Whether a consumer is the type who must have the latest gadgets or who prefers to hang onto an outdated device for as long as it will still do the job, there comes a time with smartphones that an upgrade is imperative. And no matter which of these camps the phone owner falls into, a common question always presents itself— what should be done with the old device?
As long as it’s still in working order, even a generations-old smartphone can find new life after being retired from day-to-day usage. Here are seven options worthy of consideration:
- A camera for the kids: Most modern smartphones boast built-in cameras with resolution and optical capabilities that rival (and even exceed) those of typical store-bought point-and-shoot cameras, and the phones usually even have photo-editing functionality installed. And by adding an additional accessory such as the Pixlplay Camera, most Apple and Android devices can even get the look and feel of an old-school camera.
- A dedicated gaming system/entertainment center: Especially if the old device has a lot of built-in storage space, it can likely house several days’ worth of songs, shows, movies and podcasts, as well as a long list of game titles — most of which can be enjoyed without an internet connection if stored directly on the device. And since the device no longer serves as a phone, the entertainment options won’t have to compete with incoming calls and won’t crowd out more important data files stored on the device.
- A high-tech alarm clock/sleep tracker: Most smartphones come with a basic alarm clock built in and downloadable alarm-clock apps offer even more features and functionality. Further, white-noise apps can be installed on the old phone to help users fall asleep more quickly and apps like Sleep Cycle can help users track their sleep duration and quality.
- An emergency 911 phone: This is an especially attractive option for users with young children or with elderly loved ones who live alone. Even if a device is no longer connected to an active mobile service plan, law requires that it remain able to reach 911 in case of an emergency. A couple of important notes here — users who want to use old phones as emergency-contact devices will want to store them in a convenient, easy-to-reach location so they’re accessible when needed, and the devices will need to stay plugged in regularly so that they have a charge when they’re needed.
- A video-chat device: Old smartphones can be repurposed as dedicated video-chat devices for use with Skype, FaceTime and other video-chat apps. Even if the old phone is no longer on a mobile plan, it can serve this purpose so long as it’s used within Wi-Fi range. And as an added bonus, repurposing an old device for video chats will free up any day-to-day phone devices for incoming calls.
- A TV remote: This an especially viable option in modern homes using media-streaming devices such as the Roku, Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV Stick. Users can simply download their streaming service’s mobile app (a few top options linked above), link the app to their device and then change channels, select programming, etc. with the phone — covering everything the remote that came with their streaming device does and often more.
- An e-book reader or audiobook player: For consumers without Kindles or NOOKs devoted to e-book reading, an old smartphone with the right app installed can serve the purpose — albeit on a smaller screen. With an app such as Apple Books or Amazon Kindle installed, a repurposed smartphone can allow users to carry a virtual library in their pocket. And for those who enjoy listening to audiobooks, the Audible app and service together grant users access to a long list of read-out-loud titles.
Eager to repurpose your old smartphone along and get yourself an upgrade? Now through Sept. 14, 2019, buy any iPhone 8 or above on the FTC Freedom Plan, 2-year contract or eligible upgrade and get a second one free. Or buy any iPhone and get an iPad 32GB (9.7-inch while supplies last) for $49.99 on a 2-year agreement. Requires eligible service on both devices. Visit ftc.net to learn more.