People change their phones for plenty of reasons. Sometimes phones get permanently damaged by accident, and that’s the end of their story. But other times, functioning phones get replaced and end up stashed in a drawer.
In this article, we’ll discuss a few tips on how you can grant your older phone a second life. Disclaimer: some tips require you to download apps or third-party software, and you are free to explore alternatives.
If it's really broken, recycle
First things first: if your phone is irreversibly damaged (e.g. you dropped it several times and it's shattered), and the other strategies listed below aren't helpful or feasible, please recycle your phone.
You can do this by visiting a local recycling centre. Alternatively, dealers might give you the option to return older devices to get a discount on a new phone. Remember that phones are made of scarce components that should be appropriately recycled. So, whatever you do, don't chuck them in the bin!
Camera still working? Use it as a webcam
Modern phones often come equipped with an excellent camera. If your phone still has a functioning camera, why let it go unused? With software like Droidcam OBS, you can upgrade your old phone to a webcam:
- Download Droidcam OBS or similar software.
- Connect your old phone to your computer.
- If you're having issues with the USB connection, try USB debugging.
(Be mindful that Developer mode was created for advanced users).
- Start Droidcam OBS and add your phone as a Camera.
- Use OBS Virtual Cam to use this webcam in online meetings.
A dedicated Walkman, casting or streaming device
You can use an older phone that's still reasonably functional as a dedicated casting device. If it can connect to Wi-Fi or use Bluetooth, you can leave the spare phone in the living room to cast content to YouTube on your TV or use it to stream music on a Bluetooth speaker.
If Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity is problematic, you could still plug in headphones and use the phone as a Walkman playing your favourite tunes from your music library. When not searching or using mobile signals and data, smartphones have a surprisingly long battery life!
Use it as a baby monitor or door camera
This tip again makes use of the camera of your phone. The idea is to convert your old phone into a baby monitor or a door camera and check it on your current phone.
- Install IP Webcam or similar software on your old phone.
- Install cam monitoring software on your current phone (e.g. Tinycam monitor).
- If you're on the same Wi-Fi network, you'll be able to connect. Alternatively, start a hotspot on your current phone.
- On your old phone, open IP Webcam and start a server. You'll see an IP address composed of dot-separated numbers appear on the screen.
- On your current phone, access Cam monitor and add the IP address on the old phone or scan the local network to find it.
Power in the bank
You can repurpose an old phone to work as a power bank. However, you can only do this if your phone has a USB-C port (i.e. the latest type of USB port). A second requirement is a USB-C to C cable, which means a cable that starts and ends with a USB-C insert. You can then connect both devices using the USB-C-to-C cable and choose to send or receive power. Finally, keep the old phone in flight mode to save more battery.
Use it as a mouse
If your screen is not particularly damaged, you might be able to use your old phone as a mouse by installing the remote mouse app.