Wasting phones, wasting technology!

26 December 2019

There is one thing that surely bothers me when it comes to smart phones in general: our society encourages you to replace them once around every two years along with most of your gadgets as well.


Considering how hazardous this is for the environment, let me just quickly enumerate some of what gets thrown into the garbage (or into your drawer and then to the bin) at the time of upgrading:

  • A small touch display and speaker
  • An ARM processor that is probably more powerful than one that a computer had 10 years ago
    • My phone is even capable running rudimentary Linux virtual machines using UserLAnd, e.g. Alpine Linux.
  • At least around 512 MB of RAM
    • For a garbage collected language, like Java, it is not that much. However, using NDK, you may write your programs in a compiled language like C, C++, Rust or Go. (using a garbage collected and virtual machine powered language by default on a device with such limited resources is something I usually raise an eyebrow at)
  • An SD card reader
  • A camera
  • WiFi and Bluetooth transmitters
  • An FM radio receiver
  • A mini jack audio output

If you’ve ever been considering investing into a mini computer for small projects, like to serve a one pager website, you may give another chance one of the old Droids in that drawer. Here are some additional ideas:

  • Chromecast Audio replacement
  • Surveillance camera with web interface
  • Handheld barcode reader for PC
  • Mini VPN server for accessing home resources (be careful with this one)
  • Interactive Bluetooth check points for tours
    • …or file exchange access points!
  • Secure key container or 2FA device emulator for PC (related post)
  • SD card network share
  • TV remote (for applications like Kodi)
  • Panels:
    • Smart home control
    • Family calendar access or agenda view
    • Displaying automated test results
    • Surveillance camera display

Sometimes you need a Raspberry PI anyway, for example when you need its pins and various hardware interfaces. However, in some cases where you only need a small programmable device, you have your old smart phone.

I have an idea as well! Follow the series!