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Mobile phones may be treated like playthings these days. However, these flashy gadgets can prove dangerous if not handled with care. Several instances have been reported about the phones blasting off suddenly, the latest victim of which was a 14-year-old child of daily wage workers from Seoni. The blast was so bad that the boy narrowly escaped death and ended up with severe disfigurement to his jaw, nose, mouth and face. TOI tells you the do's and don'ts of handling mobile phones.
What are the things to be kept in mind while buying mobile phones?
Buy a branded phone as far as possible. Ensure that the phone has a proper IMEI number, which is a code that identifies each phone. Check that the number on the phone corresponds to that on the box and receipts.
How and why do mobile phone blasts happen?
The most common reasons for a cell phone to explode are using it while the phone is being charged and 'call bombing'. Charging puts pressure on the motherboard of the phone, using it during charging increases this pressure manifold. This causes the cheap electronic components in some mobiles to explode. Call bombing refers to calls or missed calls received from international numbers. If one receives or calls these numbers back and the call exceeds a certain amount of time, the phone will blast. There is also a malware, or bug, found in some Android-based smartphones, that can also cause explosion by exerting extra pressure on the motherboard during charging.
What care should be taken to ensure not much pressure is put on the phone?
Avoid using the phone while the battery is being charged. If you wish to receive a call during this time, disconnect the phone from charger before connecting the call. Ensure it is not over-charged by removing the electric supply when the battery is fully charged. If your battery seems to have swollen, replace it immediately.
Why is it dangerous to buy cheap phones?
Most cheap models, like those of Chinese make, use hardware and components that are not branded and often substandard. The quality of vital accessories such as battery and earphones are compromised which can have disastrous outcome. Such components cannot be used continuously for as long as their high-quality substitutes. Their shelf life is also shorter.
Is it more harmful to surf internet or download anything on mobile phones?
Yes, because the anti-virus softwares for mobile phones are not as effective. That is why one should avoid downloading anything from a third party vendor, ie directly from the internet browser. Instead use the in-built store or market application provided by the operating system. Malware, which is software that creates a bug in the operating system of the phone, often gets downloaded with third party tools. The sites that you visit using the phone must start with an https (which means they are encrypted or safe sites).
Avoid using public or unsecured Wi-Fi connections. A hacker could access the mobile device through a port that is not secured. Make sure the Bluetooth connectivity is not switched on in public places as it can be used to send malicious files which corrupt the operating system.
Are there certain precautions that must be practiced while using a mobile phone?
While communicating using your cell phone, try to keep the cell phone away from the body as this would reduce the strength of the electromagnetic field of the radiations. Whenever possible, use the speaker-phone mode or a wireless bluetooth headset. For long conversations, use a landline phone.
Avoid carrying your cell phone on your body at all times. When in pocket, make sure that key pad is positioned toward your body so that the transmitted electromagnetic fields move away from you rather than through you. Do not keep it near your body at night such as under pillow or a bedside table, particularly if pregnant. You can also put it on 'flight' or 'offline' mode, which stops electromagnetic emissions. Avoid using your cell phone when signal is weak or when moving at high speed, such as in car or train.
How to deal with a wet phone?
After removing the phone from water, dismantle it by removing battery, SIM and memory cards and switch it off (only SIM card in case of an iPhone). Dry each component thoroughly (but gently) with a towel until the phone is dry to the touch. Then put all components in a bowl of uncooked rice in a way that all components are totally covered. If you have any silica packets (the ones that come with products like new shoes), put them in to the bowl too. Leave it there for 12-24 hours.
Never use a hair dryer to try to dry the phone quicker. Drying it with a heated hair dryer can cause important parts to melt, while forcing water further into the phone. Drying it will a cold hair dryer will just force water deeper into the phone.
Why you shouldn't hold your mobile in your mouth?
Using mobile phones too close to your mouth regularly or holding cell phone in your mouth frequently could lead to malignant salivary gland cancer and tumors in mouth. Regular cell phone users who speak with the phone held too close to the mouth face the problems of sleep disturbance, migraine and headache.