9 Things You Can Do With Your Broken iPhone

throwing away money

There are plenty of ways to prevent a broken iPhone from turning into money thrown in the trash | Source: iStock

So, you broke your iPhone. Relax, it happens. Just look around. Plenty of people are breaking their iPhones every day. They may have some metal to their casing, but glass plays a huge part in the interface, and glass is pretty easy to break. And liquids are a pretty easy way to end up with a broken iPhone as well. Or maybe your iPhone just decided to kick the bucket naturally. There are plenty of ways for a smartphone to die, and the time to buy a new iPhone may come when you least expect it.

But that doesn’t have to be the end of the story for your old iPhone. There are some crafty and useful things you can do with your iPhone after it gives up the ghost. Whether your phone is completely broken or just more damaged than you’d like, we’ve got some options that should at least keep your broken iPhone from being a complete loss. Some could help you pay for a new iPhone, and others will re-purpose the broken hardware.

1. Sell it for parts

Your smashed, cracked, chipped, dinged-up iPhone might not hold much value to you, but there are people out there willing to pay pretty decent money for it. While you can’t expect to sell it for the price of a working iPhone, you can see on eBay that selling a non-functioning iPhone for parts can net you a decent sum you’ll be able to put towards the purchase of your replacement phone. A buyer may be able to take whatever parts of your iPhone are still working, and put them into another broken iPhone to get it working.

That does bring us to an important issue. You’ll want to be sure that you aren’t selling your iPhone, even a broken one, with your private information still on it. If it’s completely dead and you can’t delete your data, it might not be the greatest idea to sell. If you can wipe the hard drive, then by all means, get out there and make some money.

2. Recycle it

If you want to get some eco-friendly brownie points, you should just recycle your dead iPhone. Sure, you might not make any money this route (though I wouldn’t rule it out completely), but you should be able to rest a little bit easier about your data being stolen. The easiest way to recycle your iPhone is to send it to Apple, which recently showed off a robot, called Liam, which helps it to take apart and recycle 1.2 million iPhones every year.

Another option is to find an honest recycling facility or to ask your mobile service provider if it can handle the recycling. With either of those options, you’re probably in safer hands then selling it on the Internet to some faceless buyer claiming to buy it for “parts.” There are valuable metals in your broken iPhone, so local options for phone recycling shouldn’t be too hard to find if you live in a pretty populous area. But be aware that there are also pretty nasty chemicals in there, as well, so do your best to avoid simply throwing it in the dumpster.

3. Be reminded of your mistake

broken iPhone

Consider keeping your broken iPhone around as a reminder of your mistake | Source: Thinkstock

Assuming it wasn’t your friend Pete or Sue who destroyed your beloved iPhone, you may consider just keeping the broken device around to remind you to be very careful about repeating the mistake with whatever phone you get as a replacement. You could frame the broken phone somewhere you’ll see it every time you leave the house. Maybe put it on the kitchen table, so you see it at breakfast and dinner, reminding yourself of the mistake in the morning and congratulating yourself at the end of the day if you haven’t broken the new one.

4. Use it for a drop test (and record it)

This one is for you if you soaked your phone, thereby frying the circuitry but otherwise leaving the phone’s chassis perfectly intact. If you haven’t perused drop test videos on the internet, it’s be a good idea for you to check some out now, and before you purchase a new smartphone. Drop tests give consumers a good idea of how durable a phone is.

Generally they test the phone from common heights they’d fall from in the course of regular usage, like waist-height and head-height, plus an extra-high fall just for good measure. While your drop test won’t be useful in determining if the guts of the phone can survive the fall, you will be able to show whether the case and screen can take a beating. If you make a video of your drop test and have a paid YouTube channel, you may just be able to make a little bit of money from it. Some drop test videos can get millions of views.

5. Convert it into a wallet

wallet, money, credit cards

Turn your fried iPhone into a wallet | Source: iStock

For those crafty iPhone owners who have sadly broken their device, here’s a nifty option for you. Everything inside of your iPhone may be busted up and dead — maybe you dropped it into a shallow pool of water full of hard rocks that really gave it the ol’ one-two — but you don’t have to leave all of those dead guts inside the phone and let the amazing industrial design of the chassis go to waste.  There’s an Instructable for converting a broken iPod Touch into a wallet, and depending on your broken iPhone model, you may be able to work some similar magic. What’s the harm in trying? The thing’s already broken.

Still looking for more ideas for repurposing an iPhone that’s damaged but still at least partially usable? The remaining suggestions are perfect for iPhones that have cosmetic damage — enough to make you want to buy a replacement — but still function in some capacity.

6. Have an emergency phone

police emergency services

A damaged but functional phone can be a good backup for emergencies | Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Your iPhone may be a bit busted up, and you may want to replace it entirely for your everyday needs, but if it can still make a phone call, don’t throw it out just yet. If you transfer your SIM or service from the broken phone to a new phone, the old one should still be able to make calls to emergency services. You never know when that ability might come in handy. You can keep it stored in your car, on a boat, or even just somewhere in your home. Wherever you think it might be handy to have an emergency line of communication, that’s where you can keep your damaged iPhone.

7. Have a phone for wild nights


Reserve a damaged iPhone for use on nights out on the town | Source: Thinkstock

If you like to go out partying and maybe get a little rowdy, this might be a good option for you. Heck, this might be how the iPhone got broken in the first place. If the damage is mostly cosmetic and you can still make calls either normally or through Siri, it wouldn’t be a bad plan to keep the broken phone as your device for future wild nights. This will work mostly for people who use a SIM phone, as you’ll be able to take the SIM card out of your main phone and insert it into your broken iPhone, thereby transferring the mobile service. If you drop it, spill beer on it, or just decide to throw it into the woods at the end of the night, it won’t be such a loss as it would be if it weren’t already broken.

8. Turn it into a server

iphone 6 plus

Consider turning a damaged but functional iPhone into a server | Robyn Beck/ AFP/ Getty Images

Here’s a practical application for an iPhone that’s a little more dinged up than you’d like to deal with on a daily basis. If you’re tech savvy, you can set the device up as a mini-server. There’s an iOS app called ServersMan already in the App Store that’ll help you get it set up. This could be a handy way to give yourself access to your files while you’re on the go — especially handy if you end up replacing your broken iPhone with a device that doesn’t have as much local storage. You can find out more about converting your iPhone into a server here.

9. Go Wabi-Sabi Kintsugi style

Source: iStock

If all else fails, make an art piece out of your broken iPhone | Source: iStock

If your iPhone screen turned into a spiderweb of cracked glass but actually still works, you may look at this as a brilliant opportunity to turn your device into an art statement. Kintsugi is an art that involves taking something that is broken and mending it with some component that makes it more beautiful, actually emphasizing the damage. We won’t get into the Buddhist underpinnings of it, but instead focus simply on how cool it can look.

Instead of having the spiderweb of cracked grass, you could have a spiderweb of gold. Here’s an Instructable to give you an idea of the process. Be warned — there’s a chance that trying this could actually do further damage to your broken iPhone, and if you use a conductive material like gold, you could end up with a totally whacked out touchscreen. I don’t personally recommend this option — and won’t take responsibility if you try it — but it’s definitely a more creative solution than just throwing the phone in the garbage.

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