Making Use of Your Decommissioned Smart Phone

Real Estate Broker/Owner with J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip R.E. LLC) Westchester County NY License # 49FA1074963

Old smart phones put to good useReal Estate professionals go through technology like bath water. When I was younger, old or outdated things were dismissed as "so 70's" or "so 10 years ago." Today, we often refer to an outdated thing as "so March." I got my first Android-the original Droid- phone in 2009. I later upgraded to a Droid 2. Earlier this year, I moved up to a Galaxy Nexus. Throw in an iPad, a Galaxy Tab and a Kindle with the rest of the hardware and my drawer looks like a mini Star Wars junk yard. 

And most of my old smart phones remained junk until I had to replace my Galaxy Nexus after dropping it and cracking the screen. Verizon couldn't transfer everything to the insurance replacement, and told me that before I scrubbed the memory, I could just upload all my photos to Drop Box via my home WiFi. I couldn't make calls anymore, but the Internet connection still worked wherever there was signal. 

I then had an epiphany. One of the things that spoils us about smart phones is that they are like a mini tablet computer. We can use them for Facebook, Google chat, Netflix, Youtube, and of course browse websites. With all that functionality, why scrap a smart phone just because you can't make a phone call anymore (or can't you? Read on)?

I broke out my old droids and connected to WiFi. I uploaded or updated the following apps:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Netflix
  • Google Talk
  • Google Drive (like Drop Box)
  • Amazon and Amazon MP3 Player
  • Dolphin Mobile browser
  • Youtube
  • Gmail
  • Skype
Smart phones are indeed mini tablets. You can use them via your home Wifi for all social media apps, web browsing, and of course multi media like MP3 music and even video. So you can't make calls. Big deal. I don't make calls every waking hour, but I can remain connected. I can check email. And tweet. And listen to tunes. 
And you know what? I CAN make calls too. Just download Skype, buy $10 in phone credits, which is enough call time for a month of Sundays, and yes, you an even make a phone call on a decommissioned smart phone. Now, don't take what I say and drive out to a remote area with just your old smart phone. You have to be connected to a network, typically your home WiFi. 
One might ask why bother if you already have your current phone and a tablet.
Good question.
Here's the answer: Why drain your primary device's charge listening to music or using other apps at home? You need the tools fully charged for when you are out in the field.  What about those times when our devices are recharging? Or when we walk upstairs and forget the gizmo on the kitchen counter or in the car? It isn't just an addiction to tech, we could answer client email or put out a fire early. Now you have a solution. Keep your old phone in the bedroom drawer, basement man cave or garage for when you're in a pinch. You can check your email, update Facebook, surf Active Rain or stream old movies. 
Or, if you really need to, you can even make a phone call via skype. It sure beats using the old device as a paperweight. 

Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Roy Kelley 06/26/2012 11:35 PM
  2. Brad Baylor 06/28/2012 12:18 AM
Real Estate Technology & Tools
Tech Corner
I Love NY
Bartender, Make it a Double
smart phones

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Linda DeVlieg
Keller Williams Realty - Albuquerque, NM
Albuquerque Real Estate

My old iPhone has become my music central for my home; I have it open to Pandora, turn on my home theatre system to "digital music" and I have wall to wall music for my day throughout my home.  Add in a Jambox bluetooth portable speaker and I have music outside on my patio as well.


My old iPad is now my alarm clock; it sits in the stand and I can set my alarm, read Kindle in the middle of the night and it's always there, always ready.



Jun 26, 2012 11:34 PM #23
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, Keller Williams fox cities - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

good advice for all of those devices that have now taken up a whole drawer in my office.

Cheryl, someone on ar wrote an article a few months ago about using rice to absorb the moisture from a phone.

Jun 26, 2012 11:41 PM #24
Dr. Stacey-Ann Baugh
Century 21 New Millennium - Upper Marlboro, MD
A doctor who makes house calls.
When we upgraded our I-phone 3 to the I-phone 4 we gave the old phones to our kids. They can't make calls (without apps and wifi) but they can surf the Internet, download music, play games, etc. Essentially they use them as I-pod touches without us having to spend the extra money to get them I-pods.
Jun 27, 2012 12:08 AM #25
Kathy McAlpin
HomeSmart - Arrowhead - Peoria, AZ
Excellent use of the old smart phones! Thanks for the great idea!
Jun 27, 2012 12:14 AM #26
Muriel Lawty
Keller Williams Downtown Seattle - Seattle, WA

You can also donate them to various charities.  In the Seattle area our locan Realtor association often collects them (SKAR), or schools will do a charity drive.  

Jun 27, 2012 01:00 AM #27
Pam Ruckriegel
Louisville Real Estate Pros - 502-435-5524 - Louisville, KY
Negotiating the Best Deal for You!

Or, you can hang onto those old ones like my old Treo and hope you can get some calendaring info off it when you get audited--like I did today!  Buy yay, all my stuff was intact--it's my hubby that's gonna cost us some money!

Jun 27, 2012 01:31 AM #28
Debbe Perry
Real Living Carolina Property - Morganton, NC
828.439.3084 Morganton/Lake James NC
Great ideas! I must admit that I can't wait to be able to phone from a slightly smaller, lighter iPad - oh, wait, I can via Skype until the smaller, lighter thing happens!
Jun 27, 2012 02:40 AM #29
Rachel Tipton
KingOne Properties International - Pawleys Island, SC

Great idea, Phil! I am gonna go through the mini-techie graveyard and see what I can do. Also, check out Tango as a new alternative app to Skype...I have not actually tried it yet, but a friend just told me about it...

Jun 27, 2012 06:25 AM #30
Amy Steele Realtor SRS CNE NHS
JP and Associates - North Richland Hills, TX
Live,Work,Play...North Texas Real Estate Group

Awesome idea! Too bad with my last smart phone I used it for recycle credit towards my new phone!  I'll remember this for next time though. My battery never seems to last all day when I use the phone a lot and I can't be on zero battery at the end of the day because I still have need of it!

Jun 27, 2012 07:18 AM #31
Misstie Pollard
Realtor and Title Settlement Agent - McLean, VA
Answering Northern VA Real Estate Questions.

Phil, great ideas!  I actually connect my old iPhone to speakers at vacant homes during open houses.  Plus I have games uploaded for my client's children.  I tote around 2 old smart phones that are now "iPods".

Jun 27, 2012 08:37 AM #32
John Cannata
214-728-0449 - Frisco, TX
Texas Home Mortgage - Purchase or Refinance

You mean I shouldnt just throw that old smart phone away??? Good idea about using Skype. I actually would not have thought to use that application.

Jun 27, 2012 08:41 AM #33
Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA

J. Philip:

What a great idea.  Just having a usable phone if your cell goes dead is worth loading skype on it.

Jun 27, 2012 09:30 AM #34
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

Good thinking.  I am ashamed to say it but my kids play with my old Cell Phones.  I have a two year old wandering around with one to his ear.

Jun 27, 2012 09:56 AM #35
Morgan Evans
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Manhattan, NY

Always an excellent source of good information, Phil.  I like playing brick breaker on my down time on my old phones.

Jun 27, 2012 12:25 PM #36
Brad Baylor
ERA Coup Agency - Milton, PA

Phil - What a great idea!  I've only had my droid since March, but when it's time for an upgrade, I'm going to follow your advice.  Thanks!

Jun 28, 2012 12:16 AM #37
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team

Hi Phillip, great idea.  Just retired my 2nd Blackberry for a Iphone.  Both BB still work on WiFi!

Jun 28, 2012 03:45 AM #38
Nick & Trudy Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtors, Philly Main Line

JP you are amazing, and you sparked a host of other ideas, I see why Zillow has you on their advisory board. Miss seeing your posts, happy to see you have not forgotten AR entirely.

Jun 28, 2012 05:59 AM #39
Brian Schulman
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552

Good suggestion!  I keep my last couple of phones anyway just to have extra database backups.

Jun 29, 2012 01:26 PM #40
Lynn Ganster
Morris Williams Realty - Orlando, FL

Love that.....wish I had thought of that myself!  

Jul 02, 2012 05:04 AM #41
Lora "Leah" Stern 914-772-4528
Coldwell Banker, 170 N Main Street, New City NY 10956 - New City, NY
Real Estate Salesperson

Phil, what great ideas. Thanks for sharing.  If I download and update all of those apps, then my youn grandkids will have another device to play on when the computers and ipads are all in use.

Jul 09, 2012 02:29 AM #42
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