• Burton Kelso, Tech Expert

What Should You Do With Your Old Smartphone?

Updated: Aug 21



The era is 3G is coming to a close and if you owned a 3G smartphone, it's time to retire it and get a newer 4G or 5G phone. One of the drawbacks to getting a new smartphone regardless of its 4G or 5G is the ever-growing collection of old smartphones in your junk drawer. What's even worse, your old phone still functions, and throwing it away feels wasteful, especially if you've spent hundreds of dollars getting a new one. If you still have an old smartphone or two lying around, there are several things you can use them for. Check out these quick and easy tips to put those old smartphones to use and give them a new life.


How is it possible to use my old smartphone? Your smartphone is essentially a miniature supercomputer running either iOS or AnroidOS. Just like a computer, your smartphone can access any wifi network and perform functions like surfing the web, downloading apps and making video calls. In the case of a smartphone being retired because it can't access your 3G celluar network, it just means you can't access the web or make phone calls on your providers' network. For you, this means without your cell network, you'd have to connect to free wifi to perform any function on your phone. Your smartphone is designed to work on a celluar network and a wireless network, giving you more function and freedom on your phone when you're out and about.


So what can you do with that old phone? Well, you could:


Trade it in: This is the most obvious choice as you don't end up with junk drawer full of useless smartphones.


Turn it into a Remote control: Why waste money on a universal remote when you can turn your old smartphone into one? There are several apps that will allow you to do this such as programs including Apple TV, Roku Player, Chrome Cast, and Amazon Fire TV.


Emergency phone: Even though your phone may not be under your provider's plan at the moment, you can actually still make emergency calls. All smartphones can connect to 911 emergency services regardless of having a plan or not. It's never a bad idea to have an emergency phone for you or even senior adult members of your family who don't own a phone.


Pass it down to your kids: Not that I'm big on dumping a phone on kids, but if you're in that in-between stage of buying your kid their own phone, give them your old device. Once you remove all of your information, connect it to your Wi-Fi and your kids can search the internet, download games, make Internet calls, and play games. Just make sure you get them a case and screen protector.


Video Chat Phone: This can come in handy if you have younger kids who want to talk to grandparents or other family members via Zoom, FaceTime, or any other video chat platform. Your old smartphone can be used for chat and you don't have to worry about the kids borrowing your phone to make calls.


Media and music player: When our boys were little, I used an old iPhone to stream Pandora Lullaby music to help them go to sleep. You could do the same for standard music in your household. You can even connect it to a Bluetooth speaker for a more robust sound.


If you decided that none of the above tips are for you and you just want to, sell, donate or recycle your old phone, make sure you erase all your data, including e-mail, text messages, photos, media, and apps. The best way to do this is to reset your phone back to factory defaults. For most devices, it's just a matter of going to settings to erase all your data and restore factory settings.


I hope you can use these tips to find a new life for your smartphone. If you need further assistance, please reach out to me with any questions you might have. I am always happy to help!


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Want to ask me a tech question? Send it to burton@burtonkelso.com. I love technology. I've read all of the manuals and I'm serious about making technology fun and easy to use for everyone. 


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