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7 smartphone maintenance tips for better performance

If you’re someone who keeps up with the latest and greatest in technology, you know today’s smartphones aren’t cheap. So you definitely want to keep yours running smoothly for as long as you can.

There are simple things you can do to make your phone run faster and provide more space, as well as make your battery last longer. There also are things you may be doing that are reducing the life of your phone’s battery.

We have tips for you that will help you get better performance from your smartphone. They will also help extend the life of your device.

1. Time to clean out unused apps

If your phone is acting sluggish, one of the first things to do is delete unused apps. You’d be surprised how many apps you’ve downloaded over the years that you’ve never used or haven’t used in forever.

This applies to iPhones and Androids. Depending on the make and model of your phone, there are two surefire ways to delete apps. For Androids, we’ll be focusing on Samsung phones since they make up 70% of all Androids made.

To delete apps from Androids:

  • On the display screen, lightly touch but do not press down on the icon for the app you want to remove
  • A small menu display will appear
  • Click Uninstall

The best thing about this method is that the widgets disappear when the app is uninstalled.

If you don’t have a light touch you can instead go to Settings, scroll down and click Apps. A list of all the apps on your phone will appear. Select the app you want to delete and click Uninstall. Make sure to go back to your display window to delete the widget.

Depending on your Android model, the above steps may not be exactly the same. However, Settings is the place to start when looking to delete apps.

To delete from iPhones

On iPhones with 3D Touch, you can also uninstall an app by lightly touching, but not pressing down, on the app’s icon. After a second you’ll see the Delete button.

If your iPhone doesn’t have 3D Touch, such as the iPhone XR, you can lightly press the icon and hold for a second or two until the “Jiggly” mode appears. Just press the X button to delete the app.

If you don’t have a light touch, launch the Settings app, tap General, tap [iPhone] Storage, scroll down and select the app you want to delete. Tap Delete App, and tap Delete again to confirm that you want to delete the app.

In the ongoing consumer battle over which phone is better, iPhone has a significant advantage over Android in the bloatware department. In Androids, several come pre-installed from your carrier, Google and Samsung. Unless you’re willing to risk rooting your phone, you’re stuck with them.

By contrast, iPhones come with no preloaded carrier software. It does contain some Apple bloatware, but not anywhere near what you find on an Android.

 

Related: Why just uninstalling apps isn’t enough to keep your data safe

 

2. Monitor battery-draining apps

If you’ve gone about cleaning out your apps, you may have caught some battery eaters. When you download a new app, keep an eye on your battery’s lifespan.

If you usually end the workday with 50% power but now find yourself at 15%, it’s very likely the new app is draining your battery. These aren’t necessarily malicious apps (more on them later), but they are power hogs.

Among the biggest power-eating apps are Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Tinder and most news apps. Other battery hogs are weather apps like the Weather Channel or Accuweather. If your phone comes with an installed weather app use that instead. If it doesn’t, just Google the temperature.

Ironically, some of the biggest memory hogs are apps that monitor your battery life. Go figure?

Finally, while it may sound counterintuitive, letting apps run in the background is not a bad thing for Androids. In fact, Android warns that if you are constantly opening and closing apps you can actually hurt your phone’s performance and battery life.

If an Android’s RAM starts getting short, the operating system will quietly close down an app that hasn’t been used for a while and shifts the resources to an active app. If apps that are designed to run in the background are closed they will simply reopen and this continuous cycle makes your phone slower and drains the battery.

Apps on iPhones, on the other hand, don’t really keep running in the background. If you are multitasking, the app you’ve stopped using will suspend itself, keeping its data in RAM but not using CPU resources.

Just as with Androids, closing the apps and reopening them will actually drain your battery in the long run. While an app is in a suspended state it can use the Background App Refresh to check for updates and new content. If you want to use Background App Refresh go to Settings, then General, then Background App Refresh and turn it on.

3. When it’s not apps draining your battery

Apps aren’t the only culprits when it comes to draining your phone’s battery. Your settings can also siphon battery life. Whether you have an iPhone or Android turn off Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi if you’re not using them.

If you’re in a place with no Wi-Fi, turn off your Wi-Fi connection or go into Airplane Mode. Your phone will then stop hunting for a signal, which really drains the battery. Another very simple trick is to lower the brightness of your screen.

iPhone

To lower the brightness on your iPhone, open the Settings app, tap Display & Brightness. On this screen, you’ll see s Brightness setting that you can adjust by sliding the dot left or right. Moving it to the left will lower your iPhone’s brightness and sliding it to the right will make it brighter.

To turn off the GPS on your iPhone, click on Settings, click Privacy, click on Location Services and slide the toggle to the off position.

To turn off Bluetooth, open the Settings app, scroll down and tap Bluetooth, then slide the Bluetooth toggle to off.

For turning off Wi-Fi, launch Settings, tap Wi-Fi and slide the toggle to the off position.

There’s an easy way on iPhones to adjust your screen brightness or shut off your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi by accessing the phone’s Control Center. There you can see icons for Screen Brightness, Bluetooth and WiFi. To turn off your GPS you will have to take the steps shown above.

Android

On your Android, open Settings, click on Display and you can either turn on Auto Brightness or use the slider to manually adjust the brightness.

To turn off Wi-Fi, go to Settings, click on Connection, find Wi-Fi and slide the toggle to the off position. On the same page, you can also turn off your Bluetooth and GPS using the same steps.

If your Android supports this function, you can also 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 functions simply by tapping the appropriate icons. You can also adjust the brightness of your screen.

4. Updating apps and O/S systems

Whether you have an iPhone or Android, making sure your OS and apps are updated is important to keep your phone running smoothly.

iPhone

First, back up files you don’t want to lose such as photos and videos. You can do this by using iCloud.

Next, tap Settings from your home screen, tap General, tap Software Update, tap Download and Install, enter Passcode if you are asked, tap Agree to the Terms and Conditions and tap Agree again to confirm.

Now, just wait for the download to begin. As for your apps, they will not be updated when you update your operating system. You will have to go to each app to see if they have any updates available.

Android

First, see if your O/S is up to date by clicking Settings, finding and clicking About Phone and clicking  Software Information. This will tell you if you have the latest O/S.

If you don’t have the latest version, click Settings, click Software Updates and click Download Updates manually. Again, depending on which version of a Galaxy Samsung you are using, the steps may vary, but the starting point is always Settings.

As with the iPhone, your apps do not automatically update with the new O/S version. Make sure to go to each app and update them as necessary.

5. Maintain the health of your battery

Deleting apps, disabling certain functions and updating the operating systems and apps on your phone are important, but don’t forget to take care of the battery itself. Follow your phone’s manufacturer guidelines when caring for your battery.

For iPhones and Androids, these rules might apply depending on your manufacturer on keeping your battery healthy:

  • Charging your phone before it runs down completely might hurt your battery in the long run
  • It’s a good idea to let the battery run down fully once in a while
  • Keep your phone charged between 80% and 40%
  • Restart your phone from time to time
  • Keep the battery cool

Also, if you need to replace your charging cable make sure it comes from the original manufacturer or a certified retailer.

6. Stay vigilant on security

Yes, smartphones can get viruses and other assorted malware. But once again, this is an area where iPhone triumphs over Android.

Apple does not give its source code to app developers and consumers cannot modify the code on their own. That keeps hackers at bay.

Androids, on the other hand, are so popular that hackers are willing to spend the time devising ways to create apps that contain malware. Not helping matters is that Androids have open-source code that app developers can use and hackers can misuse.

But before you iPhone owners get too smug, downloading a third-party app could also introduce a world of hurt to your phone. For both phones, only download apps from the Google Play Store for Androids and the Apple App Store for iPhones.

For iPhone users, the good news is that Apple’s quality control is very stringent when it comes to offering third-party apps. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with the Google Play Store and many a bad app have managed to get onto the site. Still, getting apps from an approved site provides at least some layer of protection.

To keep your iPhone and Android safe, make sure to update apps and operating systems. The operating systems in particular often come with security updates.

If you own an Android and think you might have a virus, look for these signs:

  • You’re blasted with pop-up ads.
  • Your battery is draining too quickly
  • You see spikes in data usage
  • Unexpected apps appear on your phone

To get rid of the bad app, first, put your phone into Safe Mode, which 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 click on Uninstall. You can then restart your phone, as usual, to get out of Safe Mode.

Android users should also consider installing an anti-virus app. There are plenty to choose from but the best apps can prevent malware attacks and also scan your phone to locate existing malicious software.

A recent report showed that most anti-virus Android apps don’t work, so stay with the tried and true vendors.

7. Smart ways to increase your storage

When you take your new phone out of the box it seems like there’s nothing it can’t do. Well, you should know from the start that it can’t store everything.

Smartphones have a finite amount of storage. Photos, videos, apps, email attachments, messages — they’re all storage eaters. The easiest way to free up space on any iPhone or Android is to delete apps you no longer in use.

iPhone

The biggest storage hogs are photos an videos. On iPhones, you can move them to your iCloud Library. Tap on Settings, choose Photos & Camera, turn on the option for iCloud Library, and make sure the option for Optimize iPhone Storage is selected.

You only have a limited amount of space in your iCloud Library, so you may have to buy more space.

Experts also recommend moving photos, videos and music to such storage sites as Dropbox or Google Photos. The big advantage Google Photos has is that it offers free unlimited space. You will have to manually move your items to the sites.

Another space saver is deleting all text messages. All those threads over the years can really eat up space. Manually delete the ones you have no use for and only keep the most current messages.

Also, make sure to keep a minimum of downloaded music and movies on your phone. Remember, you bought these already so you can delete them from your phone and download them again whenever you want.

Finally, clear your cache. First, delete the cache from whatever browser you are using. Tap on Settings, find your browser and tap it, tap Clear History and Website Data and tap is once again to confirm.

To clear cache from third-party apps, tap Settings, tap General, tap iPhone storage and search through your apps. For many, there will be a button to reset cache when you launch the app again. Other apps like Facebook don’t have that option so you have to uninstall it and then reinstall it to clear the cache.

Android

You can delete whatever files you want 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. It’s a painstaking process.

Or, as with iPhones, move photos, video and music to a storage site. Google Photos is a good choice. While the files will be off your computer, you’ll still be able to see backed-up copies through the app.

To clear cache from whatever browser you are using, open the browser and look for a gear tool, three vertical dots or three stacked lines. Click whichever icon you see and poke around to find where you can clear history and cache. For example, with Firefox click the dots and tap on Quit in the dropdown menu. That clears up that browser.

To clear out the cache in apps, click Settings, Apps, go to the app you want to clear and tap it, click on Storage and hit Clear Cache.

These tips should get your smartphone running quickly and make your battery last longer. You’ve paid a lot of money for that smartphone, so be sure you’re doing your part to keep it clean and efficient.

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