Upgrading? Here’s What You Can Do With an Old Mobile Device.

Upgrading your smartphone or tablet will leave you with a decision: What to do with your old device?

Trading in, donating, or recycling retired gear are popular options, as is passing on a serviceable phone to a family member sharing your wireless carrier account. But you have countless other ways to get more productive use from outdated hardware without spending much money on it. Here are a few ideas to get more benefits from your demoted device.

Make a Media Machine

Need an extra television in the kitchen or home office? Your old phone or tablet can increase if you subscribe to a TV provider or streaming service. Download your TV provider’s app (like Spectrum cable or Verizon Fios) or your separate service (Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Fubo. tv, Netflix, or whatever) and log into your account. Prop up the device near an outlet, so it can run on electrical power while you watch since chances are good that the old machine has a worn-out battery. Likewise, parking your old phone in a speaker cradle that also charges gives you a bookshelf sound system for music and podcasts.

Mobile Device

Or you can keep the phone connected to its charger and stream music to a nearby wireless Bluetooth speaker. Powered speaker docks can be found online for around $40, and a wide variety is available. Wirecutter, the product-testing and review site owned by The New York Times, has suggestions for Bluetooth speakers, general audio gear, and those shopping on a budget. Old tablets can serve as dedicated e-book readers, even if you must charge them frequently or keep them plugged in. And even if they have to stay tethered to a charger, old tablets also make good dedicated e-book readers or digital picture frames for photo slide shows.

Control Your World

Smart home appliances, music libraries, internet-connected televisions — so many things can be controlled by apps, so why not convert your old phone or tablet into an all-purpose universal remote? Third-party remote apps abound, but many tech companies (Amazon, Apple, Google, LG Electronics, Roku, and Samsung, to name a few) have their programs. Just take a stroll through your app store for software that matches up with your hardware.

App stores contain a mix of official apps (like the Roku software shown here) and third-party options to control smart appliances and streaming TV devices remotely. (Apple, which used to have a stand-alone Remote app, folded the Apple TV remote software into the operating system in iOS 12 but still has an iTunes Remote app for iPhone/iPad users to control their iTunes music collections stored on Macs and PCs.) And even if you haven’t lost the tiny stick remote that came with your set-top streamer yet, the onscreen keyboard included with most apps makes it easier to type in passwords.

Get Your Game On

Depending on the processor and battery state, dedicating your old device to the pursuit of gaming is another way to give it extra life. Wiping off all the old data to start afresh gives you more room to download and store new games. Google’s Stadia gaming platform runs on various phones, including older models like the Google Pixel 2 and Samsung’s Galaxy S8. Playing old games on old telephones may have a nostalgic appeal, and you can find many classics converted for mobile play in the app stores. And you’re not limited to stand-alone games.

Subscription services like Apple Arcade and Google’s Stadia can run on many mobile devices, and you can beam your games (and another video) to the big screen if you’re using the Google Chromecast game mode or the AirPlay technology that Apple devices use to share the screen on Apple TV. If tapping a touch screen has never been your idea of serious gaming, consider snapping your old phone into a particular controller that brings physical buttons, the standard D-Pad, and thumbsticks to the gaming experience. The Razer Kishi ($80 to $100) or Backbone One ($100) are among the options.

Entertain and Educate

If you’ve decided that your child can handle a hand-me-down phone or tablet for games and educational apps, take a moment to do a little setup to protect both of you. Google’s Android, left, and Apple’s iOS system software includes parental control settings to limit a child’s screen time and app-buying power on a hand-me-down phone or tablet. Visit the settings area and erase your personal information first. Google; right, Apple Next, create an account for the child and configure the parental controls for screen time, app purchases, and internet access; operating systems for Amazon, Android, Apple, and Samsung all include similar parental control settings.

If you’re loading up an old phone or tablet for a child, check the app store for kid-friendly programs or educational offerings like the NASA mobile app. Credit…Google; NASA If the phone still has a functional camera (and can still hold a charge for an hour or so), you can also use it to teach photography fundamentals. Loading up the child’s app store account with a prepaid gift card can impart money-management skills. And if the device’s old battery conks out after an hour, you can teach time management.

Tyson Houlding
I’m a lifestyle blogger with a passion for writing, photography, and exploring new places. I started this blog when I was 18 years old to share what I was learning about the world with family and friends. I’ve since grown into a freelance writer, blogger, and photographer with a growing audience. I hope you find inspiration and motivation while reading through my work!