If you're swooning over the latest iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, it doesn't mean you have to ditch your old iPhone. It’s been your trusty companion — you can’t just toss it out with yesterday’s leftover lunch.
It’s also bad for the environment, our wallets, and our junk drawers.
Here are five easy DIY transformations to turn your old smartphone into something awesome.
#1. A truly universal remote
Old iPhones and Android smartphones make stellar media remotes. All you have to do is connect it to your home Wi-Fi, and use apps to control all your streaming devices.
If you want to ditch all your old remotes altogether, you can do that too.
Owners of an Android phone with a built-in IR transmitter (Wikipedia has a good list here) can use the the free Peel app to mimic your various remotes. Just download it and follow the prompts to connect it to your TV and other media players. It’s really easy.
If you’re using an iPhone or non-IR Android device, you’ll have to pick up Peel’s compact Pronto hub ($49.99), which relays all your smartphone TV commands to the appropriate devices. The Pronto takes about two-minutes to set up, and connecting your devices through the Peel app on your old iPhones is as easy as sending an email. The app turns your phone into an all-in-one control center for your living room electronics.
For $20-$40 you can buy a self-sticking case, such as the Mega Tiny Anti-Gravity case. Put it on your old device, and then it will stick to just about any surface — like the the back of your TV. Then it really does become that one remote control device you will never lose.
#2. Cool new alarm clock
Most everyone I know uses the alarm on their smartphone to wake them up. That’s great, except that sleeping next to your smartphone can cause all kinds of problems with getting a really good night’s rest. But your old smartphone, left plugged in, can become one of the world’s smartest alarm clocks. As is, it can tell you the time, wake you up, tell you the weather, respond to voice commands, play Spotify, and tell you your daily schedule — all by just propping it up on your nightstand. Just remember to keep the screen brightness turned down or even off. If you have a newer iPhone or Android device, the voice command features let you set alarms and reminders without even touching it.
An app or two can make it do even more. The $2 Wake for the iPhone lets you shake, slap, or flip your phone — so that you can basically set it to do what you need for how light or heavy of a sleeper you are. If you need a bucket of water poured over your head to get up, apps like I Can’t Wake Up for Android that won’t turn off until you solve a puzzle.
#3. Make it an action cam
You probably aren’t too keen on strapping your precious new iPhone to the top of a helmet, bottom of a drone, or the front of your bike, but your used phone will bravely sacrifice itself to capture some stellar shots. GoPros are great, but they’re expensive, and since your old smartphone already has a solid camera, why not make the most out of it and catch some jaw-dropping footage along the way? You can even pick up a waterproof case and do some deep-sea photography if you want! The possibilities are quite literally endless.
#4. Keep an eye on the place
Speaking of that stellar old camera, it can also pull double duty as a handy home surveillance lense. The free Presence video app was made specifically to turn used smartphones into top-notch home cameras, capable of motion detection and encrypted video recording. You’ll get notifications if the camera catches anything out of the ordinary, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing your home is being watched by your trusty old smartphone. There are other apps too, like the Smokey app for Android or CleverLoop Smoky for iPhones, that let you know if a smoke alarm goes off in your house while you’re gone.
#5. A dedicated digital camera
I know, the new iPhones have amazing camera capabilities. But if you want another point-and-shoot to have on hand, the Olloclip camera accessory (starting at $49.99) can do it for a fraction of the cost of a new phone. Olloclip's been around for years now in many different forms, and it turns your phone into a serious photography machine. Each Olloclip adds up to four swappable lenses to your phone, converting it from a modest phone camera to a true photography powerhouse. Use the fisheye, wide-angle, and macro lenses to snaps some shots you’ve never been able to before.