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Options for Old Smartphones


I have a drawer full of old smartphones and don’t know what I should do with them. Any suggestions?


This question was answered on April 15, 2021.

This has become a very common scenario for most households and even more so if there are lots of people in your family.

Unless you sell it outright, you basically have four choices to choose from - repurpose, donate, trade-in or recycle it.

Repurposing Options
Just because a smartphone no longer has a cellular connection does not mean it becomes useless.

Connecting the device via Wi-Fi makes it fully functional for a variety of uses, such as a webcam, media player, gaming, streaming video, baby monitor or just about anything you typically use it for.

If there are younger children in your life, an old smartphone can be a great first device, because they typically don’t need a cellular connection.  It’s also a less expensive way to teach them how to take care of mobile electronics and combined with parental controls, a way to help them learn how to manage usage.

Any new parent wants some form of baby monitor, which can easily be created with an old smartphone that stays plugged into power and mounted near the baby’s crib.

There are numerous apps that provide great functionality for turning old smartphones into security or baby monitoring cameras including Alfred Camera (, Nancy Baby Monitor (, and Ahgoo Baby Monitor (

Donation Options
Smartphones, even if they don’t work, can be a valuable donation for a number of organizations.

Cell Phones for Soldiers ( is a national nonprofit that was started by a couple of teenagers that heard of soldiers returning from combat with huge cellphone bills.

American Cell Phone Drive ( works with over 4,000 organizations that you can choose for your donation.

911 Cellphone Bank ( works with a network of law enforcement and victims services groups and can make use of non-working phones as well.

If you’d like to donate to something more global, ( uses old phones, tablets and accessories to fund their international health worker initiatives.

Trade-In Options
Start with your current cellular provider to see if they have a trade-in program if you’re in the market for a new device.

You can get a good idea what your device might be worth as a trade-in through sites like Amazon (, Apple (, Nextworth ( and MaxBack (

Recycling Options
If none of the other options works for you, please do not throw the device in with your trash as it’s filled with toxic materials.

I’d recommend looking for a local recycling program in your area first to avoid having to ship it out.

If nothing is available locally, groups like SecondWave Recycling (, the Woman’s Resource Center ( and ( can help you properly dispose of your old devices.

Security Wipe First
If your device still powers up, make sure you perform a factory reset to wipe out all of your personal information.  If you don’t know how it’s done, do a Google search for ‘factory reset on (name of your device)’.

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Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on April 15, 2021