n00b News: Be a better smartphone owner

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Let’s get better at protecting our devices.

   Retailing at anywhere between $300 and $800, smartphones are often one of the most expensive things a college student buys. It would make sense that we’d be careful not to break them. Some of us are great at keeping our smartphones safe, while others could use a little help. I definitely fall in the last category after recently having to pay for my second screen replacement in three months.

   I know I am not the expert on keeping my phone safe. But after over five years of using a smartphone, I’ve learned from experience all the things you shouldn’t do if you want to keep your phone intact.

Don’t go naked.

   Smartphones are slippery, especially recent models of the iPhone.  When I got my iPhone 5S, Verizon gave me a complimentary OtterBox case. Depending on the style you get, these range in price from $20-100. There is also a waterproof version called a Lifeproof case, which is slightly more expensive. If you have an eye for style, a custom designed wood grain case from Carved.com might be for you.

Your phone doesn’t need vitamin D.

   The weather is warming up, but that doesn’t mean your phone should. Although it may be more accessible to you, leaving your phone in direct sunlight is detrimental to the life of your phone. Not only does the sun damage the quality of the LCD screen, but it also quickly overheats your phone which can have negative effects.

   A few simple ways to keep your phone from overheating are not leaving it in a hot car, closing out of unused apps, and turning your brightness down. If you notice your smartphone is heating up, take the case off until it cools down.

The rice legend is true.

   My phone took a brief soak in the gutter by my house as I was getting out of my car on a late summer night last year. If your phone is not waterproof, this could be the end of your phone’s life if you aren’t prepared. Oddly enough, rice saved my phone from a terrible fate. 

   I heard this folkloric remedy whispered in libraries and grocery stores for years and decided to try it out; I had no choice. Luckily, there was a bag of rice in my kitchen, and I let it sit in the rice for several hours after the fall. My phone was resurrected the next morning.

   According to TheVerge.com, this remedy came about long before the first iPhone in 2007. Dating back to 1946, photographers used uncooked rice to extend the life of their equipment in humid and tropical climates. Silica gel also works, but rice is usually more accessible.

   For this reason, I keep a gallon-sized zip-close bag of rice in my office, and will be keeping a smaller one in my car for emergencies.

Bad things happen.

   No matter how many precautions you take, you may still find yourself with a cracked screen. When I cracked my phone screen for the first time, I tried almost every avenue to get it fixed for cheap. I tried using my phone insurance, which turned out to be an expensive and tedious process. I tried ordering phone parts off Amazon and repairing it myself — big mistake.

   I eventually found a local company that can fix iPhones and Android phones almost always within the same day, called Gadget Tech. Prices vary for phone model, but a screen replacement will set you back at least $100. Although getting your screen replaced isn’t cheap anywhere you go, I’ve found this method to be the most economical for my time and money.