New York- Vincent Lai was working at a recycling facility in New York and sorting through a bin of used cellphones a few years ago when he dug up a Palm Treo, a smartphone that was discontinued last decade.
Lai, 49, tested the Treo and found it still worked, so he took the device home and made it his everyday mobile companion, much as one would adopt an abandoned animal on its way to being euthanized.
“That’s how I think about a lot of my tech stuff: candidates for 11th-hour pet rescue,” said Lai; adding that he was fired from the recycling facility in 2010 after continuing to take home unwanted gadgets- against the wishes of his boss.
Now, he works for the Fixers Collective, a social club in New York that repairs aging devices to extend their lives.
Many tech companies are trying to train people to constantly upgrade their gadgets — part ways with a device, the argument goes, as soon as something newer and faster comes along.
In observation of Earth Day on Friday, Lai and Kyle Wiens, the chief executive of “iFixit,” a company that provides instruction manuals and components for repairing devices, offered their advice on getting the most mileage out of a smartphone, tablet and computer.
When smartphones and tablets were fairly sluggish and limited in abilities compared with computers, there was a compelling reason to buy a new mobile device every few years.
However, now the mobile gadgets have become so fast and capable that you can easily keep them much longer.
“A five-year-old computer is still completely fine now,” Wiens said. “We’re starting to hit that same plateau with phones now.”
Maintaining smartphones and tablets is fairly easy.
Just two critical features require attention: data storage and battery capacity. If a device is close to running out of storage, the operating system may slow to a crawl.
Moreover, if the battery is near the end of its life cycle, the device will run out of juice more quickly than it once did.
On Apple’s iPhones and iPads, which lack support for removable memory cards, managing storage can take more sleuthing.
One clever tip recommended recently by a user on “Reddit.com” was to rent a movie on iTunes that exceeds the amount of space you have left.
When the device detects it lacks room for the movie file, it rejects the download and clears out cached data lingering in apps.
I tested this method by downloading the new Star Wars movie on a three-year-old iPad that was nearly out of space; it freed two gigabytes and sped the tablet significantly.
If you have tried those tips and are still struggling with storage, consider deleting apps you rarely use or backing up all your data, reinstalling the phone’s operating system and installing as few apps as possible, Wiens said.