Phone problems? You might be able to fix them yourself. Photos from Adrien via Unsplash / Leovinus via Pixabay.
one likes a faulty smartphone. When you keep your whole life (more or
less) on a device, you need that gadget to always function properly.
Unfortunately, bugs, crashes, and other issues are inevitable,
especially as your phone gets older.
good news is many of the most common issues have relatively simple
fixes you can perform yourself. The bad news is that this will not
always be the case. If these solutions don’t do the trick, we’re sad to
tell you that you might have to take your handset to a professional
repair shop, or (gasp) upgrade to a newer model.
But before you start panicking, take a deep breath—the solution to your problem might be just a few taps away.
A Couple Faulty Apps
If your phone is
slowing down it might not be because of a general issue, but simply due
to a few bad apples. Figuring which one it is could save you a trip to
the shop and a few bucks. If it’s only a few apps, you might be able to
repair the situation by deleting the data they store on your phone.
On Android, open Settings, go to Apps & notifications, choose the troublesome app, and tap Storage & cache. Here, you have two options. First, try choosing Clear Cache
to erase only the temporary files that the app has stored on your
phone. (When these grow too numerous or become corrupted, they can mess
with the app’s speed and power.) Clearing the cache won’t mess with the
app’s settings, but it may not be enough to solve your issue.
If this doesn’t help, select Clear Data
to erase all the app’s information and start from scratch. Clearing the
data offers a more comprehensive option, but you may have to re-enter
your information afterwards, such as your username and password.
On iOS, you
won’t get the same data-clearing options. Instead, you must uninstall
and reinstall your app. Find its icon, press and hold it, and then tap Delete App
option from the drop-down menu that appears. Then find it in the App
Store and reinstall it. This will wipe all the locally stored data, and
the app will boot up from scratch. If you want to delete a bunch of apps
at once, press and hold one app and continue holding after the
drop-down menu appears. One or two seconds later, all the app icons will
start shaking and small gray X’s will appear on them. Tap the X to delete.
old uninstall-reinstall trick will also work on Android phones if the
clearing-data trick failed. From the hub or your unlocked screen, tap
and hold the app’s icon, then drag it up to the Uninstall button.
This method has the added advantage of making sure you’re running the
latest version of the app, which will have all the updated patches and
bug fixes. But if you want to get the app back, you’ll need to back up
the app data—whether it’s documents or high scores—before you jump into
uninstall-reinstall. Most apps can now store data in the cloud, but it
can’t hurt to double check.
you’re still experiencing issues with an app even after uninstalling
and reinstalling it, it might be time to do some research on whether
you’re dealing with a known problem, or contact the developer directly
with the details of what’s going on. Remember to include a thorough
description of your issue, the manufacturer, and model of the device
you’re using, plus the OS version it’s running. You can usually find
developer contact details on the app’s online listing.
What's that, Timmy? Screen froze again and you can't procrastinate homework anymore? Photo from EdZbarzhyvetsky via Depositphotos.
issues keep appearing almost at random in all kinds of apps, it’ll be
harder to pin down one root cause. Perhaps a hardware component is
failing, the device is overheating too often, or an upgrade didn’t work
correctly. But you won’t actually need to diagnose your phone to fix it.
old fallback of turning your device off and on again can sound a little
obvious, but it can easily solve a variety of problems. This works
because it clears out everything in your phone’s temporary memory, so if
a couple apps are making the whole phone go haywire, it might be enough
to get your device working again.
the phone has frozen and you can’t power it off in the normal way, try a
special hardware reset combination. To figure out just what buttons to
press and hold in order to force a reset, look up your phone’s make and
model online. You can easily find instructions for Google’s Pixel phones or Apple’s numerous iPhone models.
off-and-on-again failsafe fails, it’s time to indulge in some detective
work. Unexplained crashes can be caused by an overheating phone, so
monitor its temperature while you’re using and charging it. If it’s
often hot to the touch, the issue might lie with a faulty charger or a
battery that’s on its last legs.
lack of local storage space can also cause random bugs and crashes, so
check how much free room is left on your device. On Android, open Settings and head to Storage. On iOS, open Settings, then tap General and iPhone Storage.
If you’re running out of space, you need to make some room. Most phones
have their own way to help you free up space, but if yours doesn’t, check out our guide for it.
a last resort, you may want to consider resetting your whole phone back
to its factory settings, which means wiping off all the data and
setting it up again as if it were brand new. If the problem persists
after that, you’re probably looking at a hardware fault. To deal with
that, scroll down to the “Troubleshooting and other issues” section
Poor Battery Life
TFW you run out of battery and still aren't sure where you'll be meeting your date. Photo from Nicomenijes via Depositphotos.
some extent, everyone struggles with battery life, no matter how new
their phone is. But when your charge drops by half in just a couple
hours, you’re in trouble. This can happen when a battery gets old
and starts degrading fast. If this is the case with your phone, you
should look into getting the battery professionally replaced. This will
make sense if your phone is relatively new, but if you carry an old
handset around, you may be overdue for an upgrade. Just don’t forget to recycle your old one once you get a new one.
But before you start researching new phones, try a few tricks to maximize your battery life.
First, figure out if you can blame the battery drain on one or two
apps. In Android, you can check out how much battery each app uses in
the Apps & notifications menu, or you can check general battery usage via the Battery entry in Settings. The same path works on iOS. If you do identify a few energy hogs, remove them from your phone to see if the problem clears up.
While you’re poking around the Battery menu, you can enable battery saver mode, called Battery Saver on Androids and Low Power Mode on iPhones. Turning this on won’t fix your underlying problems, but it can give you a bit more time between charges.
extend battery life even further, at least temporarily, dim the
brightness of the display or periodically put the phone in airplane
mode. Location tracking can also drain your battery—switch it off in
Android by going to Settings, then Location, and in iOS by going to Settings > Privacy > Location Services.
Sometimes you don't even have to be in the middle of nowhere to lose cell reception. Sometimes your phone thinks your living room is the middle of nowhere. Photo from elvinstar via Deposit Photos.
phone is not always to be blamed if it’s having networking issues that
make it difficult to connect to Wi-Fi or catch a cellular signal. The
culprit could be external—maybe you are in a notorious dead spot where
no one can get any signal, or you’re at home and other devices are also
struggling to connect to the web. If this is the case, you might need to
focus your troubleshooting on something other than your handset.
call to your carrier or internet service provider—if you can bear
it—could be the next step in trying to get everything working again.
They will know more about the issues specific to your phone and service.
Alternatively, try a quick web search using the make and model of your
phone and the name of your carrier or internet provider. You might find
solutions from people who’ve had the same problem as you.
after some digging, you’ve determined that your phone is truly at
fault, start with a simple reboot. This will reset all your phone’s
wireless connections. If you’d rather not turn your phone off and on
again, try turning airplane mode on and off instead—this will have
pretty much the same effect. You can also reset all your network
settings, which will wipe out any information on your phone about Wi-Fi,
Bluetooth, and mobile data connections. In Android, go to Settings > System > Advanced > Reset options and Reset Wi-Fi, mobile and Bluetooth, then confirm your choice by tapping on Reset settings. On iOS, go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings.
persistent issues, make sure you’re running the most recent version of
your mobile operating system. This will have the latest bug fixes and be
ready to work with the latest settings from your carrier or router. If
you’ve been putting off an operating-system update, deal with it now.
both the reset and the update fail, you’ve exhausted your home-repair
options. Connectivity is one of those features that should “just work,”
so if it doesn’t, you may be looking at a faulty phone, a damaged SIM
card, or a problem with the network itself. If the issue started
suddenly, and not because you altered any settings on your phone, it’s
likely that your phone isn’t to blame. In this case, you’ll definitely
want to call the experts at your phone’s manufacturer or your service
Troubleshooting Other Phone Issues
Don't be scared—if you back up your data, a good old factory reset is nothing to be afraid of. Photo from Vadymvdrobot via Deposit Photos.
you're having problems that aren't specifically mentioned here, you
might be able to dig up some solutions online. Just be sure to choose
specific keywords that include your type of phone and the exact problem
that's plaguing it. Otherwise, you'll encounter thousands of results of
that, your last resort can be a full phone reset. This process will
return your phone back to its original factory state, so if it’s still
buggy after that, you’re probably looking at faulty or failing hardware.
Resetting a phone isn’t too difficult—just be sure to back up all your important information first, because the reset will wipe all of it.
On the most recent versions of stock Android, you’ll need to head to Settings, then tap System, Advanced, and Reset options. Hit Erase all data (factory reset)
and confirm your choice. Before the process starts, you’ll see a brief
summary of what’s going to get wiped. For more details, including some
tips on back-ups, look at Google’s official guide.
If you’re using a non-stock version of Android, the procedure might
vary slightly, but the reset option should be easy to find in Settings.
On iOS devices, you’ll need to open Settings, go to General and Reset, then tap Erase All Content and Settings. Then, you’ll need to enter your passcode or Apple ID and password to confirm your choice. Apple has a comprehensive guide on this, and another one if you want to reset your phone using iTunes on a computer.
Remember‚ you’ll need to know your Google or Apple account details to set up the phone from scratch again. And if you’ve enabled two-step verification on your accounts,
you’ll need a backup method for verifying your identity—something that
doesn’t involve your recently-wiped phone. It might sound like a fiddly
process, but it won’t take too much time. Ultimately, the factory reset
is the most comprehensive option for fixing a range of persistent device
bugs and issues.