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Ask Slashdot: What Can You Do With An Old Windows Phone? 169

Slashdot reader unixisc writes: While it's always been well known that Windows phones in the market have floundered, one saving grace has always been that one could at least use it for the barest minimum of apps, even if updates have stopped... Aside from a door stop or a hand me down to someone who'll use it like a dumb phone, what are your suggested uses for this phone? A music player (if the songs are on an SD card)? Games? As far as phones go, I have what I need, so for this, anything it's good for?
The original submission suggests problems connecting to wi-ifi -- something partially corroborated by complaints at Windows Central -- though Microsoft's site says they're still supporting wifi connections.

Slashdot reader thegreatbob suggested "shuffleboard puck" -- then added, "Snark aside, if you're into writing custom applications and such for them, there's probably a bootloader/root solution for you out there."

Leave your own best suggestions in the comments. What can you do with an old Windows Phone?

Ask Slashdot: What Can You Do With An Old Windows Phone?

Comments Filter:
  • I know! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Sunday September 10, 2017 @03:25AM (#55168033) Journal

    Turn it into a Zune

    • Here's [youtube.com] one good use for it.
    • Use it as a LoJack? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Freischutz ( 4776131 ) on Sunday September 10, 2017 @06:05AM (#55168299)

      Turn it into a Zune

      Hehe, ... funny, but he asked a serious question. I hooked my old iPhone up to an 5000 mah external battery pack and put the thing in a plastic bag. Then I hid it in a small compartment behind an access panel in the boot of my car that's used to change the light bulbs in the rear lights and used it in combination with the 'Find my iPhone' web-app as a LoJack to track my car in case it got stolen. Other than having to re-charge it every 5 days or so it worked well. I dunno if you can do this with a Windows Phone but I'm pretty sure you can do this with an old Android device too.

      • Why not wire it up to the light to charge it.
        • Apart from the fact that I got the idea like two days before I left on vacation, there is the issue of different voltages, which can be overcome, to be sure but I didn't have the time. Then there is the issue of transients. I have lost an iPod a Garmin Nüvi device to low quality car charging devices and and an iPhone to one of those USB sockets that is built into a car (which you'd think would have proper protective circuitry) so if I ever hook anything up to my in-car electrics again I'll be damn sure
    • Will it blend?

    • Crush it.

  • E-waste it responsibly. Or use it as a fancy alarm clock.

    Microsoft mobile is dead. Let it go. Android ain't perfect, but a phone is just a phone. Move on...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There is a recycling program for these right?

  • Do people regularly use their Samsung S3s or iPhone 3GSs? Just sell it or recycle it when you no longer use it, and start using a new phone.

    • by Anne Thwacks ( 531696 ) on Sunday September 10, 2017 @04:03AM (#55168129)
      Do people regularly use their Samsung S3s

      Yes. Everyone in my family who has one still uses it. In my case, with LineageOS. Others may differ. They are really good. We have at least 6 batteries in my house, and three chargers - you can leave the house with a fully charged battery, and when you return, replace it with another fully charged battery.

      Of course we have other phones. Do you have more than one watch? I don't, but a lot of people do. A second phone is sometimes useful for your "secret identity" as sometimes you have to deal with organisations you don't trust (Equifux?)

    • Selling it is a good option, older phones are still in demand (well, maybe not phones that old). You won't get much for them but they'll make someone else happy.

      My old iPhones find a second life as smart home control panels. The oldest one actually is a 3GS and still runs the latest version of the control software. They control the stuff of te room they are in, and I can access video surveillance and whole house audio from it (well it's 3 rooms only thus far). My only gripe is that I'd like to remove
    • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Sunday September 10, 2017 @05:47AM (#55168265)

      Do people regularly use their Samsung S3s or iPhone 3GSs?

      Well, I regularly use my Samsung Galaxy Note 2. I'm not a big Smartphone user . . . I use it for programming my own apps. Hey, it still has the original battery! And, yes, this is my main cell phone.

      It's been dropped multiple times. The screen looks like an LSD induced episode of the Spider Man cartoon from the late 60's. But the damn thing still works! An "IBM Fellow" looked at my phone once and told me that it was a sign of honor among geeks . . . to have phone with a bashed up screen that still works. Kinda sorta like that boring book we were forced to read in high school, "The Red Badge of Courage".

      When this kid actually was a kid . . . we had a big, black, butt-ugly phone on the wall from Ma Bell for as long as I can remember. With . . . a dial! Have any Slashdotters actually dialed a telephone!?!?! Well, the thing worked, and I guess folks talked with each other more back then, instead of hanging on the telephone all day with their pseudo-friends, so why replace it . . . ? Hey, if you have a Windows Phone, you took the wrong boat, and it won't be updated and shiny new every year or so . . . but if it does what you need . . . why get rid of it . . . ?

      Oh, I also programmed FORTRAN on an IBM punch card machine in the late 70's in high school, and used a Teletype to save BASIC programs on paper tape . . . so I'm a bit of a dinosaur.

      Ah, that crisp, crunchy touch of the Teletype keyboard. . . being a geek was fun back in those days!

    • My 2012 Note II is the same generation as the S3 with very similar hardware. I use it every day because it is a perfectly decent phone and also happens to be the one working smart phone I own (also have an original Note I with smashed display). The only thing it lacks *for me* is hardware HEVC/H.265 video decoding. I might head to ebay and upgrade to a 2013 S4 just for this.

      My 2012 Note II runs Android 7.1 thanks to LineageOS. It works fine and it gets weekly updates (security patch level is 5 August 20

    • "Slashdot for Consumers."

      The dumbed down edition.

      "I heard Ginny got a new iPhone. It's the rose gold one!"

    • Do people regularly use their Samsung S3s or iPhone 3GSs? Just sell it or recycle it when you no longer use it, and start using a new phone.

      I have a Samsung Galaxy S3 - and it really does do all I need - e-mail, calendar, Facebook, Telegram, photographs, Viber, Skype and a few games (5 in a row, Reversi, etc. that kind of stuff).

    • I still have a Samsung S3 but for some reason I could never get LineageOS/Cyanogenmod working properly on it, so it'll be retired soon.

      But for anyone in their mid 30s or older, it's damn frustrating to see that the $600 smart phone from 2012 or 2013 that has a current street value of $10 even if it works well would have qualified as a damn supercomputer in 1997. So yes, I do want to find another use for it because it seems criminal to dismantle and recycle something that still has an impressive amount
    • I have usually handed phones down. Like I had an iPhone 5s, which I handed over to my niece when I upgraded to a 7
    • by msk ( 6205 )

      Yes to the S3. Bought it two years ago, when it was about three years old. Have been running CyanogenMod 12 (Lollipop), then LineageOS 14.1 (Nougat).

      It runs fine and is up-to-date with a week-old build.

      If someone made a solid Android build for a Windows phone, I'd at least consider it for a backup.

      My Touchpad runs KitKat. . . .

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 10, 2017 @03:33AM (#55168063)

    1) stare at it and cry
    2) regret life
    3) buy hope
    4) ????
    5) profit

    • 6) put it under the table-leg and stop the tilting
      7) send it to Kim Jong Un - as part of his cyber defense - its so rare that not even the NSA has exploited it
      - btw. this might be illegal under current regulations.
      8) send it to south korea they can tie it to a ballon and deliver it

  • by Anonymous Coward

    where it belongs.

  • Keep it as a burner phone, or give it away for someone who doesn't care about the smart part.
    You can basically see it as an ancient Android phone, or an even more ancient iPhone.
    Because that's the state of apps, and the OS is dead.

    Alarm clock, mp3/video player, etc.
    Games? It's a fraction of what Android and iOS have, but hey, perhaps give it to a kid that wants to play Minecraft on a smartphone for some reason. A few of the biggest game devs also probably have some of their games there. That is to say, it's

  • Wait 20 years.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Uzull ( 16705 ) on Sunday September 10, 2017 @03:54AM (#55168109) Homepage

    ...and make a nostalgia movie on it for youtube, hoping that it still connects to the internet.
    See what's happening to those old Apple II, TRS80 or Commodore Amiga...
    Maybe you will be getting a lot of $$$ from ebay auctioning it ;) ...that is if youtube, ebay & co still exist then...

    • See what's happening to those old Apple II, TRS80 or Commodore Amiga...
      Maybe you will be getting a lot of $$$ from ebay auctioning it ;)

      That worked for these because they were quite successful and popular machine back in their era.

      On the other hand, Windows-running-phones barely qualify.

      They are more like those old computer companies that failed to gain any market, went bust after only pushing a handful of unit and everybody has forgotten since then.
      You'll be having a hard even remembering that they even existed.

      The only thing that might keep Windows phone barely noticed is that they were a failed product coming from a bing company.
      But even

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      My used Apple //c wasn't worth much back in 2008 online. :(

  • Doesn't "foundered" (which I assume was actually meant) imply there was a time when Windows phone was successful?

  • You could use it to deliver a message to Microsoft about how you feel about their treatment of the platform. Of course, you'd probably need to write the message on a piece of paper, attach the piece of paper to the phone, and then throw the resulting assembly though the window of one of their stores, but that would also help to emphasise how you feel about it, so that's OK, right?

    More seriously, just use it as a slightly more capable dumb phone when you're doing something where you're doing some activit
    • Yeah, I originally bought it as a travel phone: this was the Lumia 550, one of 3 models that came preinstalled w/ Windows 10 Mobile, not tied to any carrier, but something that would work in any GSM network. I did use it for not just phone & texts, but also things like email. At this point, I'm most likely to hand it down to someone who just knows & uses dumb phones - the typing will be easier in SMS, and the phone can work in driving mode.
  • Years ago... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by magusxxx ( 751600 ) <magusxxx_2000.yahoo@com> on Sunday September 10, 2017 @05:07AM (#55168211)

    Women shelters used to take them. They used them exclusively for 911 calls. I gave my old one to my mother who keeps it in her car. All she has to do is recharge it once every few months.

    • I gave my old one to my mother who keeps it in her car. All she has to do is recharge it once every few months.

      How long does that phone take to boot?

    • Do men's shelters take them?

      LOL just joking there's no such thing as a men's shelter.

      • Your sig mentions Alterslash, which is actually something keeping my Windows Phone (8.1) usable since the hellacious javascript on regular Slashdot is crashing my browser.

      • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
        There's help out there brother.
        http://www.npr.org/2017/07/15/537381161/more-domestic-violence-shelters-for-men-opening
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I use my nokia 520 for a GPS. The GPS app supports offline maps, so I don't even need a sim. It isn't quite as convenient as a dedicated unit, but it was only $20.

    • That model - my first smartphone - came w/ Windows Phone 8.1 and is not upgradable, so it comes w/ not just Bing Maps, but HERE maps and HERE directions as well. It certainly was great for that purpose!
  • by fuzzyf ( 1129635 ) on Sunday September 10, 2017 @05:57AM (#55168293)
    Source right here:
    https://github.com/ms-iot/virt... [github.com]

    Example video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
    • I've been waiting for this! Thanks. Is there a comparable one for old android phones? Obviously one could hack the android phone but my goal is to find some canned method that works right out of the box so I can use this with kids in a class room bringing in old family phones. So I don't want to have to custom code them . I just want to have something that someone else already worked the kinks out of.
      Perhaps you can point me to a similar project for androids?

    • Thanks for being one of the very few people to answer this question positively.

  • ... I could find some useful information here about things I could do with my Xperia X1!

    Which reminds me of the fact that there are no slider smartphones anymore. And no, the Blackberry Priv (which I own, for lack of other options) with its keyboard on the narrow side is no real substitute...

  • Throw it away! :-)

  • Some of those old POS clunker mother fuckers can be made to run android instead. Not most, just a very select few.

    Nothing official though. Look for roms at places like XDA.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Oh wait, someone decided to yank that out of the OS shortly before stopping updates.
    That was the one change that totally ticked off my kids. They loved their Windows phones because of this feature.

  • Well it's funny, but just remember that all cells will work without a sim card for emergency calls. So if you have an elderly family member, it might be a good option for them. Especially if they're old enough that a fall could potentially cause them serious harm so they can't get help but are still conscious. Had a friend who's grandparents broke down in Tennessee while taking a detour route because of construction on I75, he'd given them his old cell "just in case" they kept it charged. It came in han

    • I think an elderly family member at the very least deserves a 20 dollar dumb phone that they would not have to recharge every 24 hours.
      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        Considering the point is for emergencies? How do you get to the dumb phone when you've fallen down a flight of stairs with a broken hip.

        • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

          You keep it in your pocket at all times, which is why a 20 day battery life is useful as people will forget to charge it.

  • Hang it on the wall as a reminder that if you donâ(TM)t change with the world, it will leave you behind, and no amount of pretentious posturing or loud-spoken denials about the state of the world will save you.

  • Thieves/robber will have to much pitty with you / not enough interest in the phone to steal it and nobody will ever hack it. After all, who uses Windows Phone?

    And I'm not even joking that much.

  • There are still new ones that have compelling hardware, notably the Alcatel Idol 4 Pro that was recently reviewed on The Phones Show as having the best front facing speakers of any phone. I'd be tempted if I could replace Windows with Android.
    https://youtu.be/crB9JNFghuk [youtu.be]

  • ... but make sure no one sees you. It might violate some "electronic trash disposal" laws.

  • Throw it in the trash.

  • Go to Redmond and find one of those, "turn in your iPhone" shame bins. Trade up.

  • As long as your wireless provider still lets it connect to their network, I would just keep it. If it still does what you need it to do, then why spend $700 on a new phone and a new more expensive wireless plan?
    I still have mine, a Nokia Lumia. I got it in 2013 and use it every day. I use it to check email, check the news/stocks, check the weather apps, make phone calls, and for web browsing. It can even be used to listen to FM radio broadcasts with a set of headphones.

    The browser crashes all the time
    • All the things you mentioned were fine, until the WiFi stopped working. I don't want to burn cellular data on it when I have WiFi at home already that this phone will no longer let me use. Microsoft can claim what it likes, but when it's disabled an essential part of a platform they are abandoning, they seem to be clearly telling current users happy w/ their phones to stop using it
  • They can still be used to call 911 without a paid plan.

  • I don't know, call people?

  • I've noticed a lot of people in the past decade or so have gotten a sort of disorder where they need to have all new gadgets, and the second one isn't considered "new" to them any more, they feel they can't use it. It's super strange to me. Have there always been people like this (new cars every year?)? I don't seem to remember talking to/reading about so many people who are obsessed with only using the newest gadget.

    Regardless, I still use my Windows Phone all day, every day. It works just fine.
  • I don't know why everyone bashes the Windows Phone. I love mine! It is the perfect size to shim up that old table in the den with the short leg.
  • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Sunday September 10, 2017 @01:30PM (#55169883)

    the apps crashed, the browser loaded infections, the flesh melted off the users' cyber-presence and he screamed in agony.

    "he chose.....poorly", deadpanned the knight

  • burnitwithfire.jpg

  • Reverse engineer Cortana, rename her Clippy, bring back Clippy's animation library and tada, you've revived your phone with what would be the world's best AI system ever.

  • 1.) If the windows phone in question can be "upgraded" to windows phone 10, then upgrade the phone and all the apps, and keep using it as a smartphone, with limited apps. Is not diferent than using Sailfish phones, or bada phones, or BB10 10.3 phones (my case)... Also, remember that microsoft baked a lot of the "enterpisey" functions, like VPN connections right into the OS, no extra apps needed, so, while supported with security patches, they make decent enterprisey phones.

    2.) If the windows phone in questi

    • The phone is a Lumia 550 - one of the 3 models that came preloaded w/ Windows 10 Mobile. It's W10M that's giving me these issues, not WP8.1. Namely, no more WiFi. Most WP8.1 phones are not upgradable to W10M and should be fine

      (g) is the reason I originally bought this phone. But if I'm travelling, particularly outside the US, I'd rather use something like WhatsApp's audio calling or video calling to avoid international roaming charges, but now, that's impossible w/ WiFi gone. I've reset my phone, and

      • The advice I gave was for the general WinPho population, and not specific to your situation. Specific advice for you:

        If your phone came with Win10 (I am assuming you are ussing the latest stable version, and not some insider preview) and you are having problems conecting to Wifi, and is under warranty, then is a Warranty issue (since microsoft swears there is no wifi problems for the model).

        Contact seller and/or manufacturer as appropiate for a repair/replacement. Then use as I detalied in 1.) as winpho10 i

  • by Mendy ( 468439 )

    You could install the Plesk App on them and use it to remote control a RaspberryPi (or similar) that's acting as the front-end.

    • by Guyle ( 79593 )

      You mean Plex, right? Plesk is a pain enough of the ass on Linux, I can't imagine running it on a Windows phone to host multiple websites.

  • I have a Lumia 635 that I use as a media player and a "I don't care if it gets trashed" HD camera.
  • Your grandma would love to hear from you

    Actually I think the demise od Windows Phone is a tragedy. I like the UI a lot

  • I'm still using my Windows phone, but the battery is starting to go down faster than it used to (I have to charge it every two days). And its camera isn't the best. But then I've dropped it on concrete, and it still ticks! And I do like the Windows UI, much better than the Android UI (I used to have an Android phone).

  • They make nice novelty tea coasters for the technically inclined. Keeps the coffee stains off your authentic tabletop Pacman cabinet
  • The Lumias had fantastic cameras. I'm using mine for time lapse photos.

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