It's a wonder Apple sales folks aren't dressed up like storks when they sell you an iPhone. The device has taken on a life of its own, and iPhone owners cradle them like newborns.

Like new parents, though, most iPhone owners have no idea how to care for their new iPhone. So here are some tips to keep the iPhone in tip-top condition.

1. Audio Problems: Clean the Screens

At the bottom of the iPhone, there's a speaker on the left and a microphone on the right. If you can't hear anything or if someone can't hear you, most people fear the worst: internal damage in the sound system. But there's a good chance that the holes are merely clogged with debris.

If you're experiencing sound degradation: try putting a dab of strong rubbing alcohol - 90 per cent alcohol - on an old tooth brush and use the brush and a can of compressed air to clean the holes. But don't use too much alcohol. You don't want any liquid to find its way in. The potential of liquid getting into the phone would make anyone nervous, so proceed at your own risk.

2. Cracks in the Casing, Scratches on the Glass

A common problem with the iPhone 3G: cracks would appear around the dock connector and headphone jack where the plastic is the thinnest. Apple is apparently aware of the problem because many iPhone owners report that Apple Geniuses are adept at evaluating the crack and quick to replace a unit. With a crack near the dock connector, for instance, a Genius will examine the area with a lighted scope and likely swap the SIM chip into a new iPhone.

A hard case for your iPhone is recommended, as well as a thin skin protector on the glass. Although the iPhone glass is fairly scratch resistant, it's defenseless against keys in a purse or pocket. Don't be afraid to replace the hard case and skin protector regularly because they wear out.

3. iPhone Over-heating

An iPhone shouldn't be exposed to extreme temperatures - 100 degrees Fahrenheit on the high end, 40 degrees on the low end-because that will quickly degrade battery performance. If your iPhone is heating up, try to determine if it's heat from the iPhone itself or reflected heat from the sun.

Turn off a hot iPhone and let it sit for a couple of hours. If the iPhone emits heat while off, then it's likely a serious problem. Don't turn it back on, just take it straight to an Apple store.

If the phone continues to produce a lot of heat when turned on, it might be time to head to the Apple store to get it checked out: you might be holding an iPhone lemon.

4. Crashing Apps: Leave a Little Headroom

If Apps are crashing or web pages freeze up Safari, it could be a memory problem. Don't fully load your iPhone. Leave at least a half gig of headroom to handle spikes in memory use.

But also be mindful of trends. If a certain application keeps crashing, it could be a problem with that particular app. If a certain web page continues to freeze Safari, it could be that the page is too big. Most major web sites have a mobile version that requires less memory.

Either way, reboot the iPhone, because this will ease the burden on the memory.

5. Car Charger Safety

Car chargers are not recommended as a primary means of charging. The 12 volt electrical system of cars used primarily for headlights and interior lights was not designed to handle the loads of modern cars with their big stereos, myriad gadgets and electronic features.

If you're intent on using a car charger, try not to have the iPhone plugged in when you're starting or turning off a car. That's usually when electrical spikes occur, he says. Only buy brand-name chargers because they'll have a better fuse to protect the iPhone. A brand-name company will also be more likely to help you out if its product causes damage to your iPhone.

6. Battery Woes: Chips may be out of sync

Some iPhone owners complain that their iPhone won't charge fully-that is, the iPhone indicates a less-than-100 per cent charge. Yet the problem might be that the chip on the battery and the chip on the device measuring the juice flowing back and forth are out of sync.

Run the iPhone completely dead, charge it until it can't take anymore charge, run it down fully again, and this should sync up the chips.

If your iPhone is experience real battery drain, there are ways to improve battery life (albeit they aren't very user friendly). Check out these three tips for iPhone battery life: Try disabling power-hungry features, buying a battery pack, or getting it tested at an Apple Store to make sure it's working within normal parameters.