You can use an old smartphone as a dedicated interface for video chats via platforms such as FaceTime or Zoom. PHOTO / Michael Kakumirizi


Repurposing your old smartphone

What you need to know:

Rather than discarding old phones, smartphones can be re-purposed for new functions such as home security cameras, e-book readers, and music players among others. 

As we progress through successive generations of mobile technology, a growing number of individuals find themselves accumulating outdated gadgets at home or in the workplace, resulting in electronic waste.

The fast pace of innovation in smartphones often renders older models outdated within a short time, resulting in the accumulation of obsolete devices. Rather than simply discarding them, smartphones can be repurposed for various new functions, offering opportunities for sustainability and creativity.

Mr John Birungi Babirukamu, general manager, of Hedge Marketing, says smartphones are generally considered old when they can’t be upgraded to newer operating systems or even upgrades to apps.

“Most people consider a smartphone to be outdated when its features stop working, the screen breaks, or it generally slows down due to hardware problems or full storage,” Mr Babirukamu states.

He also notes that many people just replace their outdated smartphones with the newest models available, regardless of how much space they still have.

Video chat device
But according to Mr Duncan Byamukama, supervisor, of IT Systems and Networks at the Innovation Village, Ntinda, old or outdated smartphones can be put to good use rather than just dumping them on your shelves.
Mr Byamukama advises that you can turn your old smartphone into a video chat device.

 “You can use it as a dedicated interface for video chats via platforms such as FaceTime or Zoom which is especially useful for kids or remote movie nights,”  he explains.

 Additionally, that old smartphone can be turned into an E-book reader; for those who enjoy reading books and comics, an old smartphone offers a sustainable alternative to purchasing a new e-reader.

 Mr Byamukama says one can repurpose their old smartphone into a home security camera by downloading a security camera from the Google App Store or iPhone. 

“This might require downloading an app such as AlfredCamera, then,  mount the outdated phone where it is needed. Just make sure it has electricity.  If the screen is cracked, use your new phone to view the recordings,” he says.

Alarm clock
An old phone can be turned into a cheap alarm clock; by using smart displays like the Google Nest Hub and the Echo Show, the smartphone can help you manage time by placing it on the stand and turning it into a bedside clock display. 

Music player
Mr Douglas Kikonyogo, a tech expert, notes that since the advancement in technology has created more room for virtual and digital media, a popular route to take advantage of repurposing the device as a dedicated music player.

“You just have to load it with your favourite songs, and pair the device with a set of headphones, to give you the best company in your day-to-day runs,”  Kikonyongo adds.

He adds, “If you are fortunate to have a sizable storage of  128GB or 256GB, or even more, the old gadget can be a good data storage device.”

Mr Kikonyongo explains that as you offload anything you might need for future keeps off your laptop or new smartphone, the old one comes in handy in securing.

Additionally, Mr Kikonyongo notes that for people whose needs are basic with no need to update to the latest App, the old smartphone can still find purpose as a reliable communication tool, offering functions of calls and texts.

“The remote controls that come with the majority of video streaming devices are typically tiny and easily misplaced. The likelihood is high that you will misplace your remote control, whether you possess an Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV Stick, or Roku, ”  he states.

You’ll be glad to learn that your old phone can also function as a dependable webcam if you regularly take part in remote meetings or video chats and need a webcam for your desktop computer according to tech experts.

“You just need to connect your phone to your computer, download a camera app, and you’re good to go. The video quality on your smartphone’s camera is superior to the built-in webcam on your laptop,” says Mr Babirukamu.