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New SmartThings feature can turn your old Samsung phone into a smart home hub

Turn older phones into something a little more useful as Samsung's upcycling initiative comes to the US and UK.

Published onApril 21, 2021

The Samsung Galaxy S8
  • Samsung’s Upcycling at Home project is now available in the UK and US.
  • The project, which arrives via a SmartThings Lab feature, turns old Samsung phones into IoT devices.
  • These old phones can then be used as baby monitors, smart home control hubs, and more.

Some of us have a growing collection of old smartphones lying dormant in a drawer somewhere. But if those are Samsung devices, you may be able to upcycle them into IoT devices through Samsung’s Upcycling at Home program.

Initially announced in January, the program is Samsung’s bid to lengthen product lifecycles and cut down on unnecessary waste. It’s now rolling out to South Korea, the UK, and the US in the form of a SmartThings app update. You can enable the feature in the SmartThings Labs section. It gives users the option of utilizing an older smartphone as a sound detector or smart home hub.

Using old Samsung phones as baby monitors

The feature can actively monitor for sounds like baby cries or dogs barking using the phone’s microphone. It can also switch on smart devices in response to lighting conditions too. This feature’s powered by the device’s ambient light sensor. As the feature works through the SmartThings platform, the phone can also control Samsung products within the household, too.

According to a recent poll, most Android Authority readers keep older phones as a backup, while a small portion “repurpose” the device. This initiative should give users another nifty use case for older phones.

You can install the update if you own a Galaxy S, Note, or Z device running Android 9 and newer or released from 2018. That’s right — you can turn the Galaxy Z Fold 2 or Galaxy Note 20 Ultra into the world’s most expensive baby monitors if you really want. If you don’t own any old Samsung phones, you can give Google’s Live Transcribe app a go, which offers monitor-like functionality too.

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