The iPhone has been around a full 10 years now, meaning at some point you’ve probably upgraded to a newer model. (Possibly several newer models.) And whenever you do that, you’re left with your old phone and a question: What should I do with it?
Most common answer: sell it. That’s a good way to help defray the cost of the upgrade.
However, that’s not the only option, and not necessarily even the best. Instead, consider repurposing that old iPhone. You might be surprised at some of the feats it can perform.
Keep it as a backup phone
It’s a hard truth: Phones get lost, stolen and broken every day. I don’t know about you, but I’d be in pretty dire straits if something happened to my phone.
The straits would be less dire, though, if I could just grab my previous-gen iPhone. I’d still have access to my calendar, contacts, iMessages and the like (because they’re all synced), along with daily-use apps like Facebook, Spotify, Twitter, my password manager and so on. There’s really no better short-term rescue option.
In fact, if you still have your new phone (assuming it’s busted and not lost or stolen), you can probably just pop the SIM card out and back into the old phone, restoring voice and data until repairs are made.
Of course, you don’t have to stick the old phone in a drawer and leave it there in case of disaster; you can also keep it as a low- or even no-cost second line. For example, if it’s an unlocked GSM model, grab a SIM card from Freedompop (about $13) and sign up for the WhatsApp Basic plan. It affords you 100 voice minutes, 100 text messages and 200MB of 4G data per month — at no charge.
Add it to a multi-camera video shoot
Whether you’re recording a wedding, a kid’s soccer game, a music video or your sure-to-win-the-film-fest indie movie, nothing beats multiple cameras. When it comes time to edit, you can mix footage from different angles and positions to create much more interesting video.
Needless to say, your old iPhone can make a great second camera. (Models dating back to the iPhone 4S could capture 1,920×1,080-pixel resolution video at 30 frames per second.) Clear out as much storage as possible to make room for new footage and you’re good to go.
Even better, spend $4 (AU$6, £4) on Collabracam, an iOS app that links multiple iPhone/iPad cameras (up to six) for live multi-camera video production. It’s pretty amazing. Indeed, once you start using Collabracam, I guarantee you’re going to start hunting down more old iPhones to add to the mix.
Use it as a baby monitor
Speaking of video, an iPhone with nothing else to do can easily pull baby-monitor duty, and in fact can rival or even exceed standalone products costing a pretty penny.
All you need is Cloud Baby Monitor, a $4 (AU$6, £4) app designed expressly for this purpose. In addition to both audio and video monitoring (with alert options for both), the app can play lullabies and white noise (or even your own playlist) to help baby get back to sleep. There’s a night-light option (with brightness control!), two-way audio and more.
Needless to say, you can tap into the audio/video feeds from anywhere, provided the iPhone is connected via Wi-Fi. That’s a pretty solid return on a $4 investment.
Give it the GoPro treatment
One final video option: Turn your old iPhone into a GoPro. Again, that’s a solid camera in there, so all you need is a way to mount it for action-video duty. Velocity Clip, for example, offers iPhone mounts for your bike, chest and head, all of them priced in the $40-50 range. Granted, an iPhone is a little unwieldy when strapped to your head, but it’s still way cheaper than buying a separate GoPro.
Whatever mount option you end up with, hit up Ebay for a cheap Bluetooth camera-shutter button. (They’re available for as little as $2-3.) That way you can start and stop video recording without having to fiddle with the iPhone while it’s mounted.
Create a poor-man’s Amazon Echo
If you’ve ever used an Amazon Echo, you know the joy of being able to say things like, “Alexa, play some Steely Dan on Spotify.”
Many folks forget that iPhones have an “Alexa” as well in the form of Siri. Thus, you can turn your old iPhone into an Echo of sorts; just leaved it plugged in someplace within earshot, then say, “Hey, Siri” to invoke a command. (If you need a refresher, here’s the complete list of Siri commands to date.)
To get even closer to the Echo experience, keep that phone connected to a Bluetooth speaker. If you’re an Apple Music user, Siri can serve up songs, playlists and the like (podcasts too, provided you have Apple’s Podcasts app). Alas, while she can open third-party apps like Spotify for you, she can’t yet make them play. The one exception is Pandora: Say, “Hey, Siri, open Pandora,” and the app will start playing whatever was your last station.
Leave it on your nightstand
An old iPhone might just be the best thing to hit your nightstand since the lamp. Because in that one spot it can serve countless purposes:
Bedside clock (Disappearing Bedside Clock ($3, AU$5, £3)) is an interesting choice, as the display disappears after a selected interval, but reappears when you tap the screen or wave your hand in front of it).
Clock radio (TuneIn Radio is a good choice, as it has both alarm and sleep-timer features).
Dedicated ereader (iBooks, Kindle, Nook, OverDrive…you don’t have to limit yourself to a single app).
Meditation player (I’m partial to Buddhify, but there are a zillion others).
Spare Roku remote (check out the latest update).
White-noise machine (I don’t have a particular favorite; hit up the App Store for lots of choices).
Any other suggestions for an iPhone by the bedside? Or anywhere else, for that matter? Let’s hear your ideas for reusing your leftover handset.