10 great uses for old Android phones/tablets

May 16, 2014
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Have you got an old Android phone or tablet just wasting away and gathering dust in your cupboard? Well, what are you waiting for? Get it out of there. Now!

There’s so much that your Android device is capable of and you just haven’t realized it yet. So, with a little bit of effort, you can help your old Android device break free from the depths of your cupboard.

Here are some of the best examples.

1. Alarm clock

People still buy dedicated alarm clocks? Are you using your smartphone as an alarm clock? It’s easy to grab a dock and an app to create an Android powered alarm clock. Android 4.2 Jelly Bean might have added Daydream to make your alarm clock look more beautiful, but you don’t need to have the latest and greatest Android tablet or smartphone to use it as an alarm clock.

nexus-4-tip-daydream4

The Daydream feature can be easily accomplished by other apps for lower versions of Android. They aren’t quite as elegant as Daydream though.

There are dozens of apps which can turn your Android tablet or smartphone into an alarm clock (Alarm Clock Xtreme is a popular one), and with a $10 dock from eBay, you can save yourself the trouble of buying a dedicated alarm clock. What’s even better is that, if you are a particularly heavy sleeper, you can always plug your Android device into your surround system (or just a regular speaker) to make sure that you don’t miss that important meeting.

2. MP3 Player

Are you a heavy music listener? Your old Android smartphone or tablet is perfect for such situations. We are already trying to eke out every last drop of battery life from our Android smartphones, and if you are a particularly heavy music listener, you can waste a good 10% or more in one day of listening to music locally, never mind streaming it.

Luckily, you can use your old Android smartphone or tablet (smartphone would be more preferable in this situation for obvious reasons) as a dedicated MP3 player. This way you can conserve your precious battery life for more important matters. An old Android smartphone without a SIM card is also perfect for your gym sessions, so that you won’t be distracted by any phone calls or texts while you are working out.

You can also store your favourite videos for mobile viewing. So now you can watch Gangam Style to your heart’s content without taking a hit in the battery life department.

3. Baby monitor/Security monitor

If you’ve got an IP camera then you can use your old Android smartphone or tablet as a monitor. Whether you want to keep an eye on the baby or you just want to know who’s at the door, your old Android smartphone or tablet fits the bill perfectly. You can even hook your tablet up on the wall to be used as an LCD monitor for a fixed position in your living room. Audio-only is so 20th century, and those dedicated LCD monitors can be costly, so using your old Android tablet or smartphone would be perfect.

Best app for the job: IP Cam Viewer Lite

4. A development device

So you’ve spent a few hours reading about these cool custom ROMs on the XDA forums, but you are afraid of bricking your shiny new Android device. Maybe you don’t want to lose your warranty. That’s why your old Android smartphone or tablet can be transformed into your development device so that you can explore the wonderful world of Android customization, without having to worry about bricking your device.

android custom roms

Paranoid Android (left), Cyanogen Mod (center), AOKP (right).

There are loads of custom ROMs to try, and if you have a particularly popular old smartphone or tablet, then you’ll be well supported by the development community.

5. DSLR Remote controller

If you like to experiment with your DSLR shots, pairing your old Android smartphone or tablet to your DSLR can bring some interesting shots. You can create great time lapse shots, time controlled HDR-sequences, and all sorts of other functions. If you’ve got an old Android tablet with Infrared built-in (like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 Plus), you can use the built-in IR blaster to control your DSLR as well.

Great app for the job: DSLR Remote

6. Cookbook

You can buy cooking books and tutorials from the Play Store or just use Youtube to watch tutorials.

Those cooking sessions can get messy, so using your old Android phone or tablet as a digital cookbook would be incredibly convenient. You can buy cooking books and tutorials from the Play Store or just use Youtube to watch tutorials. With your old Android phone or tablet by your side, all of those incredible dishes that you saw on TV and thought were impossible to make, can now become a reality.

Great apps for the job: YouTube, Kindle app.

7. Digital photo frame

There are hundreds of Wi-Fi connected digital photo frames to choose from, but why spend money on something you already have. An Android tablet coupled with a dock would be perfect to show a slideshow of your favorite pictures on your tablet. There are dozens of apps to pick from, and you can even use it as a digital photo frame and a bedside alarm clock. Talk about multi-purpose.

Great app for the job: Photo Slides

8. Emulator console

Chances are that your old Android smartphone or tablet won’t be able to run the newest graphics intensive games, but that won’t stop them from being great emulator consoles. If you’d like to relive the glory days of your Game Boy’s, Play Station’s, Nintendo 64’s and all your other favourite older consoles, your old Android smartphone or tablet can do just that. With loads of emulators to choose from, you’ll be sure to find one for your respective console of choice.

Great apps to choose from: ePSXe for Android, SuperN64, My Boy! Free.

Best RPGs for Android - Emulators

9. E-Reader

Just like MP3 players, very few people buy dedicated E-Readers anymore. Now instead of taking a battery hit on your smartphone while you’re reading your favourite novel, you can use your old smartphone or tablet as an E-Reader. What’s even better is that if you have an old Samsung Galaxy S, Samsung Galaxy S2 or any other smartphone with an OLED display, you can switch to the night theme and enjoy incredible battery life thanks to the low energy consumption of OLED displays when showing predominantly black screens.

Kindle e-reader

Great apps to choose from: Kindle app, Google Play Books.

10. There’s so much more you can do!

There are all sorts of other crazy, interesting use cases that can keep you busy long into the summer D.I.Y. season. You've just got to be a little imaginative.

We could’ve limited this list to 10 definitive choices, but there’s so much more you can do with your old Android tablet or smartphone. You can pilot quadrocopters, use them as media servers, install them on your car dashboard for in-car entertainment and GPS systems, use them as a controller for your home automation systems, and all sorts of other crazy, interesting use cases that can keep you busy long into the summer D.I.Y. season. You’ve just got to be a little imaginative.

You can also mix and match different ideas into the one tablet or smartphone so that you can use your old device for more than one purpose, and if you still haven’t found a good use for your old Android device, then you can sell or recycle it, or even donate it to a worthy cause.

Have you been inspired to break your old Android device free from the dark depths of your closet? Which idea interests you most?

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