How to fix the most common smartphone issues

6 min read

How to fix the most common smartphone issues

No one likes a broken smartphone. When you store your whole life (more or less) on a device, you need that gadget to always function properly. Unfortunately, bugs, crashes, and other problems are inevitable, especially as your phone gets older.

The good news is that many of the most common problems have relatively simple fixes that you can do yourself. The bad news is this doesn’t always happen. If this solution does not work, we sadly inform you that you may have to take the handset to a professional workshop, or (gasp) upgrade to a newer model.

How to fix the most common smartphone issues

But before you start to panic, take a deep breath—the solution to your problem may be just a few taps.

Some wrong apps

If your phone slows down, it may not be due to a common problem, but simply because some apples are bad. Determine which one can save you a trip to the store and a few dollars. If only a few apps, you may be able to fix the situation by deleting the data they store on your phone.

On Android, go to Settings , open Apps & notifications , select the affected app, and tap Storage & cache . Here, you have two options. First, try selecting Clear Cache to only delete temporary files that the app store on your phone. (When these multiply or become corrupted, they can disrupt the speed and power of the application.) Clearing the cache won’t mess up your app’s settings, but it may not be enough to solve your problem.

If this doesn’t help, select Clear Data to delete all app information and start over. Deleting data offers more comprehensive options, but you may have to re-enter your information afterwards, such as your username and password.

On iOS, you won’t get the same data cleanup option. Instead, you’ll need to uninstall and reinstall your app. Find the icon, press and hold it, then tap the Remove App option from the drop-down menu that appears. Then find it in the App Store and reinstall it. This will delete all data stored locally, and the application will boot from scratch. If you want to delete multiple apps at once, press and hold one app and hold it after the drop-down menu appears. A second or two later, all the app icons will start vibrating and a small gray X will appear on it. Tap the X to delete.

The old uninstall-reinstall trick will also work on Android phones if the data cleanup trick fails. From your unlocked hub or screen, tap and hold the app icon, then drag it up to the Uninstall button. This method has the added advantage of making sure you run the latest version of the app, which will have all the patches and bug fixes updated. But if you want to get the app back, you’ll need to back up your app data — whether it’s a document or a high score — before you switch to uninstall. Most apps can now store data in the cloud, but it doesn’t take a while to double-check.

If you’re still having problems with an app even after uninstalling and reinstalling it, it may be time to do some research on whether you’re dealing with a known issue, or directly contact the developer with details about what’s going on. Remember to include a comprehensive description of your issue, the manufacturer, and the device model you’re using, plus the OS version it’s running. You can usually find developer contact details in the app’s online list.

Widespread bugs

If common problems continue to appear almost randomly across all types of applications, it will be more difficult to find one major cause. Maybe the hardware component failed, the device overheats, or the update does not work correctly. But you actually don’t need to diagnose your phone to fix it.

The old return from turning off and restarting your device may sound a little obvious, but it can easily solve various problems. This works because it erases everything in your phone’s temporary memory, so if some apps make your entire phone damaged, it might be enough to make your device work again.

If your phone is stuck and you can’t turn it off the usual way, try a custom hardware reset combination. To find out what buttons to press and hold to force a reset, search for your phone’s brand and model online. You can easily find instructions for Google Pixel phones or various Apple iPhone models.

If it fails to die-and-again fail, it’s time to enjoy some detective work. Unexplained damage can be caused by your phone overheating, so monitor its temperature when you use and charge. If it often feels hot to the touch, the problem may lie with the faulty charger or the battery on its last leg.

A lack of local storage space can also cause random bugs and crashes, so check how much free space is left on your device. On Android, go to Settings and go to Storage. On iOS, go to Settings , then tap iPhone General and Storage . If you run out of space, you need to create some space. Most phones have their own way to help you free up space, but if yours isn’t, check out our guide to it.

As a last resort, you may want to consider resetting your entire phone back to factory settings, which means deleting all data and setting it up again as if it were new. If the problem persists after that, you may see a hardware error. To resolve this, scroll down to the “Troubleshooting and other issues” section below.

Poor battery life

To some extent, everyone struggles with battery life, no matter how new their phone is. But when your bill drops by half in just a few hours, you’re in trouble. This can happen if the battery gets old and starts to break down quickly. If this is the case with your phone, you should look for ways to replace the battery professionally. This will make sense if your phone is relatively new, but if you bring an old handset, you may be late for an upgrade. Don’t forget to recycle the old one once you get a new one.

But before you start looking for a new phone, try some tricks to maximize your battery life. First, find out if you can blame the drained battery on one or two apps. On Android, you can check how much battery each app uses in the Apps & notifications menu, or you can check battery usage in general through the Battery entry in Settings. The same path works on iOS. If you identify some energy pigs, remove them from your phone to see if the problem is resolved.

When you browse the Battery menu, you can turn on battery saver mode, called Battery Saver on Android and Low Power Mode on your iPhone. Enabling this won’t fix your underlying problems, but it can give you more time between charging.

To extend battery life even further, at least temporarily, dim the screen brightness or set the phone periodically in airplane mode. Location tracking can also drain your battery—turn it off on Android by going to Settings, then Location, and on iOS by going to Settings > Privacy > Location Services .

Poor reception

Your phone isn’t always to blame if you run into network issues that make it difficult to connect to Wi-Fi or capture cellular signals. The culprit may be from the outside—maybe you’re at a notorious dead spot where no one can get a signal, or you’re at home and other devices are also having trouble connecting to the web. If this is the case, you may need to focus your troubleshooting on something other than your phone.

A call to your carrier or internet service provider — if you can hold it — can be the next step to trying to make it all work again. They’ll know more about specific issues for your phone and services. Alternatively, try searching the web quickly using your phone’s brand and model and the name of your carrier or internet provider. You may find solutions from people who have experienced the same problem as you.

If, after some digging, you’ve determined that your phone is completely wrong, start with a simple reboot. This will reset all wireless connections of your phone. If you prefer not to turn your phone off and on again, try turning airplane mode on and off — this will have more or less the same effect. You can also reset all your network settings, which will delete all the information on your phone about Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular data connections. On Android, go to Settings > System > Advanced > Reset options and Reset Wi-Fi, cellular and Bluetooth , then confirm your options by tapping Reset settings. On iOS, go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings .

For persistent issues, make sure you’re running the latest version of your mobile operating system. It will have the latest bug fixes and is ready to work with the latest settings from your carrier or router. If you have delayed the operating system update, top it now.

If the reset and update fail, you have run out of home repair options. Connectivity is one of the features that should “work”, so if not, you may see the wrong phone, a damaged SIM card, or a problem with the network itself. If the problem starts suddenly, and not because you changed any settings on your phone, chances are your phone can’t be blamed. In this case, you’ll want to contact an expert at your phone manufacturer or service provider.

Troubleshoot other phone issues

If you experience a problem that is not mentioned specifically here, you may be able to dig into some solutions online. Be sure to choose specific keywords that include your phone type and the real issues that bother it. Otherwise, you’ll find thousands of results with varying relevance.

In addition, your last option is to reset your phone completely. This process will return your phone to its original factory state, so if it’s still a problem after that, you may see damaged or failed hardware. Resetting your phone isn’t too difficult —be sure to back up all your important information first— because resetting will delete everything.

In the latest version of Android stock, you’ll need to go to Settings , then tap System Options , Advanced , and Reset . Press Clear all data (factory reset) and confirm your selection. Before the process starts, you’ll see a quick summary of what to remove. For more details, including some tips on backups, see Google’s official guide. If you’re using a non-stock version of Android, the procedure may be slightly different, but the reset option should be easy to find in Settings.

On your iOS device, you’ll need to go to Settings , go to General and Reset , then tap Delete All Content and Settings . You’ll then need to enter your passcode or Apple ID and password to confirm your choice. Apple has a complete guide to this, and another if you want to reset your phone using iTunes on your computer.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to know your Google or Apple account details to set up your phone from scratch again. And if you’ve enabled two-step verification on your account, you’ll need a backup method to verify your identity —something that doesn’t involve your recently deleted phone. This may sound like a complicated process, but it won’t take much time. Ultimately, factory reset is the most comprehensive option to fix various persistent device bugs and problems.


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