Turn your old Samsung Galaxy phone into a smart home device — here’s how

Samsung Galaxy S9
(Image credit: Future)

With the new smartphones always around the corner, shoppers are inevitably faced with the dilemma of what to do with their old equipment when it's time to upgrade. Samsung’s announced one possible solution by expanding its Galaxy Upcycling program to allow owners of old Galaxy phones to convert their handsets into smart home devices.

The conversion happens by way of a software update, which can give you the option of turning your old phone into a baby monitor, pet camera, lighting hub or thermostat controller, among other uses. This new Galaxy Upcycling at Home initiative launches today (April 21) as a beta program in the U.S., UK and Korea.

Samsung’s update adds SmartThings Labs, which is available via the SmartThings app you can download on your Galaxy device. The program uses AI to help distinguish different types of sounds in a variety of situations, and allows users to save certain sounds. That means the software could detect anything from knocking to babies crying and everything in between. It will send an alert to the user's smartphone to listen in on what's going on and take action if needed.

Users can also turn to Samsung’s program to convert older devices into light sensors that can measure a room's brightness level. This can be used as a way to set the device to automatically turn lights or the TV on or off based on the light level. To assist with the potential battery drain this might cause, Samsung's upgrade offers battery optimization for devices connected to the SmartThings ecosystem. 

Samsung’s new program sounds like a good option for anyone who’s upgrading to a new phone without trading in their old device for a rebate or selling it off. Samsung says the Galaxy Upcycling at Home feature will be available on all Galaxy S, Galaxy Note, and Galaxy Z series released since 2018 running Android 9 and above. That means the Galaxy S9, Note 9  or later will work with the new program available through the SmartThings app. Samsung expects to add support for more devices in the future.

Brittany Vincent

Brittany Vincent has been covering video games and tech for over 13 years for publications including Tom's Guide, MTV, Rolling Stone, CNN, Popular Science, Playboy, IGN, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, Maxim, and more. She's also appeared as a panelist at video game conventions like PAX East and PAX West and has coordinated social media for companies like CNET. When she's not writing or gaming, she's looking for the next great visual novel in the vein of Saya no Uta. You can follow her on Twitter @MolotovCupcake.