An issue that we never used to put any thought into, what to do with old smartphones is the very definition of a first world problem. Still, if we tried to pretend like it wasn’t something that we put serious consideration into, then we’d by lying to ourselves and you, our reader. So, here we are being forthright about the fact that we are unsure in terms of what to do with our old tech.
Something that may seem like a really easy decision at first blush, getting rid of phones you know longer use is an easy way to declutter your home. That said, when you think about it, there truly are some outstanding ways to repurpose them. However, in this day and age, there are real dangers that come with keeping devices around because most of us have at times used our phones to do sensitive things. Realizing all of this inspired us to put together this list of ten reasons everyone should keep their old smartphone and ten reasons to get rid of it.
In order for a reason to be considered for possible inclusion on this list, it first and foremost needs to relate to an old phone in one way or another. For instance, if you need to have an updated phone with the best processing speed and memory abilities to do something then it won’t apply to this list. On top of that, we then looked at potentially good things you can do with your old phone as well as negative things that can happen in your life if you keep them around.
20 Get Rid of It: You Don’t Need It
The simplest reason to get rid of anything, when you no longer have a specific need for something then you might as well get rid of it. We don’t know about you but we’ve seen a lot of self-help gurus preach the idea that if you haven’t used something in a year then it is time to jettison it from your life. An idea we can certainly see the merit in, we can also see a strong argument for taking it further by doing away with a cell phone you are confident you won’t use in the next year.
19 Keep It: Emergency 911 Calls
Something that a lot of people may not be aware of, in order to make most phone calls on a cell phone you need to have a service provider but there is one major exception to that. If you pick up any cell phone that is capable of making contact with a cell phone tower and dial 911, it will go through. A fact that could literally be a life saver if you are in an emergency and your current phone is out of juice.
18 Get Rid of It: Free Up Space
The kind of thing that we often plan but fail to follow through on, purging our homes of clutter is almost always long overdue. After all, we sometimes end up at our wit’s end after buying something new we actually need because we can’t think of where to put it because we’ve held on to too much useless crap. Fortunately, when we need to start the process of decluttering then old cell phones is a really easy place. Additionally, it can clear up some real space since a lot of phones come with a lot of packaging.
17 Keep It: Use it as a Digital Photo Frame
A great example of the fact that many old things have been transformed by current technology, more and more when we visit other people’s homes we see photos slideshows in digital frames. Typically that is made possible because someone spent money to buy a digital photo frame, however, when you think about it that may be a waste of money. That is because there are endless apps that you can download to your old phone and use to the same effect with pictures you transfer to the device.
16 Get Rid of It: You Can Trade It In
In this day and age, most of us get new cell phones either by paying for them outright or for free as part of our long term plans. No matter which one of those holds true for you, a lot of companies that sell new phones have begun taking in old ones and giving their customers trade in value for them. A pretty great option to take once you’ve cleared your phone of any sensitive material, you could get some money off your new phone or take home things like a screen cover or earphones for free.
15 Keep It: For Experimentation
If you are anything like us, then you may have found yourself wondering how exactly your cell phone works over the years. While we are nowhere near handy enough to open one up and tinker with the hardware we have found ourselves wondering about the software side of things. However, we also worry that if we make any changes our current device will cease to work right. That is why old devices can be valuable for experimentation, especially if they are made by the same company and possess a similar operating system.
14 Get Rid of It: You Can Donate It
One of two altruistic things you can do with your old cell phone that appear on this list, there are wonderful things that can come of your choice to donate your old device. For instance, there is one non-profit named the 1Million Project which takes your old phone and uses them to give low-income high schoolers new tech with Internet access. If that doesn’t excite you, then there are other charities that take the value of your old phones and put it toward things like domestic violence shelters, feeding the hungry, and other worthy causes.
13 Keep It: Wireless Trackpad
A mainstay of homes for many years, if you still use a personal computer, it will most likely have many of the same peripheral devices as everyone else on your street. For instance, most people will have some variety of mouse, speakers, and a keyboard. As a result, if you get something like a track pad to replace your mouse it seems really fancy. However, who wants to shell out that kind of cash? Turns out you can get a track pad for free by downloading the right app to and connecting your old cell phone to your PC.
12 Get Rid of It: For the Environment
Products that are made up of a long list of different materials, in the form in which you buy them cell phones are quite destructive to the environment as a whole. That is because they are far from biodegradable so if you hold onto them and they eventually get thrown away then they will sit in a landfill damaging the environment long after you are gone from the earth. However, if you act proactively and have them properly recycled then you can make sure that they impact our world as little as humanly possible.
11 Keep It: Wi-Fi Remote
It may seem like it requires some technical knowhow to repurpose a cell phone as a remote control but we can attest there is not that much involved. After all, there are a number of apps that can walk you through the process and there are endless tutorials and instruction videos online as well. Suffice it to say, it won’t take much effort to use your old cell phone to control most smart TVs and searching on apps like YouTube will be so much easier with a keyboard at your service.
10 Get Rid of It: You Can Sell It
We’ve already brought up that you can trade in your old cell phone to get money off new products or donate them to various charities and that is the case for one reason only. Even though you may no longer see your old tech as valuable there are other people that do and they are willing to pay for them. In fact, if you want a self-serving reason to get rid of an old phone but are not in the market for anything new, you can put them up for sale online and possibly make a quick buck.
9 Keep It: Security Camera
The cheapest possible way to get a security system you can access from afar, free is a wonderful price if you are ok with having to charge your camera from time to time. All you need to do to make this a reality is download an app like Alfred to your old and new device and then follow instructions to make the old device the camera and the new one your viewer. From there you are off to the races whether you want to keep track of what is going on around your home or are looking for a baby monitor.
8 Get Rid of It: Germs
The one thing about cell phones that we all know to be true but don’t want to think about, these pocket-sized pieces of tech are disgusting in a lot of ways. We say that because we freely admit that we have been known to pull our phones out while relieving ourselves in the past and having them in the bathroom is not very hygienic. On top of that, who know how many other gross places you’ve been in with your cell phone by your side? In our minds, that is reason enough to bid them a fond farewell.
7 Keep It: Storage
Probably the most obvious use for an old phone, if you were on the market for external memory but the prices seem too steep then you are certainly not out of options. Just dust off your old device and depending on how much memory it came with the phone can be used to store a great deal of information. On top of that, it is always an option to wipe the hard drive clean of the software needed to use your cell phone for its original purpose in order to clear up some more memory space.
6 Get Rid of It: They Contain Hazardous Materials
An entry that might seem like fear mongering at first blush, don’t worry, we weren’t wearing a tin foil hat while working on this list. That said, it is simply a fact that cell phones are manufactured with a small amount hazardous materials in them. That is because the circuit boards companies use to make your devices work have toxins in them like arsenic, copper, lead, nickel, and zinc. While we don’t think that is something to be overly concerned with, we still admit it is a good reason to not keep your old tech around past its life cycle.
5 Keep It: Use it as a Music Device
It wasn’t all that long ago when the first iPods hit the market and people were happy to spend a fortune to be able to listen to high quality music files on the go. Now, only a relatively short time later many of us have devices tucked away in a drawer that can do the very same thing just as well. All you need to do is hook your old phone up to your computer, transfer your songs of choice, and then attach a pair of headphones and your new MP3 player is fully functioning.
4 Get Rid of It: Keep Your Photos Private
Tiny devices that are capable of almost limitless things if you have the technological knowhow and imagination, despite that, most people use their cell phones for only a few things. One of the most common of those is taking advantage of their increasingly high quality hardware to take some magnificent photos and videos of our lives. While that is truly great, if your old phone falls into the hands of the wrong person because you held onto it, they will have access to all of your personal photos that have been left on the device.
3 Keep It: Make it a Kid-Friendly Device
A new problem that the current generation of parents has been forced to tackle, most young people these days want their own cell phones but that can be quite risky. That said, if you don’t want to have a larger bill to pay but are ok with them having a device then you could give them your old phone after hooking it up to Wi-Fi. On top of that, you can also put child controls on the device and while your child may figure out a go around, it will buy you some time at least.
2 Get Rid of It: Protection from Identity Theft
Something that is talked about a lot more these days, if you use your cell phone to do things like personal banking you may be in danger of having your identity stolen. As a result, many people no longer do that but they have done so in the past sadly. This means that any old phones that you’ve held onto should hold information that will allow wrong doers to take full advantage of your identity to benefit them and damage your life. Of course, if your phone has been properly disposed of that risk is gone.
1 Keep It: For the Greater Good
Proof positive of the ingenuity of humanity, the idea that your old cell phone can be key to a greater understanding absolutely blows us away. If you have no idea what we are talking about, let us explain. There are now apps that you can download that make your cell phone one of many that researchers gain access to. Through the combined processing power of all of these devices, they are able to construct a virtual super computer and come to conclusions that their budgets would have previously kept out of reach.