Are you hooked on your smart phone? Do you take it from room to room, when you get out of the car, even if it’s going into the store for a two-minute errand? If you are, then you should want to know how to care for this most treasured companion.

Here are some basic tips and tricks:

When you go to the beach this summer, avoid getting sand in your phone. This might seem obvious, but:

1. You’d be surprised how often this happens; and,

2. There are other less-apparent aspects of smart-phone ownership that seem to elude many users.

Your smart phone’s two most important parts are the screen and battery—these are what you must care for and invest time and (small) resources in.


Smart-phone screens are stronger and more durable than before, but that doesn’t mean they cannot get scratched. Take care of the screen—this may be the single-most important piece of advice in this column. Don’t use clothing, paper towels or tissues to clean your screen. They leave residue and can—in the long run—ruin your phone. Instead, invest about $10 (at Amazon or other vendors) and buy what’s called Optical Microfiber cloths. They’re made with a type of material that doesn’t cling to or scratch the surface. Whatever the manufacturer tells you about their phone’s new glass, don’t believe you can get away without cleaning your screen on a regular basis. And please don’t use rubbing alcohol, bleach, glass cleaner, etc. The best way to take care of your screen is with the Optical Microfiber cloths. Also, when you clean, get a can of compressed air, specially made for electronics that you can pick up in any office-supply store.

In addition to cleaning your screen, consider screen protectors and cases. Sure, both screen protectors and cases are overpriced in a ridiculous way, but consider that your smart phone is an investment and one you want to protect. Bite the sour apple and get a good case. It will save you money in the long run. Many cases come with screen protectors. If they don’t buy one and replace it every three to four months.


Without a functioning battery, your phone is just a weight in your purse or pocket.

Keep your phone charged between 40 and 80 percent at all times. Don’t let it go down to zero, or even less than 10 percent. And don’t let it charge overnight, as it may overcharge. Electricity is one of the battery foes, another is heat. Do not leave the phone out in the summer heat! This may seem obvious, but again, you would not believe…

How do I save on battery usage?

• Enable Wi-Fi, whenever possible.

• Turn off push notifications (this is when you get unsolicited messages, etc.).

• Turn off GPS mode when you are not using it. This is a power drain like you wouldn’t believe.

• Set your brightness to ‘automatic.’

• Email: Don’t have your phone automatically check for new emails every two minutes. You are not that popular. Make it every 30 minutes? If you need to check it more often, do it manually.

• Your apps are power hogs. At least on the smartphone I am using (Galaxy S4), there are ways to check out how much power the various apps are using. Disable or uninstall apps you are not using!


Don’t get your phone wet. Someone I know put their phone in the pocket of their swimsuit and walked into a pool. No, the warranty didn’t cover that.

If your phone gets damp, open up the back cover and remove the battery as quickly as possible. Wipe off the phone and the battery, and carefully wipe down earphones and the charge port. Place the phone in a dark and dry spot and let it sit for at least 48 hours. You also can place it in rice, which absorbs moisture.

There is extra coverage you can get from third-party insurance vendors that may cover accidental drops, spills and submersion. Of course, avoiding getting them wet is the best policy.


My editors and I discussed the theme of this column almost as a joke, but, as mentioned, this really happens. Should it happen to you, then (gently) try a small paintbrush and use pressurized air to clean it. Of course, a robust case covering your phone is the best guarantee against this calamity.

Be careful out there, and enjoy the summer!

Longtime computer trainer, writer and editor Richard Gavatin can be reached at

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