Any suggestions on what I can do with all my old smartphones?
This question was answered on April 26, 2018. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.
Most of us have slowly accumulated a collection of old smartphones that are hiding in a drawer somewhere because we tend to replace them about every two years.
Whether they are broken or just too old, you should never throw them in the trash, as they contain toxic materials that contaminate our landfills.
If you can’t sell them on one of the many resale sites, like Gazelle, Swappa or Glyde, here are some other ideas:
There are a number of ways that old smartphones can be repurposed either by you or someone you know.
A still functioning old smartphone can be a perfect first device for a child. You don’t necessarily have to activate it on your cellular carrier as connecting to Wi-Fi may provide all the access they need.
You can also turn old smartphones into dedicated security webcams by installing apps such as Alfred (https://alfred.camera - Android or iOS), Presence (http://presencepro.com - iOS) or Manything (https://manything.com - Android or iOS).
You can create a dedicated digital photo slideshow device if you’re using Google Photos as a backup for your primary smartphone (iOS or Android). Simply install the app, login to your account and select an image in your main view or in a specific album. To start the slideshow, tap on the three dots in the upper right corner of the image and tap ‘Slideshow’.
Another option for those that love to cook is to create a dedicated kitchen resource that’s loaded with recipes, video streaming apps and smart home apps if you have smart devices installed around the house.
If you have a working device, even though it’s not powerful enough for your needs, it may be very useful for others.
There are a number of national programs looking for your old smartphone including Cell Phones for Soldiers (https://cellphonesforsoldiers.com) which converts donations into free talk-time minutes for our soldiers, The 1Million Project (http://1millionproject.org) which helps low-income students get connected to the web or check with your local charities as many can make use of your working devices.
Even though your old phone isn’t working, it may still be of value to one of the charities for parts.
If none of the above are an option, find a responsible recycler that will make sure that the toxic materials are properly processed.
Check with your cell carrier and local municipalities for e-waste recycling programs or checkout websites like Call2Recycle (https://call2recycle.org) and Recycling for Charities (http://recyclingforcharities.com) for other options.
In Arizona, all Data Doctors locations (https://datadoctors.com/locations) serve as a year-round drop off for most types of electronic waste that are picked up by Westech Recyclers (https://westechrecyclers.com).
Wipe Your Data First
Whichever approach you decide to take, make sure you perform a factory reset to remove all your personal information first. Even if you plan on using it yourself, resetting will clear up space for it’s new intended use.
An exception to this step is when your old phone can serve as a backup in case your primary phone becomes unusable, lost or stolen.
About the author
Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on April 26, 2018