Re-use your old smartphone (3 ideas)

256px-Assorted_smartphonesIf you are like me then you also have a drawer with the several generations of phones that you went through in the last 15–20 years. Of course you should not let them acquire mold but keep their batteries charged and rather give them to recycling or donate them. (Some links on this subject further down under “Related Articles.”)

But the last smartphone you still own–should you not keep it around–just in case? Well, there is also some good use for your oldie. Here three ideas:

1. Use it as a mobile hotspot

I live in Switzerland, a relatively small country and I live 10 minutes by bicycle from the French and German borders. This means that I am crossing borders quite often and if I am not careful and turn off data roaming I am facing considerable data roaming charges.

On the other hand, most of the countries I visit offer relatively cheap pre-paid SIM cards for voice/data or data only. But if I use those on my regular phone I cannot be reached under my normal phone number for calls or SMS messages any longer.

So here is my solution. I carry my old smartphone with me in a pocket and use it as a mobile hotspot whenever I do not have access to WIFI. These are the steps you can take:

  1. Disable data roaming on your new smartphone–the one that carries your normal SIM card
  2. Get a data SIM card for the country you are traveling to or use one of the international roaming SIM cards. Check on your favorite search engine with the keywords “data SIM” or “roaming data SIM”
  3. Install the SIM card in your old phone
  4. Follow any necessary steps communicated to you by the SIM card provider to activate the card (typically sending a SMS to the provider)
  5. Install Onovo count (Google app store link) or any other data counter app (iPhone data counter app) on this old smartphone to keep track of your data usage
  6. Set up the data counter to display the percentage used on that phone
  7. Go to Settings > Networks > WIFI > Portable Hotspot and turn it on
  8. Set the APN name (usually your phone’s name) and set a password for your hotspot so that others won’t surf using your credits
  9. Put the oldie back into your pocket
  10. On your regular smart phone turn on WIFI
  11. Search for the network APN that you just created for the hotspot and enter the password
  12. You are on and can use data services. And you keep access on your new phone to all your normal calls/SMS/contacts etc.

You can use this hotspot for any other device you or your company are carrying (other phones, tablets, laptops, . . .) but keep an eye on your data usage unless you have an unlimited data plan.

2. Use it as internet radio on your stereo

Before you go out to buy one of the digital radios see if the stations you want to listen to on your fancy stereo system are not broadcasting on the internet. You can find hundreds and hundreds of stations on the internet that are fun to listen to. But maybe the sound out of your computer speakers is not up to your expectations and you don’t want to carry the computer to your living room to connect it to your stereo.


Cable to connect your phone’s headphone outlet to your stereo. Red for the right audio channel.

Here is what I did. I use my old smartphone and one of the internet radio apps and connect the smartphone to my home WIFI network. I use the phone’s headphone plug to connect it by cable to one of the input jacks of my stereo amplifier. Depending on your system you might have to purchase an adapter cable (very cheap e.g. on eBay).

Connect the old phone to your stereo and start the internet radio app and enjoy the superb sound of your stereo system. Similarly you can also stream your music library to your stereo system if that one is not WIFI enabled yet. Use an app like Soundwire or AirBubble to stream from your PC or Mac to your phone.

3. Use it for all those other apps

More apps than your phone can hold. Credits:

More apps than your phone can hold. Credits:

Unless you rooted your new phone you will run out of space for new applications pretty fast. Even if you move apps to the SD card on the phone (if available). Since you might be carrying the old phone with you as a mobile hotspot (see above) you could store some of the rarely used apps on the old phone and remove them from the new phone. There are many of such apps I found that I use very rarely including some useful but rarely used apps and games.

What other uses for your old smartphone did you come up with?

Please share with us by replying below.

5 Ways to Donate Your Old Cell Phone to Charity

Mobile Phone Recycling

Can you stream your PC’s audio through your smartphone?


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About Hellmuth Broda

Independent Information and Communications Technology Strategist with an interest in the construction sites between business, society and technology.
This entry was posted in Internet, Smartphone and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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