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(Credit: James Martin/CNET)

Sure, you could trade in your old phone, give it to a relative or friend, or recycle it. Or, you could give it new life by turning it into something new that you'll actually want to use

After all, smartphones are small, powerful computers with storage space and a camera. Instead of spending cash on a new device you've been eyeing, you might be able to DIY it yourself. Your smartphone is capable of being a handy substitute for lots of other electronics -- it can even diagnose your car's mechanical problems.

Here are some ways you can make your old smartphone useful again.

Use your iPhone or Android as a universal remote

It's great having one remote that can do everything -- think Click, the movie. OK, maybe not that extreme, but being able to control all of your devices from one remote is a relief. Download a remote-control app, such as iRule (for iPhone or Android) and then sync your phone to devices like your Xbox One, Roku and Apple TV.

If you have smart light bulbs, you can sync your phone to those as well. Follow these tips on how to turn your device into a universal remote so you never have to wonder where your TV remote is hiding again.

Turn your Android into a Google Home

Repurposing your Android phone to be a Google Home smart speaker is simple and requires no app downloads. Make sure your phone is updated to the latest Android OS so you have "OK, Google." Next, you'll need to find a Bluetooth speaker to pair your phone with. Make sure both devices stay plugged in and on at all times. You'll be ready to give Google commands in no time. The best part is you won't have to spend $129 on a Google Home. Learn more about what you can do with a Google Home here.

Your iPhone or Android can double as a home security camera

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(Credit: Screenshot by download.com)

Feel secure by turning your old phone into a home security camera. Download a security camera app, like Alfred (for iPhone or Android) to get started. Check on your house while you're at work to make sure all is well. Place the phone in the main room of the house in a spot where you have the best view.

When you're home, set it up outside (hidden, of course) to see who's knocking on your door or to see any suspicious activity. Maybe you'll find it's just a raccoon that's been leaving candy wrappers in your yard and not your neighbor's kid.

Use your old phone as a baby monitor

Instead of running into your child's room every time you think you hear crying or a strange noise, check to see if your baby is OK by turning your old phone into a baby monitor.

You can set your old phone up in the room and access it from your current phone by installing Skype on both devices. You can also use a baby monitor app like Dormi (for Android) or Cloud Baby Monitor (for iPhone). We haven't tested them on real babies, but the customer ratings are excellent. You'll feel better knowing that you can be in any room and still see your baby.

Turn your iPhone or Android into a wireless mouse

It can be annoying when your wireless mouse dies on you with no warning. It helps to have a backup, and you can turn your phone into a mouse in no time. You'll need to download an app, like Remote Mouse (for iPhone or Android), in order to do so.

Once you have the app, connect your phone and desktop to the same Wi-Fi network and say bye-bye to that old-school mouse. Keep it in your laptop case for when you're on the go and stop by a coffee shop to get some work done.

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Katie is an Associate Writer for CNET and Download.com. She covers the latest and greatest apps and software. She previously worked as a Web Content Specialist for a retail e-commerce site and has a background in feature writing. She is obsessed with shoes and owns more than 50 pairs!