Your Cell Phone
Average life span: Four years.
Preventive medicine: Do you recharge your cell phone more often than you brush your teeth? Ease up. The battery works most efficiently if you let it drain fully once a week or more. “Avoid exposing a cell phone to very low temperatures, direct sunlight, or excessive heat,” which can damage the battery, adds Muzib Khan, vice president of product development and engineering for Samsung.
Most common ailment: The phone conks out just as your friend is giving you the address of the restaurant where you’re meeting.
Diagnosis and treatment: The battery may not be holding a charge for as long as it should. If you’re sure the charger isn’t broken, the battery needs to be replaced. Buy a new one from a reputable source. In rare cases, batteries from unauthorized dealers “can explode” and cause injury, says Grant Clauser, editorial director for E-Gear magazine, in Philadelphia.
When to pull the plug: An inexpensive phone with problems beyond a dead battery should be recycled (ask your service provider for details). Try to save a more costly model, even when it has taken a hard knock. “If you drop it in water, take it apart, let it dry for a day or two, and it may work,” says Kasey Farrar of Nokia. But if the repair estimate tops half the price of the phone, junk it.