier contract, you're likely going to have an old phone every two years. If you're a bit more like me, however, you're likely to have a new old phone every couple months, and over the course of a year or two, old phones can start piling up. Chances are, all of those old phones are perfectly fine. Sure, they might have a scuff or two (or 10), but they probably operate just fine.
It's a shame to let a working phone go to waste, though. And as the true value of the smartphone is lost amid deep carrier subsidies and hundreds of thousands of newer used phones being sold online, it probably isn't worth the effort, time or money involved trying to sell a two-year-old, used device.
So what should you do with your old phones? This is exactly the problem (if that's what you want to call it) a Lifehacker reader has run into. They asked Lifehacker:
"I just got a new smartphone and don't need my old one. It isn't worth much money, so I'd like to put it to good use. I'm just not sure what I can do with it. Got any ideas?"
Yesterday morning, Adam Dachis of Lifehacker responded to Smartphone Surplussed's question with a few clever and helpful uses for those old, forgotten smartphones laying around the house. For me, Dachis' suggestions of using your smartphone as a dedicated device for a specific location or turn your smartphone into a portable gaming devices, while great suggestions, are almost exactly what I use my tablet for. Dachis says, "If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, load up your smartphone with recipes and food-related apps and leave it in the kitchen." Or you could leave it on your nightstand by your bed and use it solely as an alarm clock while silencing your primary phone that might be getting notifications all night long.
However, I have never thought of turning an old smartphone into a media remote control or a home VOIP – both awesome ideas. And, as Dachis explains, for those of you who have been hesitating to dive into the world of hacking and modding, it's never a bad idea to start on an old device so that you won't leave yourself phoneless if you mess up somewhere along the process.
That said, one of the more interesting suggestions that I've seen was actually in the comments of this Lifehacker article. A commenter who goes by the name cc said that he (or she?) uses their old smartphone, an HTC Hero, as a GPS for hiking. By pre-loading (or caching) the local maps, you can navigate and use GPS without a data connection. The commenter said they do this to preserve the battery life of their main phone for emergency calls. Very smart and handy if I must say so myself.
Of course, if for nothing else, it's always good to keep an old (working) phone around as a backup. You never know when you might drop and break your new phone. If you can't afford or simply don't feel like paying monthly for phone insurance, you can always activate and old phone if yours breaks.
And lastly, if you already have a backup phone and can't find anything useful to use it for, no good reason to keep it around, you can always donate or recycle it. Many electronics retailers accept working phone donations, who then turn around and give them to victims of domestic violence, deployed soldiers, etc. You may not walk away a penny richer, but you would be putting an old phone to good use and helping those in need.
At the end of the day, there are a ton of things you can do with an old phone rather than simply throwing it in a drawer and letting it collect dust. I have only kept one phone around (the one above, actually), simply because it was my first smartphone. It has a bit of sentimental value, like a trophy. Other than that, I usually just sell my old phones, mainly because I rarely keep a phone long enough for its value to depreciate too much. And sometimes, I will lend an old phone to a friend while they look for a new one or are waiting on an upgrade to come.
What about you, guys and gals? What crazy ways do you repurpose your old phones? Do you use them as media remotes? Home VOIPs? Portable gaming devices? Do you donate them? Or do you let them collect dust in a drawer instead?