How to repurpose your old smart phone

Olly Mann

Technology now improves faster than you can say “upgrade” but getting a new handset doesn’t have to render your old one useless…

Screen resolution, processor speeds and camera quality have improved substantially in the past five years, so, at some point, you’ve probably upgraded your smartphone. But what to do with your old handset? Retailers offer discounts for trading in used models, but I’d argue against saving £50 in the short-term for the long-term gain of retaining a standby device. But this needn’t result in your old phone gathering dust in a drawer…

 

Turn it into a sat-nav

Use the TomTom GO Mobile app (subscription, £17.99 per year) to download full maps of Britain and/or Europe, and your old phone becomes a fully-functional offline navigator (albeit you’ll still need a SIM to get live traffic info). There’s no danger of distraction from incoming calls and texts, and TomTom’s maps are the clearest available.

 

Use it as a security camera

Get a phone-stand on eBay (decent ones sell for around £10), then download Manything (free)—an ingenious app that turns your spare smartphone into a security camera. If it detects movement in a room, it activates and live-streams video to your current handset, so you can monitor your home from anywhere. For a fee, you can save footage to the cloud and add additional cameras.

 

Get gaming!

Touchscreen gaming isn’t as fun as button-bashing, which is why portable consoles like Nintendo Switch still sell. But with a Bluetooth peripheral such as DJI’s Gamevice Controller (£79 for iPhone, from £28 for Samsung Galaxy series), you can dock your old device into a satisfyingly chunky, PlayStation Portable-style controller. Download the retro title of your choice (Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog and Capcom’s Street Fighter are both available 
in app stores…), and emulate the day you nicked your mate’s Atari Lynx. Except with better graphics.

 

Design a “digital babysitter”

Got little ones around? Then why not customise your old phone for their (monitored) use? Wipe your web access, install trusted apps such as CBeebies Playtime Island (free) or Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages (99p), and adjust parental settings so there’s no option to buy in-app purchases. Presto: a truly terrific toy for toddlers. (Though it might be worth investing in a heavy-duty phone case, too!)