Turn a Samsung Galaxy into a baby monitor and more with new Upcycling at Home program

The Samsung Galaxy S21 is one of many Samsung devices that could be upcycled with the company’s new program.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The fate awaiting most old smartphones is usually pretty uninspiring: You can trade them in or sell them — or just give them away to family or friends. Samsung, however, is pushing to bring a fourth option into the mainstream — you can upcycle them. 

Starting today, Samsung announced it is expanding its Galaxy upcycling program to let Galaxy owners convert their old phones into smart home devices on the company’s SmartThings platform. The Galaxy Upcycling at Home program was first announced in January at CES, but today beta service rolls out to the US, UK and Korea. 

Read more: Turn an old phone into a security camera in 3 steps. Here’s how to do it

That means old Samsung smartphones could now find a second life as a child monitor, a bark detector or even a light meter that turns on the lights if a room gets too dark. 

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“Smart home devices are a fast-growing trend for consumer electronics, and we believe that Galaxy devices currently not in use can play an important role in turning every home into a smart home,” said Samsung VP Jaeyeon Jung in the company’s press release.


SmartThings is Samsung’s smart home ecosystem.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

But listening all day for babies crying and dogs barking — or keeping an electronic eye on the ambient light level 24/7 — could be a serious strain on a device’s battery. For that, Samsung says it’s tweaked the battery optimization settings to minimize battery usage. 

Upcycling retired Android devices (Samsung or otherwise) isn’t an entirely new phenomenon and Samsung’s program isn’t the only way to do it. Samsung’s Upcycling at Home does, however, seek to capitalize on the burgeoning smart home market and — if nothing else — introduce consumers to the concept of upcycling rather than selling or trading-in old phones.

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