Q: I have a drawer full of old smartphones and don’t know what I should do with them. Any suggestions?
A: 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.
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.
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 nonworking phones as well.
If you’d like to donate to something more global, Medic.org uses old phones, tablets and accessories to fund their international health worker initiatives.
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.
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.
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).”