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Tech Matters: Common iPhone performance myths busted

By Leslie Meredith - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Oct 5, 2022

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Leslie Meredith

One of the first things I do when my mother comes to visit is to do an iPhone check: Does she have any questions or things that are causing her trouble? As she hands over her phone, I quickly close all of her open apps, some 20 or more, reminding her that she’ll save battery life if she closes apps at the end of the day. Wrong.

I recently found out that closing apps ends up using more processing power and battery because the apps must be completely reopened the next time you want to use them. If you leave them alone, the apps will either already be open in the background, ready to go, or suspended — a midway point between open and closed.

Apple deserves the credit for designing multitasking to do most of the work for you. In other words, leave it alone. Your iPhone will suspend apps when necessary to allocate memory to other apps and tasks. That’s why sometimes an app you’ve used before is still ready to go, while at other times it needs to refresh. But refreshing an app is less resource intensive than opening it for the first time.

Think of closing apps in the same way as you would force quit a program on your computer. You force quit when a program has frozen or otherwise is behaving erratically. The same goes for apps: swipe up to close them only when they’ve run amok.

This eye opener got me thinking about other widely held beliefs about our phones that just aren’t true, so here are a few more to consider.

Burying your phone in a bag of rice after it’s gotten wet is a common remedy, but one that doesn’t work and can damage your phone. Rice cannot effectively absorb water from the air, leaving any liquid inside your phone to do its damage. If you’ve dropped your phone in water, first turn it off and then dry it with an absorbent cloth or paper towels. Place your phone in a zip-loc bag and add a couple of silica gel packets, the type that often come in a box of new shoes. (You can also buy them on Amazon for $8.52 for a pack of 100, a smart purchase to have on hand.) Press out the air and seal your bag. Let it rest for at least three days. Hopefully, you will end up with a working phone. Note that Apple’s warranty does not cover liquid damage; you’ll have to be an AppleCare+ subscriber to qualify for repairs.

There are so many myths surrounding the right way to charge your device, including not letting your iPhone charge overnight. Rest easy, there is no danger in keeping your phone plugged in for as long as you’re asleep. This is an old issue that was fixed by Apple a number of years ago with a chip that prevents your phone from overcharging. But managing the charge and keeping it below 100% can extend the life of your phone’s battery.

You can be proactive about your phone’s battery by using Optimized Battery Charging. When the feature is active, your iPhone will delay charging past 80%, but only in specific situations. It will learn about your day-to-day charging routine to do this by recording when you use your phone and when you charge it. So if you plug it in to charge at bedtime, your phone will charge to 80%, stop, and then wait until just before your alarm goes off to finish charging. Optimized Battery Charging is available on all iPhones running iOS 13 (released in 2019) or later. To turn it on, go into “Settings,” scroll down to “Battery” and then tap on “Battery Health.” Scroll down to “Optimized Battery Charging” and toggle it on.

And yes, you can use your phone while it’s plugged into a charger. This may cause it to charge a bit slower, but no harm will come of it. Lastly, the thought that letting your phone go all the way down to zero charge is better for your battery is false. It’s much easier on the battery to give it regular, small charges.

Leslie Meredith has been writing about technology for more than a decade. As a mom of four, value, usefulness, and online safety take priority. Have a question? Email Leslie at asklesliemeredith@gmail.com


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