by Sharon Hurley Hall | Last updated Nov 23, 2015
Smartphones aren’t cheap, either. While the average price of an Android phone is $254, the average price of an iPhone is $687 and there are many phones that cost even more. Believe it or not, if you have the funds, you can pay thousands or even millions of dollars for a smartphone.
Most people take a deep breath when it’s time to replace their phone, because they know it’s going to hurt their wallet. But you can put off that painful experience by keeping your phone in good health. Here’s a checklist of ways to protect your smartphone. Let’s start with external threats.
1. Get a Case
There’s nothing worse than dropping your phone and shattering the screen. It happens a lot, and there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get it fixed. The answer is to protect your phone with a case.
There are dozens to choose from for every model. If you know you often drop your phone, then get a case that will protect your phone against anything (even driving a truck over it!). It will make it heavier, but it’s worth it. Otherwise, a slimmer case or simple sleeve will do.
One tip: if you’re using a clip on case, make sure it’s got a decent-sized lip all around so if the phone does drop, it doesn’t land directly on the screen.
2. Protect Your Screen
Speaking of screens, consider a screen protector. Some screens are made of a tough material and may not need them. However, a protector may keep your screen together if you drop the phone. It also means it’s harder to scratch your screen, which can affect its responsiveness. Get a protector that’s easy to apply and is right for your phone.
3. Be Careful How You Put It Away
Unless you’re using a super-effective case or screen protector, ladies, avoid putting keys in the same section of your handbag as your phone. Gents — keys and phones don’t belong in the same pocket.
If you’ve ever had a scratch that is right in the middle of the area you need to swipe, you’ll know that key scratches (and other scratches) can seriously ruin the touchscreen experience.
While you’re at it, don’t put the phone in dangerous places, like on a balcony railing, for example. That’s just asking for the phone to fall and get smashed to pieces. When you put your phone down, keep it away from hazards so it will survive till you’re ready to upgrade.
4. Avoid Water and Extreme Temperatures
Most people don’t put their phones in water deliberately, but lots of people forget they have a phone in their pocket when heading to the beach or pool. One dip later, and the phone is toast (unless you manage to dry it out with rice).
5. Keep it Clean
You might not be able to see dust particles, but they get into your smartphone, even if you’re using a case or screen protector. Too much dust, and your phone’s performance takes a hit. Use a soft screen-cleaning cloth with an appropriate screen cleaner to wipe your screen gently. Open the case every now and then to give the phone a wipe and get rid of the dust.
The five tips above help you provide external smartphone maintenance and protection, but safeguarding your phone is also about keeping it running smoothly. Here are some tips for doing that.
6. Streamline and Update Your Apps
Most smartphones include a bunch of apps that the manufacturer has installed. Chances are, you don’t need all of them. Since the more apps you run, the shorter your battery life, disable or uninstall any apps you don’t need.
For the apps you DO use, make sure you’re always running the latest version. App developers update apps regularly, to add new functionality, cut down on resource usage and guard against malware and security threats.
Tip: Either set your apps to update automatically, or update them manually at least once a week.
7. Clear the Cache
When you install apps or when they run, they may leave junk files behind in the cache. Those take up memory you could use for things you really want to do. Clear these files out from time to time. Both Android and iOS allow you to do this.
8. Use Trusted Sources
Sometimes you want to download and install a new app, but where should you get it from? With the rise of malware on phones, the best advice is to use the app store for your device or another trusted app store, such as Amazon’s.
9. Expand Your Storage
If your phone allows it, install an external SD card to increase the available storage, then run any apps you can from this storage. You can also use it to store media files. This frees up the phone’s internal memory, resulting in better performance.
10. Look After the Battery
Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for looking after your battery. Depending on the age of your phone and the battery it’s using, this might include:
- charging your phone before it runs down completely
- letting it run down fully once in awhile
- restarting your phone from time to time
- turning off services you don’t need (like mobile data when you can use Wi-Fi and live wallpaper)
- keeping the battery cool (and turning off the phone to let it cool down if it overheats)
There’s plenty of advice online about the best practices for your particular smartphone model. Finally, you also need to ensure you can find your phone if someone steals it. Use the security features built into your device to help with this:
- Lock your phone with a pin, password or pattern.
- Don’t share your password.
- Install a security app to help you find your phone if it goes walkabout.