Apple tries to convince us that we absolutely must upgrade to the latest, greatest iPhone every time they drop one, which they inevitably do, every freakin' year.

Unfortunately, most cell phone carriers have discontinued their cushy "free upgrade with a two-year contract" deal, and for those of us who aren't rolling in excess dollars and cents, splurging on the iPhone 7 may not be in the cards this month -- headphone jack or no headphone jack

And then there are those of us still on the fence. Maybe your screen is kinda cracked and the battery isn't doing so hot, and you think a shiny new iPhone 7 might be worth it. But look, Apple doesn't put out shitty phones... (except for, cough, the 5c). Yours should be able to last you, barring any major abuse, well beyond one or two years, and there are a ton of easy things you can do to fix it up and improve its performance. Follow these tips to help your trusty ol' iPhone keep keepin' on.

Cole Saladino / Thrillist

Go on a storage space-saving rampage

Older iPhones don't offer very much storage -- that's why Apple is more than likely phasing out the 16GB option. Chances are you've gotten your fair share of obnoxious "Not Enough Storage" notifications, but it doesn't have to be this way.

Some quick and dirty ways to free up space include:

  • Set your text messages to automatically delete after 30 days.
  • Stop Instagram from saving duplicates of your posts.
  • Delete old voicemails, podcasts, apps, and Spotify playlists you've saved offline but never listen to.
  • Consider investing in a Mophie Spacestation ($150), an external hard drive that doubles as a backup battery and gives you an extra 64GB. That's plenty of room to offload a crap-ton of photos and videos.

Manage your iCloud storage like a pro:

  • Delete outdated phone backups.
  • Stop backing up dumb apps like Tinder and Words With Friends.
  • Really, just pay $0.99 a month for 10x more iCloud storage. Go to Settings > iCloud > Storage > Change Storage Plan. It's worth it.
rubuart/Shutterstock

Get the most bang for your battery

How's battery life on the ol' iPhone 6 these days? To get through 24 hours without staying tethered to an outlet, you may need to make some simple life changes. Really, it's not that hard to cut back!

  • Take advantage of Low Power Mode (Settings > Battery), a feature that debuted with iOS 9 and turns off little battery suckers like background app refresh, automatic downloads, and some visual effects.
  • Avoid using power-hungry apps (I see you, Snapchat).
  • Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you don't need them, and turn on Airplane Mode when you don't have any cell service.
  • Keep your brightness down.
  • Make some quick tweaks in your Settings, like turning off unnecessary Push notifications, fancy parallax wallpapers, GPS location tracking, automatic app updates, etc.

Buy a backup battery case

Easiest option when your old battery can't hack it? Get a backup power source. The battery cases from Mophie and Apple are life savers (literally!), and 100 bucks is a lot less money than a brand new iPhone. 

Leonardo Patrizi/iStock

Don't charge it to 100% all the time

You'd think keeping your phone fully charged would be a wise, if not responsible thing to do. You're actually doing a disservice to your battery's long-term health when you obsessively charge it to 100% over and over. Your phone operates most efficiently (and thus will last longer) when it's operating on a charge between 40% and 80%. The more you know.

Let your phone die at least once a month

Another way to prolong your battery's life is to regularly calibrate it so that it's performing as optimally as possible (and not giving you a false sense of security with inaccurate indicator readings). All you've got to do is fully charge and then drain your phone to zero a few times, about once a month. Here are full instructions

Only use Apple chargers, and replace them when they inevitably turn to shit

Not only are most third-party USB chargers bad for your iPhone, they're also potentially dangerous and can cause burns or electrocution. Always use an Apple-issued charger. Of course, Apple charging cables are notoriously crappy, and a fraying cable is equally bad. Replace it with a new one if need be. Ain't planned obsolescence grand? 

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Clean out your charging and headphone ports

Your screen isn't the only part of your phone that gets gross; normal use will undoubtedly leave pocket lint, dirt, sand, and god-knows-what else stuck in the recesses of your device. This can lead to all sorts of malfunctions, from charging issues to headphone connection problems. Every once and a while, take a minute to very delicately clean out your charging and headphone ports with a wooden toothpick.

Don't bring it in the bathroom while you're showering

The iPhone 7 may be water-resistant, but the rest of us will have to keep a bowl of rice in the house in case of emergencies. (If your phone really does take an impromptu trip into the toilet, here's what to do.) As tempting as it may be to catch up on your podcasts in the shower, don't broadcast them from your phone's speakers. The steam and moisture can get into the hardware and do some damage (especially in older models). Bringing it with you to the bathroom for other business is totally fine, though. 

Flickr/David King

Just replace your busted screen, dude

Glass in your thumb is the worst, but a spiderwebbed screen does not an upgrade merit! Seriously, it only costs about $100 to $150 for a third-party pro to replace your screen -- that's less than a quarter of what a new phone would set you back. Google "iPhone screen repair" and you should be able to find someone in your area. And to prevent further insult and injury, invest in a sturdy-as-hell case that can handle your butterfingers. 

Stop ignoring the iOS updates

Yes, they're super annoying and there never seems to be a convenient time to stop what you're doing and install version 9.3.whatever, but they're there to keep things running smoothly. Make sure you're up to date by going to Settings > General > Software Update. 

When it starts acting janky, close out all of your apps or do a quick reset

Older phones glitch for a lot of reasons, but often it's because one of the apps you have open is corrupted in some way. Next time things go a little haywire, double-tap the home button and close every app that's currently open. If that doesn't seem to work, do a quick reset: hold down the home and sleep buttons simultaneously until the Apple logo pops up on the screen. 

If absolutely necessary, consider the nuclear option: a factory reset

Hopefully it doesn't get to this point, but if your phone totally craps out and nothing seems to revive it, there's always the option to restore it to factory settings. Yes, this will wipe it clean of anything and everything you have on there (which shouldn't be an issue as long as you're regularly backing it up), but it may be your only hope. If you want to pull the trigger, go to General > Reset > Reset All Settings.


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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist who's still got his old 3GS just in case shit really hits the fan.

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