Have an old handset you want to get rid of so it doesn't clutter your drawer? Or are you simply looking to finally get a brand-new, modern smartphone with all the bells and whistles? In these cases, it's a good idea to know what you'll do with your old device before you head down to the local electronics shop and pick up a new device, like a brand new Apple iPhone, a new laptop, or another new gadget.
Good news: you can do many things with your old cell phone, starting with these nine suggestions.
1. Trade it in for a New Device
Of course, you can trade your old cell phone in for credit. This is one of the best — and most convenient — ways to get rid of old smartphones. For instance, Verizon lets you trade old smartphones and tablets for vouchers, gift cards, and even credit for new phone purchases.
This way, you can get some credit and put it toward purchasing a brand-new phone, even if that phone is usually a little more expensive than you can afford. Just be sure to read the terms and conditions for any trading offers, as many of them have strings attached or hidden elements that can make getting your credit a little more complicated than you think.
2. Participate in an Electronic Recycling Program
Alternatively, you can participate in an electronics recycling program like Call2Recycle. This gets out of the home and prevents you from contributing to electronic waste.
Cell phone recycling programs are available around the country and in most states, and you can turn your old electronics in at an electronic shop like Best Buy or through Amazon’s online Trade-In program.
Alternatively, you could visit your cell carrier’s retail store to drop off your phone. This is often a good idea, allowing you to quickly get your new mobile device situated with a SIM card and personal data from your old one.
Carriers sometimes reuse these devices after a factory reset, repurposing your old device and selling it to customers at a lower rate.
According to the EPA, electronic recycling helps reduce e-waste via landfill and minimizes emissions. So it’s a good thing to do even if you plan on buying a new phone soon.
3. Give Your Phone to Someone New
You might consider giving them your old cell phone if you have a child or teenager. Most kids and teens don’t need cell phones with tons of crazy features or superfast processing power. Instead, they’ll benefit from having an emergency phone on hand if they need to contact you or their friends ASAP.
Giving your phone to someone else is an excellent way to keep using your old cell phone even if you want to upgrade.
4. Sell Your Old Phone
Don't want to purchase a new phone, or did you already pick up your new handset? In that case, you can still make some money from your old cell phone by selling it. You can sell it using online marketplaces like Craigslist and eBay or visit specialty websites such as Gazelle.
Naturally, you can choose to sell your cell phone to someone in person if you know of a willing buyer, like a friend or family member.
Remember that the price for your old cell phone will likely be far less than what you originally paid, given the electronics depreciation rate.
5. Transform Your Phone into a Remote Computer Terminal (Android Only)
You can turn it into a remote computer terminal if you have an old Android phone. This gives you easy access to your home computer from your work office or vice versa, depending on your needs.
Simply put, you have to download TeamViewer, a free app that you can install on any desktop computer or operating system. After the program is installed, you can open it and gain an access code and password for remote signing in.
Then, install the companion app on your old Android cell phone and type in the same credentials. In a matter of seconds, you’ll have access to your desktop computer right from your Android screen. This can be handy if you want to monitor computer usage while you are away or if you need to access something from your work computer after leaving for an extended vacation.
6. Donate Your Device
Many needful people can use your old cell phone if you have a heart for charity. Cells for Cells, the Hopeline program from Verizon, and other nonprofit charities raise money for good causes via refurbishing mobile phones or giving cell phones to those who need them.
For example, some charity programs help to prevent domestic violence by giving old cell phones to women who can use the phones as personal lines to get in touch with emergency services or family members if needed. In any case, research different charities and choose a program that suits you. Donating your device is a great way to do a little good and ensure your phone has a purpose beyond sitting in your kitchen drawer.
7. Use Your Phone as a Baby Monitor
You can alternatively use your old cell phone as a baby monitor. This is a great way to continue getting some use out of your cell phone instead of giving it away, selling it, or removing it from your household altogether.
How does this work? You download an app like Dormi. Then you connect your old cell phone to your Wi-Fi network. So long as the app is loaded onto your old phone, the app will alert your current cell phone, like a new handset you just purchased, whenever your child starts to make noise. Just remember to connect the two devices ahead of time.
Some apps even allow you to talk back to your baby remotely through your old cell phone. This is a great way to save money in the earliest days of parenthood when your budget will seem tighter than ever.
8. Use Your Phone as a Car Tracker
Consider using it as a cheap car tracker to get even more use out of your old cell phone. Download a car tracking app, make sure your phone is charged up, then put it somewhere discreet, like your trunk or in the car door.
Then, if your car is ever stolen, you’ll be able to activate your phone’s tracking app and provide that information to the police.
However, you will need to remember to recharge your old cell phone from time to time. The last thing you want is your phone to be safe and secure in your vehicle’s trunk, only to be out of battery and therefore useless as a car tracking solution.
9. Use Your Phone for Its Other Features
You can extend this strategy and use your old cell phone for its other features. For instance, odds are your phone has an alarm clock app. Rather than buying a brand-new phone altogether, use that phone as your dedicated alarm clock by leaving it on your bedside table.
You can even keep the alarm clock app up 24/7. Or you can download a new alarm clock app that takes a lot of memory on your old cell phone since you won’t use that device for anything else.
Need another idea? You can use your old cell phone as a simple home security camera. Most old cell phones still have built-in cameras and Wi-Fi connections. So you can download an app like Presence or make a Skype account, then set either of those programs to accept incoming video calls.
The trick? Put your old cell phone in a prime position inside your home with a gray viewpoint, then call home from your office or anywhere else. If you’ve set anything up correctly, your old cell phone will automatically accept the call, allowing you to check in on your home or your pets whenever you like.
Whatever your old phone’s model or age, odds are you can do something useful with it with a bit of imagination or the right contacts. Of course, getting rid of your old phone is just the first step toward buying a new phone, and Navi can help when the time comes to pick out your new handset.
Our Phone Navigator service will help you compare different phone deals based on features, prices, and more. Check it out and get the perfect smartphone for your needs today.
Basic Information about Electronics Stewardship | US EPA