NEW YORK — The iPhone 5, out later this month, is thinner, lighter and has a bigger screen than its predecessors. For hordes of Apple fans who have some money to spare, the question is: What should you do with your old iPhone after you buy a new one?
The new phones will join some 244 million iPhones sold since the first one launched in 2007. Some have been lost or stolen. Some of us are still hanging on to our old gadgets in some futile attempt to resist the constant upgrade cycle that technology companies are forcing on us.
But it’s fair to say that millions of iPhones are languishing in desk drawers or gathering dust. Here are a few things to do with yours to keep it from meeting that fate once you buy the iPhone 5.
1. Give it to your kids so they stop taking yours…
Every parent, aunt and uncle knows that no toy in the history of toys has ever been as appealing to a kid as an iPhone. They are shiny, they have games and grown-ups use them for important things. More importantly, they are either off-limits or doled out in limited quantities as a reward for, say, sitting still for a minute. Load up your old iPhone with games and give it to a deserving child in your life.
2. …or to your mom so she can finally see the light
Alternately, if a Luddite adult has been thinking of taking the plunge into the world of smartphones, your old iPhone may help him or her get over the hump. If you have an iPhone 4 or 4S, you might also find someone who’s still hanging on to an earlier model and give them the gift of an upgrade. You may just buy a friend for life (or at least until iPhone 6 comes out).
3. Use it as a teeny-tiny iPad
You’ll be able to watch videos, send email and search Wikipedia for random facts to end cocktail-party disagreements with your decommissioned iPhone — as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection. There’s even a camera, which means you can avoid being that guy (or gal) at the concert who’s turning heads for taking photos with an iPad.
4. Donate to charity
Several charities accept old phones for donation, though it’s worth remembering that these groups likely won’t physically give your old phones to people in need. Rather, they work with phone recyclers and sell your donated phones to them.
A nonprofit group called Cell Phones for Soldiers will take your “gently used” phone and sell it to recycling company ReCellular. It will then use the proceeds to buy calling cards for soldiers.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence works with another recycling group in a similar manner. About 60 percent of the phones it collects are refurbished and resold. The money goes toward supporting the coalition. The remaining 40 percent of the phones are recycled, according to the group’s website. It pays for shipping if you are mailing three or more phones.
There are a few more suggestions from New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/8818.html.
5. Alarm Clock
Do you still use that old radio alarm you bought for your college dorm room in the 20th century? Join the 21st century by turning your old iPhone into an alarm clock. Hide it in a different spot in your bed each night for an added challenge.
6. Sell, sell, sell!
Join the eBay hordes and sell your phone for a few hundred bucks if you can. There will likely be a flood of the gadgets soon after people start getting their new phones, so it might make sense to wait a little.
A company called Gazelle, meanwhile, will make an offer for your old phone based on its condition, your phone carrier and other information. A 32 gigabyte iPhone 4S on Verizon Wireless, for example, was recently going for $237 if it’s in good condition and $90 if it’s broken.
Glyde.com also offers to help you resell your old phone. A recent check showed the above 4S getting roughly $325 to $350 after fees are deducted — provided there is a buyer. A “speed sale” that guarantees to sell it in seven days will get the seller slightly less money.
7. Trade in at GameStop
The video game retailer offers cash or store credit for old iPhones (along with iPods and iPads). The service is only available in stores and not online. A 32 gigabyte iPhone 4S on Verizon will get you up to $335 in store credit or up to $268 in cash.
8. Stream music
Stick that baby in a speaker dock, spring for a Pandora subscription ($36 per year) or Spotify ($10 per month) and bam, you have a stereo.
Or try SoundCloud. Although it’s meant to let you create and share music with people, it’s also a good place to listen to DJs you like or discover new ones. TuneIn, meanwhile, will let you listen to online radio stations playing music, sports, news or talk shows.
9. Keep as a backup in case you lose your fancy new one.
Nearly one-third of cellphone owners have had their gadgets lost or stolen, according to a recent survey from Pew Internet &Pew Internet &American Life Project.
10. Use as a camera
At its core, a decommissioned iPhone is a hard drive with a camera. Snap photos with it. No Canon needed. You can also use the iPhone to move photos and other files from one computer to another.
11. Recycle with Apple
Apple Inc.’s own recycling program will give you an Apple gift card if it is determined to have a “monetary value.” A 32 gigabyte iPhone 4S with some light scratches but in good working condition was recently estimated at $280. That’s higher than Gazelle, but you’ll have to spend the money at Apple. The company also accepts broken phones for recycling but you won’t get any money for them.