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Problems with your phone? Here are the most common causes

If you take some pre-emptive measures now, it can save you a lot of trouble.

Image: Geoff Kirby/PA Images

YOUR SMARTPHONE IS an incredibly advanced and powerful device, but it’s also expensive and fragile. It can end up freezing or slowing down, and in other cases, it can break for a variety of reasons.

You can take a few measures to ensure this doesn’t happen and even if it does, all is not lost.

Your phone slows down/freezes

Cause: A few things. The most common cause is an unresponsive app which is taking up more memory than expected. Another possible reason is the age of your phone’s hardware. The older it is, the more likely it will slow down as it copes with more advanced OS and apps.

Ways to help: There are a few things you can do. If an app is the cause of the problem, closing it – bringing up recents apps by double pressing the home button or pressing recents button – can help free up some memory.

Clearing your phone’s cache and memory data can also help.

If your phone is practically unusable, Android devices have a safe mode option – hold down the power button and then hold down on turn off phone when it appears on screen – which can help you remove any apps that are causing it.

If that doesn’t work, force-reset your phone by holding down the power button and home button/volume up button.

In the worst case scenario, you could perform a factory reset which will restore your phone to its original settings, but make sure you have your data backed up first before progressing.

How to prevent: No technology is perfect and even new devices might end up freezing every now and again. The only thing is to keep an eye on is if one specific app or a few are causing the problem – removing them or other unimportant apps can help matters.

TEC-Digital Life-Gift Guide-Cheaper Android Phones Source: Richard Drew/Press Association Images

Your screen is cracked

Cause: As it may imply, dropping it or hitting it against an object can cause the screen to crack. How bad the damage is dependent on things like force, height dropped and other factors.

Not only is a cracked screen annoying to look at, it also allows dust to get in, making it even harder to see what’s happening on screen.

Ways to help: Assuming the crack is enough to affect your usage of it, you will have to get it repaired.

While you could attempt to repair it yourself - there are detailed guides like iFixIt that you can rely on - it’s only recommended if you know what you’re doing. Bring it to a repair shop but make sure it’s password protected before you hand it over.

If it’s not a state of the art phone, you could just use an older or different phone for the time being. Asking friends or family members to loan one for a few weeks (or indefinitely) is always worth a shot. Just remember that you may need to unlock it as most phones are tied down to one network.

Worst case scenario, you could just buy a new phone or get an upgrade if you’re eligible.

How to prevent: Apart from the obvious advice of “don’t drop it”, buying a protective case with a raised lip can help matters. An extra layer of protection will make it bulkier so make sure it’s a cover you can properly grip.

Screen protectors can also be useful if your main concern is scratches, but they won’t protect it if you drop it from a height. If you put it in your pocket, don’t put it with your keys or other objects that could leave scratches.

Also, using common sense helps. Make sure you always have a firm grip when using it, don’t place it in your back pocket as you will likely forget it when you sit down.

Apple-Banged-Up Phones Source: Ben Margot/Press Association Images

You dropped your phone in water 

Cause: You accidentally dropped it into the sink, bath, toilet, or glass of water. More devices may now boast water resistance but they’re not quite commonplace yet.

Ways to help: The first thing to do is to take it out as quickly as possible and turn it off. Keeping it on will cause it to short circuit, which will require you to get a new phone. Take out any removable features – SIM, battery, SD card – and wipe away any water on the surface with kitchen towel.

From there, you have a few options. Most people say putting it in dry, uncooked rice – a trick older than the Nokia 3210 – and leaving it there for 24 hours is the best way, but in fact uncooked rice is bad at absorbing moisture.

Instead, go for silica gel – the tiny packets you find in packaged goods like shoes, or electronics, – which can absorb moisture. It’s worth mentioning that some types of cat litter use silica gel but check first before buying.

If you don’t have that, the next best option is to leave it sitting in an open space like a table or counter top and let it dry naturally. Leave it for a few days before turning it on.

Just be aware that even if you take all of these measures, it may not save your phone or it could begin to malfunction a few days later. If so, you may have to replace it.

How to prevent: More smartphones are adding water resistance to the list of features they offer so always check for that first. Regardless of what a maker claims, you should always look for the IP rating of a phone so you know how resistant it is.

If you don’t have that, you can start prepping for such a situation by hoarding silica gel packets. Put them into an air-tight container so the next time you have a wet phone, you can drop it in and let it dry for a few days.

TEC-Samsung-Water-Resistant Phone Source: Richard Drew/Press Association Images

There are scratches on your camera lens

Cause: Much like a screen, you notice scratches on your camera lens. Alternatively, you could notice tiny dots on any image you take.

Ways to help: Much like your screen, tiny scratches aren’t the end of the world. In fact, it’s unlikely faint scratches will affect the quality of your photo. The reason for that is because your image sensor is the important part of your phone’s camera, not the lens. For normal scenes where nothing is in focus, it’s unlikely you would notice them unless you narrow your aperture (focusing on an object by blurring the background).

If you see tiny dots on your images, that is dust on your image sensor. Unlike scratches, this would be more noticeable when you narrow your camera’s aperture and would be most apparent in bright skies.

If it’s really bad, you can get the camera lens replaced but for the majority of cases, you can continue shooting like normal. Take a few photos in different lighting conditions to check and see how noticeable the effects are.

How to prevent: The same principles you use to avoid scratches on your screen apply here. Keep it away from sharper objects like keys, use a case if you’re prone to dropping it and always make sure you’re holding it correctly.

Arsenal v Chelsea - Barclays Premier League - Emirates Stadium Source: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

Your phone is lost/has been stolen

Cause: You misplaced it or it was pick-pocketed or stolen. Either way, you’re without a phone.

Ways to help: If you’ve lost it, then Find my Phone is the best thing to do. Not only will it give you the general location, but you can ring it or wipe out data remotely.

If you feel it’s been stolen, then Find my Phone might not be of much use to you as an app might not be seen as sufficient evidence to get a search warrant.

How to prevent: Activating Find my Phone is the first step you should take. Even if you can’t recover it, you can still remove all data from your phone remotely. Also ringing it can alert other people to its presence so you can find it.

Read: Irish scientists mix silly putty with graphene to create ultra-sensitive health sensors >

Read: Text messages are on the way out – but we’re eating up huge amounts of data >

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