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How to Extend the Life of Your Phone

by Natasha Stokes on August 30, 2023

Updated by Suzanne Kantra on 8/30/2023 with current self-repair availability and OS upgrade information.

Are you looking to save money by holding onto that phone you've already paid off? You're not alone. In recent years, Americans have been bucking the trend of switching to a new phone every couple of years, in part due to the rising costs and minor improvements in flagship phones. Here are the easy ways to extend the life of your smartphone.

1. Fix your smartphone

While 44 percent of people would prefer replacing a broken phone to fixing it, according to an Asurion survey, getting your phone repaired is easier than ever. Currently, there are 20 states with Right to Repair laws, which require manufacturers to make information, tools, and parts available to third-party repair shops and even consumers. Apple opened a Self Service Repair Store last year, where consumers can learn about repairing their iPhones and purchase repair kits. And for Samsung Galaxy S20, S21, and S22 series phones, you can buy self-repair kits to fix issues with the screen, back glass, and ports at iFixit and Samsung retail stores.

Even if you're not interested in fixing your phone yourself, there are more third-party repair options.

2. Replace the battery

A new battery is the most effective way to breathe new life into an older smartphone. Batteries come with a certain number of charge cycles – one cycle going from fully charged to fully discharged – and as it runs through more of these cycles, a battery becomes less efficient at delivering charge. Swapping out your battery every two years helps with the device's longevity. Getting the battery replaced at a repair shop is a straightforward task that usually costs under $100. Many phone insurance plans will cover the cost of battery replacement if the maximum battery capacity dips below 85 percent of the original capacity.

3. Protect your screen

Along with the battery, a smartphone screen is the component most likely to fail – and one of the pricier ones to repair. Expect to shell out up to $399 for iPhone screen replacement and Samsung Galaxy screens at authorized repair centers – though if you feel up to the challenge, iFixit offers screen replacement guides for the most popular devices.

For a cheap, easy fix, invest in a good shock-absorbing case for your phone and a screen protector instead.

4. Repair damage immediately

If you end up cracking the screen, repair it as soon as possible, even if you can make out enough of the display to go about your daily business. It's not just a cosmetic issue. The longer you wait to repair, the more dirt, oil, and debris can penetrate the cracks and compromise your phone’s internal components.

Speediness also applies to other damage, such as dropping a phone that's not water-resistant into water. While you may be able to make your phone operational again by drying it out in a bowl of uncooked rice, water vapor can remain, causing damage down the road. Repair shops can take your phone apart and dry and clean it.

5. Clean your ports

Keeping your smartphone clean can go a long way towards recreating that like-new feeling. The charging port is one common area that attracts dirt that could compromise device operation. If you keep your phone in your pocket, the charging port can become clogged by lint. Cleaning out the debris with a toothpick is a quick, easy fix. And you can use a soft-bristled brush to clean out your phone's speaker grilles. Make sure you're brushing at an angle to flick away the debris so you're not just shoving it further into the speaker.

The same goes for dirt or sand getting into your smartphone case – remove your phone from its case every so often and wipe it down. You can use a microfiber cloth like the MagicFiber Microfiber Cleaning Cloths ($5.99), lightly dampened with a 50/50 mix of water and distilled white vinegar to remove grease and smudges.

6. Pay attention to storage

General maintenance matters – if your smartphone has started slowing down, the first thing to troubleshoot is the amount of storage you have available. To keep your phone running smoothly, we recommend keeping about 20 percent of your storage free. If you're low on space, check out our story How to Free up Space on Your iPhone and Android Phone.

7. Reset your device

If clearing out your smartphone fails to restore its performance, its software may be corrupted, perhaps through downloaded apps. Try a factory reset that erases all content – including passwords and accounts. A reset helps by allowing you to reinstall the operating system fresh, giving it a nearly out-of-the-box speed and slickness. Back up your phone first to ensure you don't lose any data.

For iPhones, you can find the factory reset option under Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.

For Android phones, head to Settings > System > Advanced > Reset options > Erase all data (factory reset). For Samsung phones, head to Settings > General management > Reset > Factory data reset.

When it's time to pass on your old phone

It is often the operating system that makes older smartphones feel their age. iOS 16 runs on iPhones sold in 2017, including the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, and Samsung announced that they will support Android OS updates for four years for their latest Galaxy models. Although iOS and Android OS updates technically support devices, certain apps – and OS updates themselves – can prove too power-hungry for previous years’ specs.

[Image credit: closeup of phone in hand via BigStockPhoto]

Natasha Stokes has been a technology writer for more than 10 years covering consumer tech issues, digital privacy and cybersecurity. As the features editor at TOP10VPN, she covered online censorship and surveillance that impact the lives of people around the world. Her work has also appeared on NBC News, BBC Worldwide, CNN, Time and Travel+Leisure.


Tips & How-Tos, Phones and Mobile, Cell Phones

Discussion loading


From Susan on October 05, 2019 :: 2:02 pm

I love the idea of this but am totally unaware of where I would take my phone to replace a battery or repair it for whatever reason other than an Apple Store (iPhone).



From Ron Ablang on September 02, 2023 :: 11:14 pm

Best Buy is an authorized repair center for iPhones and Samsungs.



From Minar bishal on September 25, 2020 :: 1:02 am

Hello, my name is minar bishal. your blog and presentation are very attractive. I like the way you present it.



From Arvind Harit on November 06, 2020 :: 10:10 am

I Think Samsung galaxy S20 Is also good. Everything is good in this smartphone,    but the size which is about 6.2 inches little big for me. Also Samsung has improved its sound quality in samsung galaxy S20 with 32-bit of 384kHz audio, which is good for a user. I also want to buy smartphone of galaxy S20 this month. BUT I am waiting for those future phones having 3d or 4d technology :D

Thanks for sharing such a nice information.



From on April 01, 2022 :: 8:05 pm

Hi, I would like to get the battery checked out, it’s never been done before. I assume this should make things better. The only thing that concerns me is the cost to replace like battery, $100.00 is a lot of money being on a fixed income doesn’t allow me to be cairless. Is there any way to lower the cost?


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