Lightning, explosions and plane crashes: the biggest myths about smartphones

People say a lot of things about smartphones. Some are true, some are nonsense, and the truth often lies somewhere in between. We take a look at 10 of the most persistent beliefs about smartphones to establish the facts.

Myth 1: It is better not to install updates because they slow down the smartphone.

Fake. Smartphone tester Steffen Herget advises smartphone users to install updates regularly as they not only bring new features but also close security gaps.

Even though in rare cases old devices are overwhelmed with updates and become slower, there is no alternative to update for security reasons.

Myth 2: Every smartphone can withstand a downpour, even devices that don’t have an IP rating.

It depends on the amount of moisture. A few drops generally shouldn’t hurt a smartphone, according to Herget.

The IP code is a measure of protection against the intrusion of dust or water into a device and all modern smartphones have some level of IP protection.

However, if a phone is dropped in water, it can be faulty afterwards, even despite the IP protection standard, Herget explains.

Myth 3: A high resolution indicates a good quality smartphone camera.

Fake. With modern smartphones, the quality of the photos does not depend on the number of megapixels, but on the quality of the lenses, sensors and other technical components, explains Herget.

Additionally, camera software is becoming increasingly important for image quality, especially for night shots or photos in difficult lighting conditions.

Myth 4: You should always let the battery drain as much as possible before charging the phone.

Fake. This idea dates back to when nickel-cadmium batteries were prevalent. Today’s lithium-ion batteries can and should be charged before they are fully discharged.

Steffen Herget recommends never going below 20% battery capacity. Indeed, a complete discharge actually damages the battery.

Myth 5: When flying, you must activate airplane mode on your phone or the plane could crash.

Fake. Passengers are indeed asked to turn off their phones in flight or to activate airplane mode. But that’s not because the transmitting devices could cause the plane to crash, but because they could interfere with the plane’s radio communications.

Myth 6: Using your phone outdoors during a thunderstorm attracts lightning.

Fake. There’s not enough metal in a smartphone to attract lightning.

Myth 7: Smartphones that are‘t rebooted regularly will slow down.

Fake. Unlike PCs, smartphone owners don’t have to shut down their devices regularly, Herget says, because their operating systems are designed for continuous use.

Myth 8: Making phone calls at gas stations can cause an explosion.

Fake. The warnings against using smartphones when refueling a car relate to the increased risk of fire that exists at gas stations due to flammable fuel.

For example, someone could drop their smartphone and damaging the battery could start a fire. Steffen Herget advises people to leave their smartphone in their pocket when refueling.

Myth 9: If you always close open apps when you’re not using them, you’ll speed up your smartphone and save battery.

It depends on the age of the device and your own usage behavior. Modern smartphones slow down apps on their own in terms of power consumption, Herget says.

Closing applications is therefore not necessary. On the contrary, you save energy if the applications you use regularly remain open and do not need to be constantly restarted. On older devices, however, it may be a good idea to close apps.

Myth 10: You can catch a virus on your smartphone from a text message.

Fake. Viruses cannot be transmitted directly this way, Herget says. However, it is entirely possible for criminals to send links using SMS messages that lead to phishing sites or sites that download malware to your phone. – dpa