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18 great uses for an old Android device

JR Raphael | Jan. 17, 2014
That outdated Android device in your closet still has a lot to offer -- if you know what to do with it. Here are 18 excellent ways to give new life to an old phone or tablet.

7. Turn it into your own personal testing ground
Android is a tinkerer's dream. It's generally pretty easy to root, or gain system-level access to, an Android device -- and once you've done that, you open up a whole new world of possibilities. You can install powerful root-only applications and even replace your device's entire operating system with a custom ROM full of fresh features and advanced customization potential.

Anytime you start hacking, though, you risk screwing something up. And when the device in question is your primary phone or tablet, that can be a daunting gamble to take.

That's where an old phone or tablet can come in handy. Put on your hacker's hat and do a Google search for "root + [your device name]" and then "[your device name] + ROM." There's a huge community of Android enthusiasts out there, and you'll almost certainly find some helpful user-generated guides to get yourself started.

8. Let it power scientific research
Believe it or not, your clunky old Android device could actually help scientists search for stars and research new treatments for AIDS. It's all part of a program from UC Berkeley called BOINC, or the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing.

Turn your tablet or phone into a scientific research machine with BOINC.

All you do is download the free BOINC app, choose which research projects you want to support, and select how and when your device's computing power can be used. As long as your device is turned on, plugged in and connected to a Wi-Fi network, scientists from various institutes will be able to tap into its processing power to help conduct their data analyses.

You can read more about how the whole thing works at Berkeley's BOINC FAQ page. (Whew -- try saying that five times fast!)

Looking for more ways to contribute to scientific research? See " Citizen science: Go ahead, try this at home."

9. Use it as a video chat terminal
Who needs a phone when you have Wi-Fi? Set up your old Android device with apps like Google Hangouts and Skype and use it as a futuristic terminal for face-to-face communications. Think of it as an extra extension for your office or living room.

10. Turn it into an awesome gaming device
Even old Android devices can make pretty sweet mini-arcades. Surf the Play Store for some games — you can even find emulators for console-level systems, if you know where to look -- and then grab one of Moga's universal Android game controllers ($30 to $80) to take things up a notch.


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