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How to extend the life of your phone so you don’t have to replace it so often – CNET

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Keep your phone working for years to come. 

Angela Lang/CNET

If the coronavirus lockdown taught us anything, it’s that our phones truly are our lifelines to the outside world. I’ve used mine more in the last few months during the coronavirus pandemic to keep in touch with friends and family while staying at home than I had in the past year. 

Because our phones are so vital to our daily lives, it’s important to do routine maintenance — just like you would for a car — to make sure it continues to work for as long as possible. 

Below we’ll walk you through six different ways to extend the life of your phone. 

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Don’t skip those app updates. They’re important

In order to keep your phone running as fast and problem free as possible it’s important to update the operating system and third-party apps as they are released. These updates don’t take long, and the benefits can be huge: from fixing bugs and resolving security issues to changes that bring new features and improve overall performance so your device works smoother and quicker. 

Android and iPhone both offer automatic app updates, which should be enabled by default. You can check on an Android phone by opening the Play Store, sliding out the menu from the left side of the screen, tapping on Settings and checking the Auto-update apps option. If you have an iPhone, go to Settings > iTunes & App Store and slide the App Updates option to the On position. 

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android-11

Software updates are an easy way to make sure your phone is working how it should. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

For system updates on an Android phone, you can check for updates by opening the Settings app and searching for Update. Or you can wait for your phone to alert you an update is pending, and then follow the prompts. Google releases monthly Android security updates around the first of each month, so checking mid-month to see if your phone has an update isn’t a bad habit to get into. 

As for iPhone owners, you have the option of allowing your phone to automatically install any new updates. Don’t worry, your phone won’t download and install the updates minutes after they come out. Instead, your phone will download the update a day or two after it’s out and then schedule an install for the next time it’s charging overnight. To install an update, or turn on automatic updates, go to Settings > General > Software Update. If an update is available, follow the prompts to install it. If not, tap on Automatic Updates to turn them on or off. 

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ios-13-rearrange-delete-apps

Deleting apps frees up precious storage. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Deleting apps can help revive a slow phone

Phones have a finite amount of storage and memory, which is why it’s important to keep the number of unused apps to a minimum. Routinely deleting apps you don’t use from your phone will save storage space and prevent apps from running in the background, using precious resources and making your phone feel slower and closer to the end of its life than it really is. 

Set a monthly calendar entry titled “Delete unused apps” to remind yourself to regularly go through your apps. 

Now, go through your app drawer or home screen and remove all of the apps you installed at some point for whatever reason but never use. Deleting apps on an iPhone is easy — just long-press until they start to wiggle, then tap the X on the app you want to remove. 

Android users have a few more options but can follow a similar approach: Long press, select App Info of the “i” that shows up followed by uninstall. 

Repeat those steps next month when your calendar alert reminds you. 

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A good case will go a long way in extending the life of your phone. 

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The most important thing you can do: Get a good case

Like your phone? Why don’t you put a case on it? Look, I get it. For a phone purist, even the slimmest of cases are too much. And it’s nice to see the phone how it was designed, rather than a bulky plastic case. 

The smart choice, however, is to cover the phone in a protective case to help keep it from breaking when it inevitably drops. Paying for costly screen repair or swiping your finger through a spider web of cracks is a sure way to get you dreaming of buying a new phone — or at least lamenting that you didn’t get a case in the first place.

You don’t have to go all out and get the most expensive case, but having something on your phone will surely help extend its life. Not to mention, using a case means your phone stays in pristine condition and a likely higher resale price when it comes time to upgrade

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phone-screen

Keep your phone clean. Not only will it make you feel better, but it will help its performance. 

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Keep the screen and ports clean

Using a phone that’s full of grease and grime isn’t something any of us want to do. But using a phone that’s clean and shiny, now that is something we can all feel good about, especially if it means that dust and other gunk isn’t getting in the way of how it operates. 

Even if you use a case, take a few minutes once in awhile to clean out any lint or dirt in the charging port, microphone area, speaker grille and headphone jack, if your phone has one. You can use a toothpick to get in there and coax anything out. 

What about the screen, sides and back? Clorox wipes work just fine. We have more tips and tricks for keeping your phone clean — it will go a long way towards reliable performance, clearer camera shots (once you clean away the finger smudge) and a phone you actually want to keep using. 

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hoyle-promo-iphone-11-pro-oneplus-8-pro

There are plenty of battery myths. 

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Avoid overworking and overheating your phone battery

There are several myths that involve your phone’s battery and keeping it healthy. We recently took a look at several more myths and uncovered the truth about each of them. 

For example, fast charging isn’t going to hurt the battery one bit, but letting your phone routinely drain to zero could. 

Your phone will also last longer if you avoid putting your device in situations where the battery could overheat, like leaving it out in direct sunlight if you’re sitting outside on a hot day. It’ll shut itself off if it gets too hot, but this stresses the battery, which could contribute to a shorter overall life span.

Start taking care of your phone’s battery the day you unbox your phone, and you’ll see the pay off a year or two into ownership when your battery is still holding a charge. 

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iphone-battery-replacement-ifixit.jpg

A new battery can go a long way toward making your phone feel like new. But unless you’re skilled at working with tiny electronics, hire a pro to do the work.

iFixit

Replace a broken battery instead of the entire phone

Even if you’ve done everything by the book, you may still find yourself dealing with a battery that over time just refuses to hold a charge. Instead of replacing the entire phone, replace the battery. 

Often this simple and cost-effective maintenance can add a few more months or even years to your phone’s overall life. It would be easier if most phones were still made with removable batteries like in the good ole days, but instead most phones come with embedded batteries that require taking apart your phone in order to replace it.  

If you’re tech-savvy and brave enough, you can buy a DIY kit from iFixit to replace Android or iPhone batteries. Included in the kit is all of the tools you’ll need, plus a new battery. 

Alternatively, iPhone users can make an appointment at an Apple Store, or Android users can use a certified third-party repair service like uBreakiFix. You’ll need to call your closest store for a quote to replace your battery as the company doesn’t list prices directly on its site. 

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galaxy-s20-plus-s20-ultra

Always have a recent backup of your most important data. 

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Back up your phone regularly

Having a backup of your phone’s data isn’t going to do anything to extend the life of your phone, but it is going to make sure that when it’s time to say goodbye to your phone, all your contacts, photos, videos and custom settings are going to be ready to make the leap so you don’t have to start over from scratch.

Own an iPhone? Double-check that iCloud backup is turned on by opening the Settings app. Next, tap on your name at the top of the screen followed by iCloud > iCloud Backup and make sure the switch is in the On position. 

The process for Android owners will vary based on who makes your device, but generally, you can open the Settings app then go to Google > Backup. Some device makers, like Samsung, offer their own backup service in addition to Google’s. The easiest way to find your device’s automatic cloud backup service is to open the Settings app and use the search box at the top to look for “Backup.”

Now that you know how to keep your phone running well into the future, take a few minutes to learn more about Android’s hidden features. iPhone users need not feel left out, we have some of those for you, too

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