How to Make Smartphones Last Longer

For different types of gadgets, your battery mileage may vary. Generally, a smartphone battery will last about two years, and ones for a laptop or smartphone will last three or four years before needing to be replaced, said Kyle Wiens, chief executive of iFixit, a site that offers instructions on do-it-yourself gadget repairs.

So how do you assess whether a battery needs replacing? There are various software tools you can use to check its health:

  • Apple users with iPhones and iPads can open the Settings, then tap Battery and select Battery Health.

  • Android devices have third-party apps like AccuBattery that can do a reading on your battery’s health.

  • Mac users can click on the Apple icon, then About This Mac and then System Report. Then click on Power to see a reading on battery health.

  • Windows users can download the app BatteryInfoView to measure battery health.

In general, pay attention to a battery’s remaining capacity. The lower the capacity, the more short-lived your device gets. If your capacity is less than 60 percent, you should think about replacing the battery.

Gadgets need regular cleaning. Dirt and debris clogging up our equipment can contribute to overheating, which shortens the life of our electronics.

So Mr. Wiens recommended this regular cleaning routine:

  • For mobile devices, look inside the ports. Dust and food crumbs easily get lodged inside the charging ports, which causes the phone to charge more slowly. Shine a flashlight into the port for a close look. Use canned aerosol or a sewing needle to remove any debris.

  • For computers, blow out the fans once a year. Opening up the case of a laptop or desktop machine reveals its fans. The fans accumulate lots of dust and hair over time, and the dirtier the fans are, the hotter your device gets. Take a small vacuum cleaner or a can of aerosol to get rid of the gunk.

The more device storage you use up, the slower a gadget gets. So set a calendar reminder to do a data purge at least once a year.

On iPhones, Apple offers the tool iPhone Storage, which shows a list of apps that take up the most data and when they were last used; on Android devices, Google offers a similar tool called Files. Use these tools to delete any apps that you haven’t touched in more than six months.

To do a quick purge with computers, open a folder and sort the files by when they were last opened. From there, you can immediately eliminate files and apps you have not opened in years.

If purging files is too cumbersome, there are shortcuts. Some Android phones have a slot for inserting a memory card, where you can load games and videos. Similarly, with computers you can plug in an external hard drive and store large files there. That will free up storage on the device so that the operating system runs faster, said Vincent Lai, director of the Fixers Collective, a social club in New York that repairs aging devices to extend their lives.

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