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Best Ways to Repurpose or Recycle Old Smartphones and Tablets

Thursday, February 13th, 2014 by | Filed Under: Android, iOS, Smartphones

With new mobile devices coming out every few months, you likely have a few smartphones or tablets lying around collecting dust. If your device is new enough, you may be able to trade it in or sell it to make money for the latest model. If it’s more than a few years old or you don’t want to sell it, you can repurpose smartphones and tablets and still use them for many years. The only real cost is possibly a replacement battery which many places now sell for less than $10. 

Turn It Into A Toy

You may not want to hand a young child a new $500 iPhone, but you could turn your old one into their new toy.

Download some kid friendly apps via WiFi and remove any apps, photos and even access to the browser (if you don’t want your child doing anything without your permission). You can even delete the WiFi password from the device so your child can’t download anything unless you approve it first. To make the smartphone or tablet a little more durable, buy a rugged case that protects from falls and even spills.

Create A Dedicated E-Reader

Reading on your tablet or smartphone is often a hassle because other apps drain the battery quickly. Instead, turn your old device into an e-reader. Download your favorite e-reader app and remove other apps. Removing other apps will help the battery last longer and give you more room for books and magazines.

Plus, you’ll save valuable battery on your new device.

Apps to consider: Kindle, Google Play Books, Stanza, iBooks, Zinio

Portable Music Player

Odds are, you already have a streaming music app installed and most mobile devices have a built in music player to handle popular formats such as MP3. Convert your old device, especially smartphones, into portable music player. If your device supports a microSD card, you may want to buy one to increase available storage space for music. You can either stream music or download songs to listen to offline. Remember, you’ll need WiFi to stream. If you have a stereo with an auxiliary input or an iPod/iPhone dock, you can leave your device connected and enjoy higher quality sound.

Apps to consider: Pandora, Jango, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Google Play Music, Amazon MP3, 

Quick And Easy Scanning

If your mobile device has a good camera, consider repurposing it into a handheld scanner. Download a scanning app or take pictures of documents. You can use your device to scan documents for your records, such as receipts. You can store the scans on your device or use the data cable that came with the device to transfer items to your computer.

Apps to consider: CamScanner, TurboScan, Scanner Pro, Pocket Scanner

Digital Cookbook

With thousands of recipe apps, your smartphone or tablet could become your new favorite cookbook. Tablets work best for cookbooks since the screen size is larger. Searching for “recipes” in the App Store or Google Play Store will give you plenty of options to choose from. Consider investing in a spill proof case to keep your tablet safe while cooking. Plus, if it does get damaged, you won’t have destroyed your new device.

Apps to consider: BigOven, AllRecipes, How To Cook Everything, Epicurious, AlltheCooks

TV Remote

If you’ve lost your remote, you may be able to turn that old smartphone or tablet into your new remote. You’ll need an app that works with your device. You may also be able to control other electronics such as your stereo or DVD player. To find the right app for your device, search your preferred app store for “brand name remote control” to see your best options. 


Many mobile carriers and electronics retailers let you bring in your old mobile devices to recycle safely. The EPA website lists which stores and locations let you recycle your devices. You can also check with local charities to see if they need mobile devices.


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