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New year, old phone: make your smartphone feel like new again

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Over the years, smartphone quality has improved exponentially. There’s almost no need to buy a new, flashy model if you got a phone in the last few years. It’s likely that your old phone can feel like new again with a few simple hacks.

If you’re wondering what to do with an old phone, the answer is simple: keep it! With Apple, Google and Samsung prices all soaring above $1,000 for the latest phone, there’s even more reason to make do with what you’ve got.

You wouldn’t be alone in hanging onto that old phone. According to Consumer Reports “consumers have begun holding on to their cell phones for nearly three years.” People aren’t upgrading as fast as they used to. Why? As TechCrunch puts it, “manufacturers have painted themselves into a corner as they’ve battled it out over specs. There just aren’t as many compelling reasons to continually upgrade.”

We’re going to walk you through our top tips for making your current phone last longer and feel like new again.

  1. Update your operating system
  2. Get a new battery
  3. Tidy up storage
  4. Get more storage
  5. Create a new home screen (Android only)
  6. Replace your screen

Update your operating system

How to make your phone last for years? Make sure to upgrade your operating system. This will ensure you get the latest in security and bug fixes and will also add any helpful new features. If your phone won’t accept the latest update because the hardware is out of date, it might be time to get a new one.

Don’t discount refurbished phones before you look at brand new ones. You can get your hands on a newer model that costs less.

Replace your battery

When to replace cell phone battery? You’ll probably notice your phone’s battery takes a dip in performance after about two years. There are a few things you can do to extend the life of your battery, like not charging your phone too frequently. Exercising your battery is also thought to help it run efficiently longer. Exercising a battery means you let it run down to close to zero and then charge it to full.

If your battery isn’t packing its old punch and you’re fumbling for chargers everywhere you go, it might be time for a new one. Replacement services are offered at tech support shops, as well as through individual manufacturers. There will be a ton of online tutorials telling you that it’s easy to change a smartphone battery yourself, but if you’re not a confident tinkerer, there’s no harm in getting an experienced tech to perform a replacement for you.

Have you ever replaced a phone battery yourself? Let us know in the comments.

Can you replace an iPhone battery yourself?

The easiest and most reliable way to replace an iPhone battery is to go to the Apple Store. If you’re out of warranty, it will cost you, but we think it’s worth it to avoid any potential mishaps from doing it yourself.

CNET cites costs around $50-$80 for a legit repair through Apple or another support shop. The best option is probably Apple’s battery replacement service. It costs $60 for an out of warranty iPhone X and above, and $49 for an iPhone 8 Plus and below.

Delete apps you don’t use and free up storage space

Do an audit on your apps. You probably have a few downloaded that you don’t use. Every downloaded app takes up a bit of storage, so it makes sense to delete apps you don’t use. You can free up storage space by dropping your photos on a cloud-storage service. We recommend Google Photos where you can keep an unlimited number of photos for free!

Increase your storage space

Some phones, most particularly from Motorola and Samsung, let you add a microSD card to expand your internal storage. iPhone can claim five gigabytes of iCloud space free. Other than your photos, Google users can save all their photos in the cloud for free and also get 15 gigabytes of online storage in their Google Account.

You can also buy more storage from Apple or Google at relatively affordable rates.  

Create a new home screen (Android only)

If you’re an Android user and don’t like the look of your home screen or you want to switch it up, consider grabbing Nova Launcher or another Android launcher app. If you’re an iPhone user, sorry but you’re stuck with Apple’s default look.

Nova Launcher lets you customize your home screen. Check out the fresh look we gave our phone below.

old phone

Replace your actual screen

How to replace a phone screen? Similar to replacing your phone’s battery, this is something the Internet will say you can technically do on your own, but proceed with caution. It’s safer to go with the manufacturer’s recommendations and manufacturer approved repair shops.

Replacing the screen on an iPhone XS Max is totally worth it. It will cost you a few hundred dollars out of warranty, but the phone cost you over $1,000 in the first place. It might feel a bit easier to justify the added expense and think of it as an upgrade on an already expensive piece of hardware.

On an older phone, replacements start at around $100 for parts and labor. Is it worth it? That’s up to you. You can get a really good, brand new phone (screen and all) in the sub $300 range. Like the Moto G6, for instance. It’s all about considering what spend makes the most sense for you.

Have you ever replaced a phone screen? Let us know in the comments.


Looking for more old phone tips?

Discover six things you can do right now to clean your smartphone.

Got a phone you’re ready to let go of? Check out five things you can do with an old phone.

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