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Uses for an Old iPhone

Uses for Old iPhone

published by Chand Bellur
May 20, 2015 at 7:02 p.m. PST

If you have an old iPhone you may want to keep it or sell it. There are many uses for an old iPhone, but you may also get a decent price for it. This article covers selling an old iPhone and possible uses if you decide to keep it.

The iPhone is a remarkably well-built and rugged device. Even though I have an iPhone 6, I still keep my iPhone 4 and use it every day. My iPhone 4 is about 5 years old now, but it still works well and holds a charge. It isn’t very fast and can only run iOS 7. It is still very useful and can run most apps available in the App Store. I considered selling it, but its utility is worth more than its cash value.

Should I Sell or Keep My iPhone?

When you buy a new iPhone, there is an important decision to make: should you sell your old iPhone or keep it? If you already bought a new iPhone, it may be too late. Carriers like Verizon offer a steep trade-in value for an old iPhone, but only for a limited time.

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After the iPhone 6 launched, Verizon was willing to give me $200 for my old iPhone. Given that I paid $299 for my iPhone 4, it was a remarkable deal. I snoozed and I lost. I wanted to wait before I got a new iPhone. I didn’t want the first ones off the production line. I wanted to make sure there were no major manufacturing flaws. Unfortunately, this was a limited-time offer.

By the time I purchased my iPhone 6, the trade in value for my iPhone 4 was only $40. At that point, it was worth keeping it. You can try selling it on E-Bay, Amazon, or Gazelle, but few are willing to spend top dollar for a very old iPhone. If you get a great trade-in offer, take it. If you miss it, you are better off keeping your old iPhone.

Consumers who regularly upgrade their iPhone will likely benefit from selling it or trading it in. The trade in value for an iPhone 5S is reasonable. Your carrier may also have a special offer. It all depends on the resell price versus utility. If you have a use for your old iPhone, it may be worth keeping. Let’s take a look at some uses for an old iPhone.

Keep Your Old iPhone as a Spare

The iPhone is rugged and well-built, but it is not indestructible. Even if you have insurance from Apple Care+ or SquareTrade, it might take a day or longer to get a replacement. Some people can’t live without an iPhone. Whether you need it for work, play, or socializing, this device is essential.

When you get a new iPhone, you can keep your old one activated. It can even accept phone calls to your number. Both your old and new iPhone can use the same phone number. If you decide to only receive calls on your new iPhone, your old one will likely still have cellular data enabled. In this case, you can contact your carrier later to have your old, spare iPhone receive calls. Most carriers will not charge extra for keeping your old iPhone activated. After all, they make money when you use data. Check with your carrier. Some unlimited plans may charge extra for multiple devices.

You don’t have to lose or damage your iPhone to need a spare. An extra iPhone may come in handy while you are charging or upgrading iOS. I actually charge my iPhone when it is off, because it prevents the battery from getting too warm. Heat limits the lifespan of lithium ion batteries. This is probably why my iPhone 4’s battery is as good as new after 5 years. Even if you don’t turn off your iPhone when charging, it has to be plugged in, which limits its mobility. A spare iPhone can be used anywhere while your existing device is charging. Whatever the reason, it’s always good to have a spare iPhone.

Use an Old iPhone in the Kitchen

Kitchen Timer

An old iPhone serves as an excellent kitchen timer. The stock clock app in iOS features a versatile timer. Maybe your oven or microwave already has a timer, but it can only run one instance. If you need to set times for different foods, you can set multiple alarms using the iOS clock app. I actually use my old iPhone mainly as a clock and timer. If you have Siri, you can ask her to set timers and alarms.

Your old iPhone has many more uses in the kitchen. You can look up recipes and keep track of a shopping list. If you are on a diet, you can use an app like Livestrong’s MyPlate Calorie Tracker to keep track of your dietary intake. This app has just about every food you can imagine, including brand name foods purchased at the supermarket. All you have to do it input how much of the food you ate, at Calorie Tracker does the rest.

Security Camera

When you are away from home, an old iPhone can give you peace of mind. There are several apps that can turn an iPhone into a home security camera. A free app like Manything can even send you alerts based on motion detection. When you get an alert, you can view the camera and check if you have an intruder. Why spend thousands of dollars on a home security system, when you can just use your old iPhone instead?

Baby Monitor

Most baby monitors are still fairly low tech. They will only let you hear your baby cry, but you can’t see what is going on. They only work over a limited range. Inexpensive apps, such as Cloud Baby Monitor, can turn your old iPhone into the best baby surveillance device imaginable. The app works over the cloud, so it has an unlimited range. You can sooth your baby to sleep by playing white noise or a lullaby. You can even use it to control the client iPhone’s nightlight. Cloud Baby Monitor can detect both sound and motion, and even allows you to speak to your baby.

Apple TV and Universal Remote

I actually like the slim, aluminum Apple TV remote, but there are some advantages to using the Apple Remote app. The Remote App is a far better way to play music on Apple TV. The on-screen keyboard makes it much easier to enter text. You can also browse the web on Apple TV using AirWeb. With these great Apple TV features, it makes sense to keep your old iPhone near your Apple TV.

Of course, the remote capabilities work just about anywhere. If Apple TV is your multimedia hub, you can use your old iPhone to control music playback from just about anywhere. If you are in the back yard doing some gardening, just grab your old iPhone to change things up. You can even activate different AirPlay targets, if you have AirPlay enabled speakers located throughout your home and yard.

An old iPhone can control a lot more than an Apple TV. There are a variety of iPhone-based universal remotes on the market. These are more than just apps. They often feature an accessory to beam IR signals, so your iPhone can control just about anything, but with a much nicer user interface. You can create your own macros, enabling you to turn on devices in sequence with just one tap. For example, with one button, you can turn on your TV, stereo and streaming media player. Logitech’s Harmony Smart Control system is just one example of many universal remote systems for the iPhone.

iPod Touch

If you love music, your old iPhone will serve very well as an iPod touch. In fact, an iPod touch is really just an iPhone without cellular capabilities. This actually makes an old iPhone even better than an iPod touch. For example, I could connect my old iPhone to my car stereo and download new music wherever I am, using my cellular connection. Some people are reluctant to download music on to their iPhones, as they need space for apps. If you have an old iPhone, you can fill it up with music. This will keep space available on your new iPhone for apps.

Jailbreak Your Old iPhone

Jailbreak Your Old iPhone

Some refer to Apple’s ecosystem as a jail. Other call it a walled garden. Whatever you call it, Apple is known to carefully curate and control their ecosystem. If they don’t approve of an app, you can’t get it unless you jailbreak your iPhone. Jailbreaking basically enables root access to the file system. With this enabled, third-party app stores such as Cydia can offer apps and modifications well beyond the capabilities of standard iOS.

Jailbreaking isn’t a purely advantageous outcome. Apple is actually protecting their customers from malware. They also limit apps and modifications to iOS that could hinder performance and compromise security. But if you are jailbreaking an old iPhone there is less potential harm.

Keep in mind, jailbreaking allows third-party apps and modifications to iOS. Since your jailbroken device will probably be on the same WiFi network and use the same Apple ID for services, it could be a vector for malware. If you install the wrong app, your jailbroken iPhone could sync Contacts, Reminders and Calendar data with your legitimate iOS device, allowing a malicious user to access this data. I personally have never had a desire to jailbreak. I don’t consume pirated content (which is a popular reason for jailbreaking). I don’t really care about customization. If you do jailbreak an old iPhone and want to keep it secure, try using a different Apple ID. If possible, consider running the jailbroken device on a separate WiFi network.

Test iOS Upgrades or Betas on Your Old iPhone

When you upgrade to a new version of iOS, there is a short window to revert back to the previous version. After this time elapses, you are stuck with the new version of iOS. For the most part, I don’t regret upgrading to new versions of iOS. I am aware that some people have had serious issues, such as Bluetooth and WiFi problems. Some people need certain apps for work. If a new version of iOS causes these apps to crash, that could make it difficult to do your job.

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You can use that old iPhone to test new versions of iOS. As long as it is not too old, you test the next version of iOS before upgrading your new iPhone. If you do this, make sure to test all of your critical apps after they have been updated.

If you are more adventurous, you can use an old iPhone to test beta versions of iOS. A beta version is a release candidate that is offered to beta testers. Testers use the pre-release version of iOS and report any bugs to Apple. For many developers, this is essential. They need to test their apps and make sure they work with the soon-to-be-released version of iOS. If not, they need to modify their apps and ensure that the new version is available the day iOS is released to the public. Even if you are not a developer, maybe you are adventurous or want to help Apple find defects. If you run the beta version of iOS on your old iPhone, your new iPhone will still have a stable version of iOS.

Use Old iPhone as HomeKit Controller

Use an Old iPhone as a HomeKit Controller

There’s quite a buzz about “the Internet of things” and home automation. Countless products already exist, such as the Nest thermostat and Phillips smart lightbulbs. These smart appliances often need to be configured with a smartphone, tablet or computer.

Leave your old iPhone in a central location so that anyone can operate your smart home appliances. This will save you from having to hunt down your iPhone when you need to adjust the thermostat or lighting. If you leave guests at your home unattended, they will also be able to use your smart appliances without using your iPhone or configuring their device.

Use Your Old iPhone for Car Navigation and Security

Do you remember stopping at gas stations or bothering pedestrians for directions? This isn’t a thing of the past. I still get asked for directions from time to time. Sometimes I will look up directions for people using my iPhone.

An old iPhone is a perfect GPS navigation system. Simply purchase an inexpensive mount and appropriate charger. This will ensure you always have access to a navigation system. You won’t have to worry about forgetting your iPhone, because it is already in your car. You might want to stash it away when you park your car. In my experience, some people will break into your car to steal a pack of gum.

You can also use your old iPhone as a security device for your car. While this setup might use cellular data when you are away, you may be able to use WiFi when parked at home. Anyone who has had their car dented in a parking lot will appreciate this. Just make sure to position the device in an optimal location so the camera can capture as much as possible. The App Store doesn’t seem to have anything specific to car security, but any home security app will do. If the auto burglar steals your iPhone, you can use Find My iPhone to locate your device. Be careful. Don’t take the law into your own hands.

Take Your Old iPhone to the Gym

Do you workout and sweat heavily at the gym? If so, you probably don’t want to get that brand new iPhone drenched in sweat. The gym has other hazards. As you bounce around on the treadmill or mount various machines, you could drop or knock your iPhone.

An old iPhone is perfect for the gym. You can load it up with music or use apps like Beats to provide the perfect workout soundtrack. Pair it with an Apple Watch or a variety of fitness devices to keep track of your progress.

Install Ubuntu or Android on Your Old iPhone

Even though your iPhone was made by Apple, there’s no reason you have to run iOS. iOS is designed to get the most out of the iPhone. I recommend sticking with iOS on your main iPhone. An old iPhone, however, is ripe for experimentation.

There are several tutorials and sites dedicated to installing Ubuntu Linux, Android or other operating systems on your iPhone. This is one of many advantages of owning an iPhone. Hundreds of millions of iPhones are out there. With so many devices, there actually more diversity in terms of hacking this device. Installing a whole new operating system goes above and beyond jailbreaking.

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