5 Creative Projects for Your Old iPhone

Don't let that old phone gather dust. Do something cool with it. Martin Abegglen [CC by 2.0]/Flickr

I recently walked into my Verizon store intending to clarify some things on my bill. Even though I was due an upgrade, I had no need for a new phone and no intention of getting one. But I am a weak and feeble-minded individual.

Five minutes of playing around with the sleek, razor-thin iPhone 6 and my old iPhone 4 was history. But that was before I discovered the myriad of other things I could have done with my old phone.

Like what, you ask?

Baby monitor

iphone as a baby monitor

A video baby monitor will set you back $150 or more, but download an app like Cloud Baby Monitor and you can hook your old device up to your new device and stream video, talk to your little one or even play music if you feel so inclined. The app also lets your phone operate as a dimmable night-light.

Use it as an iPod (if you remember what that is)
I know you can store a lot of music on your new phone, but using your old phone as a dedicated music and/or file storage device has its advantages. After all, you can leave it plugged in to your car stereo, for example — or a speaker dock — and then you can, theoretically at least, hold a phone conversation and listen to Judas Priest at full volume, if the person on the other end of the line is willing to put up with such nonsense. If you don't have a speaker dock, heck, you can repurpose some old pallet wood too.

Set up a home security system
Much like a video baby monitor, a security camera can be an expensive investment. Manything is an app that turns any iOS device into a security camera, including motion and sound detection, live streaming and cloud-based video recording. CNET gave it a thumbs up in the review below. Although I have to say, if I ever get burgled, I suspect the iPhone sitting out on the countertop may be the first thing to go.

Use it as a scanner
The Internet is full of designs for DIY stands for turning your iPhone into a scanner. This one, from Popular Science, might be one of the cheapest, easiest-to-follow versions out there. Of course if you already have a new phone, there's very little reason to use your old phone simply for this purpose — unless you happen to scan a lot of documents and need to talk on the phone while you are doing it.

Make creative art (and a bold statement about waste)
Some folks aren't content with finding utilitarian uses for their old e-waste. In fact, they aren't entirely happy with the concept of e-waste at all. Media artist Julia Christensen has created fascinating sculptures using old iPhones and scanners, using them to make a statement about our throwaway technological culture and its impact on the plant.

Use your imagination
The ideas here are just the tip of the iceberg. Indeed from personal cinemas to high-tech alarm clocks, Forbes has a few ideas for old iPhones. Time magazine suggests using it as an e-cookbook. Others have suggested giving it to your kids to play with, so they don't steal yours, but you might want to check out what my colleague Katherine Martinenko has to say about kids and handheld devices before you simply "hand over the keys."

Whatever you do with your old phone, do not throw it in the trash. Donating, returning or selling it remain solid options for getting some use out of it and keeping the considerable resources that went into making it cycling in the economy. Either that, or you can simply see how high you can throw it — if Apple would let you try.