Five ways you’re ruining your expensive phone, laptop, tablet, and TV

The Four Percent


How many smartphones have you dropped and shattered? It’s an awful feeling – seeing it falling to the ground and knowing there’s nothing you can do.

Years ago, I put a tempered glass screen protector on my phone. The best part is when you drop your phone, and the glass gets nicked, you simply remove the protector, and it’s good as new. Here’s a link to the brand I have used for years, ESR.

Our devices are big investments. You need to treat your tech well to get your money’s worth. Regular maintenance is one way to stay ahead of the game. Tap or click for six checkups to do now to avoid a hefty repair bill later.

Based on calls to my show, emails, and questions posted on my website’s tech support forum, here are five common mistakes that could cost you:

1. You’re charging too much

Do you keep your phone plugged in all the time? Apple says that when your iPhone “remain(s) at full charge for prolonged periods of time, battery health can be affected.”

Android phone manufacturers, including Samsung, say the same. “Do not leave your phone connected to the charger for long periods of time or overnight.” Huawei says, “Keeping your battery level as close to the middle (30% to 70%) as possible can effectively prolong the battery life.”

The official word is to keep your phone charged – but not fully charged. Get in the habit of unplugging your tech after it is fully charged.


4 tips to maximize your smartphone battery

Four tips to prolong the life of your phone’s battery.

Staff Video, USA TODAY

More tech smarts: Tap or click for tricks to keep your phone battery in tip-top shape.

2. You wait too long to charge your laptop

Laptop batteries have a finite number of charge-discharge cycles. If you frequently let your battery entirely run out of juice, it affects the charge-discharge cycle and diminishes its intended lifespan.

Your laptop battery can also lose efficiency another way. Let’s say you regularly charge your laptop from 30% to 50%, or about 20% each time you charge it. Well, do that five times and you’ll have completed one battery cycle because you’ve charged your laptop 100% in total.

A good rule of thumb is to keep your battery charged to at least 40% most of the time. Tap or click here to check your laptop’s battery health.

3. You go with the cheapest option

If you lose your charger or a USB cable gets frayed, resist the temptation to buy the cheapest replacement. The few dollars you save on a low-cost substitute may very likely negatively affect your device’s performance.

One-size-fits-all charger and cable makers don’t want you to know that often their products do not have the proper voltage needed to work with your specific device. Why does that matter? Your battery may end up not getting the juice it needs to charge fully. Worse, it may erode the battery’s life.

Cheap chargers can be dangerous to you too. Many generic phone chargers are less likely to meet established safety and quality testing guidelines than their name-brand counterparts, leading to severe shocks and burns.

Spend a little more on getting a replacement charger and cable from the devices’ manufacturer or certified third-party makers. Tap or click for a solid third-party recommendation for iPhone and Android.

4. You’re careless

Today’s phones are fairly rugged. They can generally resist water, dust, and a bit of water. But leaving your device in a hot car or out in the sun can cause serious damage. Not only can it cause the battery to leak or overheat, but it can also cause data to be lost or corrupted.

Extreme cold temperatures also wreak havoc on your phone. Lithium-ion batteries can stop discharging electricity in freezing temperatures, leading to shortened battery life, display problems, and even cracking the display glass.

Radio silence? How to tell if someone blocked your calls.

5. You’re a slob

Is your tech sparkling clean or covered in crumbs and smudges? It’s not just about cleanliness, either. Dust and dirt can do severe damage to computers, TVs, and other expensive electronics.

Here are some essential tools I keep on hand to maintain my devices:

Compressed air: This is especially useful when you need to clean tight quarters and inside difficult-to-reach crevices. If you don’t like the waste of regular compressed air, try an electric air duster.

Isopropyl alcohol: Avoid household cleaning products on your electronic devices. A good rule of thumb is if you would use it to clean your kitchen, it’s not appropriate for your computer or electronics.

Cleaning wipes: If you don’t want to mess with alcohol or water, try a cleaning wipe. I buy these all the time.

Distilled or purified bottled water: Tap water could leave mineral spots and stains.

Soft cloths: Lint-free is your friend; don’t use paper towels or tissues that scratch and leave particles behind. If you have a 100% cotton cloth, that works, too. Here’s an affordable pack of clothes I’ve purchased a few times.

Toothbrush: A soft toothbrush can be used on hard-to-reach areas and spots that need light scrubbing.

When you’re ready to give your tech a nice spring cleaning, I can help. Tap or click here for my tested steps to clean ports, earbuds, keyboards, screens, and printers.

Bonus Tip: Ukraine War: The dangers, scams and hacks you need to watch for, plus your calls

Russia has invaded Ukraine and there are fears it could lead to cyberwarfare – even here in the U.S. Find out what it could mean for you. Plus, 10 new war cons scammers are using to fool people.

Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Explains” on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando.”

Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at

The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.


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