10 things you can do with your old Android phone

April 25, 2014

     

    Google Nexus 5 drop test aa

    Smartphones could be the fastest growing technology we’ve ever seen. More than one in seven people worldwide currently own a smartphone. Some of us have already upgraded our smartphones several times over the years. The technology just keeps advancing and the top manufacturers are adept at convincing us to upgrade. The question that always crops up is: “What should you do with your old Android phone?”

    gazelle logo

    You’ve got lots of options, some obvious, some generous, and some imaginative. Let’s take a look.

    1. Find a buy-back service

    For a hassle-free time you can try an online service that buys used smartphones. In the UK Envirofone is good, stateside you might want to try Gazelle or Swappa, but there are plenty of others out there. The basic premise is that you can check on the site what they’ll pay for your phone and send it by freepost. They’ll test it and, assuming it is as described, pay you the agreed price. You can usually opt to be paid in various ways.

    They are obviously aiming to make a profit out of this arrangement so you won’t get the best price possible and they won’t buy any phone. Try a few services to find the best price.

    2. Sell it online yourself

    ebay-daily-deals-galaxy-s3-499.99-gt-i300

    If you don’t mind a bit more work arranging the sale then you can probably get a better price by selling somewhere like eBay, Craigslist, or Gumtree, but never send the device until you have been paid. More tips on how to sell your old device here.

    best buy trade in

    3. Trade it in

    You’ll find a lot of big online retailers and even manufacturers run buy-back programs where they offer a guaranteed return for specific models of smartphone. The catch with these deals is that you have to buy a new phone or something else from them. These deals usually pay a bit more than straightforward buy-back programs because you’re buying a new device (but don’t assume this is the case).

    Samsung offers a deal like this where you send them proof of a new Samsung Galaxy device purchase and they’ll give you cash for your old phone.  There’s also Amazon’s Electronics Trade-In which pays out in Amazon Gift Cards. It always pays to compare the prices offered in a few places before pulling the trigger on a deal.

    4. Give it to a relative

    If your old Android smartphone is out of

    smartphone people

    contract just buy a new SIM and you can give it to one of your kids, your partner, or even one of your parents.

    Assuming they aren’t well equipped with a smartphone already this is a nice way of getting a little extra life out of your device and spreading a little joy.

    You could even just forget about using it as a phone and let your kids have it as a gaming device and mini-TV.

    5. Donate it

    There are various options if you want to turn your old Android smartphone into a charitable donation. In the U.S. you’ll find campaigns like Verizon’s HopeLine which supports victims of domestic abuse, Hope Phones which is dedicated to health workers, or Cell Phones for Soldiers.

    risden3

    There are also schemes to equip the elderly with smartphones for emergencies and you’ll also find that many schools will accept working smartphones and repurpose them for use in education.

    There are lots of other options worldwide and many established charities will accept smartphone donations.

    6. Recycle it

    Since e-waste is a growing problem some governments have put pressure on manufacturers and carriers to take responsibility for the devices they sell.

    android_recycle

    You’ll actually find that the majority of manufacturers and carriers do offer some kind of recycling scheme, but they don’t always go out of their way to publicize it.

    By returning your device through one of these recycling schemes you can ensure that it is disposed of safely, that as many components and materials as possible are reused, and that landfill is kept to a minimum.

    7. Use it as a remote

    With the right apps you can control your computer, console, or home theater gear. You could even look into home automation. Your old Android phone can be a really handy remote control that will work from anywhere in the house. You could also use it to stream content to other rooms with the right set up.

    8. Use it as a hotspot

    If you need Wi-Fi access somewhere you don’t currently have it then your old Android smartphone could always serve out its days as a hotspot.

    9. Turn it into a server

    You could use it to stream content and share files, or even make it a proxy server to secure public Wi-Fi. If you can find a use for a portable webserver then your old Android phone is up to the job. You can find a tutorial on how to do it posted on YouTube by XDA.

    10. More ideas for your old Android phone

    Since smartphones are great convergence devices with loads of functionality you can make your old phone into a dedicated device for any one of those features – gaming, reading, photography, music, navigation, or even use it as an alarm clock. You could keep it in the car for entertainment, or as an emergency device. You could use it as portable storage. It could become a decent Wi-Fi phone with Google Voice. You could even use it as a baby monitor or a webcam.

    The majority of features are likely going to be available on your new phone too, but what about situations when you don’t want to risk your new phone? An old Android phone could be great for working out or for outdoor activities where you’d rather leave your new device safely at home. You can just switch your SIM card for the day.

    That’s it for now, but you have other suggestions for what to with an old Android phone then share them in the comments.

    Comments

    • http://www.thinkingbrian.com/ ThinkingBrian

      Since I recently bought myself a new (to me) Smartphone, a Galaxy Nexus off eBay, I have been using my old Smartphone as a backup phone, a music player and an alarm clock. In this day in age, who needs alarms clocks when you have Smartphone…but I still lack and stand or charging dock for the night stand. Good ideas.

    • ijks

      I kept at least one or two of my old Android smartphones just in case my new one gets broken or lost. So I can just transfer all my crap to my old phone while contemplating on if I should get the new one replaced or just wait.

    • 1ceTr0n

      Verizon has a drop off center in most stores to donate old phones for domestic abuse victims

      • Joe T

        Watch out donating to “Authorized Retailers” as they often don’t give them to who they say & actually just resell them.

        • Robbie Campbell

          or dump them in a landfill in poor african companies.

    • BrainOfSweden

      My first Android has been hard-bricked for over a year, but I just couldn’t separate from it, at least not completely. So I handed in the motherboard and LCD at a recycling station, and then I repurposed the casing as a wallet. It can also double as a picture frame :P http://imgur.com/CXeyz

      • Elias

        Fan va nice :o

      • RarestName

        Won’t the coins fall out?

        • BrainOfSweden

          Nah. You can’t see it in the picture,but the battery cover is still there :)

      • http://nsood.in/ Naman Sood

        I disassembled my old phone after I got the new one. The parts went for recycling, but now I wish I’d kept the casing…

    • GofI

      The main problem with old stuff is.. Battery Performance
      It live short life

      • SoCoolCurt

        speaking from personal experience, I use my Galaxy S I as a PMP now and since I no longer have cell service to it, and installed a mod to disable the cell radio all together, the battery life is amazing now. I normally charge it about once a week since it’s just playing music mostly and is no longer wasting battery searching for a signal.

        • John Garlits

          Ooh, cool. Mind sharing the mod? I wonder if I can do that with my old GNex.

          • Keg Man

            you can just turn it off with the regular settings. turn off wifi, and cell signal and my old nexus will last for 3 days minimum. Look for devices that auto update (like facebook, email, etc), tell them to stop looking automatically and you’ll get even more

          • SoCoolCurt

            http://rootzwiki.com/topic/25016-modany-phone-any-rom-wi-fi-only-mode-disable-cell-radio/

            Here you go. This forum post has everything you need for the mod. He updated with 4.4 support on the last page (if you’re already done with a Kit Kat device). I think it’s also worth noting that people sell some really nice phones for cheap on eBay with bad ESN numbers. They can’t be used as phones any longer but they make great cheap PMP’s with this mod in tow.

            • John Garlits

              Much appreciated!

      • RarestName

        That’s funny because we usually keep old phones as a backup phones ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

      • Michael_Smith69

        True….. Thanks to Samsung’s smart decision to keep a removable battery, I’ll never face that problem

      • Keg Man

        if the phone is no longer receiving a cell signal and you told your phone to stop looking for it, you will get days of battery.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jmfowlkes Justin-Michael Fowlkes

      Evo 4g + 64gb sdhc = Free Android-based Multimedia Player with WiFi & 3g capabilities… something the iPods really just started getting lol

      • goonie

        Do you have to pay the premium data fee for that? The way I remebered it is Sprint charges a 10 premium data fee because you have a wicked fast processor and a kickstand. If those features are available on that device then I think you owe sprint a buck or 2…..JK :p

    • DJ

      Pandora radio receiver – my OG Droid is living life on the end table streaming Pandora to a Bluetooth speaker when I want music…

    • armandopcm

      Mostly I’ve given them to relatives but the last one was used as a hot spot. You should also add “Use it as a DSLR Monitor”. There is an app that you can use on some Android devices to use for your photography or video needs. (Easy way to save $600+ dollars).

    • SoCoolCurt

      i normally hold onto my last phone just in case something happens to my new one. since getting my Galaxy Nexus though, I’ve actually repurposed my old Galaxy S I as a dedicated PMP with a 64GB card and a mod to disable the cell radio all together. I’ve created a nice custom PMP style homescreen and it launches PlayerPro on boot. i would probably do the same with my GNex when it eventually gets replaced but the no expandable memory thing gives me reservations about that (32GB is just not enough).

      Here is my PMP homescreen for anyone interested (I use PlugIn Music Widget now with the album art instead of Phantom Music Control)
      http://mycolorscreen.com/2012/10/04/we-galaxy-s-music-2/

      • Rebel

        Teach me how to do this. I have an Old Samsung Galaxy S2 I want to turn into a media player. It’s already rooted and running CM9.

        • SoCoolCurt

          http://rootzwiki.com/topic/25016-modany-phone-any-rom-wi-fi-only-mode-disable-cell-radio/

          Above is a link to the flashable zip for disabling your cell radio. The link from my first post tells you all the apps I used in that set up. It has literally been a year since my last post on here though, so I was able to find that link but none of the other stuff. I would strongly recommend Tasker though for things like launching a music app at boot and would recommend ZPlayer if you’re looking for a music app. As a former Zune user, I like it better than PlayerPro now. Hope I helped.

          • John Garlits

            Thanks!

      • Krillz

        Yeah i also save my old phone as a backup if the new needs to be sent off for repairs or for whatever reason. Wouldn’t want to be without a phone for a few weeks.

      • Jonathan TAM

        Have you been travelling in time or something, your comment says it was written a year ago XD

        • SoCoolCurt

          Lol I wish. I think they did some shenanigans with the date on the anniversary of the post. I was kinda surprised when i started getting notifications about people necroposting on posts I made a year ago. *shrugs* the article is still relevant though for what it’s worth.

    • Jim

      I don’t understand the hotspot suggestion. Wouldn’t that require you to still have a data plan for your old phone?

      • Sean Quinlan

        You are correct, I don’t know what they were thinking, it’s pretty obvious that this wouldn’t work.

        • Tyler

          What about a wifi booster?

      • Hakro807

        It depends on what options the service providers in your country offer. We have the option of a prepaid unlimited service for $1.5 a day costing money only if you us it. If you use it daily it’s obviously more expensive than a contract ($45 vs ~$30) but if it’s used only a few times a month (say once a week at $1.5 each time) it can be a great option.

    • James Fredericks

      I use my old android phones as IP Cameras around my apartment. use the IP Cam app and with a little networking you can access from anywhere in the world from your browser.

    • Chicago Jake

      I stream Pandora and Google Music over my old Android via WiFi, hooked up to a set of old computer speakers in my office.

    • https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/412035973686366208/r14EeLu9.jpeg CPVideoMaker101

      Technically my first android phone was my iPhone 2G running Gingerbread with the idroid project XD Still running like a champ

      • BlaBla

        Do you know why the project died? :(

        • MasterMuffin

          Because the phone is damn old :)

        • mobilemann

          lack of bootrom exploits on newer idevices is the only reason. Funnily enough, i have the same problem with my note 3. The more things change…

      • mobilemann

        i had an old iphone 3g that ran idroid.

        i remember i could make it take more battery than the charger could provide at some points haha.

        • https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/412035973686366208/r14EeLu9.jpeg CPVideoMaker101

          yep, android was pretty unstable on it. Whited00r on it runs just fine.

      • Ishaan Malhotra

        I think they’re trying to do it again for kitkat. Read it on reddit.

    • valid1993

      My old Htc Hero i gave it to my brother when i bought HTC HD2. And then When i bought Nexus 4 i gave HD2 to my cousin. And now when i bought Nexus 5 i gave my N4 to my sister )) Everyone is happy )

      • http://geekbite.com/ Abhishek singh

        when nexus 6 is released ,can you make me happy? :)

    • Haaris

      You could smash it and win a one plus one

      • Dax

        Lol :D

      • MasterMuffin

        I think this is the best option :D

      • mobilemann

        if it’s new enough. there’s very few devices that are in that age that they allow. The GS3 is the only one i see. I was hoping to find galaxy nexus, but whatever.

    • yacine

      donate it to the us Army so that they can afford more weapons to kill innocents !! sounds good -_-

      • Michael_Smith69

        why is there even a down arrow? It doesn’t work. This one deserves it

      • BenGezarit

        LoL clearly a joke

    • banana moon

      I prefer keep as backup phones or give to relatives

    • brendan

      I used my old cell for a door stop. Then I bought 4 iPhone 3G. For the wife and the kids. Then those got to old to use. I traded them in for two samsung galaxy s4. So now I’m wishing that I kept the iPhone because there is collectors out there looking for phone’s so that they sell for a bigger price.

    • http://www.calvinhobbes.com spaceman spiff

      this is better than smashing my mobile for some unknown chinese company in a hope that i would get a cheap device which they claim to be great

      • MasterMuffin

        It *is* great

        • NonMasterMuffin

          Lol you are saying a phone is great, when you have never held it or used it. Just jump off that OnePlus bandwagon now…

          • MasterMuffin

            Whatever you say, not even going to argue with that level of ignorance. Nice username

            • HateMasterMuffin

              O Hai!

            • MasterMuffin

              My first official hater :’) Now make that a real account

      • http://forum.xda-developers.com/member.php?u=4378410 Scattered Osyx

        You smash the phone when you know that you’ll get it, not before.

      • mobilemann

        so you would rather have a gs3 than the 1+1? that’s nuts.

        i still have my gs3, i signed up straight away!

      • http://www.calvinhobbes.com spaceman spiff

        I don’t want to be a pessimist but there is no way something can be that good for that cheap price,i mean Samsung and Sony etc. are not fools to just price their mobiles with similar specs a 200$ more,one plus must be using some cheap components which give up just after a few days of usage-just MHO

    • Josh Carlson

      Also make great substitutes for GPS. But I’d be more interested to see someone make a nice installation as a head unit replacement in their vehicle.

    • http://jordanhotmann.com/ Jordan Hotmann

      I recently decided to make my old Galaxy Tab 8.9 useful instead of just spending its days hidden away in a drawer. I mostly wanted to offload some tasks I use my desktop for so that I could run the computer less to save power. Here are some of the cool things I did with it:

      Wake on LAN – Wake on LAN works great when I’m on my network, but my router doesn’t handle magic packets from external IPs properly. So using Pushbullet and Tasker, I can now wake my computer from anywhere.

      Mipony download manager – Using the Ponydroid application, I now use my tablet to download all the things when I’m out and about. Ponydroid has a web interface that you can turn on so you can monitor/add/control downloads from anywhere (port forwarding and dynamic dns help with this).

      Speaking of Dynamic DNS – I have a simple tasker profile setup to update my dynamic dns url daily. There are other apps that integrate with some of the more popular services as well, but why install another app when Tasker can handle it just fine.

      FTP Server – Using Servers Ultimate I setup an FTP server on the tablet as well. I mainly use this to transfer files to my computer after they’ve been downloaded by Ponydroid. Servers Ultimate has a ton of other servers to play with I just haven’t gotten that far yet.

      Doing SCIENCE! – Using the Bionic app my tablet does calculations for a few different research projects (similar to folding@home). There are a bunch of different science, mathmatic, and other projects going on that you can contribute some computing time to. The app is very configurable so that it doesn’t overheat or slow down your device too much.

      Also for convenience, I run an app called Webkey so I can control the tablet remotely via the browser or another Android device.

      Pushbullet: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.pushbullet.android

      Tasker: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.dinglisch.android.taskerm

      Ponydroid: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ponydroid.ponydroid

      Servers Ultimate: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.icecoldapps.serversultimate

      Bionic: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=edu.berkeley.boinc

      Webkey: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.webkey

    • rmkilc

      11. Donate it to the rmkilc collection.

    • Chris

      I was just looking for something like this the other day! But I had kind of a different idea.

      My mom recently got a new phone, so she gave me her Exhibit 4G to use. I put cyanogenmod on this thing and it’s pretty damn good! Responsive, good battery (since it doesn’t have cellular connection) and pretty quick at doing all kinds of tasks, especially since I overclocked it.

      Right now I’m just using it to track my runs. Much nicer than bringing my Note 2.

      But I wanted to find a way to use it as a sort of smartwatch/wrist device, almost like the Rufus Cuff. Anyone have any idea how to do this? I’m not sure where to start. Are there good apps on the play store that can make it mimic a smartwatch? Or maybe even a custom rom? It has a FFC, bluetooth, wifi…all that stuff to make it a good smartwatch, I just don’t know how to go about doing it.

      Thanks to anyone with input!

    • John Garlits

      I use my old GNex as a music player at work. Google Play Music keeps erroring on my G2 since the kitkat update, so it avoids frustration. Also, it offloads some battery usage. The GNex drains fast but also charges fast, so it works out pretty well. Running CM on the old GNex, rooted, so it sips battery when not in use.

    • Michael_Smith69

      My note 2 will become a gps with a non data requiring gps app…

      My tab 2 makes a wonderful digital picture frame

      • Keg Man

        which app doesn’t need data?

        • SoCoolCurt

          Something like CoPilot where the maps are already on your phone. They are pretty expensive though but it works just like your car standalone GPS which also doesn’t need data to function.

    • Scott Ziegler

      Here’s a suggestion – Wipe the device and donate to your local public school. As long as it’s WIFI enabled the students will be able to use it as a web browser, video and still camera, and production tool. Younger children will be able to use the learning apps.

      Far too few e-resources in most schools and as an educator I would love to have 2-3 year old devices to fill in the gaps.

    • Shark Bait

      GPS tracker !

    • Pedro Guilherme Almeida Carval

      Today on my way back home i was thinking if is possible to use my old galaxy s1 as a car alarm. What i mean is hide the phone on the car and if my car was stolen i could get the location by sending a sms to the phone. What do you guys think?

    • jendrush

      Android phone can be used as car black box too.

    • Kareem Ayman

      If you have an HTC device: http://www.htc.com/www/go/power-to-give/

    • Soto

      Top 10 things to do to an old android phone:
      10. Use it as a hotspot on an mvno unlimited plan.
      9. IPod for the kids
      8. WiFi nany cam
      7. Smash it for one plus
      6. WiFi remote for Chromecast or other
      5. Testing different roms
      4. Hidden sexy-time cam
      3. Use as magic trackpad a la iMac
      2. High speed beer coaster
      1. Have I mention hidden sexy-time cam?
      AA should hire me.

      • kirakira

        nah, your english isn’t that good.
        OnePlus

        it’s “to do with” … “on” gives a different meaning
        nanny
        have i mentioned or did i mention

        :D

      • Jose Luis Chinas Romero

        can you manage to do #3 ?

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    • Jonathan TAM

      Wheres the “smash it and buy a $1 oneplus one”???

    • Mrogin

      Use it as IP camera…

    • Damon Salvador

      Charging Two times a day z must :D . lol . #sarcasm …

    • Andrew White

      Landfill dumping space is not at a premium ‘yet’. There is still plenty of room for mobile handsets, probably not so for desktops.
      Sell it for $100 on ebay or gumtree, give it away to a street person or your favourite charity and explain a little about the operation & how to recharge you former pride and joy.
      In car entertainment or use as a server…might be worth exploring further.
      Trade-ins and buy backs are just are not an option where I live.
      To ‘Just keep’ for as long as technologically possible hasn’t been explored or raised.
      Whatever price you pay originally over the period you decide to use the handset gives you a true value denominator. In other words, has the investment returned to you, the user, provided an adequate return. This can be measured in dollars (or other currency) or calibrated socially etc.

    • John-Phillip Saayman

      I usually give it to a friend or family member. They don’t have very nice phones so I help them along.
      But damn when I see them mistreat my old phone it still churns my stomach.

    • Gibscreen

      So basically this article has 3 things you can “do with” you old android phone (7 ,8 and 9). The first six are all just different ways to get rid of it. You’re not really “doing” anything by getting rid of it. The last supposed idea is just a cop out.

    • Ashish Kumar

      A pretty neat #GPS for your car or bicycle, I hooked my old phone with pre installed maps GPS app and connected to the car charger. Works like a charm.

      Some times its my multimedia player as well.

      http://droid-bug.tk/

    • sruoypu

      use it as a google music or similar music streaming device to bluetooth enabled speakers or just via earphone output

    • Ahmet C.

      I was expecting a bit more technical list.

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