7 Smart Ways To Reuse an Old Phone or Tablet

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Hands holding headphones and placing electronics in a box including old tablets and phones for donation
Veja / Shutterstock.com

Technology moves swiftly, and unless you always trade in your electronics, chances are you have an unused tablet or phone lying around the house.

While you could try your luck selling it, unless it’s vintage and in near perfect condition, the effort may not be worth your time. Instead, consider repurposing your old device for something specific and practical.

Following are some clever and simple ways to reuse an old phone or tablet.

1. TV remote

Annoyed or upset woman holding a remote control to her head because she wants to turn off the TV or change the television channel
Jasen Wright / Shutterstock.com

While this is something you can easily add to your current phone, it could be convenient to add to an old device as well, particularly if it lets you consolidate several old-fashioned remotes into one slim, elegant touchscreen package. You just need a device that can still briefly connect to the internet to download the relevant apps.

Verizon has instructions for how your phone might control your TV, DVD and Blu-Ray player, cable, video game console, stereo and even an air conditioner.

2. Pet camera

Woman with dog in house
Ahmet Naim / Shutterstock.com

Leaving town for the weekend? Whether or not you get a pet sitter, you might want to check in on your loved one while you’re gone.

ZDNet has instructions for converting an Android phone into a pet camera, but the process will be similar for other devices. For instance, here’s an iPhone app. The most important thing is to keep the device plugged in and to mount it with a view of somewhere your pet spends a lot of time.

3. Audio player

Music streaming
Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com

This is another task your current device can certainly do — but for an old device, you can dedicate its entire storage capacity to a personal music library and worry less about whether it will properly sync with your speakers next time you want to use it.

Here’s how to make your “new” dedicated music player.

4. Digital photo frame

Tablet used as a digital photo frame with a touchscreen
Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock.com

As with the option to build a music library, you could instead dedicate all that storage space to treasured memories by turning your tablet (a phone works but will be harder to see) into a digital photo frame. If you want the ability to update the photos regularly, you’ll probably want to keep it on the home wi-fi network.

5. Sleep aid

Senior man sleeping
wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock.com

While you could invest in a white noise machine to help you sleep, you can also easily use an old phone. Even better if it’s one you won’t want a full charge on in the morning.

Newer iPhones have a built-in white noise feature with sounds for rain, ocean waves, running streams, and more generic soothing noise. Android phones have a similar thing, including with the sound of “deep space.”

If your device is too old to have one of these features built-in, rest assured there are plenty of apps for it.

6. Dashcam

Woman behind steering wheel of a car looking at the road with a passenger view of the dashboard and driving route on GPS
Elementspace / Shutterstock.com

There are some safety benefits to having a dash cam in your car although there are downsides too.

If you want to test out the idea before investing, reuse an old device. You’ll need a good mount to hold it and a car charger. Keep in mind phones aren’t necessarily built for taking or keeping long recordings, and the video quality on older devices may be worse than you recall.

Google may be working on a built-in dash cam feature, The Verge reports.

7. Holographic display

Holographic display on a smartphone with a photo of a grandma and grandchild floating
Carlo Prearo / Shutterstock.com

If you’ve ever been to the Haunted Mansion at Disney World, you’re familiar with a very old — and very low-tech — way of creating ghostly illusions. The technique is known as “Pepper’s Ghost,” and it’s been around since the 1860s.

Smartphones have only been around since the 1990s, but you can use them to create a handheld version of this effect, great for a party trick or Halloween. As described in this YouTube video, it takes all of five minutes to set up. All you need beside the old phone is some tape and a sturdy, clear, reflective material — it can be glass or plastic packaging.

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