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Keeping a deactivated cell phone around can be handy, or not

HTC EVO 4G image from WikiPedia because I'm too lazy to walk downstairsSomething I’ve researched in my other life as a father is some of the ways I can take some of the tech junk I have and turn it into useful items. In particular, I happen to be the proud owner of five HTC EVO phones: two EVO 4Gs, two EVO 3Ds, and my steady rocking HTC EVO 4G LTE.

There’s also an iPhone 4S and a Windows Mobile 6 HTC Diamond Touch Pro? I’m pretty sure if I dig far enough I could find my Treo 655 and my wife’s T-Mobile burner phone and old Blackberry. While that is a lot of phones, I write about four of them and have not had a chance to recycle or return the others as they became buried in the tech graveyard that is the bucket of tech stuff.

However, with a charge, each one of these phones can be a life saving device as they can all dial emergency services. This can be a blessing and a curse as one family learned after police finally managed to find a girl who dialed 911 162 times over the course of 24 hours – extremely useful if you’ve got an emergency and no charge left on your primary phone, kind of bad if you’ve got a kid who doesn’t respect 911.

If you’re having issues with your primary phone, if you’ve got an old one that’s on the same network you can dial account services on some carriers and have them walk you through working on your primary phone. That’s a sometimes scenario however. Alternately, if your main phone is out of whack for any extended period of time, many carriers like Sprint allow you to activate any phone that’s capable of being activated on their network from the account management website.

For me, I’ve got a cell phone next to the baby’s room, it plays Willie’s Roadhouse on Sirius XM streamed over WiFi to a Bluetooth speaker in her room for a couple of hours every night. For some reason, that makes baby sleep, I’ve given up trying to figure out why Americana soothes the savage baby’s soul, but it does and I can control the volume, channel, etc. without entering the room.

Using an application called GrooveIP I can also make and receive phone calls as an IP phone for the times I’ve got my phone down flashing some ROM, patch, or if anything happened and I was in the baby’s room and not able to get to my phone.

Maggie and the tech arsenal

Add to the list you can use your old phone as a webcam, intercom, gaming system, level, music and media server, or whatever you can think of if you’re connected to WiFi. All said, you’ve got a pretty powerful reason to keep your old working cell phone around with a little bit of a charge in it, even if you’re now sporting the fancy new model.

You can also enter the root world on older versions of your phone without worrying that you will miss a single call due to your activities. They’re great learning tools for anyone interested in getting into rooting and all the things you can do with it. Keep in mind, charging a cell phone that’s not on for a year is going to cost you, so plan to shell out an additional three cents per year to keep that old phone charged up and able to call 911 in the event of an emergency.

I should point out you should check with your carrier as to whether your old phone will dial 911 in the event of an emergency. I’m pretty sure that’s a given these days, but it would be terrible to be wrong and need it. Do not call 911 on the deactivated device to ask if it worked. Seriously.

It’s not hoarding phones if I tell myself it’s not hoarding enough.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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13 thoughts on “Keeping a deactivated cell phone around can be handy, or not

  • Avatar of Simon Belmont

    Nice post. I actually still use my 4+ year old Sprint HTC Hero as a bedside table alarm clock, weather, and music streamer (it’s on CM7.2 and it works great).

    My retired EVO 3D I’m planning on giving to my son when he’s old enough to play games (it’s still getting updated by the community and it runs well on newer versions of Android). My Galaxy Nexus is the backup phone to my Nexus 5, and it’s on CM11.

  • Avatar of Fifth313ment

    Paul, poor little girl should be wearing prison stripes… shes in Sprint phone hell there! LOL! :P I love keeping my old cells for MP3 player, TV controllers, spycams (even remote viewing) and even flashlights!


    • Avatar of Simon Belmont

      Well, she is wearing stripes. So, it kinda works out. ;)

      I like extending the life of my gadgets for as long as I can. Case in point, I just posted this from my 2010 B&N Nook Color running Android 4.4.2. :)

      • Got one of those too.. running about 3 versions back from the last CMX nightly.

        I don’t use it for much because I just have too many devices floating around, but it does come in handy occasionally.

        • Avatar of Simon Belmont

          CM11 runs amazingly well on the B&N Nook Color. The UI is noticeably smoother, games have higher FPS, and battery life has increased, than CM10.x was (though Android 4.3 was really smooth, too, but not as smooth as Android 4.4.2 is).

          I honestly continue to be amazed at how well the ancient (by mobile hardware standards) hardware continues to shine while on the latest version of Android. A lot of kudos from me to the Nookie devs for keeping what I call “the HTC HD2 of the tablet world” a viable to use tablet in 2014 and beyond.

        • Something I start wondering is if the hardware runs this great now, how bad was the software to begin with?

          This shows why manufacturers like HTC have been giving a cold shoulder to developers – you can keep a product alive and kicking a really really long time when you clean up the mistakes the original vendor made

  • I plan on keeping all my old phones and showing the evolution of a cell phone to my kids sometime in 20-30 years :). I have some of the original analog phones in my collection as well as the 1st Linux based touchscreen moto phone. that one was amazing until the connection with the flip broke. . .

    • I think if I dig I might be able to find my old brick phone from 1993… US Cellular. Made and received calls when it felt like it.

      In-laws have a bag and brick cell phone from the 80’s that is being threatened to be given to me for a gift.

      • Mom had a nokia bagphone from when she purchased her car in 1992. I think we used it twice.

  • Avatar of JRDEMASKUS

    Clearly I have wasted the potential of my retired devices.
    They live the life of the old toy, burried in the “toy” box.
    I don’t have any of those useage scenarios though.

    • Avatar of JRDEMASKUS

      I remember one now…
      I had to use my GB2.3.3 Dell Streak 5 (retired) to upload photos to a forum, because both KK4.+ and WP8 locked the function out of the OS for “security”? reasons.

  • Check XDA today for the first KitKat ROM for the OG Evo 4G. This sort of hacking for hacking’s sake is a fun thing to do with an old device.

    Baby is adorable by the way, congrats

    • Ooh thanks for the tip… I need to look back at the 3d and OG a bit this coming week…


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