Apple typically releases its next-generation iPhone in September of each year, sparking a nationwide effort in the months ahead for users to hold on to their dying, dwindling devices for as long as possible before upgrading.
It's not just a matter of wanting the newest toy from Apple; the shelf-life of smartphones is typically low, between 18 and 24 months. This means devices start to lag, shut down unexpectedly and do other funky things after about two years (not to mention mobile technology quickly becomes obsolete as new software and hardware hits the market).
So if you're trying to get the most out of your device before the iPhone 6 makes its debut, here are a few tips to consider. Most are related to preserving battery life, which is the biggest culprit in aging phones. But by making a few small changes, you should be able to squeeze in a little more time with your ailing phone.
1. Check under the hood
First, see how hard your device is working and what takes up the most space. You may be surprised to see how many apps and services are running in real time, even when you're not using them. Visit Settings > General > Usage and check out which apps are hogging memory.
Then go ahead and make sure you're running the latest version of iOS 7, just to be sure you have the latest security updates.
2. Uninstall apps you don't use
You've probably collected dozens of apps over the years that you rarely or never use, and each one is taking up valuable space. Get rid of them. By deleting apps and the data that is housed within, your mobile phone's processor won't have to work as hard. Think of it like this: Once you clean up the clutter on the floor of your house, it's easier to walk around. The same concept works with smartphones.
Apps that aren't running won't make your processor slow down, but by getting rid of ones you aren't using, you can save yourself from accidentally starting an app that might suck up more juice than necessary.
3. Turn off location-tracking apps
Many apps — from Google Maps to Twitter to your camera to especially Facebook — are tracking your location at all times. You can turn off Location Services completely (Settings > Privacy > Location Services) or disable certain apps, one by one. We recommend the latter option, so you can still leave on key location-based functions such as Find My Phone if it's ever lost. Even if you don't want to turn off all location-tracking on apps, Facebook is a huge offender here in sucking up your battery life. Shut it down.
4. Turn off background app refresh
The Background App Refresh is set to "on" in iOS 7, and it's likely snapping up hours of precious running time. The feature lets apps run in the background while you multitask and continually refreshes content when running on Wi-Fi or a cellular network. To disable this feature, visit Settings > General > Background App Refresh. Here, you can turn off the entire function or just disable that apps you don't need to refresh on an automatic basis.
5. Turn off Fetch
Some users elect to keep the "Fetch" button on to retrieve emails and calendar updates automatically. Visit Settings > Mail, Contacts and Calendars > Fetch New Data and make sure "manually" is selected. The iPhone will have to work less without continually looking for updates.
6. Additional battery life
Manufacturers like Mophie have built-in battery cases that can be switched on when you're low on juice. You can also invest in portable phone charger key chains, USB sticks and standalone batteries to keep in your bag for when you need them most. Charging your phone while in airplane mode will also reportedly help speed up the charging process.
7. Airplane mode
Speaking of Airplane Mode, users can make the most of this feature when in low-coverage areas or if you want to preserve battery life without powering down.
8. Update when you can
Apple periodically pushes out updates to fix bugs and glitches, and while you might be afraid to download the new software with an aging device, it could be a smart move — as long as the device supports the upgrade. Apple updates will tell you if devices (such as iPhone 4S and higher) can take the upgrade and it might just be the fix you need.
9. Do a hard restart
When your iPhone is running especially slow, do a hard restart. Sometimes restarting your device will flush out wonkiness and even free up space; you can also reset the phone to the factory settings, but you'll want to move all your data to the cloud ahead of time.
While these tips will help your iPhone hang on until you're ready for an upgrade, it's also wise to recognize when it's time to say goodbye. If your phone really isn't making the cut, visit your local Apple store (or Best Buy, or other companies with a trade-in policy) and see if the retailer will offer any money for its parts. You can use the credit toward a new one that will work much better — at least, of course, for another 18 to 24 months.
Tags: APPS, APPS AND SOFTWARE, BATTERY LIFE, GADGETS, IPHONE 5, IPHONE 5S, MOBILE, Tech