SmartPhones are mini computers. They have processors, random access memory, operating systems, multiple radios and many applications. There are numerous reasons a SmartPhone can fail, or act up. I'm going to address the most common causes and the quickest, and least painful fixes.
Often times, new software is developed to overcome "bugs" or issues with previous versions. Sometimes, it is necessary to update software to introduce new features. I have found that Apple can be very vague when rolling out software to correct a previous problem. My experience has taught me that it's never a great idea to do those upgrades just because Apple or Google is telling you to do this. When you support over a million applications, it's virtually impossible to test them all after rolling out new software. That's why both Apple and Google often have to follow up these upgrades with follow up fixes. I usually wait at least a week after an update is pushed out. Then, I google search the update to see whether there are any common issues people are experiencing. If I see reports that there are dozens of folks who lost all their contacts, I'll wait for the fix before upgrading the software. I have also seen application developers quietly remove great previously included features.
Sometimes, applications don't want to open up correctly or perform properly. This is often caused after doing software upgrades. There are lots of fixes for this and I will explain the best way to deal with this below.
When you think about it, SmartPhones are pretty reliable considering what's going on inside them. Remember, your device has a cellular radio for voice, text and data. It also has a GPS Radio, a Wifi Radio, and a BlueTooth radio. Unlike old office computers, your Smartphone radios are not just operating from the same location. They are moving. This causes quite a few problems in itself. Cellular phones operate by handing off calls tower-to-tower as you move around. Like in a football game, sometimes the quarterback fumbles the handoff. When this happens, your call gets stuck on the site you are moving away from and does not switch to a closer site. The result is a dropped call. We call that camping. It means that your phone is locked on a site that is out of your range. Another problem can be trying to make a BlueTooth connection. When BlueTooth radios get out of sync, it's impossible to pair them. Fortunately there is also an easy fix for that stuff which I address below.
Manufacturer Default Settings
Sometimes the manufacturers choose to set up their Smartphones in curious ways. In the case of Apple, wifi dialing is turned off as an option and must be turned on to use. Simply go under settings>Phone>Wifi dialing and turn it on.
This is an example of a useful feature being disabled. Apple also introduced a cellular assist feature that is turned on by default. If you have a "limited" data plan, this feature could cause major problems. That's because the default setting on iPhones is on. Should you be using wifi in an area that cellular is stronger, your iPhone will automatically "switch" to it's cellular network and use the data on your plan. If you don't have Unlimited data, turn this off.
The Simple Fixes for Above Problems
Obviously, doing a master reset will correct nearly any problem. The problem with doing these is you must make sure your device is properly backed up either locally, or in the cloud. Even if it is and all goes right, this process can take a lot of valuable time, especially if you have thousands of contacts. Doing a Master Reset is usually overkill and should only be done as a last resort. If your device experiences problems, here is the least invasive way to fix them...
The AirPlane Mode Trick
This one may be the best kept secret out there and guaranteed to immediately fix almost any type of radio issue. With iPhones, you can swipe up from the bottom of screen to open the quick settings menu. Here you will see Airplane mode on the left. Simply place your device in Airplane mode for about 20 seconds. The turn off Airplane mode. By turning on this feature, you immediately disconnect all of your device radios. When turning off Airplane mode, your device will establish a fresh connection (cellular, GPS, Wifi and BlueTooth). This solves radio issues.
Turn Your Device Off and On
Like above, this will disconnect the radios and is the most common solution most people use when dealing with a radio issue. I prefer using the Airplane Mode trick as it seems like you could almost have a birthday in the time it takes for a device to turn off, and then wake up again fully.
Another technique which should certainly be used before a "Hard" Reset. This action closes applications and clears any data in RAM (random access memory). Unsaved data in current use may be lost, but data stored on the hard drive, applications and settings are not affected. In the case of iPhones, holding down the HOME (SIRI) button and Power button simultaneously will fix corrupt applications, frozen screen issues and the like. Most Androids can be softly reset by turning the device off. If it will not respond, try holding the power down for about 10 seconds.
Many people have a problem with just one Application and end up causing themselves a big headache by doing a Master Reset. If you try Airplane mode, turning the device off and then on, and/or a soft reset, there is one more thing to try before doing the Hard or Master Reset. Simply delete the problem Application and then re-install it. In the case of Apple devices. Hold down the problem AP and when it starts to move like you've had one to many cocktails, simply hit the "X" to delete. Then re-install it.
When all else fails, this is the best solution. The problem with doing a hard reset is this will delete all content on your device. Unless you regularly back up your device (usually automatically with iCLoud), don't do this or you may lose important device content.
Joel "Dr Wireless" Saltzman has twenty five years of cellular wireless industry experience. His company provides IT services and support to small, medium, and enterprise sized businesses. Dr Wireless also specializes in global internet connectivity and virtual cloud business phone systems.
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