Why Should I Keep My Old Cell Phone?

As a society, human beings have become so dependent on our electronic and mechanical devices that we can hardly imagine how we could have ever functioned without. While the best preparedness practices warn against being dependent on technology for our every need, we should also consider the benefits that we can derive from our devices in the scenarios where they still work. Sometimes we can get some use out of phones that we have replaced and are no longer using. Before you toss or trade in a cell phone or other mobile device, read over the information I’ve gathered here and see if it helps you too.

Why Should I Keep My Old Cell Phone?

Between the advances in technology and the planned obsolescence of devices by the manufacturers that need to sell us another phone or tablet before our’s is anywhere near the end of its useful life, many of us wind up upgrading our mobile devices on a fairly regular basis. The mind numbing habit of having instant entertainment at our fingertips all the time and the constant little upgrades leave many of us with a drawer full of perfectly functioning devices that we no longer use.


The idea of placing caches of supplies in various locations has a lot of merit for preparedness minded individuals. I mention using a cache to store information in my post on internet dependence. You can read it Here. Staging necessities in various locations makes it more likely we will have a location to resupply at before our bug out bag or vehicle survival packs are depleted. With that in mind, placing an old cell phone or tablet in a cache can give us the benefit of many of the other used cell phone tips I mention below. You can get waterproof caching boxes by clicking the picture below.

Emergency Calls

According to 911.gov, all wireless phones can be used to call 911 for emergency services even if they aren’t subscribed to or supported by a specific carrier. This means that leaving an old cell phone charged up can be a life saver if an emergency happens, however there are some important strings attached to that use. First, you still have to have some cellular signal. The phone still has to be able to access a cellular tower to relay the call so its not gonna work in a dead zone, with or without an active subscription. Another important thing to remember is that using an inactive phone to contact 911 will not give them access to your location (This can even happen with active phones so be prepared to give directions or addresses anytime you call 911) The 911 operator will also not be able to call you back if you are disconnected. Keeping these warnings in mind, we can stage our inactive phones in strategic places for emergency contact if needed.

Data Access and Storage

Each cell phone design is different and has capabilities ranging from only phone calls to advanced computing and memory. Most of the smartphones we use today have the storage capacity of huge hard drives from not that long ago. With those capabilities, we can use an inactive phone to store tons of information and documents that, on paper, would take up an unacceptable amount of space in a cache or small safe. A quick internet search of you phones storage capabilities will tell you all about storing and retrieving information on your particular phone model.


When most preppers think of operational security, or OPSEC, we consider all of the methods whereby we protect ourselves and our preparations by hiding them or misleading others who might be after our goods. Sometimes to disappear or hide takes more than just packing up and leaving. if we really need to throw off someone, we can take old phones and fill them with false information such as addresses and contacts. False intelligence is often a helpful way to throw others off your trail. Make sure you wipe all other information from the phone before doing this, though.

What Old Phone Accessories Should I Keep?

When I first began using cell phones, i got a new charger every time I got a new phone and it seemed that none of them were compatible with other phones. As cell phones became more computer-like, the shift to data cables from charging cables began. Now most all phones share just a handful of charging/data cable patterns and keeping them now is much simpler. I personally would have at least one matching charging cord/charger for each of my phones as well as a way to charge the phone from a 12 volt source such as the car. Click on the pictures below to get a multi-cable for charging and data and a 12 volt adapter that you can add to all of your caches.

What Should Not Be Left on My Old Cell Phone?

I wish I could give an all inclusive answer to this question, but the best i can say is “it depends.” If the phone in question is used as a diversion, then we should wipe it clean of any information that can be used to track us to our true location or that of our preps. If the phone is used for digital data storage in a cache, then we obviously need the data saved to the phone, however every password and security option that is available on the device should be activated to prevent someone who might stumble on our cache from using our information against us. Depending on the use, we may also chose to disable the gps features like “find my IPhone” if we don’t want the device location traceable. For emergency calls, current information in our I.C.E. (in case of emergency) contacts is vital if we are unable to respond when help arrives.

Disclaimer: I am an Amazon affiliate and may make money on qualified purchases.

1 thought on “Why Should I Keep My Old Cell Phone?

  1. Pingback: How Can I Get Solar Energy Without Spending a Fortune? | Nick's Preparedness

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