woman touching smartphone and shiny magic comes from screen

Smartphones have only been mainstream for less than a decade, but myths have still built up over time. Some of these myths have been around for years and just won’t go away.

From software to hardware, these myths just won’t go away. Yes, every type of technology has its myths — from PCs to Windows tweaking to smartphones.

Closing Apps Will Speed Up Your iPhone

RELATED: No, Closing Background Apps on Your iPhone or iPad Won't Make It Faster

No, you don’t have to close iPhone apps by removing them from the list of recently used applications. Apps in your list of recently used apps aren’t actually “running” in the background and taking any computing resources. They’re just stored in your iPhone’s RAM, so you can go back to them more quickly. If your iPhone needs more RAM, it will automatically remove apps you aren’t using. Closing apps will just make them reopen more slowly.

Yes, Apple’s iOS does now allow apps to work in the background, but what they can do is limited. And they can continue to run even though they aren’t in the list of “recent apps” — if you want to control your background apps, control which apps have permission to run in the background from the Settings app.

Using a Task Killer Will Speed Up Your Android Phone

RELATED: Why You Shouldn't Use a Task Killer On Android

The same myth goes around for Android phones. By using a task killer that automatically removes apps from RAM when you stop using them, you can speed up your phone — that’s what the rumor says, anyway. In practice, these apps are cached in RAM so you can get back to them more quickly.

You shouldn’t use a task killer, just as there’s no need to manually remove apps from the list of recent apps on Android. They’re frozen in the background. Yes, Android does allow apps to run in the background with less restrictions, but you shouldn’t need to close an app unless it’s misbehaving. This will actually make your Android phone slower to use.

You Should Drain Your Phone’s Battery Completely Before Charging It

RELATED: Debunking Battery Life Myths for Mobile Phones, Tablets, and Laptops

Sure, most people don’t actually let their phone’s battery drain completely before they charge it. But some people might hesitate to top off their phone if the battery is at 80 percent — at least if they remember older rechargeable battery technology with a “memory effect.”

With modern Lithium-ion batteries, there’s no need to drain the battery completely before recharging it. Go ahead and top off the battery whenever you like, or plug it in to charge at night and leave it charging all night. Basically, you can charge your smartphone’s battery whenever you like, and as much as you like.

charging battery

You Should Only Use the Charger That Came With Your Device

RELATED: Can You Use Any Charger With Any Device?

Modern smartphones use USB chargers, which are standardized. As long as a USB charger can provide enough power, you can use it to charge your smartphone or any other device that supports USB charging.

Feel free to plug your phone into a more powerful charger. Your phone will only draw as much power as it needs from the charger, so it shouldn’t become damaged. In fact, your phone may even charge faster with a more powerful charger. You could plug your phone into a less-powerful charger, too — it just wouldn’t charge as fast, or it may not charge at all if the charger isn’t powerful enough.

You Should Buy a Screen Protector to Protect Against Scratches

RELATED: Does Your Smartphone Really Need a Screen Protector?

A screen protector is a thin sheet of plastic that you fasten over your smartphone’s screen. If the screen would ever be scratched by something, the plastic would be scratched instead — preserving the screen. After all, it’s easier and cheaper to replace a sheet of plastic than your smartphone’s screen!

This was a good idea at one point in time, but screen protectors have largely worn out their welcome. Modern smartphones use Gorilla Glass or similar technologies to produce extremely scratch resistant glass. As long as you’re not too rough with your phone, you should be fine.

More importantly, many things that would scratch a screen protector won’t actually scratch a modern Gorilla Glass screen. Search YouTube and you can find videos of people slashing their phones’ screens with knives. These would go straight through a screen protector and just bounce off a typical smartphone’s screen.

More Megapixels Mean a Better Camera

RELATED: Everything You Know About Image Resolution Is Probably Wrong

Megapixels aren’t just a myth for smartphone cameras — they’re a myth for practically any type of digital camera. The myth is that a larger number of megapixels is always better. More megapixels look good on a specification sheet, and manufacturers can trumpet the number of megapixels their smartphone’s camera sensor offers.

A megapixel just means one million pixels, and the number of megapixels tells you how many pixels a photo you’ll get from the camera will contain. Apple’s iPhone 6 still has an 8-megapixel camera, while high-end Android smartphones often offer 16-megapixel cameras.

In a nutshell, cramming more and more ever-smaller pixels onto a sensor isn’t always a good idea. Compared to a 16-megapixel camera, an 8-megapixel camera sensor of the same size will have larger pixels, which can let more light. More importantly, the overall quality of the sensor, lens, and image-processing software is also very important.

Never just compare the number of megapixels if you’re comparing smartphone cameras — look for actual comparison reviews where the reviewer actually took photos with each different phone and compared them. Don’t get bogged down in meaningless specifications.

iphone 6 camera

Android Phones Often Get Viruses and Other Malware

RELATED: Does Your Android Phone Need an Antivirus App?

Technically speaking, no phones really get “viruses” — which are self-replicating pieces of software. Even if your phone gets infected by some malicious software, it won’t try to infect other people’s phones.

Android tends to get a bum rap for being packed with malware and viruses. In reality, very few Android phones are actually infected by malware. Android malware exists, but it tends to come from outside Google Play. If you’re installing apps from Google Play, you’re probably fine. If you’re downloading pirated copies of paid Android apps and sideloading them onto your phone, you’re much more at risk. If you live in China and are using one of the local app stores there, you’re also more likely to download repackaged apps containing malware.

While Android is certainly more vulnerable to malware than iOS simply because you can install apps from outside the app store, you should be fairly safe if you don’t. Of course, Android operating system updates don’t make it to many phones, and this does sometimes leave open security holes.

If you think you have to spend a lot of money to get a capable smartphone, that’s also become a myth. Inexpensive smartphones are becoming more capable every year. Even if you don’t want an expensive contract or big up-front purchase, you can get a solid smartphone.

Image Credit: Takashi Hososhima on FlickrAlan Levine on FlickrCalypsoCrystal on Flickr, Omar Jordan Fawahi on Flickr

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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