Calling all cell phone users: 5 tips and tricks

Many of today's cell phones include digital still and video cameras, personal digital assistants, and even Internet browsers and e-mail programs. Yet as much as we rely on them, cell phones are among the most fragile electronic items out there.

Calling all cell phone users: 5 tips and tricks

1. Protect your cell phone

Here are some ways you can prevent your cell phone from winding up in the repair shop:

  • Never leave your home or office without placing your cell phone on a belt clip or inside a protective case. Don't place it unprotected in your pocket or inside a purse. In addition to the risk of impact damage, an unsecured phone is easier for pickpockets to steal.
  • When travelling by plane, always include your cell phone in your carry-on luggage. Packing it with your checked luggage is the best way to find a broken phone when you arrive at your destination.
  • If you use your cell phone while driving, be sure to use it hands-free and be in line with the relevant laws in your province.

2. Reinforce a carrying case

  • You can convert a regular shoulder bag or knapsack into a padded carrier for your laptop, tablet, cell phone, or other peripheral gear by cutting pieces of upholstery foam to line the inside of the bag.
  • The foam, available at fabric stores, is easy to cut with scissors. Before you start, though, place the notebook, for example, inside the bag and take note of how much room is left.
  • You want the computer to compress the foam for a snug fit, but you also want to be able to slip the computer in easily. 

3. Don’t put off buying extra batteries

  • The only way to make sure your cell phone will always have adequate power is to purchase a few extra batteries for it (this also applies to tablets and laptops).
  • If you hope to stock up on extra batteries, however, the best time to buy them is when you purchase your portable gear or shortly thereafter.
  • Given the rapid turnover rate in most manufacturers' product lines, it may be difficult to find a replacement battery for some models as little as two years after you make your purchase.
  • Also, always make sure you fully charge all of your batteries just before you travel…and don't forget to pack your charger.

4. Cleaning your cell phone

  • Like every other phone, your cell phone will require the occasional cleaning and disinfecting. Never use abrasives or strong chemicals to clean your phone.
  • Instead, wipe it down with a soft cloth dampened with a bit of isopropyl alcohol.
  • Take care not to touch the display screen (LCD or liquid crystal display) with the damp cloth; it can leave streaks or damage any protective coating on the screen.
  • If you need to clean the screen, wipe it with a soft, dry cloth or use any cleaning cloth supplied by the phone's manufacturer.

5. Patching a cracked cell screen

  • If you get a small crack on your cell phone's display screen, but it still works fine, try covering the crack with transparent tape or the stronger clear packaging tape.
  • This should prevent the crack from spreading and keep the panel from popping out.
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