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10 great uses for an old smartphone

Expert Reviews Staff
16 Sep 2014
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Teach your old phone new tricks! We show you 10 great ways to bring an unused handset back to life

Tempted to buy a new phone? It isn't hard to find yourself drawn to the latest, greatest upgrade...until the guilt kicks in. You probably have a perfectly decent phone already, which was leading its field just 12 months ago. Can you really justify moving on so soon, and leaving a perfectly decent piece of kit at the back of a drawer until it becomes obsolete?

Upgrading your handset every time Apple or Samsung revamps their flagship handset will cost you £500 a year – give or take – unless you're paying top whack for your data and calls, in which case much of the cost will be hidden away in the ongoing price of your contract.

Even the more modest pricing that Google has adopted for its Nexus tips the scales just shy of £300 every 12 months. For many, that represents a hefty chunk of their annual disposable income, the cost of a month's commute, or half a mortgage payment.

If you're struggling to justify an upgrade, then, you need to recoup at least some of the cost of your previous phone to offset it against your new one – or, at least, put that old handset to good use. Fortunately, both of these options are not only viable; they're easy, as last-season smartphones – even some pushing five years old – still have plenty to offer.

Here's the 10 best things to do with an old smartphone:

1. Sell it

This is the most obvious way – and the quickest – to offset the cost of your new phone. There are lots of ways to sell an old handset, eBay being the most obvious one, though second-hand phones often don't sell quickly here unless they are in very good condition. You'll also need to take in account fees of around 10% of the final price. An unlocked Nexus 4 (16GB) in good condition was selling for around £140 when we checked

We also touted an imaginary Nexus 4 around some of the big names, including Mazuma, CEX and Sell My Mobile. Prices vary a lot, but in this CEX came out on top with £104. However, it's worth trying all these sites at least to see who has the best offer on your handset.

If you have an iPhone, you can even sell it straight back to Apple as part of its Reuse and Recycling Programme. To see what your iPhone is worth click here and pick out your model and its condition from the drop-down menus. The cash isn't great, but some will feel more comfortable dealing directly with Apple.

Vodafone's buyback scheme will take in phones locked to any network – not only its own – but it only offered us £39 in cash for our imaginary Nexus 4, or £44 in high-street vouchers. O2 didn't fare much better, with £57 offered or £62 in Amazon vouchers.

Recycle and old iPhone

2. Carry on using it

An older handset might not play the latest instalment of Angry Birds, but with some smart searching you can still turn up plenty of compatible applications. The original iPhone can be updated as far as iOS 3.1.2, which is now three years old and, along with everything up to iOS 6.1.3, has since been discontinued. You can't search the App Store directly for applications compatible with any particular release of iOS, but you can do it through Google, since Apple has exposed its complete listings to the wider web. All you need to do is restrict the results to pages published through itunes.apple.com.

Searching for 'requires iOS 3.0 site:itunes.apple.com' turns up up over five million results and although some of these will be duplicates it means there's plenty of compatible software still on sale that will run on every iOS device in existence.

If you want to pare down the results, switch the version designator for the latest full-point release to run on your iPhone, as follows:

For iPhone 3G and iPod touch 2nd generation:
requires iOS 4.0 site:itunes.apple.com

For the original iPad and iPad touch 3rd generation:
requires iOS 5.0 site:itunes.apple.com

For iPhone 3GS and iPod touch 4th generation:
requires iOS 6.0 site:itunes.apple.com

For iPhone 4 and later, iPod touch 5th generation, iPad 3 and later, iPad 3rd generation and later, or any iPad mini: requires iOS 7.0 site:itunes.apple.com

Finding compatible Android applications is less tortuous since every device you own is registered to your Google Play account, which means the store can tell you on its listings pages whether they are compatible with any particular app.

Look for the line immediately below the Install button on any app's homepage, which will say either 'This app is compatible with all of your devices' or 'This app is compatible with some of your devices#. If you see the latter, click the link to see which of your handsets can run that application.

Supported devices on Google Play

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