Making the most of your old smartphone

Uses for Old Phones

You’re ready for the exciting, cutting-edge features that come with upgrading to a new smartphone. There’s just one thing holding you back—your old smartphone still has a lot of life left in it. Even if you love having the latest and greatest cell phone technology, you can still find a use for your older phone. Sell it, trade it in, pass it down, or use it as household Wi-Fi® device.

Sell or trade

You can lower the cost of an upgrade when you sell your old smartphone or do a phone trade-in. Websites like SellCell will pay top dollar for all the major smartphone brands. It’s easy, and you can use the cash as a down payment on your new device. Most wireless providers like AT&T have trade-in programs that give you store credit for a phone in good condition (and a phone with a cracked screen may still have some value). Use the credit to help buy a new smartphone or tablet, load up on the latest accessories, or even pay your service bill. To trade in your phone with AT&T:

  1. Search to select your device model and find out its estimated value.
  2. Accept the trade-in offer online.
  3. Use the prepaid shipping materials from AT&T to pack and send your device.
  4. Get your AT&T Promotion Card by mail or visit your local AT&T store for instant credit.

Even if your phone ends up not having any value to receive credit for, you can still complete the trade-in and AT&T will responsibly recycle the device at no charge.

Pay it forward

If you have a family member or friend who’s been wanting a new smartphone—but doesn’t have the funds to buy one—you can help them out by passing down yours. Before you do, be sure to complete these steps first.

  1. Remove the SIM card. The new owner will get a different SIM when they activate the phone, so be sure you’re not passing them your personal info.
  2. Take out your memory card. If you were using the old phone’s microSD card slot, be sure to remove the SD card.
  3. Back up and reset. Copy all your photos, music, and other data to your computer or cloud storage, then erase all apps, content, and settings.
  4. Gather the peripherals. Make sure you give the new owner all the charging cords, adapters, and other accessories.

Create a toy

Kids who are too young to have their own smartphone can still enjoy playing with the features of one. Your child can use an old cell phone to play games, video chat, or stream music or movies with a Wi-Fi connection. Even without a Wi-Fi connection, kids can use an old cell phone as a small digital camera. Or insert an old smartphone into an inexpensive shell to become a virtual reality headset. Seriously, you can make these out of cardboard, and they work great.


Turn it into Wi-Fi device

An old cell phone can even serve as an extra W-Fi-enabled device. Make your home more tech savvy by turning your old phone into a:

  • Alarm clock
  • Bluetooth-enabled music player
  • Dedicated video chat device
  • Wi-Fi remote for smart TVs or streaming devices

Help a soldier

Donate your old cell phone to help the men and women in our armed forces. The Cell Phones for Soldiers program accepts any cell phone, in any condition, to help our troops and veterans.

Be kind to the environment

Most cell phones can have a productive second life, especially if they’re in good condition. If your phone can’t be reused or refurbished, please don’t throw it in the trash. Instead, check for electronic recycling centers in your area. Here’s what can be recovered from 1 million recycled cell phones:

  • 35,000 pounds of copper
  • 772 pounds of silver
  • 75 pounds of gold
  • 33 pounds of palladium

(Telecommunications Industry Association)

With such a wide variety of options to reuse or recycle phones, getting the latest smartphone should be as easy as 1–2–3:

  1. Pick out your new smartphone.
  2. Find a good use or new home for your old phone.
  3. Share the joys of making outstanding choices.


This article is AT&T sponsored content written by Allison Jewel, a TechBuzz contributor and AT&T employee. The statements in this article are her own and don’t necessarily represent the positions, strategies, or opinions of AT&T.

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