What to do with a drawer full of old iPhones and iPods
February 13, 2024 10:32 AM   Subscribe

What are some good ways to repurpose these old but still (mostly) functional bits of old tech? I'm using one iPod to stream music from the Spotify app into my tabletop radio via the aux input and it works really well. Other ideas I've toyed with: can I use one as an external hard drive? Can I use another as a security camera for my garage? Other ideas?

About half of them have broken screens patched up with scotch tape, so I can't really sell them or give them away. Still, there has to be something better for them to do instead of just sitting in a drawer.
posted by fuzzy.little.sock to Technology (13 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
An old IPhone can make a great webcam. Much better quality than a regular laptop camera. One way to do it.
posted by bitslayer at 10:44 AM on February 13

Fone the following with old phones:
- Webcam: these were in short supply when we were forced to work from home. I took an old iPhone and used it instead as the quality was better than cheapo web cameras. Negative for me was performance over USB but otherwise worked well.

- Portable entertainment: took an old phone (Samsung, in this case) and added an HMDI adapter cable, along with Bluetooth game controllers. Added streaming apps and game emulators. Put into a small carrycase and took it with me when the family traveled, allowing for playing simple games or watching videos without using my phone as the streaming source.

- Remote control: variation of what you're doing with Spotify. If you are streaming and/or using a Roku or an app that supports smartphone-based navigation, then an extra phone can help.
posted by bacalao_y_betun at 10:59 AM on February 13

I use one of my old phones when I go kayaking. The camera is great, emergency calling still works and I don't have to worry as much if it gets wet and ruined. Most older phones can be emergency phones, if kept charged you can stow them in your car or go-bag for emergencies.

I also use it as an external hard drive sometimes too (though it's pretty big for the amount of storage). Mostly for photos, since you can then look at them on the device.

We have an old ipad set up as the "house pad" with our weather station on it and some basic controls for things like sprinklers and some lights on timers. (If we don't use it regularly though, it logs out of those apps and one of them now as multifactor authentication which is a pain.)

I used my gen2 ipod (keeping it docked at the end because it wouldn't hold a charge) with an old desktop stereo system. Same with my ipod shuffle, that sat in the car in the center console for extra music when I didn't want to pair my phone.
posted by typetive at 11:01 AM on February 13 [4 favorites]

Alfred I use my old phones as a webcam.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:23 AM on February 13 [4 favorites]

Yep, we just started using Alfred on ours. Because we got a cat.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:44 PM on February 13

Can donate an old but functional phone to domestic violence orgs because emergency functions work.
posted by leslies at 1:45 PM on February 13 [5 favorites]

You can set it up with Teie's "Music for Cats" albums and use it or donate it to de-stress cats at a vet's office, rescue, or new home.
posted by amtho at 4:05 PM on February 13 [3 favorites]

A friend of mine likes to have an iphone next to her bed so she can listen to meditations if she wakes up in the night. But if she used her regular phone, she'd get the urge to check her email, and whether or not she acted on it, she'd start thinking about stressful daytime things and not be able to get back to sleep.

So she took an old iPhone and loaded her meditation app and some relaxing music on it and nothing else. She uses it as her bedside alarm clock, and she keeps her regular iPhone in another room.

That said, to echo leslies' suggestion, there's a charity here in London that donates old but functional smartphones to asylum seekers. They can use them to stay in touch with their case, contact government services, etc.
posted by yankeefog at 1:22 AM on February 14 [5 favorites]

I mostly resell my old electronics but I have one old iPhone with a cracked screen and a broken camera that I use exclusively as a metronome.
posted by mskyle at 5:06 AM on February 14

I do like yankeefog's friend does and have an old phone with like 2 or 3 apps on it next to my bed for meditation and reading the news first thing in the morning. It also helps that it is PAINFULLY SLOW, so I get frustrated trying to do much more than that on it and will put it down quickly.
posted by chiefthe at 6:36 AM on February 14 [2 favorites]

I have an old phone that I occasionally use as an alarm clock but mostly use to put myself back to sleep with Judge John Hodgman and to count my steps with a crappy free step-counter app. And to listen to various downloaded podcasts while I'm giving the step-counter app what to count. I don't want the actual phone anywhere near the bedroom ever, and I don't always want it with me on walks tempting me to stop and lean on a tree and text my face off plus potentially drowning out Paula Poundstone or Handsome or whatever with its ringing and text notification blinging.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:19 AM on February 14

What kind of iPods are they? (e.g. iPod Touch, iPod Nano, 5th generation iPod, etc.) There's a niche market of iPod enthusiasts who enjoy fixing up old iPods just for fun. (From what I understand, it is relatively cheap and easy to replace a cracked or damaged iPod display screen.) You could try selling your old iPods "for parts" or "as is" on eBay for a cheap price (e.g. less than $50).
posted by carnival_night_zone at 10:46 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]

I would donate them to any thrift store. You’ll get your tax deduction assuming you itemize of 30% the value and they’ll get value out of it for society somehow.
posted by bbqturtle at 11:55 AM on February 14

« Older Still have ants and it's getting worse!   |   Whole wheat/whole grain bread Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments