If anyone were to craft a Toy Story homage based on smartphones, it would be a depressing tale. Smartphones are bought, loved, and then discarded – often all within two or three years. While these older smartphones can sometimes be sold or traded, they’re usually left to be forgotten in a bottom drawer or the bottom of a trash can.
These out of date smartphones aren’t useless, however. They can often be adapted to other purposes, makes it possible to squeeze a little extra value from them.
Portable Audio Player
Even the oldest smartphones have sufficient power to play portable audio, and the small size and excellent battery life makes discarded devices the perfect candidates for an audio player.
If you’re interested in using your Android in this manner, I suggest downloading a mobile player such as Winamp to manage your mobile library. Put your chosen player’s widget on the primary screen and then par down the number of screens to just one.
However, you don’t have to stop there. While you may not have data service, you can still connect to WiFi, which means your Android can access online radio services like Pandora and can use podcast management software like BeyondPod.
Handheld Gaming System
Chances are your newer Android smartphone can play more games than your older one, or play them more smoothly. So why turn your old device into a game system?
Battery life is one reason. Games require the display to be one and often place a heavy load on the hardware, which can tear through a battery in three or four hours. If you use your phone constantly, having an alternative device that can be used solely for games can take a load off your primary phone’s battery.
This can also be a great toy to hand off to a young child. He or she will be able to play games, and you don’t have to worry if the device is smashed – it may cause some heartache, but at least you won’t be out some cash.
Your old smartphone may not have data service, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make calls. By using Skype, it’s possible to make calls via a WiFi connection, which will continue to work. Google Voice is also an option.
Whatever you choose to use, your old phone can be used just like a normal one as long as it’s on your WiFi network and the VoIP app you are using is active. The WiFi phone can be used as a backup and/or used as a landline replacement.
Portable Hard Drive
Android phones connect to PCs for data transfer quite easily, which makes them candidates for use as mobile storage devices. My current Thunderbolt, for example, has almost 40GB of storage space available. Although older phones may not have quite that much, they likely can support at least 16GB with a SD card upgrade.
Old phones are not the most ideal portable storage solutions, as they’re larger than USB drives. However, because a smartphone has a display it’s possible to browse the files currently on the device, something no USB drive or portable hard drive can do.
If all else fails, you may want to throw your old smartphone on your night stand – and leave it there.
Using a smartphone as an alarm clock is nothing new. However, dedicating an old smartphone to use as an alarm clock has its advantages. Your phone no longer has to be beside you at night, which means you can eliminate the annoyance of 4am texts from not-so-sober friends.
If you want to dedicate yourself to this use, you can even buy a dock for your old Android phone. This will keep your device charged, and some docks offer speakers as well, turning your device into a bedside audio player as well.
These five uses are great ways to utilize an old Android phone, but they’re surely not the only ones. If you have an idea that you think is excellent, please let us know in the comments!