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What to do with your old phone: 8 ideas for repurposing

Clean out the tech junk drawer with these ways to give your old device new life

Person repurposing old phone as a webcam

Do you have a junk drawer filled with old useless phones? It doesn't have to be this way. Whether you have an iPhone® or Android™, giving new life to your old device isn't just easy—it reduces waste, saves energy, and keeps money in your pocket. Sounds pretty good, right?

Asurion Experts help millions of people get the most out of their tech, from backing up their phone to uncovering why their laptop battery won't charge. Here are our favorite ways to reuse your old phone.

Why repurpose your old phone?

Tossing your old phone in the trash is bad for the environment. Our favorite tech is made with materials, like plastics, metal, glass, and aluminum, that can be recycled into new products. But phones also contain lead, mercury, cadmium, and other toxic substances, which can pose serious health issues if they're improperly disposed of. In fact, 25 states have passed laws making it illegal to throw away certain electronics.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to safely give new life to your old phone, at no cost to you. Let's take a look.

What to do with old cell phones

Turn your phone into a webcam

One of our favorite ways to keep an old phone out of a landfill is to turn it into a webcam. Just use Facetime®, Zoom™, Microsoft Teams™, or your video chat platform of choice. You can also download a webcam app. Whatever you choose, a stand, tripod, or table mount will help keep your phone—ahem, your webcam—steady and out of the way.

Use your old phone as a security camera

Looking to keep tabs on your front door? You can download an app to turn your old phone into a makeshift security camera. You'll probably need to buy a tripod or stand, possibly a wide-angle lens too. But once it's up and running, you can use your current phone to check on your home from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection.

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Give your old phone to a family member

If you're a parent, you know that most kids start asking for a phone long before you're ready. But once you are, passing down an old phone is a great first step. It's already paid for, plus you won't be too upset if they break it. Just remember to set up parental controls and use the screen-sharing tool to track usage.

Another idea: Give your old phone to an older parent or relative and set it up as a dedicated FaceTime or Zoom device.

Turn your old phone into a gaming device

Games can sap the battery life from your phone and take up a lot of space. Instead, turn your old device into a portable, standalone gaming console for your kids (or yourself). Many games are free.

Have games on your current device? It's easy to transfer them.

Create a smart TV remote

If you have Apple TV®, Roku®, or Fire TV®, you know how easy it is to lose that tiny remote. But with an old phone, you can create a spare. Simply install the corresponding app and poof, your phone can control the TV.

Trade in your old phone

Most wireless carriers offer trade-in programs, where you can swap your old phone for cash or credit toward your next device. Contact your provider for program-specific details.

Donate your old phone

There are a lot of organizations that accept donated phones or sell them and use the proceeds to benefit certain groups. World Computer Exchange helps kids in developing countries with education and digital literacy. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence helps survivors of domestic violence. Cells for Cells raises money for families fighting cancer. Cell Phones for Soldiers helps troops stay connected with their loved ones.

Before donating your phone, make sure to erase your personal information. Our factory reset guide will show you how.

Recycle responsibly

If your old phone barely holds a charge or is too slow to do anything, make sure you recycle it responsibly. Here are some options:

Where to recycle your old phone:

  • Stop by a participating uBreakiFix® by Asurion store for recycling services.
  • Bring it to a big box store, like Staples® or Best Buy®, which will send your phone to recyclers.
  • This Environmental Protection Agency list lets you search by company and product.
  • Drop off your phone at a certified electronics recycling center. Consumer Technology Associates (CTA)® and Sustainable Electronics Recycling International both let you search for a center by location.

But first, remember to factory reset your phone by checking out our guides for Android and iPhone.

Tried these steps and still need help? We got you. Get your tech problem solved when you call or chat with an expert now.

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