How to make your old phone last

By performing a few simple checks, you can extend the life of your phone – and save yourself the cost of buying a new one.

It’s that time of year again, when the tech giants roll out their latest model smartphones.

And it’s usually just an incremental upgrade for a monumental price, making the case for rushing out to buy the latest model weaker each year.

Of course, if your phone is damaged, running excessively slow or running an out-of-date operating system then you should consider a new phone.

Read: What is ‘planned obsolescence’?

But if none of that applies, you can extend the life of your phone by years with just a few simple steps, according to Nicole Nguyen, tech columnist for The Wall Street Journal.

Check software compatibility
Make sure your phone is running the latest version of its operating system. Currently, iPhones should be using iOS 15 and Android phones should be running Android 12.

For iPhones, open your Settings app and tap General, and then Software Update. The phone will then automatically check to see if you’re running the latest version and prompt you to download it if you aren’t.

For Android phones, checking which version you’re on can differ slightly by phone model. But the most common method is to open your phone’s Settings app, then select About Phone or About Device and then Android Version. You are usually given the option to upgrade here. 

These updates come with critical security and bug fixes, as well as performance optimisations. Running the latest software can make old devices feel new again.

Assess your charging situation
Today’s phones use lithium-ion batteries, which will naturally decay over time. The way you charge your phone can speed up this process.

A common misconception is that you should run your phone down to zero per cent battery then charge it back to 100 per cent. But this can cause a chemical reaction in the battery that begins to limit the battery’s capacity.

As a general rule, aim to keep your phone between 15 and 80 per cent charge.

Read: Eight tips to save money when shopping online

Most phones today have apps that monitor and improve battery life as well. If you have an iPhone, go to Settings, then Battery and finally Battery Health. In this menu, enable Optimised Battery Charging to get even more juice out of your older phone.

Again, Android phones will differ slightly by model, but most phones will have a Battery app that will let you control battery settings. For example, on a Samsung Galaxy, go to Settings, then Battery and Device Care, Battery, More Battery Settings and finally Protect Battery.

This setting will limit your phone’s charge to 85 per cent, which will extend your phone’s battery life but leave you with shorter times between charges.

Check to see if you’re being artificially slowed
Apple has admitted that it intentionally slows older iPhone models. The tech giant says aged batteries in older phones are prone to shutting down at random times. Apple says it has worked out an algorithm to reduce performance to protect the electronic components inside.

Read: What to look for when buying a laptop

Historically, Android phones have not been limited artificially in the same way. But earlier this year, reports emerged that hundreds of Samsung Galaxy apps on older devices were now subject to ‘performance limits’ after a recent update.

If you find your older phone model is being slowed, there isn’t anything you can do to improve that, and it may be time to consider a new phone.

Use protection
It may seem obvious, but buying some extra physical protection for your phone can prevent it from being damaged and ending its life prematurely.

There are thousands of different types of phone covers, screen protectors and phone holders available that can keep your phone safe.

Have you been thinking of buying a new phone? Or could you possibly hold on to the one you have now? Let us know in the comments section below.

Written by Brad Lockyer

Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.

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