What the Tech? How to make use of old phones
By JAMIE TUCKER Consumer Technology Reporter
By now you probably have a few old smartphones and tablets around the house just gathering dust. You paid good money for them once but now they’re not worth anything.
Don’t even try to sell an old phone. No one is willing to pay for a 5-year-old smartphone or tablet and cellular providers won’t even take them as a trade-in. Provided they still work and
connect to WiFi, even devices with broken screens can be useful.
Here are six genius ways to use old phones and tablets around the house:
1. Family Emergency Only Phone Old phones are great for emergencies. Manufacturers are required to make all phones capable of calling 9-1-1 even without a calling plan. Keep an old phone on charge and put it in a place so everyone knows where it is. This is great for young kids who don’t have their own phones and might need to call 9-1-1 someday. To dial 911 from a phone that isn’t on a plan, just swipe up on the locked screen and tap “Emergency”. This will call up a keypad where you can enter 9-1-1 to speak to a nearby emergency call center.
2. Use as a TV remote. Don’t worry about losing the TV remote. If you have a Roku or Amazon Fire Stick, download the app and keep the phone on the coffee table. The app generally has more features than the remote that came with the TV.
3. Digital Picture Frames. You can turn an old iPad into a digital picture frame without needing to download an app. Just add photos to a shared photo album. In settings select the album to play on repeat and set it to “slideshow”. Others can add photos from their phones to keep it fresh.
4. Use phones and tablets as e-readers. Using Apple or Google’s books apps or the Kindle app, old tablets make great e-readers too. Better than a Kindle for magazines and books with images and colors.
5. Home Security Cameras. No need to buy a security camera or nanny cam when you have an old phone. Apps like Alfred and Manything turn most old smartphones into cameras. Plug it into power and set it where the phone aims at a door or hallway. When it detects movement the app will send a notification on the phone you’re using now. Adding a paid plan also gives the ability to save recordings.
6. Turn an old phone into an iPod. Even if phones don’t connect to the internet or have a calling plan they can still play music. Just remove all apps from the phone and load your downloaded music. With 16 or 32 GB of storage, an old phone could hold tens of thousands of songs.
I will add that some of the apps I mentioned above will not work on very old phones such as the iPhone 4 through the iPhone X since those phones cannot be updated to new operating systems. These tips can work for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.