May 05, 2012, 7:00 AM — If you’re searching for a new GPS navigator or a touchscreen remote control, a good place to find one is at the bottom of your desk drawer. Old smartphones, long forgotten after being buried under a pile of debris, still pack some punch with a decent processor, GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth--and the devices can run apps that transform them into a new stand-alone machine.
My colleague Rick Broida looked last year at eight practical and fun uses for an old smartphone--uses including an emergency or Wi-Fi phone, a gaming machine, a portable hard drive, and an e-reader, among others--but here’s a look at eight other ideas to give your old phone a new lease on life.
Stand-Alone GPS Navigator
GPS use can drain your battery before you reach your destination, so spare yourself the hassle of plugging your new phone in and out every time it rings and use your old device instead. You don’t need to keep your data contract for the old phone; instead, just download a GPS app that stores the maps locally--like TomTom for iPhone ($60, a cost much less than a new GPS navigator) or CoPilot for Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone 7 devices (just $20). A generic windshield mount goes for around $10 on eBay, and now you won’t miss the next turn when a phone call comes through.
Touchscreen Remote Control