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10 great uses for an old smartphone

Teach your old phone new tricks! We show you 10 great ways to bring an unused handset back to life


5. Use it as a webcam

Apart from when you’re video conferencing with friends, family and work colleagues, we wouldn’t really recommend using your old phone as a full-time webcam. The cameras built into the bezels of most notebooks and some regular monitors are much more convenient since they’re already well placed yet stay out of the way.

However, for specific uses an old phone can be a considerable money saver. EpocCam lets you use your iPhone as a wireless webcam for streaming to applications like Skype and Google+ via a PC or Mac, while AtHome Camera Free lets you set it up as a security camera to remotely monitor your home or for use as a baby monitor when propped up beside your child’s cot. Bear in mind, though, that where most dedicated baby monitors have night vision, the iPhone doesn’t, so this is only practical if your child is sleeping through the day or you can leave a light turned on.

IP Webcam does the same with Android devices, allowing you to access the device locally over your Wi-Fi network, or remotely using VNC if you’ve set your router to forward incoming connections to the device.

6. Use it to monitor your social networks

Move your social networks off your primary screen and you might – just – increase your productivity. It’s tempting, and far too easy, to continually switch back to your Twitter and Facebook feeds when you’re running clients for either on your primary work machine, but by putting them one step away you’ll likely have greater self control.

Facebook and Twitter each have official apps for both Android and iOS, while third-party options like Hootsuite for Android and iOS, or Seesmic for Android each allow you to access both networks side by side.

You can then either prop your phone in a dock and keep your subscriber posts in view at all times so they’re available at a glance without you switching away from the active app on your PC, or check in periodically without alerts popping up in the corner of your screen.

7. Use it as a second line

Landlines are fairly redundant these days. You can conduct all of your telephony over the Internet courtesy of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), so it’s a shame – or a con, your choice – that you still have to pay for a landline just to maintain a broadband connection.
If you need a second line, then, play the telcos at their own game. Put your old phone to good use and save yourself the cost of a regular second number by instead signing up with a VoIP provider.

The first thing you’ll need is obviously a second incoming number, preferably without paying for its ongoing maintenance. Sipgate offers geographical numbers for free in all UK area codes, as well as non-geographic options like 0845 (local rate) and 0870 (national) for customers living overseas. Its FAQs state that numbers are free for the time being and may be charged for in the future, and while we have no reason to doubt that we’ve been using the service for around six years to date without having been charged any line rental.

Sipgate uses industry-standard protocols, which means that although you can buy a dedicated hardware handset to sit on your desk if you plan on using it for work, you can equally well use a SIP app on your old phone. There are plenty to choose from, such as Nymgo for Android and 3CXPhone for iPhone.

All of the necessary settings for your specific account are detailed within your account dashboard after logging in at and, once set up with your VoIP client, they give you a second landline number for home use, allowing friends and family to get hold of you wherever you are without paying mobile fees, and for you to make reduced rate international calls by routing most of your traffic over the net. Click here for details of Sipgate’s tariffs.

There are plenty of alternative VoIP providers in the UK through which you can obtain a UK landline number for use on your mobile, including LocalPhone and Skype.

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