Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know Apple has released two new iPhones. With much less fanfare, new Android and Windows Phone smartphones enter the market regularly.
So you decide it’s time to put down your hard-earned money on one of these latest and greatest gadgets. But what do you do with your old smartphone? Well, you can always sell it and make some of your money back.
There are other options. A smartphone is basically a portable computer, and you can program it to do plenty of other things.
First, however, you need to turn off cellular data. Otherwise, your phone will drain your battery trying to find a signal.
On an iPhone, go to Settings >> Cellular. For an iPad, it’s Settings >> Cellular Data. Turn Cellular Data off.
In Android, swipe down from the top of the screen and look for the Mobile Data icon. You also might have a widget on your home screen.
Otherwise, go to Settings and under Wireless and Network, tap More Settings >> Mobile networks and uncheck Mobile data.
The steps could vary by manufacturer, so check your manual if this doesn’t work for you.
On a Windows Phone, go to the App list and go to Settings >> Cellular. Turn Data connection to Off. Make sure “For limited Wi-Fi connectivity” is set to “Don’t use cellular data.”
Now it’s time to turn it into something else. The easiest option is a portable media player.
1. A media streaming gadget and player
Load it up with your favorite songs, shows or movies and pair it with a good set of earbuds. If you need a media manager, DoubleTwist, www.doubletwist.com, is a popular option that works for any gadget.
Your gadget can also use your home Wi-Fi to stream videos or music. Fire up Netflix at https://signup.netflix.com/ or Amazon’s Music service app at www.amazon.com/MP3-Music-Download/b?ie=UTF8&node=163856011 and go to town.
If your phone has an HDMI port, it can connect to your HDTV. You can use it as a media-streaming gadget in place of a Roku box or Apple TV.
If your smartphone doesn’t have HDMI, it can still be a part of your home theater. There are infrared attachments that turn a smartphone into a powerful universal remote. If you have a newer TV, check to see if the TV manufacturer has a remote control app.
2. A portable gaming unit
If you have a child or grandchild begging for a Nintendo DS or Sony Vita, your old smartphone can be better. There are hundreds of game apps to entertain them, and many of them are free! Candy Crush Saga, play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.king.candycrushsaga, is the current must-play game that has everyone addicted. It would be a good distraction on a long car ride.
3. A fine GPS
Your smartphone makes a fine GPS with an app like NavFree USA, play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.navfree.android.OSM.USA&hl=en. It downloads maps to use offline and offers free turn-by-turn navigation. Google Maps, maps.google.com/, can also download maps offline.
4. Kitchen recipe holder
In addition to a co-pilot, your smartphone can be your assistant chef! Load it up with some cooking apps and your favorite recipes. Fire up a recipe site and get the creative juices flowing. Because it’s so small, you can keep it right by the stove.
5. An alarm clock
If your gadget doesn’t find a home in your kitchen or living room, bring it into the bedroom. Turn it into alarm clock with an app like Alarm Clock Xtreme (play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.alarmclock.xtreme.free) for Android or iHome+Sleep (www.ihomeaudio.com/apps/ihome_sleep/) for iOS.
You can keep your main smartphone somewhere else. You’ll sleep better without interruptions from notifications or late-night texts.
6. A Wi-Fi phone
Why not go full circle and use your old smartphone to make calls?
Free calling and messaging apps like Skype (www.skype.com/en/), WhatsApp (www.whatsapp.com/), TextFree (itunes.apple.com/us/app/text-free-textfree-sms-real/id399355755?mt=8) and others can do the job.
If your phone is unlocked, you can stick a prepaid SIM card into it for cheaper calls, too. You can use it to save money while traveling abroad.
Go to www.komando.com/tips/index.aspx?id=14808 learn the benefits of prepaid and no-contract phones.
Don’t feel limited to just one of these ideas. The more you use your old smartphone, the less chance you have to damage your new smartphone! You can save battery life and data for more important things.
Kim Komando hosts the nation’s largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. Hear it locally at 94.3 WSC News Radio noon-3 p.m. Sundays. For more information, go to www.komando.com.