The Best Uses for Your Old Cell Phone

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I was recently discussing some of my favorite “life hacks” (or quick tips) with a friend. His main area of interest: usage for old cell phones. I shared some of the tips we have on and some additional ones, which got me thinking — this is great information everyone should know about!

3 Great Uses for Your Old Cell Phone

There are three things you can do with an old phone:

  • Turn it into cash
  • Turn it into an emergency device
  • Turn it into a remote control for your home

Let’s start with the option that puts a little cash into your wallet…

1. Sell Your Cell Phone

If you’ve got an old phone in decent condition, you can get some pretty good cash for it — depending on the model, the condition (good, very good), etc.

Right now on, a popular site for buying and selling used electronics, iPhone 11 models are selling for anywhere between $69 and $139, while some iPhone 11 models are selling for as much as nearly $640.

So if you have an old smartphone, or any other type of gadget, to get rid of, here are some resources to check out:

2. Use Your Old Phone for Emergencies

If you have an old cell phone that’s not really worth selling, it can be a great addition to your emergency kit — which you should have prepared and ready to go in case bad weather hits or even worse, a natural disaster or other emergency situation.

If you don’t already have an emergency bag/kit, take a look at some of our tips on prepping for a disaster or emergency. These handy bags are like insurance: it’s better to be safe than sorry!

How To Turn an Old Phone Into an Emergency’check-In’ Device

Your old phone can really come in handy in any type of emergency situation. For only $10 a month, you can use your old cell phone to check-in with your family and friends


This specific method will only work if your phone is unlocked or was activated with AT&T or T-Mobile.

Assuming you meet the initial criteria, head on over to Consumer Cellular and follow the instructions below. After that, you’ll have a cell phone to use on AT&T’s networks if your newer phone dies, breaks, is stolen or you have a weak network connection.

  1. Visit the plans page at Consumer Cellular
  2. If you’re an AARP member, check the box! Congrats, you just earned a 5% discount!
  3. Next, scroll down to the ‘Talk Plans’ section and select ‘Billed Per Use Minutes’.
  4. After you’ve selected that plan, scroll down a bit further and check the ‘I don’t need a Connect Plan’. We’re only using this phone to call someone
  5. Next, we’ll select the number of lines needed (I only need one for now). If you have a spouse or want to put an additional cellphone in a safe and accessible location, select ‘2 lines’.
  6. Now we can begin the checkout process! Hit ‘Add To Cart’.
  7. On the next page, find the SIM card and hit ‘Add To Cart’.

Almost there! We to answer three easy questions:

  • Is this SIM going into an iPhone? (Yes/No)
  • Who was your previous carrier? (AT&T, T-Mobile, Unknown)
  • Keep your existing number? (Your answer should be NO).

Now we just need to check out and purchase the plan. Hit ‘Continue to Next Step’. Enter all of your information and then submit the order. Now you’ll bring new life to your old cell phone — and it may even save your life.

Note: The FCC allows any and all cellular devices to place a call to 911, even if you don’t have a SIM card or active network plan.

3. Turn Your Old Phone Into a Remote

In my home, I’ve got a Nexus 7 tablet (one from 2013) that can be found for really cheap now.

This device runs on Android devices, so I can load Tasker and start setting up ‘profiles’, ‘tasks’ and all sorts of other really cool home automation tricks.

Just simply place your phone or tablet in a centralized location (either on the wall or a table), plug in your device and then open your Smart Hub App. If you’ve got voice automation tech on your phone, you can utilize Google Voice and Tasker interactions to control your entire home.

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