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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


10. Turn it into a home media server

Forget about scrabbling around with a keyboard and mouse – your old phone is the ideal companion for a home media server and, because it’s no larger than a regular remote control, you can keep it perched on the arm of the sofa, always within easy reach.

Apple already has this pretty much sewn up for iPhone users, courtesy of Apple TV, through which you can stream media from your device to high definition televisions. It takes the bare minimum of setup and only requires that you buy a £99 Apple TV box to connect via HDMI. Recent editions of the iPhone and iPad operating system will spot the box and make it available as an output option for streamed media.

Google’s take on TV integration is the Chromecast. This lets you stream from BBC iPlayer, Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies and others to a connected TV. It requires external power, like the Apple TV, and Google’s preferred route for providing this would be for you to connect your Chromecast to your television set using the bundled USB cable. If you don’t have a USB port on your TV. If you don’t have one you’ll need to use an external power adaptor connected to a regular wall socket instead.

At £30 Chromecast is significantly cheaper than Apple TV.

You can use Chromecast on your old phone, which can then be left close to the TV while you carry your new one with you for daily use.

If you have an old computer that you could hook up to your TV on a permanent basis you can take things even further by downloading the free Plex Media Center software for Windows, OS X, Linux, NAS devices or FreeBSD. Read our in-depth guide to find out how to use Plex to stream anything from any device.


And if all else fails…

If none of these suits options, or your phone is broken, at least recycle it responsibly. Don’t throw it in your household waste as phones are full of chemicals that can do serious environmental harm if they leach out of the casing. They need to be disposed of carefully, and many of the semi-precious metals that make them up can often be re-used if extracted by professionals.

Apple has its own recycling scheme through which it will take back old products and recycle them – along with the packaging – for no fee. Fill out the form to explain what you want to return and it will arrange collection. Alternatively, take it to your local recycling centre and add it to the inevitable pile of electrical products for safe disposal.

As they say, though, ‘where there’s muck there’s brass’, and this is just as true of mobile phones: people will actually pay to take it off your hands. If your phone still works and you want to see how much you could make by recycling it responsibly, picking the best outlet to handle it can quickly become confusing. In this case, check out Mobile Phone Recycling, which compares the various offers from recycling outlets and claims that it helps its users make ‘an average 42.2% more per handset’ when disposing of their phones. Its extensive database contains up to date recycling offers for thousands of different handsets.

You can make yourself feel better about buying a new phone by donating whatever you make from your old one this way, or save yourself the hassle and simply hand over the handset wholesale to your charity of choice.

Lots of UK charities will recycle your old phone and use the proceeds to support their humanitarian activities. WaterAid, which works to supply clean water around the world takes in mobiles (click ‘Recycle for WaterAid’), British Red Cross, Tommy’s and Guide Dogs are just four such examples. If none of these suits, find others by searching ‘recycle phone for charity’.

Whatever reason you hand for wanting to buy a new phone – even if it’s simply so you can have the latest, greatest handset – there are plenty of ways to help you feel better about splashing the cash. Just be sure you really can afford it, though, and whatever you do, make sure your old device doesn’t simply go to waste.

British Red Cross

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