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What to do with your old phone

12 Apr 2016
Mark Headshot


amaysim's digital stuffologist

Unless it’s better off being used as a doorstop than a functioning device, there are lots of ways you can upcycle your old smartphone.

Your first port of call if the phones still fully functioning and doesn’t look like it’s fallen down an elevator shaft into a pot of boiling acid (i.e. it still looks sleek) is eBay or Gumtree. You’ll be competing with a lot of other people trying to rid themselves of old technology, so make sure you include good quality images and a thorough description of the device. It’s always surprising to find how true the old adage ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ is when selling things second-hand.

If your phone is not quite up to the task of functioning as a phone anymore there are a few other useful options. Make sure you get to work on time and use it as your alarm clock—you can use the already existing clock or download a new whizz-bang one from the App Store. Use it as a remote control to change songs or control your devices; or, download an app that lets you use it as an offline GPS.

Here are a few other great ideas for recycling or upcycling your old mobile phone. You no longer have to worry about it impacting the environment by sitting for eternity in a landfill.

Remember when you were a kid and you loved getting calls on your fake plastic phone? Kids these days won’t settle for anything less than an iPhone 4 if they’re going to make important calls about play dough and finger painting. If your phone no longer works why not head down to your local kindergarten and donate the old brick to some little tykes who will get a kick out of pretending they’re grown ups.

Use it as a surveillance camera

Now you can really know who stole the cookie from the cookie jar. Manything turns your old smartphone into a video monitoring device. You can set it up to provide video surveillance of rooms in your house while you’re out or set it to monitor one specific area (like a cookie jar). Capture some of the day-to-day happenings in your household, I recently used an old phone to figure out what my dog gets up to while I’m at work.

Cure diseases from afar

You don’t need to study for years in order to help cure diseases. All you need is an old device (can be a smartphone or computer) and an Internet connection and you could help cure illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, cancer or Ebola. Folding@Home is a result of Sony and Stanford University teaming up to use the processing power of devices around the world to enable scientists to do protein folding. You simply let the program run on your device for a few hours (or days if you like) and you’ve already made a huge difference in helping cure diseases.

If in doubt Recycle

Not-for-profit Mobile Muster is on a mission to recycle all unwanted smartphones in Australia. They’ll also recycle your phone batteries along with the accessories. They’re government accredited and dismantle all mobile phones, destroying all data left on the device before they’re recycled (they are never sold for reuse). You can drop off your old phone at an Australia Post shop or search for your nearest Mobile Muster drop off point, or post it in.

Put it in a time capsule

Create a time capsule and bury it in your garden to dig up with your grandchildren in years to come. You can have a great old time laughing about how you used to have to press buttons and hold a brick up to your ear to speak to people on the other side of the world. You’ll dream of a simpler time as you mentally dial the number of your old friend and make a phone call using the chip implanted in your brain.

What do you do with your old phone when you upgrade? Are you going to try out any of these? Let us know in the comments.