Great Ways to Give Old Phones New Life

We’ve all faced the dilemma of what to do with our old cellphone when we get a new one. We stash it away in a junk drawer, or toss it into a shoebox already stuffed with older models. Putting it out with the trash simply isn’t a good option—this year more than 150 million cellphones will be discarded in the United States alone, way more than we really want to add to our already overburdened landfills.

Fortunately, there are some great ways you can either give your cellphone new life, or dispose of it in an environmentally friendly way. These will take a few minutes of your time, but the reward for the effort far outweighs the cost. With just a few easy steps, you can secure the personal information on your phone, clear out some of your household clutter and, in the best-case scenario, give someone the joy of having a working cellphone they might otherwise not have had.

First, regardless of the fate that awaits your old phone, you should always remove all of your personal data from the device. Start by backing up your contacts to your SIM card, or to your Google account or AppleID. Next, save any photos, music, videos or documents you have on the device to an SD card, a computer, or to cloud storage, like Google Photos, or iCloud.

Then, perform a factory reset. This will wipe away any settings you’ve personalized, and restore the phone’s software to its original state. This not only fully removes your information; it also makes the phone a “blank slate” for another potential user to start with.

To factory reset an Android phone, go to the Settings menu, then to Backup and Reset. Choose Factory Data Reset. For an iPhone, open Settings; go to General, Reset, and Erase All Content and Settings. You’ll need to enter your Apple ID and passcode to complete the process.

If your phone is in good working order, you might consider passing it on to a friend or family member. You can even add additional lines on your existing Consumer Cellular account for them. This lets you share minutes, text messages, and data from your monthly plan. By simply inserting one of our free SIM cards, the new user can activate your old phone, and just like that, you’re sharing connections. As an added bonus, from now until December 31st when you add a line to your account you’ll receive a $20 credit on your next invoice.

You can also donate unwanted cellphones. There are a wide variety of worthy non-profit organizations that find wonderful new uses for used phones, like Cell Phones for Soldiers, which distributes them to military members serving overseas. A simple Google search turns up dozens of good ideas, and many of these groups will even come collect your phone as well.

And if ultimately you decide your phone just needs to be put out to pasture, take a minute to check out recycling resources in your area. Many electronics stores and even municipal locations like public libraries put out recycling collection bins. If you have a smartphone, you can even download the free iRecycle app to find locations in your community.

Your old phone has no doubt been a good companion to you. Even though you may be excited to have a new one, take some time to give this old friend a proper goodbye. You’ll be doing yourself, and old Mother Earth herself a big favor.

16 Thoughts on "Great Ways to Give Old Phones New Life"

  1. Banumathi Periasamy says

    1. minutes plan jumped from 250 to 1000 min. It would be nicer to have middle plan like 500 or 600 or 700 min. 500 is apt like people like me.
    Same as data plan. Jumps from 500MB to 1.5 GB. 750 or 800 is apt.

    reply to Banumathi

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thank you for the feedback, Banumathi. We do our best to create plans that fit the needs of our customers, but we understand that some users would enjoy additional options. I’ve passed your feedback on to our management team for review. We very much appreciate your suggestion, and if you would like to discuss this further, we’re happy to do so over the phone at 888-345-5509. Thank you again for reaching out to us, and we hope you have a wonderful day!

      reply to Ashley

  2. Sherry Brooks says

    We could all think of someone less fortunate than us & give them our old cell phone! I’m sure it will be greatly appreciated by them & helps us to keep the phones in service as long as possible. I must say anyone who does not have a cell phone would really love to eat one from you. I also want to say Consumer Cellular rocks! I have been with them for 3 years and nothing could get me to change carriers. Excellent phone service, customer service & over all value you just can’t beat!

    reply to Sherry

  3. Richard Etner says

    Please check and reply, are we missing our AARP discount?

    reply to Richard

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thank you for posting, Richard. I reviewed your account, and you are indeed receiving the 5% monthly discount. We’re happy to assist you with any other questions you may have about your plan or your invoices at 888-345-5509. We appreciate you taking the time to reach out to us, and we hope you have a great day!

      reply to Ashley

  4. Alison says

    Many nonprofits take in old phones, recycle them, and use the recycling fee to buy new phones for those they serve. We gave our old phone to a battered women’s shelter.

    reply to Alison

  5. Tina Mygrant says

    I LOVE my Consumer Cellular service. Wished I had known about you years ago. I so wish I could have your Internet box though, is always out of stock. But I keep looking.. Merry Christmas

    reply to Tina

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thank you for your wonderful compliment, Tina! You are in luck, our ZTE Wireless HotSpot is available here now. It’s a great option for staying connected wherever you are. We appreciate you taking the time to post, and we hope you have a great day!

      reply to Ashley

  6. Jani says

    We purchased the Motorola Moto E LTE a year ago now the ringer quite working is there a guarentee with this phone as we are thinking it is junk I have called your support line and they are clueless what to do Please get back to me or we are going to be going to a different provider

    reply to Jani

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thank you for asking, Jani. Our devices come with a one year manufacturers warranty. We are happy to help you troubleshoot the issue you’re having with the ringer and assist you in processing a warranty return if needed. Please give us a call at 888-345-5509 at your convenience. We appreciate you taking the time to post, and we look forward to speaking with you!

      reply to Ashley

  7. Judy Harris says

    I had an old phone and plan that did nothing but was good for using it when my wife was somewhere and ready for me to come get her. All of a sudden it wouldn’t hold a charge. I went to Wal-Mart and purchased a T-Mobile. there were no more phones like we had and they had done away with the plan. We belong to AARP and have heard a lot about your service and have decided to switch. The new phone has all of the prior minutes now, but we don’t know how to use it. We are both very much seniors and need something simple to use and not expensive. Can you help?

    reply to Judy

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thank you, Judy! I think Consumer Cellular may be the perfect option for you. We offer simple to use phones, including two flip phone options that are very affordable. You can view our full product lineup here. With our SIM card, you may even be able to use the phone you already have with our service! As for our plans, you can have as little or as much as you need, and you’re never stuck with a plan that doesn’t work for you. And as an AARP member, you’ll get a 5% monthly discount on service and usage charges. If you’re ready to get started or if we can answer any questions for you, please call us at 888-345-5509. Our account advisors will be happy to help you! We appreciate you taking the time to learn more about our service, and we hope to speak with you soon!

      reply to Ashley

  8. Karen says

    My mom just got a new Samsung Ao2s and we can’t get the text messages to work, it won’t receive or send messages says there is an error. Please help.

    reply to Karen

    • Hi Karen, thanks for your post. I’m sorry to hear about the trouble taking place with your mom’s texting feature. We’d be happy to look into that though to see what’s going on with it. Give us a call at 800-686-4460 or chat with one of our live agents on our website here to follow up.

      reply to Jacob

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