Tips to keep your cell phone working correctly

Want to keep your phone working as well as it can—and should? We’ll bet at least one of these tips from our experts will surprise you.

1. Weak signals kill your battery. Phones use more power when they’re trying to access a weak network signal. In fact, just leaving your phone on in area with little or no signal can completely drain your battery in a handful of hours—even if you never touch your phone. And avoid stashing the phone in a crowded purse or briefcase or inside a lower desk drawer: It can be harder for a phone to get a signal in those places.

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2. Smart phones need a fresh (re)start. With Facebook, Twitter, and so many other compelling apps to keep you glued to you cell-phone screen, you may be tempted never to turn your phone off. But smart phones, which are actually full-fledged computers, need to be restarted every one or two days to purge memory reserved by programs no longer running and to correct various other glitches that can hinder performance.

3. Smart phones get slower with age. Operating systems are designed and updated for the newest smart phones, with their faster processors, expanded memory, larger displays, and improved cameras. Accepting over-the-air updates to your OS and apps helps stave off obsolescence. But within a few years, your phone could struggle to muster the processing power, memory, or features it needs to make the most of new apps or an upgraded operating system—if it can handle them at all.

4. Video kills your data allowance. It’s easy to burn through the 2-gigabyte monthly allowance of typical data plans. For example, a single HD movie could eat up 700 megabytes of data—or more than a third of that 2-gigabyte budget. Other data drainers include streaming music and playing connected games online. Try to use your phone’s Wi-Fi connection instead of the data connections when you’re doing these things.

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5. Skip screen protectors. Many of today’s touch screens already come with a protective layer of Gorilla Glass or other hardened material that make scratching them nearly impossible. Some screen protectors reduce glare, but they can also make your display less responsive and harder to see in other ways. And screen protectors, even when properly installed, often develop unsightly air bubbles and annoying scratches of their own.

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