These days we change our mobiles, laptops, cars and decor more than ever. If you’re on a rolling 12 month mobile contract, chances are you’ll get a brand spanking new smartphone each and every year.
This results in a drawer full of disused cellular devices, none of which are as good as your current iPhone, Android or Windows Phone 7 device. However, many of these old bits of tech can still be put to good use in some way or another.
Let’s be honest, the first iPhone, early Android devices and the Symbian platform are pretty long in the tooth by now. Here are 5 options to explore the next time you find an old mobile phone.
There are a few good mobile versions of the popular Skype VoIP and messaging platform and there are also dedicated Skype phones. If you have an old Wi-Fi compatible smartphone (3G would work too, but you’ll need a SIM and credit) then why not turn it into a dedicated Skype device for your home?
You can text, call other Skype users for free or even buy some well-priced Skype Out credit and call landlines and mobiles anywhere in the world.
I recently used an old Symbian device for this purpose whilst my girlfriend was overseas. I was able to make calls on a real phone (which is a bit more personal than staring at a screen, distracted by your email) at a fraction of the price of calling from a mobile or landline contract.
An old smartphone can also function as a handy remote control for your media centre or computer. There are plenty of free applications available on both Apple’s App Store and the Android Marketplace. If you’re interested check out the fantastic Gmote for Android or our list of iPhone remote control apps.
XBMC users will be pleased to know there are apps available for both Android and iPhone, and Boxee users can control their TV with the iPhone App.
Older Symbian phones can be used as remotes with ControlFreak, though there seems to be little for newer 5th generation S60 handsets (though there’s always the Ovi Store).
Many old smartphones either come with a lot of storage or have expandable memory card slots. If said device supports high capacity MicroSD cards then you can pack some serious storage for a decent price.
You can put this storage to good use with plenty of music and podcasts and choose a good app with which to listen to them. Set your phone’s profile to flight mode, disable Bluetooth, dim the backlight and battery life should be tolerable.
Not a fantastic permanent solution, but great if your iPod’s out of order or maybe as a Bluetooth-ready audio player for the car.
USB Storage & Mass Transfer
Most smartphones will mount in a USB mass storage mode for transfer of data to a PC. For an interesting twist on the small portable hard-drive or potentially large USB stick an old smartphone may suffice.
It’s especially handy if you ever need to review information on-the-go, with support for images, text documents, PDFs and so on commonplace on a lot of devices (even old ones). What’s more if your PC supports Bluetooth after pairing the two you’ll be able to transfer wirelessly, with a couple of clicks.
Video & Audio
It might sound a bit obvious, but the camera on that old smartphone can be useful too. Even if it doesn’t take crystal-clear video, your old device could be used with something like Qik to stream video live to the Internet.
Even the basic dictaphone function on most smartphones (and the plenty of apps available that do the same job) can be useful, and quicker than typing out a note too.
Don’t forget that if you really don’t think you’re going to be using your old smartphone then you an always sell or recycle it. Depending on the condition of your phone it may still be saleable on an auction site like eBay. Even if you can’t sell it you can still get some money from recycling, or choose to donate it to charity.
Do you have any old smartphones lying about? Thought up any genius uses for them? Let us know in the comments.
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