If you have a mini smartphone museum tucked away in a drawer somewhere, it's time to put those phones to good use. There's no reason to hold onto the old slabs of plastic, glass, and silicon. You're way better off donating, selling, or repurposing them.
Here's how to make those useless gadgets a little less useless.
1.- Home Security System: You don't have to drop tons of money for a simple home monitoring device. Just dig out an old smartphone, charge it up, and install a home surveillance app like Presence, Manything or AtHome Camera.
Just set up the old camera so that it's pointing in the direction of the area you'd like to monitor and, preferably, keep it plugged in so that you never really have to mess with it. These apps will send your main phone notifications when movement is detected, so you never have to worry about your home's safety while you're away.
2.- Baby Monitor: To make this trick possible, you'll need two old smartphones or, preferably, one old one and your current device.
Download an app like Cloud Baby Monitor, Dormi or Baby Monitor 3G onto both of the devices.
Make sure that the "baby monitor" device, which will stay in the little one's room, has its camera facing the nursery, close enough to see baby, but far away enough to get the full picture.
Follow the instructions through your app of choice and be sure to set up the privacy settings so that only you can see the live stream of your child. Make sure your WiFi network that you'll be using is password protected.
3.- Dash Cam: Plugging and unplugging, mounting and unmounting can be a pain. So if you have an old smartphone, make it your permanent dashcam by plugging it into a power source, mounting it and downloading an app like Autoboy Dash Cam.
4.- WiFi Extender: It's definitely annoying when that one corner of your house gets no WiFi signal. To fix that, use an old smartphone as a WiFi extender. It's perfect for checking Facebook or sifting through emails, just don't expect to download huge files through this method.
Download the Netshare no-root tethering app onto your old device, which will be the extender, and your current device.
Open the Netshare app on the first device that will be sharing WiFi and press "share internet connection."
You'll be given a group SSID and password for the second device, which you'll use to connect.
Accept the VPN pairing dialogue on the second device if you receive one and you're set!
5.- GPS Tracker: Are you the type of person that constantly forgets where you've parked your car? Or maybe you're a worry wart and want to know that your car hasn't been stolen while you're away from it. Either way, using an old phone as a GPS tracker is a cheap option to give you some peace of mind.
Sure, it won't be as good as a dedicated GPS device since software running in the background will kill the battery fast, but you can use a portable charger to make the battery last a few days. Make sure you've turned on "Find my iPhone" or navigated through your Android device's settings and switched on tracking. Toss the phone into your trunk or glove compartment and you're ready to go!
6.- Make Some Money: Selling your old smartphone doesn't have to be a pain and you don't have to constantly monitor eBay, anymore, either.
Amazon Trade-In might not get you the most bang for your buck, especially if you have a newer model phone, but it's definitely the easiest. All you have to do is visit the trade-in website, look up the brand and model of your phone, print a free shipping label and wait.
If Amazon wants the phone and you're okay with the price, then you'll get an instant digital gift card. If you don't like the deal or Amazon rejects your phone, it'll send it back to you at no charge or you can choose to donate the phone for free. This is also a good option for old tablets and even books (plus other devices, like streaming sticks, which earn you a discount on new TV sets).
7.- Donate: Cell phones are literally exploding in junkyards and dump trucks, so don't be that guy who throws yet another device into the trash or the recycling bin. That's right, you can't just toss it into the blue bin and hope for the best.
Call2Recycle, a national recycling program, estimates that two thirds of California's waste facility fires in 2017 were caused by explosions in old lithium ion batteries. That's because recycling facilities don't have the capacity to take apart the old handsets, so they're tossed, instead.
You can take the old phones to a local Goodwill store, which will, in turn, find a recycling partner that can help. Usually these are going to be third party companies that specialize in electronics refuse, so don't worry about your data—most places will wipe it before taking it apart.
If there's a specific cause that you're passionate about, there's a good chance there's an accompanying organization that will take your old phone and put it to good use. Here are a few:
-National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: The organization accepts cell phone donations, which it then recycles through a partner organization, Cellular Recycler. The Coalition receives a portion of the proceeds raised through refurbished cell phone sales, helping to fund its programming.
-Secure the Call: This nonprofit helps vulnerable people without access to emergency services by collecting old phones and then shipping them out to agencies who can redistribute the phones to senior citizens, people suffering from domestic violence and more. All cell phones, even if they're not activated on a carrier plan, can call 911 (we all pay monthly fees as part of our phone bill to keep this program alive). To print a shipping label to send in your old phones, click here.
-Cell Phones for Soldiers: The national nonprofit provides emergency services and cost-free communication to soldiers through its program, which takes old mobile phones and recycles them. Find a drop-off location here.