Like anything in technology, cell phones are prone to myths and rumors that just don’t seem to die. We’ll tackle some of the most pervasive smartphone myths and see if we can do our part to end the misinformation surrounding today’s smartphones.
So let’s start with the ten most common smartphone myths and misconceptions.
1. Apps running in the background should be closed to save battery and avoid slowdowns
Both Apple and Android allow apps to run in the background for more efficient multitasking. This myth seems legit as all the extra processes eat up system resources and the more programs you run, the slower the device becomes.
However, both operating systems limit how much these apps can do while running in the background. But it’s pretty low drain on your battery, and as far as slowing down your phone goes, multitasking is unlikely to be the culprit.
A side effect of this myth has been the countless task-killer apps that have littered both marketplaces. These apps are essentially useless, and while they get the job done by closing background apps, they don’t really save much in terms of resources or battery life.
You see, Android will automatically finish a task when more memory is needed, just like an iPhone. None will show a noticeable difference without apps running in the background.
2. Allow your battery to fully discharge before recharging
Lithium-ion batteries actually work better when they’re kept charged, while older NiCD and NiMH batteries lasted longer if you let them fully discharge before charging them back to 100 percent.
Modern batteries don’t have this problem because they don’t have “cell memory” like the older NiCD and NiMH batteries. Learn more about how a battery works and the common myths about how to take better care of it.
However, there is still some truth to this rumor. Although this won’t make your battery last longer, some experts agree that you should do a 0-100 cycle every three months or after 40 sub-cycles – that is, let it fully discharge before fully charging it.
It’s not intended to extend the life of your battery, but to help calibrate the readings you see on your display to stay accurate.
3. Bluetooth/Wi-Fi Direct kills your battery
With Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct, you can quickly transfer large files or other data from device to device. While we can debate which is better, the truth is that they’re both pretty useful and remarkably similar. But do they kill your battery?
Newer generations of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct consume little to no power when not in use. As soon as you activate another device and start transferring files, they start consuming your battery. Until then, mere activation will not result in any noticeable battery drain.
4. Higher specs mean better performance
On the surface, this myth carries some weight, but the truth is that it’s not a reliable indicator of performance. Android has dozens of devices released every year, and some of them have pretty impressive specs. However, having good specs doesn’t always make a phone great.
Cell phone cameras are the most egregious culprits when it comes to special wars. The reality is that a 64-megapixel camera could be vastly inferior to an 8-megapixel camera in every major category aside from image size. The same applies to multi-core processors.
Other factors also play a role. For example, several Android phones have better specs than an iPhone, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the phone is faster or superior to those with inferior specs. The operating system plays a role, as does user behavior when using it.
Specifications are for marketers to woo consumers: don’t be fooled.
5. The only charger you should use is the one that came with your phone
In a way, this myth exists only to put money in the phone manufacturers’ pockets. While smartphones boast razor-thin profit margins, the aftermarket accounts for a large portion of a company’s revenue. Hence, they are highly motivated to keep you buying OEM chargers.
The truth is that any charger built to the manufacturer’s specifications is safe to use with your phone.
What most consumers don’t understand is that there is a difference between a quality third-party charger and a cheap Chinese knockoff. Quality manufacturers like Belkin, Amazon and others are completely safe to use with your smartphone as they are built to the manufacturer’s original charger specifications.
On the other hand, the fakes are known to be quite dangerous.
6. Charging your phone overnight will destroy the battery
This is another myth that was once true, but with the improvement in battery and charging technologies, it’s now completely false. Older batteries weren’t smart enough to know when they were full, and constant overcharging shortened battery life over time.
Today’s loading mechanisms are smarter. Once your phone is fully charged, it will stop drawing electricity. It is perfectly acceptable to charge your smartphone while you sleep.
7. Apps downloaded from Google Play or Apple App Store are completely safe
Many of us are usually scared to download apk installation files for android because we don’t trust the source. Of course, however, you feel safe when you download an app from Google Play or the Apple App Store.
While you may be right about that, most of the time downloading apps from official stores does not guarantee security. Many of the apps connect to the internet and communicate with their servers. That means malware can be sent to your phone at any time.
But no fear. Apps from trusted developers are usually safe. You have a whole reputation to uphold. So they keep their apps clean. However, you should be careful with the apps from unknown developers.
8. Turning off the phone/removing the SIM card/putting it on airplane mode prevents you from being tracked
First, it’s important to understand that unless you’re in a terrorist dorm or on the run from the police, law enforcement doesn’t need or want to pursue you.
First, let’s address Airplane mode. Basically, when you put your phone on airplane mode, Wi-Fi and cellular services are turned off to act as a do not disturb switch for your phone. This doesn’t stop anyone from tracking you, especially over satellite. You see, in most modern phones you can still use GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections in airplane mode.
The truth is that a phone needs power to transmit a signal. So if you turn off the phone or (even better) remove the battery, you won’t actually be tracked. Except not always.
Phones infected with certain types of malware such as B. Android’s old PowerOffHijack, which spoofed the usual shutdown animation, made it appear as if your phone was powered off. It really wasn’t, and it probably haunted you.
Removing the SIM card won’t work either, as your phone still has built-in identifiers that can be detected by Stingray devices or fake NSA cell towers. These devices are all used by government agencies, the military, and law enforcement agencies across the United States.
The only foolproof way to avoid tracking is to remove the battery. If you’re using a phone that doesn’t give you access to the battery, the only real option is to drop the phone or invest in one data protection case, which is essentially a Faraday cage for your phone. Nothing goes in and nothing goes out.
9. Automatic brightness settings save battery
That’s totally wrong. The idea is that using a smartphone’s built-in light sensor can automatically calibrate the ideal brightness setting to save power.
The reality is that this might save you some battery by dimming your screen when needed. Still, that pesky light sensor consumes more power throughout the day, constantly pinging your CPU to process the data it collects and deciding whether a lower (or higher) brightness setting is appropriate.
10. Android’s open-source nature makes it more vulnerable to vulnerabilities
Open source software is open by definition. Accessing the inner workings of the operating system could lead to exploits, but you might be surprised to learn that Android as an operating system is remarkably secure.
What is not certain are the apps. The openness of the app marketplace and the ability to run apps outside of the centralized Google Play marketplace makes Android phones more vulnerable to malware exploits than Apple’s somewhat cumbersome app store.
Ignore these myths and enjoy your smartphone freely
As you have read above, these myths and misconceptions are unfounded. You will get no benefit from believing in them and acting on them.
Also check out this article listing myths about PCs. It might clear some misunderstanding for you.
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