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Does my phone have a virus?

No, chances are almost 100% that your phone does not have a virus, unless you using a Nokia Symbian OS, or Android, iPhone , Windows Mobile or even other smart phone operating systems. Even when you are running a smart phone OS, chances are almost nil that you have a virus on your phone, though probably it could have malware, which I will explain in my next post.

Question: So why do people keep saying that their phones have viruses, if the probability of the phone having a virus is almost zero?

Answer: Software Bugs

Other than smart phones, most phones such as Samsung and Nokia have custom manufacturer operating systems is software that has been written to run on that particular model of phone, or a group of models. The phone OS (OS is Operating System) is what enables you to call , message, surf or load Opera Mini on a java enabled phone.

If your phone starts having issues,  the biggest been hanging, inability to read memory cards, or drop calls- either refuse to accept a call or drop calls in the middle, network reception issues and other phone issues, the reason is either a problem with your phone OS or a hardware problem (physical component problem) with your phone.

Problems with your phone OS is what we are calling Software Bugs.

How do I know if the problem is my phone?

Easy, just check whether people on the same network have the issues you are facing. Also if possible, switch SIM cards or your memory card with a different phone. If it works properly, the problem then is your phone.

How do I know if its a Software Bug then?

If you know other people using the same model as yours and facing the exact same problems as you, and your phone had not been dropped or damaged physically, then its probably a Software bug. You can see if similar phones as yours have the same issue by searching on Google, eg. "PhoneModelName hanging surfing".

How do I fix a software bug?

Several phone manufacturers usually notice software bugs and release new updated phone OS for your model. This is then put on your phone through flashing. You can ask a geek or your phone repair centre to flash the OS for you.

At times, flashing the same version of phone OS may fix the issues as they may be due to problematic settings on your phone. You can also try "factory reset" and see if this helps. Be warned though that factory reset looses your messages, numbers in phone memory , internet settings and anything you stored on your phone (your phone goes back to the state it's old as when new").

Cheap phones (no internet or basic internet) usually require an expensive box to flash, so you may have to contact a repair person.

What causes software bugs?

Software bugs are normal for all programs. When a programmer codes a program, it usually has issues which result from maybe errors in writing the code or situations of usage that the programmer may not have considered, or those that are not considered 'normal' usage and require a lot of effort to correct.

Bugs are normally eliminated through extensive testing of a phone before its launched in the market.

However, the competitive nature of the mobile market nowadays means that fewer phone models end up been extensively tested. So the phones are released into the market without the manufacturer checking them well for problems. At times, the problem probably occurs after 6 or more months of use on many phones. It is almost impossible for a phone manufacturer to test the phone for 6 months as it needs to go to market as fast as possible.

How can I avoid phone software bugs?

You can do this by investing in a prominent manufacturer. Top manufacturers tend to test out their phones before releasing them in the market. However, I have also seen some models from the number one and number 2 world manufacturers (you can Google who they are) also having software bugs.

Invest in a smart phone to avoid software bugs

Alternatively, you can invest in a smart phone such as Android,iPhone, Nokia Symbian, Samsung Bada, Windows Phone 7 or HP Palm OS.

Why a smartphone OS? Smartphone Operating Systems tend to be well tested by their developers before inclusion in the phone. Furthermore, in case of any bugs, they tend to be updated to fix software bugs. So when using a smartphone, you can be pretty assured of good performance unless you phone has physical bugs.

In fact, most manufacturers such as Samsung and Motorola have realised its better to adopt a smart phone OS like Android in this case. They focus on making hardware and they know the software will perform well on their phone without giving them headaches fixing bugs.

Android is developed by Google.

Beware of Custom Android UIs.

When buying an Android phone, beware of phone manufacturers not running 'native Android' especially for lowcost - middle cost Android phones. These are manufacturers who customise the User Interface (UI - the skin(look and feel) of the software to give you one that is different from the one Android comes in.

These UIs mean that you are dependent on your phone manufacturer to customise your phones software when Android releases an update. This is usually costly to them and some manufacturer may avoid customising updates for their "old" models. So if the update fixes a bug, it's not fixed on your phone until your manufacturer releases your phones update. You may ask a geek for guidance or ask on Internet forums if a model uses "custom UI".

Also note that at times, the custom UI may introduce bugs that are not present in Android itself, hence another reason to avoid it.

Chinese Models

Note that many of the so called "Chinese phones" usullay contain bugs that are difficult to fix. However, the great thing is that newer Chinese phones now come with the native Android OS.

So what is phone malware

Look out for my next post on probability of your phone having malware and what it does.

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