Random Bits Technology and Internet

Giving a new life to old phones

Nowadays, in some “developed” countries, it is very common for people to have a bunch of old phones stored somewhere in a drawer. Ten years have passed since smartphones became ubiquitous and those devices tend to become unusable very quickly, at least for their primary purpose. Either a small component breaks, the vendor stops providing updates, newer apps don’t support those older versions, etc.

The thing is, these phones are still powerful computers. It would be great if we could give them another life once they are no longer fit for regular day to day use or the owner just wants to try a shiny new device.

I never had many smartphones, mines tend to last many years, but I still have one or two lying around. Recently I started thinking of new uses for them, make them work instead of just gathering dust. A quick search on the internet tells me that many people already had the same idea (I’m quite late to the party) and have been working on cool things to do with these devices.

However, most of these articles just throw the idea at you, without telling you how to do it. Others assume that your device is relatively recent.

Of course the difficulty increases with the age of the phone, in my case the software that I will be able to run on a 10 year old Samsung Galaxy S will not be as easy to find as the software that I can run on another device with just one or two years.

Bellow is a list posts I found online with cool things you can do with your old phones. What sets this list apart from other results is that all the items aren’t just ideas, they contain step by step instructions of how to achieve the end result.

You don’t have to follow the provided instructions rigorously and you should introduce some variations that are more appropriate to your use case.

Have fun and reuse your old devices.

Technology and Internet

KDE Connect

The KDE ecosystem is filled with great applications, an awesome DE and great tools to develop computer software. I’ve been a satisfied user for a couple of years and I’m still learning and discovering new features and capabilities of this software collection.

The last one was “KDE Connect“, available since 2013 (I’m late to the party), allows you to pair your Android mobile device with your computer, giving you the ability to do stuff like:

  • Manage and transfer files between both systems in your file manager (ex. Dolphin)
  • Receive the phone notifications on the computer
  • Easy access to the phone information (ex: battery) in a widget
  • Control your computer’s media player through your phone
  • Transform your phone in a touch-pad and keyboard
  • Share the same clipboard

It started as a Google “Summer of Code” project, but the development continued and many more features seem to be planed according to the blog of the developer. The installation was pretty easy and the first synchronization straightforward, but you have to be careful and set your firewall rules accordingly or the devices won’t detect each other.

If you didn’t tried it yet and use KDE, please do. The design of the application is basic but the functionality is great. Here is a little video of the software in action: