5 ways to repurpose an old iPhone (or any other smartphone)

If you are like me; you probably fell in love with your iPhone from the moment you unwrapped it; enjoying it’s premium glass and metal feel as well as everyday experience…up until the very moment Cupertino unveiled it’s next best thing…

…A New iPhone!! After a few weeks (or even months) of waiting; it was love all overagain with the larger space grey metal unibody and ‘new iPhone smell’.

What happens of the old iPhone? You remember the one that served you day-in-and-out with your twitter feeds, work emails, instant messaging, selfies,  food orders, games and even the occasional voice calls

Sell / Trade-it

You probably sold / traded-in your old iPhone to acquire the new one… if you did… Kudos!! on wisely using one of the best attributes of an iPhone – it’s (typically) higher resale / trade-in value

Depending on the platform the device was sold / traded-in; you would typically expect a well maintained (most recent version) iPhone to fetch at a decent chunk to cover the cost of the new one (or pocket the savings)

The other obvious benefit of Selling / Trading-in your old iPhone is to help reduce e-waste; which is one of the rising contributor of waste globally


…your old iPhone doesn’t yield the desired amount you had hoped for or you just don’t want to sell it; in which case there are several ways to repurpose it.

Just because the iPhone is a year (or maybe two) older, doesn’t mean it has gotten any less smarter 

iOS Updates

One of the biggest advantages of an iPhone is that iOS updates typically span a few generations. So, that 2013 iPhone 5 will be up to date with the latest security patches & OS refinements for some time to come

In Q1′ 2016 earnings, Apple CEO – Tim Cook reported that almost 60% of the iPhone base haven’t upgraded to the latest iPhone 6/6s models… so there is all the more reason Cupertino would continue to support these older variants for some time to come

5 Ways to Re-purpose your old beloved iPhone

Whilst this article refers to iPhone, these re-purposing tips are applicable (to a certain degree) for devices in the Android camp too. For the purposes of this post, I am going to illustrate examples with a 2013 iPhone 5.

1. Entertainment Remote Control


Most likely you may have a Connected TV or a dedicated ‘online entertainment hub’ such as Apple TV, Google Chromecast or Roku or bluetooth connectedaudio system

One clear benefit of these modern day hubs is that it can be controlled from a smartphone… your older iPhone. And thus the old iPhone becomes the dedicated ’universal remote’ you’ve always wanted; except much smarter. Uses could include –

Leveraging iPhone to perform a voice search 

– Soft keypad to type in lengthy fields such as usernames, passwords & address fields

As a second screen where applicable (Amazon’s X-Ray allows you to check in on cast & other related info in that particular scene)

– Queue YouTube videos or stream Spotify tracks wirelessly to the bluetooth connected speaker system

– ‘Chromecast’ videos to the bedroom TV, AirPlay Music to study room Monitor; whilst streaming movies to the lounge Roku

And most importantly remote control the content in the traditional way (play, fast forward, etc.)

So basically that old iPhone relieves your new one of these duties so you could Insta / Tweet / Snap / Reply to work emails uninterrupted

2. Smart Home Control


You took the plunge and purchased a smart bulb or two or more. Most likely these bulbs are accompanied by an iOS App and work over common protocols such as Bluetooth, WiFi or similar

Even better… you could solely choose to progressively add only those Smart Home devices that are compatible with iPhone (including HomeKit support) making Smart Home a less daunting proposition

– Extend the universal remote capabilities of that old iPhone to now control these Smart Home devices such as the Connected bulb(s), Thermostat, Smoke Alarmsand other supported devices in the future

Thus, that older iPhone has now assumed the role of a true Smart Universal Remote, capable of controlling all aspects of our digital & connected lifestyle

3. In-Car Wifi & Entertainment


Alternatively you could leverage the older iPhone’s storage to fill it up with select favorite tunes (or all if it fits) and keep it tethered in the vehicle – (bluetooth or wired)… As a matter of fact I still have my decade old iPod plugged to invoke the odd nostalgic playlist

– In-Car Wifi is another area where iPhone can be leveraged. Depending on your Carrier; you could slot in a prepaid Data-Only SIM and use the iPhone’s hotspot feature to share data in the car OR

– Stream music from online sources such as Spotify… useful for those weekday work journeys or a long weekend road-trip; without exhausting data from your primary device

Some Carriers even zero-rate certain streaming services on their Prepaid plan; which could come in handy in this scenario

4. Secondary Home Communication Device


– Apple has a very productive feature called Continuity. Features include HandoffiPhone Cellular CallsSMS, and Instant Hotspot

– For example you can use your older iPhone to make & receive phone calls through your (new) primary iPhone… By far I have found myself using this feature the most amongst Apple devices

There has been innumerable scenarios where my iPhone 5 has happened to be at an arms length when a call comes in or I have to call someone or when I have to continue browsing an article on Safari

All it requires is for the devices to be on the same WiFi network (No need to add an extra SIM card)

There is also the ability to use other standalone WiFi-based communication services such as Skype, FaceTime, messaging, email, et al.

5. Dedicated Gaming device


– Almost every iOS game and educational App works on WiFi alone

– An older iPhone could be leveraged as a dedicated gaming device; some which could also be played over the big screen TV using AirPlay (albeit there could be some limitations on graphics intensive games)

– For games that sync over iCloud, you could theoretically resume playing (or completing) on the older iPhone; whilst the new one charges up

– An older iPhone could also be useful as kid(s) gaming device; without the worry of accidentally calling your boss

These are but some of the ways you can breath life into an old iPhone. So… how do you reuse and re-purpose your old iPhone?