7 Essential Smartphone Tips

Smartphones are becoming more complicated, and that’s not always a good thing. By some estimates, barely half of all smartphone owners have ever downloaded an app, and many smartphones end up being used as point-and-shoot cameras that can also make the occasional phone call.

But even if you are a relatively savvy smartphone owner, it’s not easy to keep up with all the features that are being added to the latest devices. And that’s a missed opportunity, because many of those features can have a major impact when it comes to productivity, personal security, and even the size of your monthly phone bill.

Here are 7 tips that can make a big difference in how you use your device:

Get to know your camera

The camera is everyone’s favorite smartphone feature but photos taken with a smartphone camera can still be disappointing. Smartphone cameras have numerous settings and editing features that can help you become a better photographer. Spend a few minutes getting to know them and they will pay instant dividends.

Extend your battery life

A short battery life is still the Achilles Heel of most smartphones. Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and other data-guzzling apps when you don’t them and find out what other battery-saving features are incorporated in your phone’s settings. Similarly, turn off data-guzzling apps – or even power-off the phone – when you are charging. You’ll find that you charging time is significantly reduced.

Manage your data

Get to know the data monitoring tools on your phone and use them to control your data costs. Android and Windows phones have built-in tools that will tell you which apps are using the most data, so you can turn them off or uninstall them when you are nearing your data limit.

Learn how to turn off mobile data completely – or switch to Airplane Mode – so you don’t incur unnecessary roaming charges when you travel overseas. It can also make sense to turn off mobile data at night or when you are out of range of your home network. Most phones will now prompt you to switch to a Wi-Fi network if one is available. Take advantage of all these data-saving options and those overage charges will be a thing of the past!

Take advantage of cloud storage

Most carriers now offer free cloud storage options for mobile users. Take advantage of these programs and make sure your contacts and other important data is backed-up at all times. Other cloud storage options (iCloud, Google Cloud, Dropbox, OneCloud) allow you to sync your data across various devices and platforms, so it’s always available whenever you need it. Again, take advantage of these options to ensure maximum security and productivity.

Use the wireless hotspot

Perhaps the most underutilized feature of your smartphone and tablet, the wireless hotspot is also the most useful, providing a high-speed Internet connection for multiple devices, including laptops, computers, and gaming consoles. That means no more searching for a Wi-Fi network or relying on expensive and unsecure hotel networks while you are traveling.

Organize your apps into folders

Finding the app you want usually means swiping through multiple home screens or searching through an ever-expanding app catalog. Instead, you can now organize your most commonly used apps in folders that reside right on the home screen. Both iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android devices allow you to do this, with some devices now coming with certain folders already set up (Verizon apps, Amazon apps, Tools, etc.).

Install a Find Your Phone app

With so much information, photos and other data stored on our phones, protecting against a lost device is now a top priority. The latest iPhone operating software (iOS7 and iOS8) have built-in Find My iPhone apps, while there are multiple find-your-phone apps available through the Google Play and Windows Phone stores. Make sure you understand how the find-your-phone apps work and you sync all the necessary data with your computer or laptop so you are ready in an emergency.

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