The world of technology used to be simple – you needed a new phone, you bought one that made calls, received text messages, done. No longer. These days we want our tech to do everything and we want it to work. What ends up happening naturally is the creation of myths and “old wives’ tales” to help solve problems or get the most out of our tech products. Some of them are pretty good (the old, turn it off then turn it on again is a doozy that somehow always manages to fix most problems) but others can actually do more harm than good to your devices – and could end up costing you money!
Here are a few tech misconceptions and urban legends to watch out for:
1. Better specs means you’re getting a better device
Sometimes when you’re device-shopping, it’s tempting to simply buy the top of the line model and leave behind the all-encompassing conversation with the salesman over specifications and features. It should make sense – spending more to get a faster laptop or camera with more features should mean you’re getting the best model. In fact, manufacturers bank on you wanting to spend more and get more features and higher specs.
Unfortunately, top of the line doesn’t actually mean top of the line. It doesn’t guarantee that the phone or laptop you picked will work any better than one with less features. You might think you’ve got the best laptop in the world with the fastest processor – but you’ll really only notice that benefit if you’re doing processor-heavy tasks like using ProTools to record music. Obsessing over specs can be a waste of your time if what you actually care about is the storage space or camera quality in a smartphone as opposed to the processor.
It’s pretty easy to get lost in the game of must-have-the-latest-phone but if you pay attention to the features that matter to you, you’ll always pick a winner. Do you make calls all day and need a phone that doesn’t need too much charging – focus on the battery. Plan on flying with your laptop constantly? Then size and weight will be a game changer for you. But don’t just buy the top of the line and assume it’ll service all of your tech needs.
2. More megapixels = better camera
Do you remember the days when 6 megapixels was amazing and groundbreaking? When point and shoot cameras started getting more affordable it seemed like a constant battle between companies to bring out products with higher and higher numbers of megapixels (the unit of capacity used to define how much information a digital camera sensor can capture). It goes back to that first point – spec-obsessed shoppers went crazy for them and the average customer started to assumer that the more megapixels the better the camera and the better the photos would be. Even now in smartphone advertising, the first thing anyone talks about when they mention the cameras are the megapixels.
Megapixels do matter and they’re important for professionals or anyone who needs to print out physical photographs but it still doesn’t tell you how good the photos taken by that camera will be. To do that, you’ll need to look at all of the specs and even better, read reviews. Look for photos taken with the phone or camera you’re looking at purchasing. Check out how good it performs in lowlight or how many settings or options it has.
3. Let your battery run down to zero before recharging
Once upon a time this concept was steeped in the truth but changes to technology have made it obsolete. Most tech devices these days use a lithium-ion (Li-on) battery these days but nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) and nickel-cadmium (NiCad) batteries used to be the norm and they suffered from ‘battery memory’. Unless the battery was completely down to zero, it would ‘remember’ how much power it had used and would only charge back up to that amount. If charged from more than 0% too often, the battery would never charge completely again.
Luckily for us, Li-on batteries don’t have that issue and in fact, you could do more harm than good by letting your device’s batteries completely die before charging them up. Li-on batteries have a limited number of charge ‘cycles’ (times you can completely use the battery then charge it back up again) before they start to hold less power overall as well. Solution? Just charge your devices every now and then before they completely die. Easy, right?
4. Always buy the extended warranty
They always get you right as you hit the counter. You’ve finally decided to spend a decent amount of coin on a new tech device and they offer extended warranty or third party ‘protection programs’ and ‘service plans’. Sorry to break it to you but these offers are almost always completely unnecessary. Often the extended warranty runs for the same amount of time as the existing manufacturer’s warranty – you’re paying twice for coverage the phone or laptop’s maker already provides. If you use a credit card you might already have extended warranty protection through the credit card company.
Finally, take a minute to consider how much the extended warranty costs compared to the cost of the device you’re purchasing. Put the money instead into a rainy day fund and use that for any repairs or replacements instead of jumping through hoops of getting service from the company managing the protection plan.
5. Planned obsolescence always kicks in right when the new model comes out…
Does it happen to you too? Right before the fancy new iPhone is due to come out, your own smartphone starts getting sluggish or freezing. Is it coincidence? Or is it planned obsolescence – tech companies forcing you to upgrade. It’s not some sales or marketing trick, unfortunately in reality it’s simply the ever-evolving tech industry at work. Newer phones have more memory, better screens, upgraded cameras and more but that alone shouldn’t affect your older phone. What does happen though is that apps end up getting optimised for the newer devices leaving your older one lagging behind. Because these apps make use of the features on the newer device they serve to slow down older phones. If you’re lucky and the company you’ve bought your phone from makes sure older models are supported, you should be alright. But if not, then you’ve kind of got no choice but to move on to the next iteration. The result is basically the same but if you were losing sleep over a mass-conspiracy then that at least has been debunked!