What can you do with an ancient cell phone?

by Jeff Wiener on August 10, 2009

Old Cell PhoneSome days, I miss my old Star Tac Cell. It was big. It was slow. It was easy.

Being the mid 90’s, the expectation for my cellular phone to be different than my home phone hadn’t fully developed yet. My cell phone had one purpose; to make phone calls. The only real problem with it was the price, but since the company was paying for it – that wasn’t really much of a deterrent. If I lost it, all I would have lost were the contacts that I had taken the time to program into it. Since it was a PITA to enter contacts, this would have been far from a catastrophe.

Now – if I were to lose my iPhone, I don’t think I would be suicidal overwhelmingly distraught, but I would certainly be concerned with the information that I have stored on it. Business contacts, personal emails, random notes, records of scores that had taken countless hours (if not days) to attain on some of the best gaming apps in the iTunes store, would all be gone. Sure, I might have a backup of some of them on my computer, but the time between losing my old phone and getting my new one to the same point would feel like an eternity.
I got to thinking about this after I recently temporarily misplaced my iPhone. Luckily I managed to find it before I succumbed to a panic attack, but it did get me thinking about all of the phones that I have replaced over the years, and where their final resting places might be.

Apparently, cell phone disposal has created some interesting problems for our society. The RCMP is asking people to remove or disconnect the battery in cell phones if they must give their old phones to their kids to play with. Not sure if giving your child a toy that has the ability to summon the police is such a grand idea.

The Canadian Diabetes society has a program called Project Redial that will take your cell phone, working or not, and either repair it and send it to emerging countries that don’t have land lines but can benefit from cell communications, or recycle the precious metals from nonfunctional phones into copper wire (yay – more broadband!) or jewelry (yay – happy spouse!)

However you choose to dispose of your old phone when your shiny, new and improved cell phone arrives, be sure to thoroughly delete the information on your old phone. Obviously having your personal information stored on your phone can be potentially damaging, because you have no control over where the phone ends up after you recycle it. Also, you don’t want to surprise a family when they are learning about the features on their “new” phone.

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