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Newly unboxed, a smartphone runs like a dream. The device is fresh and spotless, and it has that “new phone” scent. But as time goes by, your phone loses its luster: it just slows down.
Maybe your phone is only dirty, lucky you. You might blame the phone’s aging circuitry, but the problem is usually much simpler than that. Apps, security issues, and battery use can have a profound impact on your phone, and a little maintenance can go a long way.
how to make your phone last for years
How To Keep Your Phone Healthy
1. Clean house
You probably have pages of apps and only use a handful. Time to purge.
On your iPhone, launch the Settings app, tap General, Storage, scroll and select the app you want to delete. Tap Delete App, and Delete again to confirm that you want to delete the app.
To delete apps from Androids, go to Settings, scroll, and tap Apps. A list of the apps on your phone will appear. Select the app you want to delete and tap Uninstall. Make sure to go back to your display window to remove the widget. If all else fails, Settings is the place to start when looking to delete apps. (Note that the steps in this post are for Samsung phones. Your exact steps may be different.)
Apps are only one way that advertisers track you through your smartphone.
2. Don’t believe the app hype
Contrary to what most believe, letting apps run in the background is not bad for Androids. If you are constantly opening and closing apps, you can hurt your phone’s performance and battery life.
Apps on iPhones, on the other hand, don’t truly keep running in the background. If you are multitasking, the app you’ve stopped using will suspend itself, keeping its data in memory but not using resources.
Closing apps and reopening them will drain your battery in the long run on an iPhone. If you want to use Background App Refresh, go to Settings, General, Background App Refresh and turn it on.
3. More battery drain culprits
Your settings can siphon battery life. Whether you have an iPhone or Android, turn off Bluetooth, GPS, and Wi-Fi when you’re not using them. If you’re in a place with no Wi-Fi, use Airplane Mode. Your phone will stop hunting for a signal, which really drains the battery. Another straightforward trick is to lower the brightness of your screen.
To lower the brightness on your iPhone, open the Settings app, and tap Display & Brightness. To turn off the GPS on your iPhone, tap on Settings, Privacy, Location Services and slide the toggle to off. To turn off Bluetooth, open the Settings app, scroll down and tap Bluetooth, then slide the toggle to off.
For turning off Wi-Fi, launch Settings, tap Wi-Fi and slide the toggle to off. There’s also an easy way on iPhones to adjust your screen brightness or shut off your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi by accessing the phone’s handy Control Center. There you can see icons for Screen Brightness, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.
On your Android, open Settings, tap Display and you can either turn on Auto Brightness or use the slider to adjust the brightness manually. To turn off Wi-Fi, go to Settings, tap on Connection, find Wi-Fi, and slide the toggle to off. On the same page, you can also turn off your Bluetooth and GPS.
If your Android supports this function, you can go to your home screen and swipe down to see the Status Bar. From there you can click off the Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS simply by tapping the appropriate icons. You can also adjust the brightness of your screen.
4. Stay up with the times
When there’s an update for your phone, install it. Makers are continually fixing performance and security issues.
On an iPhone, back up files you don’t want to lose such as photos and videos. Next, tap Settings from your home screen, tap General, Software Update, Download and Install, enter Passcode if you are asked, tap Agree to the Terms and Conditions and Agree again to confirm.
Know that apps are not updated during an operating system update. You will have to go to each app to see if any updates are available.
On Android, tap About Phone and then Software Information. This step will tell you if you have the latest operating system. If you don’t have the latest version, tap Settings, Software Updates, and Download Updates.
5. To charge or not?
For iPhones and Androids, keep your phone charged between 40% and 80%. You want to restart your phone from time to time to give it a clean slate. And never let the battery overheat.
Now, this is important. If you need to replace your charging cable, make sure it comes from the original manufacturer or a certified brand. Generic chargers may save you a few bucks, but they can also be extremely dangerous.
6. Stay vigilant on security
Smartphones can get viruses and malware. Here, an iPhone out-performs Android. Apple does not give its source code to developers, and consumers cannot easily modify the code on their own. That keeps hackers at bay.
Androids use open-source code that app developers can use, and hackers can misuse. If you own an Android and think you might have a virus, look for signs such as you’re blasted with pop-up ads, your battery is draining too quickly, you see spikes in data usage, and unexpected apps appear on your phone.
To get rid of a bad Android app, put your phone into Safe Mode. This step disables third-party apps. The method for doing this may vary depending on your phone, but for most, it involves holding down the Power key and then tapping and holding Power off. Tap OK when prompted to reboot into Safe Mode.
To remove the offending app, open Settings, tap on Apps, go through your list of apps, and tap on Uninstall. You can then restart your phone to get out of Safe Mode.
7. Clear things out
Delete the cache from whatever browser you’re using. On iPhone, tap Settings, find your browser and tap Clear History and Website Data.
To clear cache from third-party apps, tap Settings, General, iPhone storage and search through your apps. There may be a button to reset cache when you relaunch the app.
On Android, you can delete files by tapping on Settings, Storage, Free up space, pick a file to delete and check the empty box on the right. Then, tap Free Up at the bottom of the screen.
how to make your phone battery last longer
THE BEST PHONES TO BUY IF YOU’RE A PHONE ENTHUSIAST 2021
THE BEST FOLDING PHONE BECAUSE YOU KNOW YOU NEED ONE IN YOUR COLLECTION
Folding phones are the future, right? You can’t call yourself a Real Phone Enthusiast without one in your life. Hands down, the best folding phone you can buy right now is Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G. It’s got everything you might want from a modern smartphone, but it also opens up into a tablet-sized screen that lets you put more than one app side-by-side or look at a giant version of Google Maps. It’s easy to justify because you can tell yourself that you will get SO MUCH WORK done on it, right after you finish watching that YouTube video. Promise.
The Fold 2 costs more than most laptops, you have to baby it, and there’s a really good chance the screen will crack or break on you even if you are careful, but that’s just the price you have to pay to be on the bleeding edge.
If you’re buying a folding phone and are willing to pay the cost to get one, you should buy the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2.
THE BEST IPHONE FOR WHEN YOU’RE DOUBLE-FISTING AN ANDROID PHONE
Look, I know that you know that everyone in the world has an iPhone and it’s the farthest thing from an “interesting” phone. But at the same time, it’s hard to ignore what Apple’s doing, and really, iMessage and the Apple Watch are pretty great. Lots of people carry an iPhone alongside an Android phone, and you could be one of them.
The best iPhone for doing this is the iPhone 12 Mini. It does everything its bigger siblings can do, but it can easily fit in a secondary pocket and isn’t a burden to carry around. The battery life is kinda lousy, but who cares, that’s why you have a second phone on you anyway, right?
The iPhone 12 Mini is the smallest phone in Apple’s lineup and the best small phone you can get.
THE BEST PHONE FOR SEEING WHAT THIS “GAMING PHONE” TREND IS ALL ABOUT
Gaming phones are so hot right now (unless they’ve got a great cooling system) — it seems like a new model is released every three months. You can’t call yourself a true phone enthusiast without being up on this trend, and the best one to dip your toes into it with is the Asus ROG Phone 5 Ultimate.
The ROG Phone 5 Ultimate has a ton of features that can make any mobile accomplisher swoon. A massive battery. A ridiculously high refresh screen. An OLED screen on the back you can customize to show whatever you want. A bunch of accessories to make gaming better. 18GB of RAM! How could you not buy this phone?
The Asus ROG Phone 5 is the quintessential example of a modern gaming phone. It has over-the-top specs, lots of gaming accessories, and a head-turning design.
THE BEST PHONE FOR PRETENDING YOU’RE GOING TO USE A STYLUS
Writing on a phone screen with a pen is so cool! It feels futuristic and is just so natural. At least, it is for the first week until you forget about it and it never leaves the little garage built into the side of the phone again.
If you’ve been telling yourself that little “I’m gonna be a stylus person” lie, you need a phone that supports one and it’s hard to see buying anything other than Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20. It’s got a low latency S Pen, a bunch of software features that can utilize the stylus, and all of the other bells and whistles of a modern smartphone, which means it works quite well long after you’ve forgotten about the stylus.
- 27% off
The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is one of Samsung’s top-tier non-folding phones, and it has excellent battery life.
THE BEST PHONE FOR MESSING AROUND WITH THE ANDROID 12 BETA
Okay, I said I wasn’t going to recommend anything rational in this guide, but this is perhaps the recommendation that makes the most sense: if you want to mess around with the Android 12 beta but don’t want to install it on your main phone, you should just buy a Google Pixel 4A. It’s only $350 (that’s just $20 more than it costs to fix a broken screen on an iPhone 12 Pro Max) and can work with Google’s latest and greatest software even before it’s released to the public.
You know the Android betas are going to be messy — battery life is going to be bad, there will be lots of bugs, certain apps might not work correctly — so you don’t want to put it on a device you actually need to rely on. Once the beta period is over, the Pixel 4A is a great device for experimenting with the aftermarket ROM world. Get a Pixel 4A and flash those ROMs to your heart’s content.
A very inexpensive smartphone with one of the best cameras for photography you can get on any smartphone at any price.
THE BEST PHONE FOR MAKING PEOPLE GO “WHOA, IS THAT A PHONE?”
As a phone enthusiast, you already know this harsh truth: the Microsoft Surface Duo is not a good phone. It has an old processor. The camera is worse than any iPhone of the past five years. The battery life is decidedly Not Great. It gets hot doing simple tasks. There are SO MANY software bugs. It’s got a generation-old version of Android. It doesn’t even support wireless charging or NFC payments! Oh yeah, and there’s that questionable build quality to worry about.
But there’s something undeniably cool about the Surface Duo, like it’s a device from the future coming here to bless us in the early 21st century. It’s so thin, it has two screens, the hinge is incredibly neat. Open it up in public and you’re sure to get someone to ask “wow, is that a phone?” which we all know is the ultimate goal here. You can then show them all of its cool features, right after it’s done rebooting itself for the fifth time that day.
- 55% off
Microsoft’s first Android phone was its ambitious foldable Surface Duo. It features two OLED displays, and its high-end design fits in with the greater Surface family of products.
THE BEST PHONE FOR TELLING YOURSELF THAT YOU DON’T NEED AN ACTUAL CAMERA
For years now we’ve been told that phone cameras are so good that you don’t need an actual camera. The iPhone 12 Pro Max might be the best example of that yet. It’s got a bigger sensor! It’s got three focal lengths! It can shoot video in Dolby Vision HDR!
At the end of the day, it’s still a phone camera and can’t really hold a candle to the image quality or creative control you get with a larger mirrorless camera. But hey, it’s fun to live in that lie and you can totally see the difference between the 12 Pro Max images and other phones. When you blow them up on a big screen. And zoom in.
Apple’s top-of-the-line iPhone 12 Pro Max has a better camera system than you can get in the other iPhone models this year.
THE BEST PHONE FOR SAYING “YOU CAN’T GET THIS IN THE US”
Perhaps the ultimate phone flex is pulling a phone out of your pocket that nobody else is going to have. If you’re in the US, the Oppo Find X3 Pro is that phone. It’s got features you can’t get on any American phone and a design you won’t see everywhere, like a microscope camera and softly rounded camera bump. Sure, it won’t really work great on the cellular networks here, importing it is an expensive hassle, and you won’t have any warranty whatsoever. But just think of the envy on your friends’ faces when you tell them they can’t have this phone.
Oppo’s Find X3 Pro is the company’s latest flagship and it’s not sold in the US. It has a unique camera system and head-turning design that you won’t see on American phones.
THE BEST PHONE FOR WHEN YOU REALIZE THAT PIXEL PHONES AREN’T GREAT, BUT YOU DON’T WANT A SAMSUNG EITHER
Google’s Pixel phones have such great software and then… mediocre everything else. Samsung phones have incredible hardware but are laden with heavy software and actual ads inside of the stock apps. The OnePlus 9 Pro splits that difference — it has software that’s similar to Google’s on hardware that’s virtually a Samsung with a different logo on it.
The 9 Pro is just what the phone enthusiast ordered: a high-end, bells-and-whistles device with All Of The Specs but none of the cruft.
The latest flagship phone from OnePlus. It features a 6.7-inch QHD+ display, an adaptive refresh rate of 120Hz, and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor.
THE BEST WEEKEND PHONE FOR WHEN YOU’RE “DISCONNECTING”
Here comes the weekend, with all of its promises of relaxation and enjoyment. You don’t need a phone that’s going to make you more productive, you need something that’s going to slip into your pocket and won’t distract you with a colorful display unless you absolutely need it to.
The Z Flip 5G is this phone. You can flip it closed to ignore it and then pop it open and have a full smartphone inside, complete with every feature you get on non-flippy phones. You’re making a compromise without really making a compromise, because we all know that you had no intention of actually disconnecting for the weekend.
The Galaxy Z Flip is a folding phone designed to fit a full smartphone easily into your pocket.