What The Tech: How to use old smartphones

CHARLOTTE: Once we paid hundreds of dollars for a brand new smartphone. Do you remember the excellent iPhone 6 or the Samsung Galaxy 4? They did everything we needed at the time. Now they’re probably gathering dust in a junk drawer. They’re worth nothing to anyone else, but
provided you remember the password, you can find good use for them. Even if they are cracked, old smartphones have very good uses.

Once upon a time, people spent money on iPods to listen to music on the go, but if you have an old smartphone that you don’t use, convert it into a portable music player. First, delete all apps and photos and load the device with your favorite tracks from your computer. 16 or 32 gig phones can hold a ton of songs. Use it at the gym or plug it into your car’s USB port and you have a music player that won’t stop when your new phone rings. You can also connect it to your current device’s mobile hotspot and stream music from Spotify or another service. Older smartphones make great bedside or desk clocks. Apps that show the time and forecast are free, and even the stock Apple or Google app can show the clock. To use it as a bedside alarm clock, plug it in and set the display to “always on” or turn off the automatic screen shut-off. You can set an alarm just by asking Siri or OK Google.

The FCC requires all smartphones to be able to call for help, even if they don’t have cell service. Keep one in the car or in the kitchen so kids can always call 9-1-1, even if they don’t have a smartphone. Teach them to call 911 by pressing the side button 5 times.

Older smartphones make great TV remotes. Download the app for Roku, Amazon FireStick, Google TV or Apple TV. Apps are easier to use than the remote that comes with the streaming device.

You can use old smartphones as security cameras. Download the “Alfred” application on your main device and on any old smartphone. Connect the old phone to a power source and place it where you want to monitor movement. You can use it as a nanny camera or pet camera to talk to your dog or cat while you are at work. You’ll even get a notification if it detects motion.

Your kids can use an old smartphone to play video games as long as you can still download the game app or the app is already installed on the phone.

Use it as a portable web camera with the EcoCam app.

You can also use it as a dedicated Facetime or Zoom camera so the kids don’t have to borrow your phone when they want to video chat with their grandparents.

Or use it as a dedicated camera so you don’t run out of space on the phone you currently have.

If your phone can connect to your home WiFi or your main phone’s hotspot, you can use these ideas to breathe new life into the phone or you can probably think of other uses for old smartphones. Whether they’re cracked or not, they’re not dead yet.

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