Re-purposing your old smartphone

If you're like me and you've taken good care of your old smartphones over the years, you probably have a drawer full of them. There are some neat features you can still use even though it is disabled from your carrier after you've upgraded to a new phone or carrier.

If everything works, the camera, sound (speaker and mic), the USB port connector ok, the wi-fi functioning, the touch screen not broken and the battery holding a good charge, there are many things you can still do with the phone in and around the home and on the road. Even if some of the items listed don't work the phone can still be used for some features. However, some features noted below may not work depending upon the app that might require an authorized phone number to enable features.

Depending on some carrier (phone) services you might even be able to use your old smartphone as a real phone such as the Magicjack app as long as you can establish and stay connected to a wireless network.

Here are some features you might be able to use:

Camera: Your camera can still be used to take good pictures and video clips, and thru the USB port you can upload and download your picture gallery.

Music player/recorder: You can download mp3's from either the web or from your computer via the wireless network and use the music app to play files just like an ipod. If your smartphone has a recorder app you can record conversations, dictation, music, etc. and play the recordings on demand or upload the sound files to your computer.

Web Browser: If your smartphone has a web browser you can use the phone to browse the web. It may be a little slow and cumbersome but it still works.

Email: You may be able to use your smartphone to send emails. Depending on wi-fi access and network configuration you may be able to receive emails. If using webmail you should be able to send and receive emails.

Data storage: Using the USB port and your internal flash card you can transfer files to and from other computers.

GPS: Depending on the app you can use the phone to get your latitude and longitude. You cannot view your location on a map because most maps are dependent on internet access but this has not yet been proven.

Text messaging: You cannot send and receive text messages because they are tied to a specific authorized phone number. Even if you have an activated phone number for your normal use, you cannot have a second phone using the same number. There is one work-around to SEND text messages from your re-purposed phone if you are able to send emails you can use the feature most carriers have and send a text message from an email like this: (Replace 555-555-1234 with the number you want to send text to.) This is one way of contacting a Sprint phone. Other carriers like Verizon and ATT have similar formats for messaging. You just have to know the carrier of the phone of the person you are trying to reach.

Of course some apps previously downloaded will still function as long as you can establish an internet connection. Unfortunately some apps are tied to an authorized phone number and may not work. Some apps might not be able to download if the phone is not tied to an authorized phone number so if you plan on upgrading to a new smartphone you should try and install as many (free) apps as you may need.

Some apps such as Camscanner can be used to take pictures of documents and edit and convert them to a PDF and are able to transfer them to your computer. If you have a good PDF reader you can use your smartphone to display PDF documents.

There are other apps such as notepads, word editors and limited “photoshop” that can still be used.

Depending upon how you feel about introducing new technology to children, you may want to put limited apps on an old smartphone and disable the internet/wi-fi and let them play with the phone and use apps such as music, videos and cameras. It would be advisable to lock it in airplane mode too because some phones still have 911 activated for emergency purposes. Also make sure children don't use the phone to take inappropriate pictures. To disable the camera you could put a dab of black paint over the lens or if you want to be brutal you could scratch or damage the lens altogether so the camera won't work again. Some smartphones have password protection in order to add or remove apps or configure the smartphone.

It is not in the scope of this web page to demonstrate and configure your network so your features can be made to work. Also it is not in the scope for me to individually answer your questions about how to configure your phone. I'm just advising what the re-purposed smartphone is capable of so please don't message or email me with questions.

Copyright © 2015 Rick C. Ver 0.2 9/27/2015