5 things to do with your old phone (other than sell it)

That old phone could be doing so much more than just collecting dust.

Alina Bradford CNET Contributor
Alina Bradford has been writing how-tos, tech articles and more for almost two decades. She currently writes for CNET's Smart Home Section, MTVNews' tech section and for Live Science's reference section. Follow her on Twitter.
Alina Bradford
3 min read

Get those phones out of the junk pile and put them to use.

Josh Miller

If you love having the latest phone, then you probably have a couple of perfectly good phones sitting in a desk drawer or in a closet. They aren't really worth enough to sell, but they still work, so throwing them away isn't an option, either.

It's time to give those cast-offs a new purpose. Here are five ideas to take your old phone from junk drawer fodder to productive member of your household.

Turn it into a security camera

If the camera is still good on your old phone, turning it into a security camera is an option. With it, you can keep an eye on your back door, use it as a baby monitor or spy on your pets.

Taylor Martian has a great tutorial on how to your old phone into a home security camera you can watch from anywhere.

Donate it to science (sort of)

Even if you don't want to use your old phone, someone else might. There are a couple apps that let you donate the phone's unused computing power to use on scientific research projects. BOINC is an app created by the Space Sciences Laboratory at U.C. Berkeley and Power to Give is a similar app created by HTC. All you have to do is download them.

BOINC and Power to Give apps use the computing power donated and form -- in simple words -- a grid. According to HTC, "Projects that could otherwise take hundreds of years are executed in a drastically shorter time," with these grids.

These apps only run when the phone is connected to Wi-Fi to prevent data usage and only when the phone is plugged in, so you won't suddenly have a dead phone. Plus, you get to choose which research projects get to use your phone's computing power.

Create a universal remote

Your old phone can make an awesome universal remote that controls things like like smart lights, Roku, Xbox One, Apple TV and your sound system. Just clear your phone of old apps and install apps for any smart devices you own. Or you can get a little fancier with these tips for turning a tablet into a universal remote that apply to phones, too.

Or use it as a wireless mouse for your computer

A discarded phone can also make a great wireless mouse and remote for your computer. It's useful as a clicker for presentations or a remote for a home theater PC.

Just download an app like Gmote 2.0 or Remote Link for Android or Remote Mouse or Mobile Mouse for iOS. These apps can be used as trackpads, keyboards and remotes.

Make it your garage buddy

There are apps that will run diagnostics on your cars, check error codes and more. If your hobby is rebuilding cars or you just like working on your car, these apps are valuable, but not at the cost of getting your primary phone greasy.

Instead, use your old phone for these apps. Some good garage apps to try are OBD Auto Doctor for iOS or Android, Car Diagnostics Pro and OBD Fusion. Many of these apps require an OBD Wi-Fi cable or Wireless OBD adapter to connect your phone to your car's computer. This cord or adapter connects to your car through the Data Link Connector (DLC) that can be found under the dash. You may need to consult your owner's manual for the exact location of this outlet since it is located in different places depending on the make and model of the car.