Community Challenge 6: New Year, New phone... What do you do with the old phone?


I’m about to do this with an old phone right now. My sister and I moved out of the house, but still keep trying to talk to the no-longer existent Alexa (Echo Dot). I have an old phone that I’m going to change a few settings on and turn into a “Google Home”.


First, find a place to keep it plugged in.

Next, check if the phone can be awakened from sleep with the google key word (Mine is ‘OK Google’)

If not, you’ll need to change either of these settings:

  • enable ‘Developer Options’ and turn the ‘Stay Awake’ setting on or…
  • set your screen timeout to never turn off (it’s not an option on my phone)

Optionally, find a stand for your phone, or better yet, 3-D print one! (Just kidding, that sounds awesome though)

Finally, clean up your apps list. Uninstall any games, and put some apps on that you can use with Google Assistant

(Please don’t consider me for this challenge, I won last month and think others should win too! I just didn’t see this idea on here yet and though others might appreciate it)


Today is the last day to enter for either option, and we’ll try to have winners selected by the end of the week. Get your entries in, and don’t forget to vote by “Liking” the entries you think are good ideas!



Time to announce some of our prize winners!

For Option 1: Our “Community Likes Award” winners are as follows:

@michaela.hfl9a9 with 12 likes for the idea of using older phones as webcams.

@erinb.tb4qps with 10 likes for the idea of donating older phones to domestic violence organizations.

@randyg.rkflnd with 8 likes for the idea of using old phones as smart tv remotes.

@kevinr.5brxs3 with 6 likes for the idea of using old phones as security cameras.

and a three-way tie for the fifth spot, with five likes each:
@codyb.pbs2wl with the interesting suggestion to put the old phones to work for research
@bethanyv with the idea of using an old phone as a lullaby player.
@sharonf.ny525j with the idea of donating old phones to worthwhile organizations.

For Option 2:

Those who were willing to take on the challenge of seeing what they could do with a DEFY XT, we only had three entries, so each one will get a chance.

@jodru - who will try using it as a Wi-Fi extender or cloud storage server

@hollowWorld - who will try to set up a DEFY XT as a mini-Linux computer

@orangegiraffe - who will try to squeeze some use out of the DEFY XT in the classroom.

Let me warn each of you that your first challenge is just getting these little marvels set up, since they are no longer supported by the Play Store. There’s a way to get the Play Store to work (I know because I wrote it up on another website :wink:), so if you need help there, let the Community know.

We’ll look forward to hearing from each of you with an update. I’ll extend the date out for that, because I failed to allow time to get these shipped to you! :dizzy:

I’ll be in touch with each of these winners in the next day or so, and I’ll reveal the “staff picks” and have our random drawing tomorrow late Monday!!


Before RW, we used two Huawei Summit phones with T-mobile. I still have the phones since I couldn’t decide what to do with them. They are sorta smart - they came with apps but you cannot add apps to them. I have the unlock codes, and they will access wi-fi. My thought was to save one for overseas travel and to get a prepaid sim card when traveling. The last time I traveled was to Iceland before RW and I avoided all phone charges by using the wi-fi at my hotel and somehow T-mobile handled that. That was some time ago. In the past, I have donated old phones to groups collecting for our military soldiers’ use. Just be sure to clear out your address book/get the unlock code from your provider/and remove the sim if you are donating. All the other ideas here are thought provoking. I hate to see functional items go to the landfills!


Hi all you Community Challengers!

I should get a prize being the slowest person to ever give out awards. Wow, this has been a tough one to tackle!

Here are the staff picks! Special thanks to our Staff Panel consisting of @swall, @madison.h, @sherrys, @the_chase, @Andi_B, @tiggs, and @jerroldj!

Staff Picks, receiving a $10 Google Play Gift Card are:

@brianc215 - who wrote about keeping an older phone as an emergency device in a camping bag, emergency kit, or car.

@beaker - who suggests reselling old phones on Swappa, and then tugged on the staff’s heartstrings with his amazing story of his savings with Republic over the years.

@dianeb - who donates her used phone at the library or local police department for senior citizens or neighbors in need.

We’ll do the drawing for the remaining two lucky winners a little later this afternoon! (Really!!)


Time for our drawing of two winners from the remaining entries.

@rolandh has graciously offered to help with the drawing.

@rolandh , please give me two integers from 1-23 (inclusive).


At the risk of alienating most of those who don’t call themselves New England sports fans and in honor of this Sunday’s coming Super Bowl, I’ll pick 12 (no need for further explanation) and 14 (Steve Grogan’s number for those like me who were Patriots fans long before the current era).


(You might have to explain 12 to me later.)

Our first winner based on that number 12 is @briha, and the winner associated with number 14 is not Steve Grogan, but @larikdee (unless, @larikdee is Steve Grogan :thinking:).

Thank you @rolandh and I will be in touch with the remaining members I haven’t DM’d yet about your Google Play Store gift cards. I’ll also be updating the timeline for our three brave individuals who are going to put a DEFY XT to work, so they can update us once they receive the phones that are going to the post office RIGHT NOW. :mailbox:


Thank you rolandh for picking 14. I am not Steve Grogan, lol. southpaw should know that already, she sent me a prize from last time’s challenge :wink:


I’m incredibly bad with real names, @larikdee! Can’t even remember my own.

(Edited to add… Oh! Now I remember… :woman_facepalming: I thought what you did with your username was very clever!)


What a nice surprise. I won one of the google play gift cards. Thanks to @southpaw and anybody else involved. :smiley: Its nice to win stuff from time to time.


Hoo-Wee! I got my phone in the mail and boy I can tell this will be one interesting challenge. I’ll make a video update when I can get something to work on this thing. One of the first questions I have is: how do I get certain google apps to work, such as YouTube? When I try to use it, it tells me “There was a problem starting up. Check your network connection and system time.” My best guess is that play services needs to be updated, but that’s only taking a swing at it. I cannot make an educated guess because I haven’t worked with android devices below 4.0 :stuck_out_tongue: Any ideas?


Check In 1 - @hollowWorld

Okay, I’ll submit my Check In 1 today. I’ve successfully turned on, set up, and even used the Play Store on the DEFY XT (Despite the established bug where the Play Store bundled with the device crashes due to it being too old, the Play Store auto-updated itself twice by itself, so that fixed itself without any input from me.). I’ve tried to root the device, but I can’t tell if I have or not (Gingerbread is tricky, okay? I swear I’m probably good with technology). More on that in a future Check In.

I have a terminal emulator up (I can navigate the file structure, and list the files, but that’s about it for now), and have adb (Android Debugging tool, a command line interface tool for USB debugging) installed on my computer, so I can also emulate a limited Linux shell via that as well. I’m still working on a viable way to install a fully working Linux OS or Linux terminal on the device (One of the best apps requires more than 900 mb of space on the device itself (not the SD card), and the DEFY XT has about 231 mb free at most, if I’m not mistaken). I’ll continue working on this, and I’m currently pursuing a possible solution that will rely on a larger SD card. I’ll keep everyone updated!


@southpaw mentioned a link that she later shared with me, and that I will now share with you:

Hope this helps, and, of course, props to @southpaw for writing the article in the first place! (One must give credit where credit is due!)


Check In Week 1 - @jodru

I think I’ll make this first check-in text only. I’m planning on making video updates for the next two, but at this particular moment I don’t have much to show. The device is rooted, reason I rooted is because I anticipate needing to use su commands and other things that rooted phones give to get what I want done. Apparently the phone came with an SD card already inside, so at this particular moment I don’t need to buy one. Doing some brainstorming, I think I might need to get some sort of ethernet to usb cable to plug into the phone. While I should be fine with a regular file server, I don’t think I can use the same wifi chip to receive wifi and share a wifi hotspot UNLESS the chip has two bands, 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz, in which case I could recieve the 5 GHz and send out the 2.4 GHz (this is the case on my laptop). Unfortunately, the DEFY XT does not pick up 5 GHz, so I’ll need an ethernet cable to even attempt doing that. As for the file server, I simply need to set up some sort of server on the phone than can be run 24/7 and let me remotely access files that I store on the SD card. I have little to no experience in doing this on a PC, but I think I have the general idea on how to do this. It’s simply a matter of how I can do it. Within the next week I will be back with another update, and hopefully I will have at the very least a file server up and running.


The link was a bit helpful. However, I was able to get the play store up and running without having to install an apk - the phone simply did it automatically. As for the issue with the YouTube app, my theory of YouTube simply not working on Gingerbread still stands. This only counts for the app - the browser version of YouTube works. Why this is I do not know, but possibly the fact that Google dropped support for Gingerbread in 2017 lends to this.


I’m glad to see you were both able to update the Play Store app without sideloading. It has been a long time since anyone complained of not being able to update the Play Store after a factory reset, and I thought that lapse was simply due to fewer and fewer DEFYs still being in use. Perhaps, instead, it’s because Google fixed whatever was causing the issue.

I’m encouraged by your reports so far and looking forward to next week’s check-ins!


For my first check in, I am experiencing some difficulties, but haven’t had a lot of time yet to investigate. As mentioned by @jodru many of the pre-installed apps on the phone don’t work and say there is a data connection issue with the network. However, I have not been able to get the normal website version of YouTube to work on the phone either. It seems only about 50% of the websites I’ve tried actually work. Many give me an error message about not being a secure connection or not trusting the certificate. I’ve tried to change some of the settings but it hasn’t helped much. In terms of the Google Play store on the device I received, it seems it opens without crashing, but it stalls out when I try to download any app, and I kind of wonder if any app will actually work with that version of Android. Also, I wonder if the Play store is connecting properly, because I searched for the PBS Kids app for example and it couldn’t find it, which I know is an app I’ve recently downloaded on my actual current phone. Anyways, I need some more time to experiment, but it has been harder than I thought so far.


One of the things to keep in mind is that Google does not support Gingerbread anymore, and there is no true incentive for app developers to release apps that can run on Gingerbread because of this. This means that a lot of “popular” apps, or even some normal ones, will not appear on the Play Store because the play store only shows apps that can be run by the device. It takes into account the version of Android, and the specs of the phone, to determine if an app can be run. If the version of Android is less than the minimum required to run the app, or the specs are far too low, the app won’t show up. A workaround for this is to use a trusted site that has multiple versions of apps as apk files, and download a version that is compatible with your Android version. I had to do this with ES File Explorer; since the minimum version or Android the app can use is 4.0, I used an apk site online to find an older version of the app that was compatible. Do note that even if you download and install an apk that works with your version of Android, since it may be horribly old and outdated, it simply may not work.