Annually, around 1.5 billion phones—some 400 million of which are smartphones—are sold all over the world, which means just about as many of these devices get jettisoned by people who are only too eager to get their hands on new devices each year. In fact, in many places around the globe, the average lifecycle of phones is now just under two years, making the mobile phone industry one of the fastest growing sources of electronic waste. A report from the United Nations University noted that global e-waste generation will grow to about 49.8 million metric tons in 2018, an equivalent of 6.7 kilograms of e-waste generated per inhabitant of the planet.
With the ever increasing amount of e-waste that the world has to deal with, it only makes perfect sense to hold on to your old devices for as long as possible. These include your old smartphones, which will likely function for many more years if given the chance. In this article, we’ll provide you with some great ideas on what to do with your old devices instead of giving them the heave-ho.
1. Sell your old smartphone
There’s no point discarding your old smartphone when you can earn money by selling it instead. It’s the most obvious practical thing to do. Ask your friends and family if they would like to buy your device for a fraction of what it cost you a year or two ago.
2. Gift your old smartphone to a loved one
Whether you end up giving it to your mom, dad, sibling, or your best friend, you’d be helping the environment by keeping your phone out of the landfill for now.
3. Use your old smartphone as your travel or festival phone
Are you going to Divisoria, traveling to Barcelona, or attending the Summer Sonic Festival in Japan? Don’t risk losing your shiny new smartphone to pickpockets and plain ol’ carelessness. Bring your old phone with you instead.
4. Turn your old smartphone into a dedicated educational device for kids
Another great idea is to load your old smartphone with educational games and learning tools so that it can be used by your child or someone else’s kid as a learning device.
5. Turn your old smartphone into a dedicated gaming device
Making your old phone your dedicated gaming device will not only allow you to extend the lifecycle of your old device, it will also help you prevent wearing out the battery of your new phone. Just make sure to delete all other unnecessary apps on your old phone to help it run your games better.
6. Use your old smartphone as a mounted GPS device in your vehicle
With the traffic situation in Metro Manila and other places in the Philippines so unpredictable, it makes sense to use your old smartphone as a dedicated GPS device that you can mount in your car. Download a smart traffic app like Waze, which provides real-time road and navigation info to help you save time and gas money on your daily commute.
7. Turn your old smartphone into a video and music streaming device
Whether you love Netflix, iFlix, Viki, Crunchyroll, Apple Music, Spotify, or ABS-CBN TV Plus, your old phone can be your all-around device for all your media streaming needs. You can also pair the phone with a portable speaker so you can use it to play music during parties, outings, and other occasions.
8. Use your old smartphone as a Google Chromecast remote
If you don’t have a smart TV, don’t fret. You can buy a Google Chromecast dongle and use your old smartphone as a dedicated remote control for casting the media you want to your TV. Everything from Netflix series, YouTube videos, and TED Talks can be streamed from your phone to Google Chromecast. Just download the individual smartphone apps of the services you want to use, and you’re good to go.
9. Use your old smartphone as a universal remote control
If your old phone has an IR (infrared) blaster feature, you can also use it as a universal remote control for a variety of devices and appliances. Everything from television sets, projectors, and DVD players to audio players, electric fans, and air conditioning units can be controlled by your smartphone, provided that it is able to accept IR commands. All you need to do is install a universal remote app like AnyMote or the Mi Remote app by Xiaomi, and set up the app to match the device you want to control.
10. Turn your old smartphone into a VR device
Forget about buying a standalone virtual reality headset that costs thousands of pesos. You can buy a very inexpensive Google cardboard-type VR box into which you can fit your old smartphone so you can enjoy 360-degree VR media. Just make sure to use your VR box and smartphone with the right apps, games, and videos or you’ll just end up with a large screen hovering over your face.
11. Convert your old smartphone into a surveillance camera
As an added layer of security against Akyat Bahay Gang and other forms of criminal scum, you can convert your old smartphones to surveillance devices that are powered 24/7 to record everything that goes around the periphery of your home. There are good instructions online on how to do this. Just ensure that your phones are placed in an area that is not too visible to potential thieves, or they might steal these as well!
While some people might think of smartphones as practically useless devices, they’re actually very useful and will remain so until the end of their lifespans. It’s up to you to think of creative and practical ways to use them when they’re no longer the shiny new gizmo on the showroom showcase.