Is it bad to charge your phone overnight? What about charging an iPhone with an iPad adapter?
Despite how often we use devices like smartphones and laptops, we have plenty of questions about how they work. And with so much information out there — not all of it true — it's hard to know if we're treating our electronics properly.
We're here to debunk some of the biggest misconceptions out there.
Mac computers can’t get viruses.
Yes, Apple computers are susceptible to malware, too. Apple used to brag its computers aren't as vulnerable as Windows PCs to viruses, but the company quickly changed its marketing page after a Trojan affected thousands of Mac computers in 2012.
Private/Incognito browsing keeps you anonymous.
There’s a misconception that “incognito” and “private” are synonymous with anonymous. If you’re using Incognito Mode in Google Chrome or Private browsing in Safari, it simply means the browser won’t keep track of your history, import your bookmarks, or automatically log into any of your accounts. Basically, it's good for keeping other people who use your computer from seeing what you've been doing. But it won’t keep your identity hidden from the sites you visit or your ISP — so keep that in mind if you’re visiting sites you shouldn’t be.
Leaving your phone plugged in destroys the battery.
If you’re like most people, you probably leave your phone plugged in overnight long after the battery is fully charged. Some used to say this would hurt your phone's battery life, but in fact, there's no proof that this damages your phone’s battery in any way. Modern smartphones run on lithium-ion batteries, which are smart enough to stop charging when they’ve reached capacity.
Don’t charge your phone unless it’s almost dead.
This too is a popular myth about lithium-ion batteries. It’s not harmful to plug your phone in before the battery is drained — in fact, it may be better for your battery. Batteries have a limited number of charge cycles before they lose their ability to hold a charge. A charge cycle consists of charging your battery back up to its full capacity when it’s out of juice. The reason your phone’s battery life diminishes as it gets older is because it’s already used up many of its cycles, not because you’re plugging it in when the battery is already half full
More megapixels always means a better camera.
What’s the difference between 12 megapixel cameras and 8 megapixel cameras? Not much, as it turns out. The quality of an image is determined in large part by how much light the sensor is able to take in. Bigger sensors may come with larger pixels, and the larger the pixel the more light it can absorb. So, it’s really the size of the pixels that matter as much or more than the sheer number of pixels. (A megapixel is simply shorthand for a million pixels.)
Here’s how TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino, who's also a professional photographer, describes the role of the pixel: “Think of this as holding a thimble in a rain storm to try to catch water. The bigger your thimble, the easier it is to catch more drops in a shorter amount of time." The thimble is a metaphor for a pixel — using a few buckets would be much more efficient than a bunch of thimbles for catching water.
Higher display resolution is always better on a smartphone.
Some have argued that at a certain point, screen resolution doesn't matter on a smartphone. Gizmodo cites experts in saying the human eye can't discern nitty-gritty detail when a display packs more than 300 pixels per inch. Earlier this year, LG unveiled its first quad-HD smartphone, the G3, which has a resolution of 2560 x 1440. That’s much higher than the average high-end smartphone, which usually comes with a 1920 x 1080 resolution display.
But it's unclear if those numbers really matter after a certain point, because the eye can't discern individual pixels beyond a certain resolution. When I tested the G3's display alongside the 1080 Galaxy S5's display, there was hardly a difference in terms of sharpness — that's why companies like Apple tend to focus on brightness, more so than ultra-dense displays.
It’s bad to use your iPad charger for your iPhone.
This one is a little trickier than a standard "yes or no" answer. Apple’s official website says its 12-watt iPad adapter can charge both the iPhone and the iPad. However, Steve Sandler, founder and chief technical officer at electronics analysis company AEi Systems, told Popular Mechanics that this could stress your iPhone’s battery over time if you do it regularly. It would take about a year, however, to notice any changes in battery efficiency.
You shouldn't shut down your computer every day.
While some may believe it’s harmful to shut down your computer every night, the truth is it’s actually good to turn off your computer regularly. It’s easy to get into the habit of putting your laptop in sleep mode so you can easily return to it without having to boot up. But, as Lifehacker points out, shutting it down when not in use conserves power and places less stress on its components, which could enable it to last longer
Holding a magnet close to your computer will erase all of its data.
This technically isn't wrong — you may remember how easy it was to wipe a floppy disk using a magnet back in the day. But you would need a really, really big magnet to wipe out your computer's hard drive. Experts told PCMag that hard drives on modern computers would only be susceptible to really strong magnets with really focused magnetic fields. So your average refrigerator magnet wouldn't do the trick.
Cellphones give you brain cancer.
Although cell phones emit radiation that can be absorbed by human tissue, there isn't any conclusive evidence showing that cell phones actually cause cancer, as Business Insider's Lauren Friedman reported last year.
Here's what a report from the National Cancer Institute says:
Although there have been some concerns that radiofrequency energy from cell phones held closely to the head may affect the brain and other tissues, to date there is no evidence from studies of cells, animals, or humans that radiofrequency energy can cause cancer.
More signal bars guarantees great cell service.
While having more bars helps service, it doesn't necessarily guarantee excellent reception. The bars just indicate how close you are to the nearest cell tower. But there are other factors that impact how fast the internet on your phone performs, such as how many people are currently using the network.
Adapted from an article by Lisa Eadicicco with Business Insider