Ten common cell phone myths in check

From supposed explosion hazards at the gas station to potentially crashing airplanes. Many myths about cell phones persist. And rightly so?

There is a lot of talk about smartphones. Many of them are true, some are nonsense, and some are somewhere in the middle. Steffen Herget from the trade magazine “c’t” explains which tips are really helpful and which cell phone myths belong definitively in the realm of legends.

Updates make the smartphone slower

Not true. Cell phone users should install updates regularly, advises Steffen Herget. Because updates not only bring new functions, they also close security gaps. Even if, in rare cases, old devices are overwhelmed by new functions and become slower, there is no alternative to updates for security reasons.

Every cell phone, even without IP protection, can withstand a rain shower.

It depends on the amount of moisture. A few drops could not harm smartphones as a rule, says Herget. However, if a cell phone falls into water, it can be defective even despite the IP protection standard. This protects a device against contact with foreign bodies, which can lead to failure or destruction of the electronics. In addition, water can penetrate more easily through openings for headphones, charging cables or similar.

Also interesting: Four immediate measures if the smartphone has fallen into the water.

With the smartphone camera, many megapixels mean good photo quality

Not true. With modern smartphones, the quality of the images depends not on the resolution, but on the quality of the lenses, sensors and other technical components, explains Herget. In addition, the camera software is becoming increasingly important for image quality, especially for night shots or photos in difficult lighting conditions.

Also interesting: The smartphones with the best camera

The battery should be as empty as possible before charging

Not true. The idea dates back to times when nickel-cadmium batteries were predominant. Today’s lithium-ion batteries can and should be charged in a non-empty state. Steffen Herget recommends never going below 20 percent battery capacity as a guideline. This is because a complete discharge actually damages the battery.

You have to deactivate mobile communications on flights because otherwise the aircraft could crash.

Not true. On airplanes, passengers are indeed asked to turn off their cell phones or activate airplane mode. But not because transmitting devices could cause the plane to crash, but because they could interfere with radio communications. Otherwise, safety precautions would also be much stricter, Herget says.

A cell phone attracts lightning during a thunderstorm outside

Not true. There is not enough metal in the smartphone to attract lightning, says Herget. So cell phones don’t attract lightning.

Smartphones that are not regularly rebooted become slower

Not true. Unlike PCs, Herget says, cell phone owners don’t have to regularly turn off their devices. The built-in operating systems are designed for continuous use, he said.

Also interesting: When should you switch off your cell phone?

Making calls at the gas station is tricky: Danger of explosion!

Not true. Smartphone prohibition signs at gas stations do not warn of an impending explosion if someone is talking on a cell phone. Rather, they warn of an increased fire hazard that basically emanates from gas stations. The signs are intended to prevent a damaged battery from catching fire and starting a fire in the worst case scenario, for example after someone has accidentally dropped their cell phone. Steffen Herget therefore advises people to leave their smartphones in their pockets when refueling, so as not to take any risks at all.

Closing open, unused apps makes the phone faster and saves battery power

It depends. It depends on the age of the device and your own usage behavior. Modern smartphones slow down the power consumption of apps by themselves, explains Herget. Closing apps is therefore not necessary. On the contrary, you actually save power if apps that you use regularly stay open and don’t have to be constantly restarted. With older devices, on the other hand, it can make sense to close the apps.

SMS can contain viruses

Not true. Viruses can’t be transmitted directly this way, Herget says. But it’s entirely possible for criminals to send links this way that lead to phishing sites or to the download of malware.That’s why the rule is: Never click on links from untrustworthy sources.