Have you ever found yourself wondering, ‘Why is my phone so slow?’ or ‘Why does my battery run out so quickly?’ Here are a few simple maintenance steps you should take to keep your phone running at peak performance.
Phones are expensive. Even more so as they become more complex and can do even more. Picking up some basic care and maintenance habits can make your investment last a lot longer and give you more bang for your buck. Follow these five tips to speed up your phone, make your battery last longer, and keep your phone in top form.
The exact method of completing each of these tasks varies by phone, operating system, and even OS version, so instead of trying to explain how to do this with every phone, we’ve explained what you should do and why. Look up specific instruction manuals for your particular phone for more specific direction.
Why do I need to do anything to keep my phone maintained?
Phones, while pretty smart these days aren’t just miracle devices that look after themselves. You can optimise them and prolong their lifespans if you keep a few simple maintenance habits.
Keeping your phone in tip top shape is about more than just wiping off the fingerprints every now and then. Storage, battery and operating speed can all be maximised by being proactive and keeping your phone clean on the inside – don’t crack open the case and start polishing the electronics, we mean inside the phone’s system.
1. Charge smarter
The way you charge your phone can have a significant impact on the life of its battery. Increasingly, phone batteries aren’t removable, meaning it can be impossible or at least very difficult to replace them if they stop working.
Let’s bust a myth about phone batteries right away – ‘battery memory’, the idea that you need to drain your battery completely before re-charging it, does not apply to phones (nor tablets and laptops). This applies only to nickel-based batteries. Phones use lithium-ion batteries, which perform best when they are topped off with a charge as much as possible. In fact, letting your phone spend too much time below 50% charge can shorten its lifespan. We recommend either plugging it in or turning it off before it hits 40% and charging it up to 80% or higher before removing it.
Another thing to note on charging: While all chargers with the same plug might seem identical and interchangeable, they aren’t. Different chargers have different output rates and voltages, even within the same brand, so it’s best to use the right cord designed for your specific phone model.
2. Save your juice
Every time you charge, you’re getting closer to your battery’s eventual demise. More importantly, a dead battery can ruin your day when you don’t have any means to charge it. Here are a few things you can do to stop your battery from draining faster than necessary.
Close background apps
Just because it’s not open on your screen, doesn’t mean it’s not passively running waiting for you to switch back to it. This also causes your phone to slow down, as it takes up valuable RAM to keep those apps running in the background.
Check your settings
Some settings (such as Bluetooth, app notifications, mobile data, and location services) chew through battery just by being active. Unless you need to use them, keep them switched off. Even when you’re using Wi-Fi, just keeping mobile data active does use up some battery, so when you’re at home you can switch your cellular data connection off.
Battery saver mode
Switching on battery saver mode automatically deactivates a lot of these battery-draining activities except when they’re being directly used. You can also check in settings under the battery options to see what’s using up the most of your battery power at any given moment.
3. Clean out the junk
There’s lots of stuff clogging up your phone and slowing it down. Digital storage isn’t passive; it takes up processing power which, when it’s near capacity, can take away a lot of the energy that you’d prefer to be focussed on what you want your phone to be doing at any given moment. Prevent overexertion from your phone by regularly checking through and clearing out unnecessary files. You can check what’s using up your storage in settings.
Places to look for unnecessary stuff chewing up your storage and RAM include:
- Photos & videos
For long-term storage, move your photos, videos, and other files off your phone’s hard storage and into cloud-based storage – so you can still access it but it isn’t using up phone storage space. Delete anything you don’t want to keep. Likewise with apps, there’s no point keeping around apps you don’t use. Simply deleting the icon won’t remove it from your phone; instead, go into settings and uninstall the app.
It’s also not a bad idea to clear the cache every now and then. You can go into settings to clear all cache data, or go into storage settings to clear the cache only for specific apps.
If you do this regularly every time you have a spare moment doing nothing, e.g. when you’re waiting for the bus, it’s quite a manageable task.
What is cached data?
When you use an application, it stores certain types of files (e.g. images) so you don’ have to reload them each time you go back into the app, to save data and time. However, if there’s a bug or your storage space is getting clogged up, clearing your cache can help clear up the issue. Clearing your cache doesn’t clear other types of data, such as saved login details or game progress – just background stuff kept on file to make loading faster.
What is app data?
App data is all data generated and stored as a result of using an app. If you clear your app data, it’s basically starting the app over from scratch. It returns to the way it was when you first installed it. That means you’ll need to log back in and won’t have your game progress if it was only saved locally (just on your device). If your game saves progress to the cloud, however, you should get your saves back when you log in.
4. Update your software
Software update notifications might seem pretty annoying – however, it’s important to keep your software up to date. Updates often fix bugs and improve performance issues, both for your phone operating system and for individual apps. It’s best to keep on top of updates by regularly checking while you have Wi-Fi access, instead of leaving it until you’re stuck struggling with no choice but to use your valuable mobile data to install a vital update.
Your phone’s settings menu has a section for system updates, where you can check to see if there’s a new update and what it fixes or improves. With apps, go into the Google Play or App store and check your library to see if there are any updates to download.
5. Back it up
You never know if something is going to happen to your phone – it could break, or malfunction so badly that you need to do a factory reset. When it does, you don’t want to lose your saved data, especially all of your contacts and the precious memories saved with your photos. It’s also pretty annoying to have to individually reinstall everything. Your phone should be backed up to your Google or Apple account, depending on whether you’re using Android or iOS phone – so if you need to suddenly get a new phone, you can restore your previous phone’s entire setup to your new device with just the touch of a button. Super handy!
Sometimes, you don’t need to do anything to have your data backed up, while other apps or files need to be backed up manually. For instance, Android phones require a Google account to log in – this functions to save all of your data to the cloud under your Google account. You can do the same with an Apple phone and your Apple account. Many apps downloaded from the Google Play or App store link to your Google or Apple account and so also save your game data to the account; others use their own logins while others only save progress to your device.
You may need to tweak a few settings to automate backups. For example, you may need to enable automatic syncing between your phone’s photo folder and your Google Photos, iPhoto or other storage account. Google Drive and Dropbox are both widely used cloud storage apps that can be easily used to store your files.
Feeling smarter about smartphone care?
This is really just an introduction to optimising your smartphone performance. We really recommend getting to know your phone’s software and settings so you can best manage your phone and keep it going as long as possible. A little bit of time now can really pay off in the long run – especially if you don’t want to have to fork out for a new phone any time soon.