The Lazy Girl's Guide To Making Your Phone Last Another Year

Sure, it'd be nice if your phone was a trendy rose gold color. It would also be handy if you could unlock it using just a fingerprint. But, all in all, your phone is just fine. That $650 you could spend on a new device is put to much better use going toward rent, or on a well-earned vacation.

But, truthfully, even after a year or two, your phone starts showing signs of aging. You might notice it's just not as snappy as it used to be, or that the amazing battery that used to get you through a day and a half, no problem, is now barely making it through the workday.

Unfortunately, most units aren't built to withstand the tests of time. However, there are things you can do to eke out an extra year or three of use before it's time to pony up for a new handset. Here are seven tips and tricks for making your old phone feel brand-new again.

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Photo: Courtesy Apple.
Adjust A Few Habits
If your phone's battery life is starting to slip just a little bit, you can compensate by tweaking some settings and personal phone habits — minimal effort, maximal effect.

First, head to Settings, then Battery, and check out which apps are your biggest power hogs. Is one of them constantly sending you push notifications that light up your phone's screen? Head into that app's settings and switch off its push notifications. The screen is the biggest drain on your battery because it requires so much juice to stay lit. Reducing some persistent screen-illuminating notifications could make a small but noticeable difference.

Similarly, location tracking is a major battery suck. If you don't really need an app to know your location, head to Settings, Privacy, and then Location Services and rescind its access.

Getting a little more extreme, you can switch off Background App Refresh altogether (Settings, General, Background App Refresh), and this will greatly reduce the tracking and quiet downloads and updates that happen even when your phone is sitting idle in your pocket. Bonus: This will also help you meet your monthly data plan.

And getting a lot more extreme, you can judiciously switch on Low Power Mode or go into Airplane Mode to really stretch your phone's battery life. But if you're having to do that every day, it makes more sense to just…
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Photo by Christina Bonnington/Refinery29.
Buy A Charging Case
If waning battery life is really starting to be a drag, you can outfit your aging smartphone in a case that keeps it charged all day long. For $100 or less, you can grab a case that will double (or better) your battery life. The Apple Smart Case, left, is one of the newest options available, but Mophie's Juice Pack Air, right, offers even greater battery life. And for only $40, you can get Anker's Ultra Slim Extended Battery Case.
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Photo: Courtesy iFixit.
Replace The Battery Altogether
All right, you've tried adjusting your settings and you're tired of lugging your old phone in a clunky charging case. It's time to just swap out your phone's battery.

If you've got an iPhone 5, Apple has actually identified a subset of devices that is eligible for a free battery replacement. You can check if your device's serial number applies by visiting here.

Otherwise, you'll want to use a service such as iCracked or ClickAway. Make an appointment, and a tech will crack open your phone, swap your tired battery with a fresh one, and you'll be good to go.

If you or a friend have some electronics experience, you can alternatively try dismantling and replacing the battery yourself, using iFixit's step-by-step repair guides. You will likely need to buy a few tools in order to safely and properly take apart the phone without breaking anything else in the process. The battery itself will cost you only $25 or so.
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Photo: Courtesy Apple.
Software Updates
Apple recommends staying up to date on the latest software updates to make sure you're getting the best battery life on your iOS device. If your phone is only one, maybe two years old, this is sage advice. Each update brings important new features, bug fixes, and security patches that should make your experience better.

But if your phone is older than that, in our personal experience, you may want to hold off updating. With each major update, both the operating systems and the apps that run on it beef up their capabilities. They are designed to run on a system with stronger, faster chips inside. If your phone is a few years old, meeting those demands is going to be a struggle. Though you'll miss out on the latest emoji, your phone will at least still function normally.

Older phones and tablets also eventually cease being supported by the latest OS after a few years, as well. For example, with iOS 9, you need an iPhone 5 or newer.
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Photo: Courtesy iCracked.
Cracked Screen Repair
Suddenly, your kung fu grip fails you and your phone slithers out of your hand, naturally landing screen first on an almost imperceptible rock below. We've all been there. The nice news is, if you have a cracked screen, you don't need to pay up for a new phone — you can have those perilous shards of glass fixed relatively cheaply and conveniently. For $80 to $120, iCracked can repair your Apple or Samsung device screen, and it'll look (and feel) good as new.

You can make an appointment with an iCracked repair person in more than 300 U.S. cities. A screen replacement generally takes only 15 to 20 minutes; and, best of all, the techs come to you — or wherever you'd like to meet them — so there's no need to trek out to some repair shop in a remote part of town. iCracked deals with water damage and dead batteries, too.

If you're one of those who constantly finds yourself breaking your phone, you can join iCracked's membership program. For $7 a month, a tech will come to you as soon as you beckon, and resuscitate your newly broken phone for $25.
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Photo: Courtesy Amazon.
Saving A Phone After A Dive
More and more phone manufacturers are building devices that are better at resisting water. But still, most are not waterproof. If your unit takes a plunge into the bathtub, toilet, or the pool, some quick action right after it happens can help ensure it continues to live a long life.

First, get it out of the water ASAP, then wipe it down. Resist the urge to blow-dry it — the heat could damage the delicate electronics inside. Turn the phone off if it's not off already, and if it has a removable battery, take out the battery.

Next, grab yourself a sandwich or quart-size bag and a couple fistfuls of rice. Put the rice and your phone in the bag, zip up, and leave it for 24 to 48 hours. Some people think doing this in a bowl works fine, but the point is you want the dry rice to absorb the moisture from inside your phone and not moisture from the surrounding air.

A cheap alternative to rice are those desiccants that you find in new jacket pockets, inside just-purchased purses, and in shoe boxes. Start collecting those, and if your phone ever does take a dip, you'll be prepared. This is potentially a better option than rice, because as rice absorbs water, it gets mushy. Rice can also find its way into your headphone jack or charging port (a paper towel wrapped loosely around your phone can help prevent this).

There are also third-party bags you can purchase, such as the Bheestie Bag, and have on hand for such an eventuality, but a desiccant and your own bag should work just as well.
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Photo: Courtesy Nasty Gal.
A New Case
If all else fails, you can make your old handset look and feel fresh, new, and miraculously scratch-free by swathing it in an awesome case, like this festive, metallic $14 iPhone 5 option from Nasty Gal. Who cares if your phone takes 10 seconds to load an email when it looks this good?
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