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10 Ways You’re Shortening the Life of Your Phone

You may think keeping a phone constantly charged is a good thing—wrong! Learn the surprising ways you're shortening the life of your phone.

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Getting a new phone isn’t cheap, so you want it to last as long as possible. Read on the discover the ways you’re causing your phone to break down on you faster.

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You use vibrations for notifications

Your phone, like any other tool or device, ages and loses effectiveness the more you use it, says David Steele, the Director of Business Development for EverdayPhone. So little extras, like vibrating notifications, are habits that make your phone’s job harder. “The issue with these habits essentially boils down to having your phone constantly running at full capacity when it’s unnecessary,” Steele says. “Just like us, a phone needs a break to avoid burning out.”

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - NOVEMBER 17, 2015: A close-up photo of Apple iPhone 5s start screen with apps icons.
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You keep apps open that you’re not using

Unused apps can eat up the battery life of both iPhones and Androids, according to Andrew Moore-Crispin, the Director of Content at Ting Mobile. “If you open an app once and never use it again, the app might still run in the background,” he says. Swiping out of apps you aren’t using or no longer need is an easy solution. Moore-Crispin says doing so extends the battery life of your phone while also freeing up valuable storage space, too. Learn an easy way to turn off background apps, plus 6 more tricks to use less cellphone data—and lower your bill.

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You allow unnecessary permissions

Ride-sharing apps need your location to pick you up, but other apps might not need this permission. Moore-Crispin suggests you be picky about which apps you grant such permissions to and take away permissions you deem unnecessary. If you didn’t realize random apps were being granted these permissions, you probably also don’t know about these 17 hidden iPhone hacks.

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You have one of these apps

The apps that drain your battery the most are Snapchat, Google Maps, Netflix, Amazon, and Facebook, according to AdWeek. The Guardian found that uninstalling the Facebook mobile app from Android phones saves people up to 20 percent of their battery life. If you also get rid of the FB Messenger app, other app load times could speed up by 15 percent, per the Guardian. The reason Facebook particularly kills battery life is because it keeps running in the background—even when you’re not using it, Business Insider reports.

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Your screen is always extremely bright

Gone are the days of tiny phone screens, but before you give the thumbs up emoji, understand how the bigger screens of today can be a phone battery’s worst enemy, according to Moore-Crispin. Make sure you turn on adaptive brightness in the display menu. This change means your phone will automatically adjust the screen brightness to match your environment. As a bonus, set the brightness level to the lowest possible and lower your screen’s timeout, which is what determines how long it stays lit before fading when it goes idle. Here’s how to protect your phone from getting a virus.

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You keep your phone out at the beach

Extreme heat or extreme cold temperatures and other weather conditions can shorten the life of your phone. According to Time, excess heat can cause everything from data loss or corruption to battery leakage, which is why it’s important to know how to cool down your phone if it’s overheating. Cold weather presents just as many issues. In cold temperatures, some smartphones shut off, have display problems, or run out of battery; in rare cases screens may shatter. Here’s how to see which apps are draining your phone battery.

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You keep your phone in your bed or under your pillow

Tucking your phone under your pillow when you sleep is another way to shorten its life, thanks to heat build up. If your phone is charging or has a defect, it can even present a potential fire hazard. If you’ve been sleeping with your phone under your pillow, you’re probably also storing it in these 8 other places you should never leave your phone.

Smart mobile phone on charging
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You leave your phone plugged in

Keeping your phone plugged in when it has a full battery causes damage to the battery itself, according to pcmag.com. It’s not that your phone “overloads” with power; it’s that heat buildup damages the battery. This can be even worse if you use knock-off cables, reports pcmag.com.

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You charge your phone 100 percent overnight

Waking up to a fully charged phone may seem like a great way to start the day, but leaving your device plugged in overnight is a bad idea. When a phone has reached 100 percent charge, it will continue to get trickle charges to keep it topped up at 100 percent. These extra charges keep the battery working nonstop. In fact, it’s better not to fully charge lithium-ion batteries because high voltage stresses the battery and wears it out over time, according to technology company Cadex.

PHUKET, THAILAND - JAN 25, 2019: white apple iphone se with ios updated holding by right hand with blurred bokeh background, apple icon and status bar on screen
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You don’t keep your software up to date

Putting off device updates does more harm than good for your phone. iPhone and Android makers push updates to make your user experience better and so that your phone functions properly. These updates come with extra benefits, too. In fact, if your device has a weak battery or other issues, these software updates could remedy them, Popular Science reports. Make sure to keep up with app-specific updates as well. Even if you keep up with all these updates and avoid ways you shorten the life of your phone, there still comes a time when you need to upgrade. When you do, don’t toss that old device in the trash; instead, check out these 12 genius ideas for old cellphones.

Emily DiNuzzo
Emily DiNuzzo is a former staff writer at Reader’s Digest. There’s a 90% chance Emily is drinking tea right now, but when she’s not writing about food and health with a cuppa by her side, you can find her lifting at the gym, listening to murder mystery podcasts and liking one too many astrology memes.