Mozo guides

Common phone problems and how to fix them

An abstract image broken phone screen on a dark background
Photo by Agê Barros on Unsplash

While smartphone technology gets better year on year, it’s safe to say that they’re far from perfect. 

These devices have become as commonplace as a set of house keys, storing a garage-worth of utilities, games, and features in your pocket or purse. 

And yet, we run into issues with them. Issues from full storage, to slow loading, to a cracked screen, and even water damage, are the plague of many smartphone owners today. 

But chances are you won’t have to run out and buy a new one when something goes wrong with it. Often, there’ll be a simple fix. 

Check out some of the most common phone problems and how to fix them below!

How to fix storage space running out

  • Backup or delete old photos and videos 
  • Uninstall unused apps 
  • Upgrade replaceable storage drives (MicroSD) 

With high-quality video and photos, apps, and music, it’s not surprising that our phone storage space tends to fill up quickly.

Backup or delete old photos and videos

If your photos and videos are the main culprit of your storage issues, then you’ll have to remove them somehow. Here you have two options: delete them permanently or back them up somewhere else. 

If you want to keep your old photos and videos for memory’s sake, you can either back them up to a cloud storage solution, like Dropbox, Google Drive or iCloud, or you can plug your phone into your computer and transfer them to your hard drive. Once they’re transferred elsewhere, you can delete them from your phone. 

Uninstall unused apps

Secondly, if you have an ‘app-diction’, meaning you have too many unnecessary apps downloaded to your phone, then it might be a good idea to take inventory of what you regularly use, and which ones you hardly ever touch. 

If it’s been a while since you’ve booted up Candy Crush, then it might be time to let go… 

Can phone storage be upgraded?

If your phone supports MicroSD cards then you may be able to upgrade your phone’s storage space. You’ll have to check what the maximum MicroSD card size that your phone supports is, as some only work with cards up to a certain amount of gigabytes.

Phone is running slow

  • ‘Soft reset’ your device to clear RAM
  • Clear storage space
  • Clear the cache 
  • Check battery health

If you’ve got a phone which you’ve had for a few years, you might have noticed that it’s running slower than when it was brand-new. There are a few little tricks which might help to speed things up again. 

‘Soft reset’ your phone to clear RAM

When the classic IT line, ‘have you tried turning it off and on again?’ doesn’t quite cut it, you might need to consider performing a soft reset of your phone. It’s not a factory reset, where your phone returns to the newborn state you bought it in, but it helps clear out the RAM in the backend of your device. 

Depending on your phone brand and model, the method of soft resetting your phone will vary. 

Clear your phone’s storage space

If your phone’s storage is full, it becomes harder for apps to read and write to your internal memory. That means doing things on your phone, like opening an app or searching for a document, may take longer. Clear up storage space and you should notice a difference in phone speed. 

Clear your phone’s cache  

Cached data is created and stored by apps in order to make processing information quicker for the next time you come to use said apps. But, over time a cache can become overloaded or even corrupted, slowing down (or even crashing) your apps. 

You can usually clear cached data under the storage setting of your mobile phone, or even inside apps like web browsers. 

Check if your battery’s health is slowing down your phone

An old battery will slow down your phone because it might not be able to draw enough power to run efficiently. Usually you’ll know if this is the problem because your battery will also drain much quicker than when it was brand-new.

How to stop a phone overheating

  • Don’t leave your phone in direct sunlight 
  • Close unused apps 
  • Keep apps up to date 
  • Don’t run games for extended periods of time 
  • Inspect your charging cable if overheating while charging your phone

Having your smartphone overheat is a surprisingly common issue, especially in summer. 

Contrary to popular belief, it has nothing to do with how good your dating-app profile is. 

How hot your phone gets largely depends on a combination of how hard your battery is working and how hot the temperature is where you are. 

Don’t leave your mobile phone in direct sunlight

This is an obvious one, but if you leave your mobile phone in direct sunlight for too long, it’s bound to overheat, especially if it’s made of heat-conductive metal.

Close unused apps 

When you leave an app running in the background, it still requires memory and energy to keep it going. So, if you have a whole stack of apps running simultaneously, the phone has to work harder to manage all the different processes, hence producing more heat. 

Don’t run games for extended periods of time

Having the power necessary to run complex video games on your phone is great, but (to butcher a quote) with great power, comes great heat. So, playing video games on your phone for extended periods of time is bound to raise the temperature of your device, leading to potential overheating issues.  

Why is my phone overheating while charging?

It could be because of your phone cable. Inspect your charging cable if your phone overheats while charging. If there’s no damage in the cable or power adaptor, then switch it out for a different cable and see if it still causes your phone to heat up. 

If a different cable doesn’t do the trick, then it could be a battery or charging port issue. That’s when you should consider taking your phone to a repair shop, or looking at getting a new battery.

How to fix a water damaged phone

  • Turn off your phone immediately
  • Remove the case
  • Dry the phone with a lint-free cloth
  • Remove the battery (if possible)
  • Use absorbent products like silica gel packets to draw the moisture out.

We take our phones everywhere, and on a planet where over 70% of the surface is covered in water, our phones are bound to get wet at some point or another. As we all know, water and electronics generally aren’t a good idea (unless we’re talking jacuzzis, which wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the combo). Here’s what to do if water gets into your phone:

Turn off your phone immediately

If possible, turn your phone off as soon as you can to minimise the risk of short-circuiting the electronics. It’s best to leave your phone off for as long as possible - even 24-hours, to ensure that it has dried when you turn it back on.

Remove the case

By removing the case, you reduce the chance that any water inside the case will seep into your phone. 

Dry the phone with a lint-free cloth

Using a lint-free cloth to dry your water damaged phone is preferable as it reduces the possibility of dust or fibre getting into your phone in places like a headphone jack or charging port. 

Remove the battery (if possible)

If you have a mobile phone with a removable battery, then taking that out (once you’ve already powered down your phone) to dry separately is a good idea. You don’t want any residual power mixing with the water inside your device to ruin the hardware. 

Use absorbent products like silica gel packets to draw the moisture out

You’ve probably heard of the old uncooked rice trick, but that can actually cause harm to your mobile phone, for the same reason you should use a lint-free cloth when drying it. You don’t want little fragments of uncooked rice lodging themselves inside charging ports and headphone jacks, or even scratching your phone screen or casing. 

By using a product like silica gel packets, you contain the absorbent material, while drawing out the moisture in a more effective manner. 

Place your phone in a resealable bag or airtight container, surrounded with silica gel packets and leave for 24-48 hours.

How to fix a cracked phone screen

If you don’t use a protective case or screen protector on your mobile phone, then you’re probably at a higher risk of cracking, or at least scratching, your screen. 

If that’s you, and you’re currently squinting at this web page because your screen looks more like a glasshouse with a few stones thrown through it, then you’re probably wondering how you can remedy this issue. 

Well, if your phone screen is quite severely cracked, then it’s probably best to take it to a legitimate repair shop, rather than have a crack at it yourself.

But, if we’re only looking at minor damage, then there are a few fixes which you might be willing to try that can be done at home. 

Use super glue on minor cracks

By using just enough super glue to fill in the crack, then carefully wiping off the excess with a cotton swab or cloth, you might be able to stop the crack developing further. 

Replace the screen yourself

Provided that your actual touchscreen still works, and it’s just the layer of glass on top that is cracked, you could replace the glass yourself. 

This option will most likely void your warranty, so be sure that you’re willing to front the cost of parts and tools, as well as a new phone if something goes wrong. 

However, if you don’t fancy yourself too handy with repairing your mobile phone, there are still other options to pursue. 

Contact the manufacturer

If your phone is still under warranty, or you’ve purchased an additional warranty for accidental damage, the manufacturer might replace it for free. If you’re outside your warranty, then they’ll probably charge you a fee, but it could be less than a third-party repair service, so shop around to make sure.  

Contact your telco provider

If your phone came with your plan, try to get in touch with your telco provider and see if they offer discounted repair services to customers.

If none of these fixes helped, then it might be time to get a new mobile phone. And what better opportunity than getting a new phone than to see if you can’t switch and save on your mobile plan? 

Mozo compares phone plans from over 30 telcos side by side, which you can sort by price, data inclusions or provider. Start comparing mobile phone plans today!

Jack Dona
Jack Dona
Money writer

Jack is RG146 Generic Knowledge certified, with a Bachelor of Communications in Creative Writing from UTS, and uses his creative flair to cut through the financial jargon and make home loans, insurance and banking interesting. His reader-first approach to creating content and his passion for financial literacy means he always looks for innovative ways to explain personal finance. Jack's research and explanations have been featured in government publications, and his work is regularly featured alongside major publications in Google's Top Stories for Insurance.