5Ws+1H: How It's Done: Easy steps keep smartphones up and running

Jimmy Simmons works on a phone at The PC Landing Zone in Tahlequah.

Smartphones have revolutionized the way people live, work and play, and most people have one in their pocket these days.

They can also be expensive, so extending a phone's lifespan is advantageous for an owner wanting to avoid another purchase. While it's true that keeping a phone plugged in after it's fully charged can shorten its battery life, newer phones are not as susceptible to overcharging.

"With newer phones, they have features now where they will stop charging on their own when they get close to full," said Gunnar Benson, of The PC Landing Zone. "That was a thing for a long time and it still is with older phones."

The newest phones have also improved, letting them run through a full charge cycle.

Allowing the battery to die doesn't have much impact on the latest devices, but those who still have older versions will want to keep them from biting the dust.

It's also not as important these days to power down a smartphone device.

"They're meant to be on all the time," Benson said. "When you lock your phone and put it in your pocket, it goes into a state that's not as intensive as if you were to just leave a computer on all the time."

Users should close out apps running in the background on their smartphones. Apps will often use microphones and a person's location, which can run down the battery and slow the speed of the phone. And while it can be difficult for people to decide which photos or videos to keep and which to delete, it's good to avoid full storage.

"If it's almost completely full, your phone will start running a lot slower," Benson said. "A lot of the processes that a phone runs on has to do with a lot of moving around temporary files - files it saves while it's downloading something or streaming. It will download them temporarily and delete them once it's done using it, but if you're low on space, it has a much harder time finding room for those things and it will take longer."

Harmful viruses are not as common for smartphones as they are computers. Benson said Apple products particularly are good at preventing one from having its way with a device. But it is still possible.

"So basic internet security knowledge is the most important thing," he said. "Don't open links you don't recognize. Don't open emails if you don't know what they're about."

Many companies advertise their products as water-resistant. That does not mean they're water-proof, so owners should keep them out of the pool and shower.

"I get tons of phones from people who took it to the river and got it full of water," Benson said. "Also, when water gets into those, because they are supposed to be water-resistant, it also makes it a lot harder for water to get out of the phone."

The days of using a bag of rice to soak the moisture out of a wet phone are gone. While that method may have marginally helped in the past, newer gadgets need a little more maintenance. At PC Landing Zone, Benson said the staff opens phones up and puts them on heat to allow the water to evaporate, and then blows it out with compressed air.

"The biggest things is if you get your phone wet, turn it off and do not turn it on again," he said. "If you have power running through that by having it on, the components will start shorting out and your phone will eventually kill itself."

Overheating is another issue smartphone users run into. Keeping the phone out of direct sunlight will prevent overheating. If a phone is already overheating, taking the case off will allow it to cool down more quickly.

The everyday handling of smartphones results in speaker holes and charing ports getting packed with dust, dirt and lint. This won't cause a phone's demise, but it can intrude on the functionality of speakers, or will prevent the charging cord from connecting.

"It's a gradual thing and it will get dirty; it's just part of having a phone," Benson said. "What I would do is get a toothpick and try to pick out the dirt and loosen it up in the charge port and speaker holes. Then blow it out with compressed air. That's the best way to clean it out."

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