The surprising things you can do with an old mobile

Have you recently swapped out your old phone for a brand-new one? Or perhaps, like many of us here, you’ve got a drawer full of outdated smartphones gathering dust! Well, now may be the time to brush them off, as we reveal the surprising things you can do with your old mobile.

In recent years, smartphones have come to dominate mobile phone sales – but with many people upgrading their handsets every couple of years, there are thousands of outdated but perfectly useful phones cluttering up drawers up and down the country!

If you’ve got one (or more) of them, and you’ve ever wondered what you can do with it, then wonder no longer: there are loads of ways to put your old smartphone to good use. Here are just a few of our ideas – but feel free to share your own in the comments.


Classic games emulator

If you reminisce about your old favourites on a vintage games console, then this option may be for you!

Your old phone can help you relive the glory days of gaming!

If your device runs Android, then there are a number of ’emulation’ apps you can download from the Google Play Store, for systems as diverse as the Sega Mega Drive, Nintendo SNES, ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 – as well as a host of classic arcade machines.

All of these allow you to turn your old phone into a classic games console – one that fits right in your pocket! Keep in mind, though, that not all games have been licensed for this purpose, so it’s advisable to check the license before downloading your favourite game.

If your device is running iOS, you have fewer options

Dedicated satnav

Has your old smartphone got GPS? If so, convert your old phone into a nifty and free-to-use satnav!
As our own Agent Strevens recently investigated, modern smartphones have rendered the traditional satnav almost entirely obsolete – so if you do a lot of travel by car, repurposing your old mobile as a dedicated satnav will save you the hassle of swapping your main phone in and out of its holder all the time.

An old phone makes a perfect satnav for use on the go

You can download and use apps such as Navfree (available for both Android and iOS devices) to convert your old phone into an offline satnav. This is particularly useful in areas where your main phone might not have any signal – and if your phone has been out of use for a while, there’s a good chance it doesn’t currently have a data connection for use on the go.

But in fact, good old Google Maps now features offline navigation and downloadable maps – and if you do have access to a data connection, it offers a number of advantages, including live traddic updates to help you avoid lengthy queues.

Using any phone for an extended period of time will undoubtedly deplete the battery faster than normal use – so however you end up using it, it’s advisable that you use an in-car charger.

Security camera or baby monitor

If you have little ones – or something valuable – to protect, then turning your smartphone into a monitor or camera can be a very useful and cost-effective way to look after them.

To do so, you’ll need an ‘internet protocol (IP) camera’ – essentially, a camera capable of broadcasting to the internet – which you can pick up for around £39.99. In addition, you’ll also need an active internet connection in the area you want to monitor.

Once you’ve got that set up, you can download any number of free or paid IP camera apps which will interface with your camera and allow you to use your smartphone to monitor your home.

Digital photo frame

Digital photo frames are a simple and increasingly popular bit of connected home technology – and that old phone of yours is perfectly suited to the task.

Simply charge it up and install an app like Dayframe (Android) or Picmatic (iOS), then leave your phone propped up on your bedside table or anywhere else where you’d like to show off some of your favourite pics.

Smart remote control

Depending on your device, you may be able to turn your old smartphone into a remote control.

If you’re lucky to have a phone with an ‘infrared (IR) blaster’ , such as the Samsung Galaxy S5, then you may already have this functionality built in – just look out for a pre-installed app called Smart Remote, although this will vary depending on the manufacturer of your device.

For those of you who aren’t fortunate enough to have an IR-enabled smartphone, you can still take contro by downloadingapps such as Unified Remote, which is available for both iOS and Android devices. While these won’t interface with traditional IR-controlled TVs, they do allow you to control connected devices like computers and smart TVs via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth .

Portable music player

One of the easiest and most useful things you can do with an old smartphone is use it as a portable media player. All you need to do is download your favourite songs and videos to your old smartphone and use it on your daily commute to work!
Now, you could of course use your current phone for this purpose, but by using an old device you save precious battery life and storage space – both in rather short supply on even the most modern smartphones.

Almost every smartphone has a built-in media player: just search your phone for ‘Music’ or ‘Video’ and that’s where you’ll be able to consume your content.

If for any reason you don’t have – or don’t like – the built-in media player, we would recommend MX Player (iOS or Android) or Google Play Music (iOS or Android) as two popular, powerful apps.

Webcam or Skype interface

If you’re in need of a new webcam, or need a device to use Skype on the go, then the camera lens in an old smartphone can provide the ideal solution!

To use your old phone as a webcam, you’ll need an app like IP Webcam (Android) or IP Cam (iOS).

To use it as for Skype (or similar video calling service), it’s even simpler – with the suitable apps available for free, it’s a great use for an old phone. Sure, you can (and probably do) use your current smartphone for the same purpose – but giving it to a family member or friend is a great way to help them keep in touch.

A kid’s first smartphone

We’ve already revealed our pick of the best first smartphones for kids – but if your little one isn’t quite ready for a highly breakable new device, you could always palm your old mobile off on them.

Of course, it’s crucial that kids stay safe online – and so, I’d recommend a parental control app like Kid Mode by Zoodles (Android) or OurPact by ParentsWare (iOS). These allow your kids to enjoy the apps and services you decide, while restricting access to the internet and any other potential risks.

With these parental controls, you can free up your child’s playful and creative talents, while still ensuring content is age appropriate.

Internet browser

If you have a desktop or laptop at home, then you might wonder why you’d need another dedicated web browser – but in some circumstances, it might just be a good idea!

If your home computer is painfully slow, that old smartphone might just offer a useful alternative. And if accessibility is an issue, then the phone’s touchscreen might offer an easier interface than a mouse and keyboard – and is also much easier to control using voice commands.

Trade it in for cash

Finally, there’s one last option for making good use of that old mobile: trading it in for cold, hard cash! Even devices that are a few years old are worth a few quid – and many companies will give you an instant quote online.

Helpfully, it doesn’t matter if your device is broken or otherwise not working: as long as it’s not bent or crushed, you’ll still be offered a price. Once we’ve received your old phone and confirmed that it’s in the described condition, payment will be made to you within five working days.

And if that phone is bent or crushed, it’s still worth getting rid of some clutter by recycling, with any proceeds donated to Charity.