5 habits that damage your smartphone

5 habits that damage your smartphone

These days, it feels like smartphones become outdated after only a few months. By the time your phone is ready for an upgrade, a new release is due to hit stores in a few more months. Short of buying every new phone available, how do you make sure your phone stays up to date for as long as possible? Whether or not you believe in “planned obsolescence,” there’s a good chance your own bad habits are slowly damaging your phone over time. Here are some things you should avoid.

Phone Chargers

Buying Cheap Cables (and Treating Them Poorly)

Let’s start with the most…explosive way you can destroy your phone: cheap, off-brand charging cables. I’m not talking about trusted manufacturers like Anker (which makes affordable, high-quality, and durable cables), but the no-name USB cables you found for $1 on eBay.

Many of these cables can permanently damage your device—or worse, put you at risk of fire or electrocution. It isn’t worth the short-term savings: buy your chargers from a known brand.

Then, once you have quality cables, treat them with care. If you abuse them, you can cause the wires inside to fray, which in and of itself is a fire hazard. So stop wrapping your cables so tightly, and avoid yanking them out of the wall from the cord—pull them out from the actual plug. You don’t want to end up on the evening news as a victim of another battery explosion.

Not Using a Case (or a Good Warranty)

How many people do you know with a cracked or shattered screen? We all think it won’t happen to us…until it does. You may prefer the cleaner look of a caseless phone, but it just isn’t worth the risk—even small chips and cracks can ruin the structural integrity and make large-scale damage more likely. Not only that, but those small chips and cracks can destroy the phone’s resale value when you want to upgrade down the line.

So for the love of Jonny Ive, keep your phone in a case! A good case with a “lip” around the edge is ideal, and a tough screen protector is a good idea, too (because no, your screen is not scratch-proof). Brands like Silk, Spigen, Speck, and Otterbox are good places to start for solid, time-tested protection (though there are many others—check out our case roundups for even more options.)

If you absolutely must go naked, just be ready to pay for repairs if accidents happen. And if you find those accidents happening more often than you expect—say, once a year—then you’re a prime candidate for an insurance plan like AppleCare+ or SquareTrade. They’re pricey (and even with those insurance plans, repairs aren’t free), but if you’re particularly clumsy and don’t use a case, they may be worth it.

iPhone Battery

Draining Your Battery Too Often

Your phone’s battery degrades over time. That means that in a few years, its maximum battery life won’t be as high as it was when you bought it—and in the case of the iPhone, your device may even slow down as the battery degrades. These things are inevitable, but bad habits can speed up that degradation and kill your battery sooner.

To avoid this, you should perform regular, shallow discharges, and recharge your phone before it dies—you don’t want to run it down to 0 percent all the time. Don’t worry about charging it overnight, or putting it in the freezer (how did that myth start?). Just try to keep the battery above 30 percent or so, letting it discharge occasionally to calibrate the sensors, and you’ll keep your battery healthy as long as possible.

Cool it With the Underwater Selfies

There’s no such thing as a truly “waterproof” gadget, despite what some advertising might say—remember the Xperia fiasco, when Sony was sued for advertising its phones as underwater cameras? Certain devices may be more water-resistant than others, but there’s always a chance water can find its way inside, and the more you expose your device to water, the more you degrade its resistance.

So even if your device is rated IP67 or IP68 (which indicate high levels of water resistance), use in water sparingly. It may not damage your phone right away, but over time and repeated exposure, you’re just asking for trouble.

Digital Security

Not Practicing Good Security

Too many people are quick to throw security to the wind for quick gratification. Case in point: software updates. Those “security” patches that appear on your phone may seem boring and non-urgent (especially if they don’t provide new emoji to play with), but they can protect your device from malware and other serious issues. Don’t put them off. Update your apps too, as they’ll often contain similar bug fixes and security updates that keep you safe.

On the more extreme end of things, be very careful with the apps and tweaks you do install. If you’re trying to pirate paid apps using a sketchy app store, you’re going to have a bad time. Just don’t do it: the $3 savings is definitely not worth the increased risk of getting malware.

Similarly, be wary of “fake” apps in the iOS App Store and Android’s Google Play. These are often adware-riddled apps designed to mimic popular tools like WhatsApp or VLC, and they’re regularly sneaking their way into otherwise legitimate app stores. Keep a close eye on what you download, read the reviews, and make sure it’s the official version of the app you’re looking for. You don’t want malware compromising your phone just because you didn’t look closely enough.



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