5 mistakes everyone makes with iPhones

Simple things to avoid to get the most from your iPhone

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
(Image credit: Apple)

With a few exceptions, such as when I skipped the iPhone XR and iPhone 5C entirely, I've had every generation of iPhone from the OG original to my current phone, the iPhone 13 Pro. Yes, I'm definitely Team Apple!

Apple's hardware and software have come on leaps and bounds in the fifteen years I've been using iPhones, but some of the mistakes I've seen fellow iPhone users make have stayed stubbornly the same across ever generation: some of the same issues that affected early iPhones are still being repeated today.

As such, here are some lessons learnt the hard way: five iPhone mistakes almost everybody makes.

Apple iPhone iCloud keychain

(Image credit: Apple)

1. Re-using passwords even though Keychain is a thing that exists

If you re-use the same password, sooner or later you'll get the dreaded message that your details have been included in a data leak and should be changed at once. And I know this from experience: it takes much less time to generate a unique password than it does to fix all your compromised ones because you re-used the same password on multiple sites, apps and services. And Apple makes it easier than ever to create passwords: Keychain does it automatically and syncs across all your devices, enabling you to log in automatically with Face ID or Touch ID.


(Image credit: Apple)

2. Not backing up your iCloud stuff

I can't stress this enough: iCloud is not a backup service. It's a sync service, and that's an important distinction: if you change, delete or damage a file synchronised over iCloud, that change, deletion or damage could be carried across all your devices via cloud magic. There are some failsafes in there to prevent disaster – the Recently Deleted album in Photos and the equivalent for your files at iCloud.com; the revert button in Photos – but they can't stop every conceivable calamity and they're useless if you end up locked out of your account. So if it matters to you, don't just sync it to iCloud. Back it up too. I do this via my Mac: my iPhone syncs to the Mac and the Mac then uses Time Machine to an external drive.

iPhone 4 Classic

(Image credit: Concept Creator)

3. Not de-authorising your old iPhone

Many of Apple's services are limited to a specific number of authorised devices, so for example iTunes songs or movies can only be accessed on a certain number of Macs, iPhones and so on. Make sure when you get an upgrade that you go into Settings > Yourname and remove any devices you no longer have from the list of devices under your Apple ID. This is an important security measure as well.

Apple Store

(Image credit: Apple)

4. Trying to avoid paying the Apple tax

Yes, Apple accessories are expensive. Often ludicrously so. But I've never burnt my hand on a genuine Apple Lightning cable, or seen an official Apple replacement battery start to bulge, or had an official Apple repair make me feel like my phone screen isn't working as well as it did before. Whereas if you source your electrical accessories from no-name auctions or any of those drop-shipping sites selling on stuff they've bought in bulk from Alibaba, you're taking a real risk. And by real risk I mean fire risk.

And to be fair, it's not just Apple that's plagued by this. If you see some of the best wireless earbuds going cheap it's wise to be suspicious: fake headphones are a real problem online and it's often very hard to spot the fakery until you actually put them in your ears. The more expensive the earbuds or headphones the more profit there is for the fakers, so go with your Spidey Sense if it starts tingling at a too-good-to-be-true online deal.

If the Apple price is just too much, look for well known accessory brands such as Anker, Belkin and so on: they'll often offer Apple equivalents or alternatives for a lot less money.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

(Image credit: Future)

5. Not using a screen protector

I'd love to blame my kids for this, and they're certainly responsible for the big crack across the front of my iPad Air. But the truth is that the vast majority of my smashed Apple devices, and smashed iPhones in particular, were broken by me. I'm wiser now and put a tempered glass screen protector on every new iPhone as soon as it arrives; doing so has saved me a small fortune in screen repairs and isn't as tricky as installing a thinner film protector. While you're at it, get a case too. It's good for your iPhone trade-in value.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).