10 Ways to Fix a Phone While Traveling

Here are 10 tips to fix your cell phone, no matter what the damage.

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1: Contain Water Damage

Water damage is one of the most common threats to phones, but a wet phone doesn’t have to ruin a trip. First, turn the phone off if it hasn’t done so automatically. Dave Dean, Founder of tech site Too Many Adapters warns against turning it back on, since that can damage the circuit board. Next, put your phone in a sealed bag or container of dry rice for two days. It may sound like an old wives tale, but experts agree this can work as a first line of defense—although Dean feels it works better if your phone was dropped in fresh water instead of salt water. He also recommends silica beads (packets are commonly found in many food items) as another way to remove moisture from your phone.

2: Deal With a Shattered Screen

If the crack is minor, place a screen cover over it, or use clear packing tape. If the screen is completely shattered, Johnny Jet, founder of travel site JohnnyJet.com, says to put the phone in a plastic bag until you can get the screen replaced. Be careful about cutting yourself on shards of glass. Phil Baker, president of the product design company Techsperts, says it costs about $100 to replace a screen, and repair stores can easily fix it.

3: Conserve a Low Battery

Everything from extreme cold to overheating can affect your phone’s battery life. If you need to use your phone, Dean suggests putting an iPhone in airplane mode (newer Android models also feature a battery saver mode) and turning off as many connectivity features as possible. Facebook, GPS and gaming apps are among the notorious battery hogs.

4: Troubleshoot a Frozen Phone

First try performing a hard restart by pressing the power button until it turns off. Then try turning it back on after a few minutes. If this doesn’t work, remove and replace the phone’s battery if your phone has a removable battery (not all do). As a last resort, do a factory reset, which will restore your phone to its original factory settings. However, you will lose all of your phone’s data unless it was recently backed up.

5: Replace a Dead Battery

For certain models, such as Samsung, you can simply remove the back cover by pulling it off, then easily pop out the battery and replace it. Make sure the phone is powered off before attempting this. Keep in mind that you should use an OEM battery (original equipment manufacturer) so that it doesn’t void the warranty.

6: Address Overheating

High temperatures and overuse are among the conditions that can cause overheating. Turn off any applications that are running in the background (e.g. Instagram, Facebook) or simply turn off your phone. Removing a protective case and placing your phone in a cool (but not cold) environment can also help.

7: Address Extreme Cold

If your phone has been exposed to arctic temps, turn if off, and place it in a pocket or wrap it in an item of clothing until it warms up to room temperature. Don’t try any heating methods on it.

8: Find a Phone Repair Shop

Dean says small repair stores are a great option, particularly if you’re nowhere near an Apple store, or don’t own an iPhone. These are usually easy to find around the world.

9: Use Your Insurance

Baker recommends AppleCare for iPhones and SquareTrade for Androids. Both of these plans cover international travel, but read the fine print to learn what a particular plan includes before buying it. While plans typically cover damage resulting from water, falls or other maladies, they might come with a high deductible. Some plans don't reimburse theft or loss either.

10: Switch to a Backup Phone

Many experts travel with a second phone, and it might be the best bet if you’re nowhere near a repair store and the usual fixes don’t work. Dean advises traveling with an old phone. "Make sure it’s still in a useable state; otherwise it’s just a paperweight if it doesn’t have the apps, contacts and information you need."

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