We pick up our smartphones an average of 52 times per day, studies suggest. Each time the screen comes to life, we expect quick action. We tap, poke, and prod to make that happen. And when things don't work as expected, part of our brain starts shopping.
Should we ditch the old phone for a new one? Or should we hope that the issue is temporary?
There are three basic types of phone problems, and some are more serious than others. Knowing how they happen and what you can do should help you make a good choice concerning replacement or repair.
3 Common iPhone Problems
It's easy enough to break your iPhone. Drop it in the pool, run it over with your car, or throw it at the wall and you'll expect a dip in performance (and you probably deserve that issue if you're honest with yourself). But sometimes, performance problems have nothing at all to do with you and your habits.
It's not uncommon for iPhone users to experience one of these three issues:
Glitches: Anything unusual concerning performance is typically considered a "glitch." Flickering screens, apps opening spontaneously, phones turning on and off, and buttons growing all fit into this category.
Short battery life: Batteries don't last forever. The more we drain and recharge them, the worse they perform. When your battery has reached the end of its useful life, it needs to spend more time on the charger and less time doing what you want it to do.
Apple doesn't consider this a fault. In fact, the company states clearly that their batteries will fail with regular use. Apple even made the (catastrophic) decision to throttle back performance on older phones, so users put less strain on their already-taxed batteries.
Slowness: What does it mean when Apple throttles performance to save battery life? Your phone gets a lot slower. Apps take longer to load, it's harder to switch between screens, and it takes time to complete tasks. If you've ever spent long minutes just waiting for your phone to do something (anything!), you've experienced a slowness issue.
We want our phones to do work, and when they don't, it's reasonable to start thinking about an upgrade. There are pros and cons to that decision.
Should You Sell Your iPhone?
Your iPhone isn't a throwaway product. Even if newer phones come with more bells, whistles, and perks, your old phone is still valuable to someone, somewhere. It could even be valuable to you if you play your cards just right.
Analysts writing for Fortune point out that iPhones hold their value better than almost any other cellphone brand out there. In fact, the iPhone X is setting records for resale value. Even if you don't want your phone anymore, someone else might be glad to have it.
But the age of your phone plays a major role in the size of the check you'll get when you sell your phone. Research suggests that most iPhone models drop 25 percent of value when a new model hits the marketplace. Why should consumers buy something old when they can have something new?
The condition of your phone also plays a role. Performance problems combined with these issues could be a deal-breaker for buyers:
- Cracked screen
- Water exposure
- Missing parts (like cables)
- Dented cases
- Scuffs and scratches
If your phone is relatively new and in pristine condition aside from a few small performance problems, you could get a big payday when you decide to sell. But you'll need to take a few important steps to ensure you get the money you've been hoping for.
What Should You Do First?
Whether you're hoping to keep your phone or sell it, you should get to the bottom of a performance problem. Fixing your phone could buy you time while you shop for a replacement, and your buyers are likely to pay more when you can hand them a handset that actually works.
Start by addressing software problems.
- Perform a hard restart. On most iPhone models, that means holding down the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button at the same time. When the Apple logo pops up, release those buttons and see if the problem persists.
- Plug your phone into your computer. If you've installed iTunes on your computer, you have fix-it tools at your fingertips. Open your phone within the iTunes program, and click Update.
- Perform a factory reset. Some pesky apps and bugs make your phone upset. Head to the Settings section of your phone, and click on General, and then Reset. Make sure you've backed up your important data, as you'll lose all of it when you take this step.
If the problem persists, check your warranty. Apple has one of the best consumer warranties in the business, and some hardware and software problems are best resolved with a little help from the experts.
Find your phone's serial number (it's usually on the back beneath the Apple logo), and go to this page. Tap the digits into the box, and you'll find out whether you’re covered. If you are, you can take your phone to a Genius Bar.
In-person Apple support is best, as you'll have the chance to hear Apple's diagnosis and proposed solution. Technicians will sometimes find hidden problems that come with a big repair price tag, and it's best to get that data before you're hit with a big bill.
But if you're nowhere near an authorized repair shop, you can send your phone to Apple for repair. Just be prepared to spend several days without your precious device while the team makes adjustments.
Next, think about your battery. Many of the items we've discussed here stem from old, tired batteries. If you've taken your handset to Apple for help, the team is likely to check your performance and pop a new battery in for you. But if you've gone the DIY route and still have problems, your battery could be to blame.
You can go to third-party companies for help with a new battery, but be sure to do your homework first. As The New York Times explains, it's not unusual for shops to stock up on cheaply made batteries that give out quickly. You won't notice a problem until weeks later when it's too late to ask for a refund. If you're not getting a battery from Apple, make sure you're working with a company you can trust.
Don't Live With Glitches
When your phone's performance is less than ideal, you have choices. You can fix them by yourself or with the help of Apple, or you can trade up to a new device that doesn't have these same problems.
Either way, you'll end up with a phone that works better than it does now. And that's what you really want, right?
Study Reveals How Often We Look at Our Phones in a Day. (November 2018). Brain Sharper.
iPhone Battery and Power Repair. Apple.
iPhone Battery and Performance. Apple.
Batterygate: How Apple Secretly Slowed Down Older Phones and Why It's Such a Big Deal. (December 2017). Business Insider.
Apple's iPhone X Holds Its Value Better Than Any Previous iPhone. (July 2018). Fortune.
Your iPhone Is About to Massively Drop in Value: Here's How to Cash in on the Apple Announcement. (September 2018). Mirror.
Your iPhone Slowed Down. Here's What to Do When the Solution Is Just as Slow. (January 2018). The New York Times.
Check Coverage. Apple.