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Smartphone Sustainability: Upcycling Your Old Android Phone

Concerned over how we’re affecting our planet and how we can be environmentally sustainable? Beyond ‘Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle’, there are some wonderful initiatives to minimise our carbon footprint, including the Singapore Green Plan 2030, the National Recycling Programme, and artwork created entirely out of recycled items featured in the Singapore’s Art Museum’s Imaginarium.

What is Upcycling and How Does it Contribute to Environmental Sustainability?

Upcycle is essentially another way to say ‘repurpose’. That is, to take something that is no longer useful in its current state - in this case, an Android phone - and changing what it's used for so that it’s useful again, giving it new life and reducing the amount of waste one creates.

The Samsung Upcycling Programme

Samsung Electronics for one is working very hard to do its part for environmental sustainability through its upcycling programme. .

The Galaxy Upcycling Programme allows users to turn their handsets into one of many Internet of Things (IoT) devices through a simple software update to their old Samsung Galaxy phone. The update features the SmartThings Labs in the SmartThings app, which modifies the handset’s existing features. For example, using the built-in light sensor, it can measure the brightness level of a room and automatically adjust the lighting.

5 Awesome Upcycling Project Ideas for Your Old Android phone

Whether a Samsung or any other Android phone you’re no longer using because you’ve just got the latest Galaxy S21, here are some upcycling ideas for you to consider.

1. Google Home

If you have an old Android device, all you need to do is ensure you have the most recent Android OS, which offers the ‘OK, Google’ voice command, on your phone. Connect it up to a Bluetooth speaker, and voila!

We suggest having both the devices plugged in 24/7 so that you'll be good to go as soon as you say ‘OK, Google.’

2. Universal remote

Instead of using different remote controls for your home entertainment system, load up your old Android phone with all the apps necessary to pair it with each of the other devices. It's as simple as that.

3. Baby monitor

You don't need a pricey baby monitor when you have an Android device. Either install Skype and have it running on both your old and new phones, or download one of the many baby monitor apps available on the Google Play store.

4. Music player

Remove everything except for your favourite music apps and songs, so it functions as a media player. Hook it up to a surround-sound speaker, so you can enjoy all your favourite tunes with no distractions. And if that's not enough, download the Netflix app and enjoy uninterrupted streaming.

5. Security camera

When you need to leave the house, make sure your home is safe and sound. But if you don't have a security camera, you could turn an unused Android phone into one! First, download a security camera app. Then, plug your phone into a power source and position it someplace inconspicuous. Now you’ll have real-time updates on the activity at home while you’re out.

Have your own unique ways of upcycling your old Android phones? Share them with us on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #upcyclewithM1.