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Got a New Smartphone for Christmas? Here’s What to Do With Your Old One

Daniel Howley
Technology Editor

So you got a new smartphone for the holidays and you are pumped. It’s got an awesome new camera and a beautiful, crisp screen that makes all its apps look amazing — heck, you can even use it to pay for groceries at the checkout counter.

Now the question is: What do you do with your old phone? Dump it in the dark abyss that is your junk drawer, never to see or hear from it again? No!

There are plenty of other, cooler things you can do with your newly retired smartphone besides letting it rot away behind a box of thumbtacks and some old yarn. Here’s how you can give your old handset a second life (or at least trade it in for some cold, hard cash).

Read More: How to Set Up Your New Android Phone

Repurpose it

There are all kinds of useful reasons to keep an old phone:

Smart-home remote: You can use your smartphone to remotely control a ton of different gadgets around the house, from your Roku to your coffeemakereven your oven. Using your old phone as a remote not only extends its usefulness; it also helps save your new phone’s battery life because you won’t have to use it to change the channel or cook a ham.

Dedicated MP3 player: How many times have you been running on the treadmill at the gym only to catch your headphones’ cable on something and send your phone clattering to the floor? Or what about those times you were out for a walk, listening to music, when you inadvertently dropped it on the cold, unforgiving sidewalk?

What I’m saying is you can easily save some wear and tear on your new phone by using your old one as your dedicated MP3 player. As long as it isn’t too antique, it should still be able to run apps like Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, or any other music-streaming service. And doing so will also free up some memory on that new handset for other app data.

Connected security camera: If you’re worried about who’s coming to and going from your house when you’re not home, or just want to see what your pets are up to in the middle of the day, you can turn your old smartphone into a makeshift security camera.

All it takes is an app you install on your old phone, such as Salient Eye, which uses the handset’s camera as a security device. Once the app is installed, you simply place your old phone in a room you’d like to monitor. You can then remotely connect to that old phone from your new handset and see what’s happening at home while you’re away.

Give it away

A two-year old phone might feel like a relic from ancient times to people who always need the latest and greatest gadgets as soon as they come out. But to everyone else, it’s still pretty cutting edge. So if you’re ditching your old handset for a newer model, you might want to consider passing it along. I can think of a couple of good recipients.

Your kids: It’ll save you the money (and trouble) of buying them brand-new ones of their own. Of course, you’ll want to make sure that you set up parental controls on your old phone before you pass it down. And — if this is their first handset — you should have The Talk about being a responsible phone user.

Charity: If your kids already have their own smartphones and you don’t know anyone else who can use it, you can always donate your handset to any number of worthy causes.

Verizon, for instance, accepts smartphone donations, which it then sells or recycles to generate funding for its nonprofit, HopeLine (a charity that provides funding to a variety of domestic-violence organizations that help survivors and to raise awareness of the issue.)

Similarly, Cell Phones for Soldiers sells or recycles donated devices to raise money that it then uses to purchase international calling cards for military personnel stationed around the world. The group also uses funds to make emergency grants to returning soldiers who may find themselves in dire financial straits following their deployment.

Recycle it

If you’re ditching your old smartphone and can’t donate it, you can always recycle it. Stores like Best Buy, various carriers, and even Amazon provide you with ways to recycle your old handset.

Why recycle? Because smartphones contain electronics that can be hazardous when left to sit in landfills, causing serious environmental issues over time. 

By recycling your phone, however, you’re doing your part to help the environment while also ensuring that companies get access to the precious metals used in your phone that they would otherwise have to mine from the Earth. Basically, it’s a win-win for the planet.

Sell it

If you could use some extra cash in your pocket, you can always consider selling your old smartphone online for a decent sum.

If, for example, you’ve got an unlocked 32GB iPhone 5s on your hands, you can sell it through Gazelle for as much as $140. A 64GB iPhone 6 Plus for Verizon can fetch you $305.

Email Daniel at dhowley@yahoo-inc.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley or on Google+.