Even an Android phone that’s a couple of years old can still be turned into something useful. Most of us upgrade our phones every 2 or 3 years, which leaves a lot of life left in an old Android phone. If you’re looking for a fun project, why not pull that old phone back out of the drawer and do something fun with it. The nice part is that it’s a zero-risk situation because you’re not playing with your primary device.
15 Fun Uses for Your Old Android Phone
1. Donate Your Phone
The first and most obvious suggestion would be to donate your old phone. There are a lot of places that will accept older electronics and some will even pay you for it. You probably know someone who is looking to upgrade their old phone as well but cannot afford to buy a new phone.
2. Turn Your Old Android Phone Into an Alarm Clock
Just about everyone needs a re-occurring alarm clock. Why not turn your old Android phone into a smart alarm clock. Much like smartwatches, you can find just about any alarm clock face to suit your needs. I prefer to have the alarm clock as dim as possible as my nightstand is close to the bed. I use Alarm Clock for Me, which has a free version you can test out. You can rest your phone sideways to see the clock full screen. Using a wireless charging stand is perfect for keeping the device charged and making the clock easy to see without having to grab the phone.
The nice thing about using an old phone as your alarm clock is that you get all the features like picking your favorite music, multiple alarms and live weather but you don’t have to worry about being woken up by phone calls or text messages. You can leave your primary phone in another room for true Do No Disturb.
3. Use Your Old Android Phone as a Cheap Security Camera
As long as the phone still has a functioning camera and Wi-Fi, you can download an app such as Alfred DIY CCTV. Set up is simple and shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes. Before you get your new security system set up, you’ll want to make sure you have something to hold your phone upright, like a mini tripod and you will need power nearby to keep the phone charged. Once you download the app on your old Android phone, you’ll be able to monitor your house, baby or even your pets. The one drawback to using an old phone is that night vision isn’t nearly as good as dedicated security cameras.
4. Turn it into a Univeral Remote
Lost your Firestick remote in the couch? Want to find something to watch on TV without having to switch apps? Most devices including many newer TVs have free remote control apps available. This includes the Firestick, Kodi and of course the Chromecast. Using an old Android phone as a dedicated Chromecast device is great because you can log into all of your favorite media apps and everyone can use the device to control what’s being watched.
If you’re a fan of Kodi, Kore is the official app and works great. You can use the app to move around Kodi or even search through your library directly from the app.
If you have Spotify connected to your speakers, you can use the Spotify App as a remote control for your music, from anywhere in your house.
5. Store Your Media Library
Long gone are the days when you had an iPod. If most Android devices, you can install a micro SD card, which will often allow you to store an extra 128gb of data. Why not use that space to store all of your music for a long road trip or load it up with movies for your next vacation. The nice thing about having the media on a local device is that you don’t have to worry about having a strong cell phone signal. There are still many places that don’t have Wi-Fi or consistent cell service. There are even some offline GPS apps available but you won’t get updated traffic information.
6. Use for Handheld Retro Gaming
Even an older phone is powerful enough to handle some retro gaming. If you’re not looking to download the apps, there are several emulators available in the app store. One of the best is the all-in-one RetroArch. If you’ve not heard of it before or used it, it can be a bit confusing to get setup, but once you do, you can play just about any game you have a ROM for. Connect a controller to your Android for the full gaming experience. There are even some attachments for Xbox controllers that will allow you to dock your phone to the controller. This is a true DIY setup that looks far better than the GameBoy ever did.
7. Let Your Kids Use it as a Digital Camera or for Music
If you have kids of a certain age, they’ve probably shown great interest in your phone but are too young to have one of their own. Kids love taking pictures and looking at them. Why not set them up with your old phone, so they can go crazy taking pictures and you don’t have to worry about them dropping the phone and damaging it. Spotify has a create Kids music app available for Android called Spotify Kids. You’ll need a family account with at least one free slot available but it’s a great way to introduce kids to music without having to worry about inappropriate content.
8. A Trackpad or Mouse for Your Computer
If you have your PC connected to your TV, turning that old phone into a trackpad is a great way to control it from the couch. With most apps, you’ll need software installed on both your computer and your phone to get it working but once connected over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, you’ll be able to quickly navigate around your PC. Although this works well, I still prefer using something similar to the Rii i8+ as it’s a mini-keyboard with a trackpad.
9. Ultra-Portable Desktop PC
Starting with the S8, Samsung included Dex as a desktop-like program. Simply plug your device into your monitor and the phone will ask you if you want to switch to Dex. Keep in mind that not all of Samsung’s phones have this feature, so you’ll want to check out their website for an updated compatibility list.
What you’ll need to get it started is some sort of USB-C to HDMI plug. I would recommend a hub that allows you to charge your phone at the same time you use it. Then all you need to do is connect a USB keyboard and mouse to the USB hub and you have yourself an ultra-portable desktop. Dex functions pretty well although there are a few awkward moments with the size of the apps not looking quite right. If you want to type out emails or a document, Dex works great and when plugged into a full-size monitor, it’s easier to read your text.
10. Use Your Old Android for Zoom Calls
If you have a docking station or mini tripod, why not use it for your video conferencing calls? If you are working from home on a desktop PC, chances are, you don’t already have a webcam attached. You can install Zoom or Microsoft Teams onto just about any Android device and use it for your meetings. Even better, you can take the meeting to the backyard if things are too nosy at home.
11. Convert Your Phone into a Google Nest Hub
Simply plug your old phone into the wall and set it up on a dock in the kitchen. When the phone is plugged in, the Google Assistant will respond with you say ‘Hey Google’. You can use your old Android phone for lots of fun hands-free things in the kitchen. Have the phone providing cooking instructions, set a timer or skip to your favorite song. There is no need to spend the money on a dedicated Google Nest Hub when all of the same software is located in your old phone. Even better, if your TV has Chromecast built-in, you can tell it to turn off the TV when dinner is ready.
12. Kid-Friendly Wi-Fi only Device
Sometimes it’s hard to let kids go out on their own without any way to contact them. Why not let them take an old phone with a Wi-Fi messaging app installed. This way, when they get to their friends, they can message you in an emergency or you can tell them it’s time to come home. This only works if they know the Wi-Fi password, but most kids do these days. Giving them an old phone is one less thing to worry about. If your children are too young to be out on their own, an old Android phone is a great learning device as you can install only the apps you want them to have and can manage their account from yours. There is no worrying about who they are messaging or even if they drop the phone and break it.
13. Sell It
Why not sell your old Android phone and make some money from it. There are a lot of companies that offer buy-back promotions. There are several that will give you $50 to $100 towards your new phone. If you’ve kept the phone in a case and it’s only a couple years old, you could make significantly more than $100 by selling your phone. This will go a long way towards your next upgrade.
14. A Media Hub for Older Vehicles
Not every vehicle includes Android Auto, particularly vehicles from a couple years ago. There are several different types of phone holders for cars, find one that fits your vehicle best and transform your old phone into a media hub. Make sure to download your Spotify or favorite music playlists first. If you want GPS with traffic updates, you’ll have to enable the Hot Spot on your primary device first.
15. Use as a Wi-Fi Only Vacation Phone
Taking your primary device with you on vacation can be risky. There is always the chance you will lose it or use data when you don’t want to. Some phone plans charge as much as $15/day just to use data. These days most resorts and airports offer free Wi-Fi. Why not load up your old Android phone with music and bring it with you on vacation instead. You’ll still be able to listen to music, take pictures and communicate over Whats App or a similar Wi-Fi texting program. There is enough to worry about while on vacation, don’t let a lost cell phone ruin yours.
Once you start thinking about uses for old phones, it’s hard to stop. They may not run as fast as they once did but there are still a ton of things you can do with your old Android phones. If you are looking for another fun Android-based project, find out how to block those unwanted phone calls with Tasker.