What can I do with a mobile phone with a busted sim slot?
November 21, 2016 1:31 PM   Subscribe

I've got a brand new phone with a broken sim slot, that's been deemed repairable. I've been given a refund for the phone but they left the unit with me instead of taking it back. So, I've got a Motorola android phone that can connect to Wifi and do everything a phone without a sim card can do, and no idea what to do with it. Any ideas?

I've considered sending it in to one of those cash for phone places but it looks like I'd get chump change at best, which considering it's otherwise a brand new phone seems a waste. Similarly just recycling it also seems a waste.

I suppose it's essentially a mini-tablet now, but I've already got an ipad and I've already bought a new phone.

Would it be something a kindergarten or charity could use?
posted by Silentgoldfish to Technology (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, the cash-for-old-phones services are seldom worth it.

A clever soldering type person might try to salvage that SIM slot, so it's worth something on eBay, though. If you do this, emphasize that it's new and perfect other than the flaky SIM slot.

In terms of mini-tablets, we use iPods and 3G-less iPads around the house as remote controls for the lights and other smart devices, and as a universal TV remote. I know there are Android-equivalent apps for that stuff, too.

Could be a good workout device, too. Music and fitness apps, and save your pretty 'real' phone from the sweat and weather and droppage?
posted by rokusan at 1:38 PM on November 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Paired with a mobile hotspot, a voip account, and a softphone app, it could still be a perfectly fine phone with the added advantage that if you ever go overseas and rent a hotspot, it'll work the same with no risk of an unexpectedly big bill. The disadvantage is that you need to carry the hotspot when you're out and about.
posted by mattamatic at 1:46 PM on November 21, 2016

Response by poster: Whoops, I just realized I wrote repairable instead of unrepairable. That said, I think they just meant unrepairable by them, not that the sim card slot's a total write off (but I wouldn't know where to start).
posted by Silentgoldfish at 1:47 PM on November 21, 2016

It could be your new alarm clock if you leave it plugged in on your bedside table.
posted by COD at 1:49 PM on November 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Set it up like mattamatic describes minus the hotspot and give it to a domestic violence shelter so that a woman can use it to get out of an abusive household in the future. They'd probably take it even if you left it as a WiFi only device. (If you live in a major city, public wifi is getting increasingly ubiquitous and someone could still use it once out of the house.)
posted by zdravo at 1:49 PM on November 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

You can connect it to power and use it as an IP camera if you have a use for that.
posted by jclarkin at 1:52 PM on November 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Which Phone? There might be goofy easy fix.
posted by gregr at 2:32 PM on November 21, 2016

It could also be used as a dashcam.
posted by xdvesper at 2:47 PM on November 21, 2016

You can probably Craigslist it as-is for someone that wants a mini-tablet. Just mark it down accordingly. Phones without sims can still make 911 calls, so there might be parents looking for something like that where the kids can play games and watch movies and get help in an emergency but not rack up data charges.

Otherwise a homeless shelter that has kids staying in it might be interested in it, though having just one of an item like that might create more problems than it's worth.
posted by Candleman at 3:10 PM on November 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Old smartphones without phone service become dedicated wifi devices for the kids in my house who are too young for their own phone, but want to play games, watch videos, etc. in the house and we adults prefer them to use our old beaters instead of borrowing our good phones off us. If you have a kid in your life who might fit this bill, that's a good use. Otherwise, look to a school or organization serving kids who could put it to use.
posted by gateau at 3:20 PM on November 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

My old phone becomes my Netflix/Amazon to fall asleep to phone, but that's poor sleep hygiene so I don't necessarily recommend it. Or listen to video/podcasts while showering phone because of humidity.
posted by TheAdamist at 4:25 PM on November 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Austin Tinkering School could probably make use of it as a robot controller or something.
posted by Annika Cicada at 5:26 PM on November 21, 2016

Music player, ebook reader, remote control, Plex client, kitchen recipe terminal....
posted by wenestvedt at 5:47 PM on November 21, 2016

I use a similarly broken phone as a bike computer/GPS route tracker and (planned) biking cam (sadly mostly to record licence plates in case of a run down). It has the great advantage that the route tracker can pull the battery down to 0 without disabling the ability for my phone to make calls (because my phone isn't route tracking).
posted by Mitheral at 6:58 PM on November 21, 2016

Go to your city's pokemon go groups on fb. Someone will have a kid that wants to play and they can use this, with WiFi from their parent's phone, to play.
posted by Mistress at 2:00 AM on November 22, 2016

I've had good luck using a phone like this as a streaming music device while hooked up to decent speakers.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:16 AM on November 22, 2016

I'll bet there's a market for this -- lots of kids want cell phones who have little or no interest in actual calling and texting. You're basically offering an Android version of an iPod Touch, which is still something that sells...
posted by acm at 9:28 AM on November 22, 2016

My shattered but functional iPhone 4S got stuck in a thrift store bookshelf stereo that happened to fit an iPhone 4S to entertain me in the kitchen. The sound's surprisingly good.

But yes, if you want some cash in hand, lots of parents would buy this, appropriately discounted.
posted by kmennie at 9:58 AM on November 22, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions! My neighbors kids are my new best friends.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 8:45 PM on November 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

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