Poor phone. Once you were the pride of our pockets, whipped out and displayed on pub tables with pride. “Oh wow, is that the new flagship smartphone with the souped-up camera and gigaflops of power?” your mates would inquire, barely containing their excitement. “Yes it is,” you’d reply, playing it cool with a cheeky smile and a sip of your pint, before asking them if they’d like to see your fancy torch app. It had three levels of brightness, and you were on top of the world.
Now, that same phone is caked in dust and forgotten memories, lying face down in a drawer, buried among the disheveled rubble of Micro-USB cables, almost-definitely dead batteries, and a DVI to VGA adaptor. You can’t even remember what the latter was for, or where it even came from, but you’ll be damned if you’re ever going to throw it away.
But we’re not here to wax poetic about your Drawer of Forgotten Things — we’re here to show you that your old Android smartphone can still serve you well, from protecting your home to scouring the heavens themselves to help unravel the mysteries of the universe.
Don’t believe us? We’ll prove it. Here are eight things you can do with your old Android phone that are genuinely useful.
1) Home security camera
You could scour Amazon for a Wi-Fi home security camera to help keep an eye on your mischievous cat while you’re away, but you’d be wasting your cash. Instead, download an app like Alfred Home Security Camera on both your old and current phone, and transform your aging handset into a high-tech security camera. Find a spot on a shelf, hook it up with a charging cable for uninterrupted surveillance, and you’re sorted.
Fire up the app on your current smartphone (or even access it via a browser) while you’re out and about, and you’ll be treated to a glorious full colour view of your abode, complete with sound, and even the ability to remotely speak through your security camera-phone, scolding your cat/dog/neighbourhood burglar as you see fit.
2) Miniature smart speaker
You’ve probably already got a Google Assistant or Alexa powered smart speaker somewhere in your home, but if you’re thinking about splashing out for another one in a different room, think again. Grab any smartphone dock you like the look of (bonus points for one with wireless charging if your handset supports it), and you can transform it into a miniature desktop smart speaker, powered by either the Alexa app, Google Assistant, or both. From weather notifications to sports results, transport updates, alarms and more, it’s an ideal companion for your desk or bedside table.
3) Dash Cam
It’s hard to go anywhere online without coming across insane dash cam footage. From hilariously bad insurance fraud attempts to jaw-dropping footage of meteors and natural disasters, dash cams have a way of capturing some of life’s craziest moments. Their number one priority though, is to help support your case if you ever have an accident on the road, and your old smartphone is more than capable of meeting the task.
Apps like AutoBoy Dash Cam can transform your old phone into a road recording device, complete with crash detection to help ensure that vital footage is never lost, along with the automatic deletion of older irrelevant recordings so you’re not always running out of space. You can even backup your videos to YouTube, if you fancy, and it’ll carry on working in the background letting you use your phone as a satnav too. Grab a decent smartphone car mount, and you’re good to go.
4) The ultimate control panel
If you’re a serious streamer, music fan, video watcher, serial multitasker, or all of the above, then you’ll definitely want to check out a clever app called Deckboard. Load it up onto your old handset, and it’ll transform it into the ultimate Windows PC accessory, allowing you to access hundreds of useful shortcuts at the press of a button. Once it’s set up you can use your old phone to do anything from controlling stream options, playing music, opening up folders, viewing chats and a whole lot more.
5) Underwater camera
If you want to capture the wonders of the deep while you’re swimming away on holiday then you’ve probably been tempted to snap up a GoPro or similar action cam. You can, however, save a heap of cash by snapping up a waterproof phone case instead, letting you take your old handset below depths to record your tropical fish-laden escapades. Sure, you could use your current smartphone too, but if you’re anything like us, there’s no way you’d want to risk a saltwater breach with your trusty daily driver.
6) Search the heavens
Unravelling the mysteries of the universe is something that tends to be left for otherworldly characters in action-packed Hollywood blockbusters, but now you too can join in on the search for knowledge. BOINC is an Android app which you can load up on your old smartphone and leave running in the background, helping your handset contribute to various bits of research. These range from the search for extraterrestrial life, to scanning asteroids and number crunching for medical and climate research. Feel important now?
7) Keep tabs on your offspring
Similar to the home security cam functionality, your old phone can also be used as an advanced baby monitor, saving you from having to fork out for yet another baby accessory. Simply download an app like Cloud Baby Monitor on both your current and old handset, follow the simple instructions, and boom — you’ve now got a baby monitor that not only provides audio and video, but also lets you communicate with your little one via speakers and a mic, with built-in lullaby sounds to boot. There’s no built-in night vision, mind, but you can adjust a light for moments where you need extra visibility.
8) Say goodbye
If none of the options on this list resonate with you, then there’s always the option of selling your old phone. If your old phone’s not too long in the tooth you might be able to get a reasonable bit of cash for it using a site like Compare My Mobile to check the best price for your handset. You could also do it yourself and likely earn more on Gumtree or eBay, though that obviously has more effort involved on your part.
Failing that, or if you’re feeling charitable, just give it to a family or friend in need, or a charity shop. You’ll feel warm and fuzzy inside, and if you’re lucky, for a fleeting moment, you might forget about time’s unrelenting march towards oblivion. Soon your current phone will become the Old Phone, and the youthful face full of life and vigour that once stared back at you from the mirror will be dull and tired. But hey, at least you know what to do with your old phones from now on.