As of June 2017, Apple had reportedly sold 1.2 billion iPhones worldwide. That’s quite a few sales in just 10 years. Forbes estimates that the smartphone brought in about $738 billion over that time frame, and while Apple has picked up a few major competitors over the last decade, the company still produces the world’s most popular smartphone.
Still, many consumers make fairly basic mistakes. If you’ve had an iPhone since the beginning, you probably think that you’ve got a fairly solid understanding of how the device works. Unfortunately, you’re probably wrong.
With some help from our friends at FashionBeans, we reached out to some iPhone experts to find out what we could be doing differently with our phones—and which misconceptions are most likely to result in a costly repair. We also looked into a few ways to correct common mistakes.
1. You’re charging it wrong.
Your iPhone contains some advanced circuitry to prevent its lithium-ion battery from being overcharged, but even so, you might be inadvertently reducing your phone’s battery life through your bad habits. For starters, you should remove your phone’s casing during charging, as the case can trap heat.
Generally speaking, you should charge your phone whenever possible. Just be careful when charging at night; if you’ve got exposed wiring, your charger might be a fire hazard, and you certainly don’t want it anywhere near your bed.
That’s all the more reason to invest in high-quality charger cords properly rated for your iPhone. Sure, your local gas station probably sells iPhone cables, but you’re taking a huge risk by buying cables from a random third-party manufacturer.
If you’re going to go the third-party route, consider picking up the AmazonBasics nylon-braided cable. The braiding looks nice, and because the shielding isn’t plastic, you probably won’t end up with exposed wiring (unless you’re really, really hard on your cables).
The copper wiring ensures steady conductivity, and Amazon offers a one-year limited warranty. We actually like AmazonBasics cables more than OEM manufacturer products—once you’ve tried braided cables, it’s hard to go back.
Another high-quality cabling option: Anker’s PowerLine series. These appeal to the classic iPhone aesthetic with a minimal grayish white shield, but they’re considerably stronger thanks to bulletproof aramid fiber. Thick-gauge wiring and a 5000+ bend lifespan make these some of the best aftermarket cables that money can buy, and they’re supported with an 18-month warranty.
2. You aren’t checking the weather report.
Your iPhone’s fairly weather resistant—to a point.
“The iPhone is able to withstand a spectrum of temperatures,” Emily Shapiro, a representative for Apple resale site iPowerResale, told FashionBeans. “When in operation, the iPhone can operate normally at temperatures between 32 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit and can function normally, if not in operation, in temperatures of –4 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit.”
— Three UK (@ThreeUK) September 19, 2015
If you leave your phone in the car on a winter day, for example, you should allow it to gradually come back to room temperature before turning it back on. Likewise, you should keep it out of the sunlight for extended periods of time.
“Most phones nowadays can regulate temperatures so that excessive heat can be dispersed,” Shapiro said. “However, direct sunlight can be hot enough to overpower this feature, so [it’s] always best to remove your phone from these kinds of situations. Most commonly, this happens when phones are left on the dashboard on a hot day or next to a window where a sunbeam is hitting it perfectly. Beyond this, the temperature is unlikely to go beyond the iPhone’s capabilities.”
If you absolutely have to leave your phone in your car—for instance, if you work in a building that doesn’t allow smartphones—get a car shade. It’s not enough to simply tuck the phone into the glovebox, since temperatures could still build up to dangerous extremes.
These days, car shades are pretty inexpensive and easy to use. EzyShade offers an overlapping shade system for about $13, and it fits over the windshield of most modern vehicles without issue, blocking out UV rays and keeping your car (moderately) cool. Not that it really matters, but these shades also look pretty nice, and each order comes with a non-slip sticky dashboard mat to hold change, chargers, and other small items. Just resist the temptation to throw your iPhone on the mat.
For camping trips and other situations where you’re stuck in your car with your phone, consider a car cooler. Granted, it won’t turn your vehicle into some sort of ultra-cool oasis, but it can help to keep the temperature down to manageable levels during warm summer nights. This product—conspicuously named “Autolover,” for some reason—uses solar power to expel hot air via two small exhaust fans.
3. You don’t clean your phone regularly.
Your iPhone is pretty filthy. Some studies have shown that smartphones carry up to 10 times the bacteria of most toilet seats, and while we’d caution against a microbial panic—bacteria are everywhere—we’d also recommend occasional cleanings.
After all, if you can avoid having the equivalent of a public urinal in your pocket…well, we think we’ve made our point.
However, you can’t use standard cleaning products on an iPhone (or any other smartphone, for that matter). Apple recommends avoiding solvents, abrasives, and aerosol sprays, which can cause instant, permanent damage. You should never spray a cleaner directly onto your screen; instead, spray a soft cloth, then gently wipe your phone, keeping moisture away from any of the device’s openings.
Try investing in decent screen cleaners. MagicFiber’s microfiber cleaning cloths are a great pickup, as they’re soft enough to pick up dust, oil, fingerprints, and dirt without scratching your screen. A six-pack costs about $9, and larger packs are available if you really, really love cleaning your phone. They’re reusable and hand washable (don’t throw them in with the rest of your laundry).
Of course, microfiber cloths are only good for getting rid of dust and other visible contaminants. To clear away pathogens, you’ll need something stronger. iCloth touchscreen wipes are an excellent option in this category; each pre-moistened wipe has a proprietary water-based formula with isopropyl alcohol to eliminate microbial contaminants.
For an all-in-one solution, Tech Armor’s screen cleaning kit gives you a lot of bang for your buck (or, in this case, 12 bucks). It includes a gel screen cleaner, a microfiber polishing cloth, and alcohol-free wipes, which should help you keep your iPhone germ free for the foreseeable future. Tech Armor’s Amazon reviews are excellent, and they offer a no-hassle replacement guarantee.
Let’s say that the worst-case scenario happened: You dropped your iPhone in a toilet, an industrial trash can, or on the ground at a Kid Rock concert. How will you ever touch it again without thinking about how absolutely filthy it was?
Enter the Ledmei Smartphone Sterilizer, an easy-to-use O3 sanitizer that apparently kills 99.99 percent of bacteria in about six minutes. By using ozone as a sanitizer, it eliminates microorganisms from the cracks and crevices of your iPhone—not just surface-level contaminants. The product description notes that it sanitizes and charges while “dispelling stinks,” which is just about the most hilarious line we’ve ever seen in a product description.
4. You’re not ponying up the money for the real chargers.
Why not buy one of those off-brand chargers? They’re so much cheaper, and they seem to work just fine. In fact, some stores seem to sell chargers that are identical to Apple’s Lightning chargers—at a fraction of the price.
Not so fast. Many of those “identical” chargers are counterfeits, and they’re potentially dangerous. A study from the UK’s Chartered Trading Standards Institute, a consumer protection organization, showed that about 99 percent of counterfeit Apple chargers failed basic safety tests.
“The results were literally shocking,” the researchers wrote. Shapiro agreed.
“We’ve seen so many customers with phones that were damaged by cheap, off-brand chargers,” she said. “We’ve even seen chargers that exploded due to poor manufacturing (which completely destroys the phone). We’ve also seen a lot of these off-brand chargers simply die quickly.”
While you might save a few dollars by picking up a cheap charger, you might be risking the health of your handset. That’s not to say that all third-party chargers are bad—just do your research before you buy.
For an inexpensive but reliable option, consider the Anker Elite, a dual-port charger that charges up to 2.4 amps. Its IQ charging system delivers proper amperage to your device without putting it at risk, and it’s compatible with all newer iPhone models. It also features a foldable plug, which is helpful when you’re traveling, and Anker offers an 18-month warranty on all charger products.
If you’re constantly fighting with family members over USB ports, a better option is Anker’s 40-watt, 4-port combo charger. Its MultiProtect safety system ensures that your iPhone gets the right voltage, and each port delivers up to 2.4 amps.
It even comes with a welcome guide, which…welcomes you to the world of USB-powered electronics? We’re not entirely sure. For about $25, though, this little wall unit is a high-quality tool for keeping your electronics charged up.
For juicing up your iPhone in your car, we’d skip the chargers with built-in cords. Those will eventually conk out, and they don’t tend to be very well made. Instead, grab Maxboost’s USB port charger, which turns your car’s lighter port into a universal charging station. It features an intelligent circuit design to prevent overheating and overcurrents—an absolutely essential feature if you’re charging on the go. Basically, if your car’s electrical system acts up, the Maxboost charger will take the hit, but your phone will remain unharmed. It also features a one-year warranty.
5. You’re constantly connected.
We understand that some Bluetooth features are pretty important, but they’re also a reason our iPhones are dead within a few hours of regular usage.
Apple’s website says that Bluetooth drains the battery, but it doesn’t say to what extent—nor should it, since different types of Bluetooth devices create different draws on your phone’s battery.
So how can you find out if a certain app is regularly communicating via Bluetooth (and sapping your battery)?
“The best way to find out is to look at your battery in your iPhone’s settings,” Shapiro said. “This will tell you what is draining the battery the most and specifically what is draining it.”
If an app seems to be draining an exorbitant amount of juice, you can easily close it by double-clicking your home button and swiping up on the app. However, don’t close apps if you don’t notice a problem; this practice can actually drain your battery, since the apps won’t be running in the background. Your phone will need to work harder to re-open them.
By the way, wifi also drains your battery, but not as much as your cellular data connection, so it’s okay to leave wifi on.
If you’re still having trouble with your battery life, consider a charger case. The iPhone X has a 2,716 mAh battery, and the iPhone 8’s battery is a bit smaller. Charger cases can easily double that capacity, although there’s a trade-off since they’ll add some bulk to your phone. Trianium’s 4000 mAh Atomic Pro case is a good best-of-both-worlds option for the iPhone X, as it adds upwards of 11 hours of web browsing time (or 8 hours of talk time) while maintaining your phone’s slim profile.
The big caveat: It’s not compatible with Apple stock headphones or the Lightning-to-3.5 mm headphone adapter, so if you don’t use Bluetooth headphones, you’ll run into issues. With that said, it’s a great little case, and it even has a microUSB input. MicroUSB cords are significantly cheaper than Lightning cables, and they’re no less capable of charging.
If you’ve got an iPhone 8, ZTESY’s 5000 mAh iPhone case is a great option. It’s also compatible with the iPhone 6, 6S, and 7, and it works with Lightning headphones. It’s also fairly protective, which is pretty key—more on that in a moment.
6. You’re using the wireless charger too often.
Wireless charging is ridiculously convenient, but it might accelerate battery wear, per a report from Adrian Kingsley-Hughes of ZDNet.
Kingsley-Hughes’ tests showed wireless charging significantly reduced his iPhone’s battery life due to a fundamental issue with the technology; when you leave your phone on a wireless charging mat, it keeps charging every time the phone uses electricity.
This isn’t an issue when the phone’s connected via a wire since the phone is powered by the electricity coming through the charger cord. With wireless charging, the phone still relies on its battery in order to operate. As a result, every little operation sucks some battery life, and the battery is constantly topped off. That puts extra wear on the battery.
With that said, if you’re using the wireless charger occasionally, you probably don’t need to worry too much. Just don’t leave the phone on the charger for long periods of time. If you’re going to let your phone charge for hours on end, plug it in.
One more important note: If you’re charging wirelessly, use a high-quality charger and remember to take your phone out of its case. As with traditional chargers, wireless charging pads can cause heat to build up, potentially damaging your phone.
Make sure that you’re using a high-quality wireless charger rated for your phone. Yootech makes a particularly decent charger that’s Qi-certified and compatible with both the iPhone 8 and iPhone X (along with various Samsung phones and other Qi-enabled devices).
It features an intelligent temperature control system, which prevents the phone from overheating during its charge. It also has built-in LEDs that show if your phone’s actually charging—a pretty crucial feature, since there’s nothing quite as annoying as picking up your phone after hours of charging only to see that your battery’s in the red.
If you’re looking for a slightly more versatile wireless charger, Mipow’s 2-in-1 charging station provides a novel upgrade; it has a 5000 mAh power bank built in. If you don’t have time to wait for a full charge, simply unhook the powerbank and take it with you. Granted, it’s significantly more expensive than a typical wireless charger, but hey, you get what you pay for.
Anker offers an iPhone stand with wireless charging capabilities, and its built-in overvoltage protection and temperature control should help to limit the risks associated with wireless charging. It’s also ideally positioned to let you check messages, see incoming notifications, or watch videos.
7. You’re acting like that phone is cheap.
The iPhone X costs $999, and even if you opt for a more budget-friendly model, you’re laying down some serious scratch for your smartphone. Why, then, would you leave it unprotected?
Shapiro says that she’s seen dozens of phones cracked, broken, and busted through easily avoidable accidents. While you might naturally consider your phone an extension of yourself, that’s all the more reason to protect it.
Dropped my phone and cracked the screen in a billion different ways. Now I'm scrolling through the TL whilst my finger is getting tiny cuts from the glass.
My life is going perfectly fine rn.
— TRUST WHO? (@DenzelBosco_SA) May 30, 2018
“Don’t put your phone in a vulnerable situation,” Shapiro suggests. “Be proactive in keeping your phone safe, because an iPhone is an investment.”
The fix is simple: Try to keep your phone in your pocket when you’re on the move. While digging your phone out of your pocket is occasionally a hassle, it’s not as bad as that moment your phone drops out of your hands, falls in slow motion, and goes crack on the pavement.
Another pro tip: Buy a decent case. While Apple has plenty of its own cases, we’d recommend getting something a little more dependable.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to break the bank. SUPCASE offers a minimalist case with shock-absorbent TPU materials and a polycarbonate backing, which effectively prevents scratches, blemishes, and damage from minor falls. At around $10, it provides an affordable means of protecting your investment.
If you’re willing to spend slightly more—and remember, a more expensive case is much cheaper than a new phone—OtterBox offers the gold standard of phone protection. Their Symmetry series is attractive and sleek with a number of designs available, and the dual-material construction protects your phone effectively. Raised bevel edges protect your touchscreen from the inevitable drops, although you’ll still want additional protection for the screen since the Symmetry cases leave the iPhone’s frontside exposed and susceptible to scratching.
OtterBox also offers a lifetime guarantee, which provides some peace of mind.
The big problem with most cases is that they obscure the iPhone’s gorgeous design. If that bothers you, but you’re not quite willing to expose your phone to the elements, check out ESR’s slim soft cover.
While it’s not as protective as the other cases we’ve mentioned, it uses a soft TPU material to provide decent shock protection without adding much bulk (about 1 millimeter, per the manufacturer). A microdot pattern prevents it from getting that “wet” look of other clear cases, and it doesn’t get in the way of your camera or touchscreen.