Your Android phone is many things: one of your most precious possessions, a statement of who you are, and maybe even the place where you keep your secrets.
And yet many of us don’t protect our phones properly, or we do daft things that could do serious damage to our data (or our reputations). What shouldn’t you do with your smartphone?
According to Paul Simon, there are fifty ways to leave your lover, including “hop on the bus, Gus” and “make a new plan, Stan”.
What would the list be like if he were singing about phones rather than partners? Would his Android anthem include such advice as “don’t forget to lock the screen, Gene”?
Er, probably not, and it’d probably be rubbish - but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a sensible list of things you really shouldn’t do with your smartphone. Here are some of our favorites.
1. Don’t forget to lock the screen
The more we do on our phones, the more damage someone can do if they can get access to it - and one of the simplest ways to secure your phone is to lock it.
There’s no shortage of great lock screen apps on Android, and many of them add useful features as well as security.
2. Remember to update
It can be hard keeping tabs on which devices get Android updates, but it’s worth paying attention: each new version of Android is mightier than the last.
Google Play Services keep the guts of your device current, but the big updates can make your phone feel brand new all over again.
3. Don’t charge it over USB
Chargers are not created equal: plugging your phone into your computer’s USB port doesn’t deliver as much juice as when you use a dedicated charger.
4. Don’t forget to back up
Your life is on your phone. Imagine how you’d feel if you lost the device and it took all your precious photos and top secret world domination plans with it.
Backing up isn’t hard, and it’s a very necessary thing to do. As one of our editors puts it, “getting good backup habits is like having good dental habits. It may not be the sexiest activity, but the alternative is far worse.”
5. Don’t store it all online
One of our editors again: “If something happens to your cloud provider, what happens to your data?
When MegaUpload shut down a while back there was a whole lot of uploaded data that simply vanished into thin air.”
Cloud storage is a great thing, but whether data is in your device or on a faraway server, if it matters to you, you should ensure that there’s more than one copy of it in circulation.
6. Don’t let it overheat
We’ve seen stacks of stories about exploding Android phones, and while the culprit is usually a badly made no-name knock-off battery or charger, there are still charging issues you should consider.
It’s a very bad idea to leave your phone somewhere warm when it’s charging, regularly letting your battery run to nearly zero is bad for its longevity and you should disconnect it when it’s fully charged.
7. Don’t leave the screen exposed
Gorilla Glass is great, but it can only do so much: while it takes a lot to break or seriously damage a smartphone screen, it also takes a lot of money to replace one if it does get damaged.
Screen protectors and cases are a kind of gadget insurance: they’re worth buying because the potential costs of not using them are enormous.
8. Don’t leave it in the rain
Nowadays, more and more phones come with waterproofing so if you have IP67 or IP68 certification, you can skip this one as your phone is basically dishwasher-proof.
But if your phone isn’t waterproof, then dampness and extreme humidity are to your phone what sunlight and stakes are to Dracula.
Water damage is one of the most common kinds of smartphone damage, and even water resistant devices can only stay submerged for so long.
9. Don’t keep photos of your bits
Everybody loves taking selfies, but if your shots are of the, ahem, intimate variety then it’s a very good idea to ensure they’re not in your photo gallery when you pass the phone to a friend, employer or church minister.
10. Don’t buy it on a plan
The worst way to buy a cutting-edge smartphone is on a monthly contract: there’s a good chance of massive discounts within a few months of launch.
The combination of SIM-only contracts and a little patience pays dividends.
11. Don’t let them see your tracks
If you’ve been using your phone to look at things you shouldn’t, such as, er, top-secret Christmas shopping you’ve been doing,
you really don’t want anybody else to see the endless pages of red hot wrapping paper and saucy kindling that you’ve been looking at.
The good news is that clearing your browsing history couldn’t be easier.
12. Don’t install dodgy apps
Almost all mobile malware targets Android - and in particular, it targets Android users who don’t pay attention to what they’re downloading and who frequent less reputable sources of apps.
If you’re sideloading apps from Pirate Pete’s World of Warez, you’re asking for trouble.