Editor's Note: This article last updated September 22, 2015.
Your smartphone has quickly become your best friend, taking the place of your laptop for web browsing, your calendar for keeping track of appointments, your iPod for listening to music, your camera for taking pictures and traditional ways of communication in exchange for texting and emailing on the go. You download so much personal information onto your phone that losing it or having it damaged in any way seems like the worst possible thing that could happen. Here are five ways you can avoid preventable damage to your BFF and extend the life of your smartphone.
There are so many apps available that do so many things. Any app you download, whether it be for social media, news, games, weather, shopping or finance, has the potential to harm your smartphone. Also, the apps that you download, including those from reputable sources, such as Google Play and iTunes, come with a long list of permissions you should read, but like the rest of us, don't. It is amazing what these apps can access when you electronically accept their terms and conditions.
Mobile security software, such as McAfee Mobile Security, actually scans every app you download before it becomes a fixture on your phone. After the scan, it creates a report with information regarding permissions. Many apps, for example, require access to your contact list, text messages and other personal information. Some can even use your phone's camera to take pictures of your daily activities, make phone calls without your consent or use the phone's microphone to listen in on your conversations, as well as turn your GPS into a serious threat by tracking your location.
Overcharging the Battery
Older cell phones were equipped with Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) or Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMh) batteries. Those batteries were good for their time, but they were plagued by battery memory. If you didn't let them get pretty close to dead before recharging, they'd habituate to the early charge points and gradually lose the ability to provide power below that point.
This is no longer the case, as Lithium ion batteries are now in virtually all phones. You can charge them any time you need to. In fact, it’s best not to wait until the batteries get too close to dead, since most devices shut down at a predetermined point to save the battery. Generally, overcharging isn't an issue, but there's no benefit to charging them longer than it takes to get back to 100 percent. Charging them longer can produce excess heat, which on very rare occasion has resulted in fire.
Do you think you could perform at optimal level after being left in a hot car with the windows rolled up and no air conditioning for hours on end? The answer, of course, is no. The same applies to your phone. Humans don't like heat and neither do electronics. Even leaving your phone in direct sunlight in an air conditioned building can cause it to go on the fritz. New phones have a heat sensor that turns the phone off automatically to prevent damage.
Browsing the Web
The internet is so vast that the word "vast" doesn't even begin to describe it. With billions of websites out there, it is quite easy to accidentally access dangerous ones. As you navigate from site to site, you can pick up a virus, malware or other malicious code that can latch on and slither its way into your smartphone's data center and even your SIM card. To extend the life of your smartphone, we suggest that you purchase and download mobile security software such as BullGuard Mobile or Lookout Premium. These applications protect your phone and your personal information from any threats you may encounter while browsing the web.
Dropping your smartphone into any body of water is an obvious way to destroy your favorite electronic device. However, even the smallest bit of moisture can damage your phone. Leaving your phone near the condensation from a window sill or throwing it in a laundry basket full of damp clothes allows moisture to enter into the electronic components of your device. The cup holder in your car often has liquid in it from a cold drink or your morning coffee splashing around and can be a dangerous place to leave your smartphone.
Your smartphone is capable of many things but is vulnerable in many ways. Your phone can pick up viruses, malware, spam, spyware and other malicious code within seconds of downloading an app or entering an unknown site. It can also overheat or malfunction from seemingly innocuous moisture sources. Extend the life of your cell phone by using some of the tips listed above, and you can enjoy your device for years to come, or at least until the newest model comes out.