A newly unboxed 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, and it just slows down.
If this scenario sounds more like your laptop, tap or click here for 7 monthly laptop maintenance tasks you should be doing. Maybe your phone is only dirty; lucky you. Tap or click here for 5 steps to clean your phone the right way.
You might blame the phone’s aging circuitry, but the problem is usually much simpler than that. Apps, security issues and battery use can all have profound impacts on your phone, and a little maintenance can go a long way.
1. Clean house
You probably have pages of apps but only use a handful. Time to purge.
On your iPhone, launch the Settings app, tap General, iPhone 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: the steps in this post are for Samsung phones. Your exact steps may be different.
Apps are only one way advertisers track you through your smartphone. Watch this quick video to learn how to stop them.
2. Believe the app hype
You may have heard that letting apps run in the background is bad for Android batteries. That’s absolutely true. And if you are constantly opening and closing apps, you can hurt your phone’s performance and battery life.
Closing apps and reopening them will drain your battery in the long run on an iPhone, too. Plus, background apps keep refreshing, which drains battery. If you want to stop using Background App Refresh, go to Settings, General, Background App Refresh and turn it off.
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, and adjust your screen brightness. If you’re in a place with no Wi-Fi, use Airplane Mode. Your phone will stop hunting for a signal, which will save the battery.
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 to adjust your screen brightness or shut off your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi by accessing the Control Center.
For iPhone X and later, swipe down from the top right corner. For older devices, swipe up from the bottom of the screen. In the Control Center, you’ll see icons for Screen Brightness, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and you can toggle them on, off or adjust brightness with a simple swipe or tap.
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 constantly 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 the App Store 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 50% and 80%. You also 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. Tap or click here to see if your charger could possibly cause a fire.
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 Uninstall. You can then restart your phone to get out of Safe Mode. Tap or click here for more advice if you suspect your phone is infected with malware.
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.
Bonus: 7 ways to hack-proof your smartphone to keep your data safe
Data breaches, ransomware and phishing attacks are always in the headlines. That’s why it’s essential for you to know these seven ways to hack-proof your smartphone to keep your data safe. Tap or click here before it’s too late.
What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.