9 Alternative Uses For an Old Tablet Or Smartphone

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Thinking of upgrading to a new tablet or smartphone? Then it may well be worth plumping for a refurbished version. Refurbished electronics are, in the cases below, those that have been returned to the manufacturer, checked, tested and given a clean bill of health before being resold. This means you can get the same make and model of refurbished smartphone as you would if you'd bought it brand new, but you save 32%, while refurbished computers and tablet devices offer savings of up to 50%.

Once you've got a new device, and your old one suddenly seems like a relic from a bygone era, what are you going to do? Well, you could banish it to the graveyard in that kitchen drawer where all your other forgotten and faulty tech lingers – or, why not give your obsolete device a second lease of life by 'upcycling' it? Here are nine ingenious ways to do just that. So ingenious, in fact, you may even be inspired to purchase an elderly item just so you can give it one last hurrah...
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1. High-End Mouse

You can turn any tablet device, Windows Phone or Android device into a high-end mouse or trackpad for your computer, allowing you to control your desktop and applications with the precision and multi-touch capabilities phones and tablets offer.

You'll move and edit files, control movies or music and run your work presentations with consummate ease. There are a number of apps that can 'upcycle' your device in this way, with the most popular being Remote Mouse. As a bonus, it's free. 
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2. iPhone Desktop Lamp

Got a 3D printer, or perhaps looking for an excuse to buy one? If so, you can use it to create this chic desktop lamp, fashioned from printable plastic and your old iPhone 4. Besides providing a surprising amount of light, the lamp's acoustics also work to amplify the iPhone's in-built speaker, giving it musical capabilities. Helpfully, as the bottom edge of your iPhone is always exposed, the device can be left plugged in – meaning the battery should never run flat. 

The lamp is the brainchild of Ukrainian designer Ivan Zhurba, and the plans are available to download for free via the Kwambio website. An iPhone 6 version is apparently in the works, too…
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3. Circuit-Board Earrings

Even if your smartphone device or tablet device is completely kaput, you can still repurpose its circuit board innards. These DIY earrings look undeniably cool, will bestow instant geek cred on whoever wears them, and each pair is guaranteed to be totally unique.  

You can get the (relatively simple) low-down on how to make these geek chic earrings by Instructables.com user Maramas – and with a little tweaking, you could just as easily knock out a natty pair of cufflinks.  
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4. Rechargable Battery Pack

This one is a little fiddly, but if you're the kind of person who enjoys soldering three-pin female connectors, this cool project will be right up your street. 

The concept – which transforms almost any old phone into a handy back-up power source – was devised by Instructables user zack247 and is free to download as a PDF. Happy soldering – and squinting!

You'll need a used mobile phone, a soldering iron, some wire cutters and a three pin connector
 
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5. Home Media Controller

If you've got an enviable living room set-up (HD TV, surround-sound amp, all the Blu-rays, games and streaming you can handle), then you're probably overwhelmed by clunky remotes. But, should you own a recently retired Android device from Samsung, HTC or LG, then it probably has infrared capabilities – and this means it can replace all of your painfully slow button remotes. Simply download a universal remote app such as IR Universal Remote (it's free, but features ads) or Galaxy Universal Remote (ad-free, but it costs £2.49). 

Apple devices don't have infrared capabilities, so you'll need to buy an infrared transmitter that slots into the headphone socket of iPads and iPhones. Most of these inexpensive transmitters have their own dedicated universal-remote software, which is usually free to download from the App Store. 
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6. Digital Photo Frame

Fancy a digital photo frame? Well, if you've got a used tablet gathering dust in a drawer somewhere, you essentially already own one. All you need is a frame app, such as Dayframe for Android devices, or Picmatic for iPads and a tablet stand, and you're away. 

Not only will these apps fill your tablet's screen with a stream of images from the device itself, they'll also pull in new photos from your cloud storage and social media accounts. Dayframe, for example, can add uploaded photos from Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Flickr and Twitter – and if you've got a Chromecast device, it will also allow you to easily view all these images through your HD TV. 
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7. Security Camera

If the camera and Wi-Fi capabilities are still functional, even the most battered phone or tablet can be repurposed into a more-than-decent security camera. Simply download a security cam app, such as IP Webcam for Android or Manything for iOS, then set up your device wherever its required, using a waterproof case and a clamp or stand if necessary. 

Provided your device has a constant energy supply and a decent Wi-Fi signal, it can stream live images to any laptop or desktop computer that you authorise; you can also record your security footage, and recruit your repurposed phone/tablet as a motion-detection device, too. 
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8. Scientific Research Tool

Your phone or tablet can still be useful during its twilight years; it could even help save the world. Thanks to the University of California's BOINC programme, you can allow the processing power of your retired device to be harnessed, alongside thousands of other redundant devices, to create a virtual super computer that will greatly aid invaluable scientific research. 

There are dozens of international projects to choose from, studying everything from diseases to deep space. Get involved by downloading the BOINC app onto your out-to-pasture Android smartphone or Windows device
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9. Artwork

And finally, if you've got a lot of old smartphone devices to repurpose – a LOT of old devices – you could use them to create tech-themed artwork, perhaps along the lines of these impressive pieces by US artist Rob Pettit. It will make for one hell of a conversation piece for your living room...
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