What can you do with an old iPhone or Android phone? If you have kids, your old phone can live on as a dedicated camera. It’s a huge upgrade over the cheap digital cameras made for children.
My son is old enough to use a camera, but I was unimpressed with the options I found on Amazon. It’s mostly dirt-cheap cameras cloaked in brightly-colored plastic. Then I realized I already had some cameras in my home that weren’t being used: old smartphones.
Big, Easy to See Viewfinder
The digital cameras designed to be used by kids all lack something that even a 10-year-old smartphone has: a big display. Most of the cheap digital cameras for kids have small displays, only around 2 inches. Even the original iPhone from 2007 had a 3.5-inch display.
In addition to being bigger, smartphone displays are also of much higher quality. The majority of phones made in the last few years have a minimum of a 1080p display. And if your old phone is old enough to have a 720p display, that’s still miles ahead of the 2-inch LCDs on cheap kid’s cameras.
This is about more than just specs, of course. Having a big high-res display means it’s much easier for a child to see exactly what the photo or video will look like. What you see is what you get.
Better Camera Quality
The ability to take photos doesn’t mean a whole lot if the resulting photos aren’t much to look at. Digital cameras for kids are, unsurprisingly, not equipped with high-quality sensors and lenses. Your child might not see the difference, but if you want to keep the photos around for posterity, a better camera is a good idea.
Thankfully, smartphone cameras have come a long way in the last couple of decades. Many of the phones made in the last few years—even budget phones—have very good camera components. An original Google Pixel phone from 2016 would blow away any digital camera made for kids (and some made for adults).
The other important thing to consider is shutter speed. Kids are not known for being able to hold still, and that’s going to result in lots of blurry photos (so many blurry photos). You can attempt to counteract this by adjusting the shutter speed, something you most likely can’t do with a cheap kid’s camera.
No SD Cards or Film to Develop
Now we’re getting to my personal favorite reason. I hate dealing with SD cards and the hassle of getting film developed from disposable cameras. A smartphone makes the process of actually getting the photos off the device so much easier.
On the phone I set up for my son, I’m simply using the Google Photos app. I’m signed in with my account, so every time he takes a photo, it automatically shows up for me to see. Easy peasy. And you don’t need to keep a SIM card in the phone. Just let it back up over Wi-Fi, and you’re good to go. For older kids, you may want to set up separate accounts, but it still beats popping SD cards in and out.
Extend the Life of a Phone
The last reason doesn’t have anything to do with your kid—well, not immediately. There’s no question that smartphones have created a lot of waste in our world. The unyielding cycle of new phones being released every year is a huge part of that. People are all too willing to ditch a perfectly good phone for a mildly better one.
If you don’t want to use a phone anymore, you may as well give it to someone who doesn’t care about the latest gimmicks. Letting a kid use an old phone as a camera is giving it a second life and keeping it out of a landfill. There are several ways to get rid of an old phone properly, but letting a child have some fun taking photos might be the best.