Nothing puts a damper on vacation quite like a damaged device. So what should you do if your phone or tablet takes a dive? GAYOT spoke with gadget expert Amy Rice from Gazelle — the leading consumer electronics site that buys and sells pre-owned devices — to get the scoop on how to save your gadgets from surf, sand and sun.
What's the best way to save gadgets that have gotten drenched? Is it always a bag of rice?
No, actually. Uncooked white rice is the least effective. We’ve tested the “rice trick” along with seven other different materials and found that silica gel or using a blow dryer are better drying agents. That said, the most effective method of drying a device is simply leaving it in the open air. All you need to do is place the device in an open space with good air circulation, such as a counter top.
What's the best way to protect devices from sun and sand damage? What should you do if it's too late?
Both Apple and Samsung recommend keeping their devices in places where it’s between 32 and 95 degrees. Direct sunlight can heat devices 10-15 degrees warmer than if they were left in the shade. Leaving your phone in the car while you’re at the pool or beach is the worst you can do, as car temperatures can reach well over 100 degrees. Ideally, you should leave your device at home, but if you can’t break away from it, keep it in a cool, dry place after you use it or invest in a beach towel that has pockets.
If your phone has already taken a swan dive into the sand, you can use a cuticle pusher to get the sand out of the crevices. You can also use scotch tape to lift sand off the phone, sort of like using a lint roller. An overheated device takes a lot more care and patience. If you can, immediately turn the phone off. If that isn’t feasible, at least close any unnecessary apps, like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or LTE. Remove the gadget from the sunlight and then just move it to cooler area for a period of time. It’s very important not to panic and throw the device into the fridge or freezer, because condensation could end up getting trapped inside.
Do you have any hacks for preserving battery life?
It’s honestly the simple stuff you might not think of that will help preserve the battery of any gadget. As said before, avoid extreme temperatures – both hot and cold. Charging your device in high temperatures can actually cause permanent damage. The brighter the screen, the lower the battery life. Your best option is to either dim the screen or select the Auto-Brightness option, which will automatically adjust the phone’s brightness based on your surroundings. You should also use Wi-Fi when you can. Wi-Fi always consumes less battery power than your phone’s data network, and be sure to close down any inactive – and even active – apps.
Especially when traveling, you might want to consider buying a solar-powered charger. They’re sleek and portable and as long as the sun is shining, your phone will never die! But if you’re doing all these things and your phone still isn’t holding a charge, that’s indicative of something with the phone or battery itself and you should take the device to a certified repair shop.
What's the best way to back-up photos before something happens to your device?
Making copies of the photographs and videos you’ve taken with your smartphone is the best way to keep them from getting lost. In fact, having more than one copy of a photo is preferred. Smartphones have the added convenience of being connected to the Internet in some way. Leverage this to make the copy process not just easier, but possibly completely automatic. Many of the cloud storage services -- Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft’s OneDrive and others -- will automatically upload photos and videos as you take them, if you give them permission to do so.
To ensure you have another copy of the photos, use an online backup service, such as Acronis or Carbonite, especially if you ever connect your phone to your laptop or computer. Images and videos are just files on your computer, and all of the online backup services are tailored to back up whatever data you might choose to include. Using an online service might be preferable if you’re already using one to back up your computer.
Best advice for being able to better see your screen in the sun?
An anti-glare screen protector is the best way to see your phone in the direct sunlight without turning up the brightness, which leads to reduced battery life and could contribute to your phone overheating. They’re pretty cheap. For example, Tech Armor sells a pack of three for just $6.95.