Update: Added a section on how to use an old iPhone as a security camera or baby monitor, and revised copy throught to account for new devices.
Does the iPhone 7 make older iPhone models obsolete? Maybe, maybe not. The answer varies from person to person and what they expect (and need) from their smartphones. One thing is for sure, however: A ton of people who rushed out to buy the iPhone 7 have an older iPhone, such as an iPhone 5 or 6S, suddenly sitting idle.
But an old iPhone doesn’t have to be a techno-albatross hanging over your shoulders. There are plenty of great ways to put an older iPhone to use even if it’s not your carry-everywhere device anymore. And if you truly don’t need or want it around, there are solid options for putting it in good hands — or getting some cold hard cash for your device. Read on to find out more.
Keeping your old iPhone
For many people, keeping an old iPhone around makes plenty of sense. After all, every iPhone beginning with the iPhone 5 can run Apple’s latest iteration of iOS 10, so the devices aren’t exactly useless.
Use it as a backup phone
Keeping an old iPhone as a backup device can be helpful if you’re the sort of person who tends to leave their smartphone at work, in the car, or on that table next to the door where there’s no way you could possibly miss it on your way out in the morning. This option is particularly helpful for frequent travelers. Often, it makes sense to use an entirely different phone when you’re overseas to avoid ghastly roaming charges.
Once an iPhone is off contact, the most common approach is to unlock the device and purchase a new SIM card that works with another carrier. To unlock an iPhone, we suggest that you follow our guide on how to unlock any iPhone from your wireless carrier. Of course, you can also keep an iPhone on contract with shared voice and data plans with many carriers, and just keep using it as you always have.
Where can you take an unlocked iPhone?
Well, this depends on the iPhone model you have. You have to keep in mind that AT&T, T-Mobile, and most carriers around the world use the GSM standard. Verizon and Sprint are different because they use CDMA. If your iPhone is a GSM phone, this means it will not work on Verizon or Sprint. Many phones, such as the iPhone, have the capability to work with both standards.
Smartphones like the iPhone 7 have two different versions. If you bought your iPhone 7 from Verizon or Sprint, then your iPhone will also work with GSM carriers such as AT&T or T-Mobile. However, if you bought your iPhone 7 from AT&T and T-Mobile, then these phones are only GSM phones, so you can’t use them on Verizon or Sprint. We suggest you look into your particular model if you plan to take the older phone to another carrier.
Outside the United States, the process is similar, only more common. GSM networks are the standard, and most operators will be happy to sell folks a SIM card to use on their network. When you come back to the states, there’s no need to keep paying for service — just reactivate it when (and if) you return to that country.
Use it like an iPod touch
An iPhone without phone service is essentially a spiffy iPod touch — and plenty of people find an iPod touch is all the iOS experience they need. Your old iPhone can get good use as a standalone camera, and when you’re near Wi-Fi, you can publish images to your iCloud Camera Roll and have them automatically synced across all your iOS and MacOS devices. Need an alternative? Pop your aging device into a speaker dock — or an audio system with an iPod option — and turn it into a home stereo. With iTunes Sharing, you can stream your iTunes library wirelessly to your stereo. Similarly, services such as Spotify, Pandora, SoundCloud, and TunedIn will provide you with a steady supply of new music.
Use it as a security camera or baby monitor
One of the most popular uses of an old iPhone is to keep it as a security camera or baby monitor. The reason why we talk about these together is that they both work the same way. Download the app to your old iPhone, pair the old iPhone with the new iPhone, and voila! You have a security camera. You can find many apps in the App Store by just searching for “baby monitor” or “security camera.” You can try an app like Presence if your looking for a security solution, or something like Cloud Baby Monitor, which is also compatible with the Apple Watch.
We suggest that you read through our guide on how to turn your old iPhone into a smart home gadget for a more in-depth look at different apps.