How to delay the purchase of a new cell phone

Prolonging the Life of Your Cell Phone

by Teena Stewart

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Cell Phone Sanity

Many mobile phone companies are touting new cell phones with increased bells and whistles, but these new features often come at a higher price. If purchasing a new phone isn't in your budget, you might consider some ways to prolong the life of your current cell phone. When I began having trouble with my cell phone (it was shutting itself off), I took it in to be serviced. The representative who waited on me told me it was most likely the battery and that I needed a new one. They didn't have the battery in stock so I ordered it and was stunned at the cost, which was $40 if I remember right. $40 for a battery? Ouch.

The phone company representative also told me ideas for prolonging the life of my phone. First, the battery will last longer if you only recharge it when it needs a full charge. Charging phones that have only been used a few hours weakens your battery.

Second, sometimes phones act up because the battery is dirty. Take out your phone's battery and clean the contacts and the battery opening. When I arrived home that day, I took out my phone's battery and did just that. It acted fine afterwards. Unfortunately, I had already paid for a new battery.

Third, never use your phone while it's charging. It's not good for the phone.

We've all heard horror stories of people losing technological devices in water, and with today's small, lighter weight cell phone, this remains a hazard. I can't tell you the number of people I know who have dropped their phones in toilets or have gotten them wet. If you plan to be anywhere near water (washing a car, relaxing near a lake or pool, or even using a restroom), make sure to secure your cell phone first. Don't assume that just because it's in your pocket, it can't drop out or get wet. Take your phone out of your pocket and put it in a safe place first.

And finally, don't assume a waterlogged phone is ruined. A friend who accidentally dumped her phone in water salvaged it after putting the phone on a cookie sheet in a 200-degree oven overnight. When my phone fell into a toilet, several people suggested I try the rice method for drying it out. I took this advice when I got home, pouring a bag of rice into a bowl and nestling the cell phone inside it. Twenty-four hours later, the phone had dried out enough for me to boot it up and use it. It's worked ever since.

Sometimes, despite taking good care of your phone, you are ready for something new. If you are considering upgrading a phone, be aware that some wireless companies will include a free phone upgrade or a steep discount if you sign contract extension. Technology is constantly being updated, and though the electronic tablets do not yet have phone capability, it is just a matter of time before they do. Some phones like the Apple iPhone and the Dell Streak have tablet capabilities, but with prices between $500 and $600, they are not cheap. However, if you are thinking about buying a tablet, it may be worth your money to opt for such a phone because you will get both a phone packed with many different programs including a tablet for the price of one.

Most cell phone companies offer upgrades every year and a half or so. So, whether you choose to trade yours in or retain the phone you have, you will want to keep your phone in the best condition possible. With a little care and precaution, you can extend the life of your cell phone. Of course, if you're as accident prone as some people I know, you may need to burrow your phone in a feather pillow and then place it in a water-tight vault.

Teena Stewart is a published author and artist. Her latest book Benevolence: Ministering to the Poor and Needy is available through Beacon Hill. To find out more,

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