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7 Essential Tips for New Smartphone Owners

Smartphones have become so sophisticated that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the features and pre-installed apps that confront us when we first power up our new device. Having set up e-mail and learned the voice and text basics, we often breathe a sigh of relief and put off the more details to another day.

But despite the complex nature of today’s devices, a little time invested upfront can make all the difference to how much we enjoy our smartphones and how efficiently we use them. That same investment of time can also save us money by making sure we stay within our data plans, and erase many of the frustrations we feel when dealing with unfamiliar equipment.

Here are 7 tips for getting off on the right foot with your shiny new device:

1. Customize your home screen

Nothing will make a smartphone feel like it’s yours than a customized home screen. Take time to set up the wallpaper, the colors, and the home screen icons just the way you want them. There is almost no limit to how much you can customize your phone with apps, widgets, notifications, ringtones, and more. Make it business-like, make it stylish, or make it zany, but above all, make it yours!

2. Get to know your camera

Of all the amazing features that your new smartphone has, the camera is the one that will give you the most reward for a little bit of study. Use filters to transform those mundane pictures into works of art; use editing tools to enhance resolution and color; use different settings to maximize the available light; use the instant share features to showcase your photos with friends and family. Being able to take great photos is often the #1 reason why people love their smartphones!

3. Understand your data usage

Nothing is more frustrating than going over your data limit without understanding why. Most new smartphones will tell you exactly which features are using up your data allowance, whether it’s e-mail, web surfing, uploading photos, or streaming music and video. They will even identify individual data-guzzling apps. Remember, if you are on a share plan, then it could be other family members that are eating up your data. Make sure everyone on your plan knows how to track their data usage.

4. Utilize battery savers

One of the biggest frustrations with a new smartphone is often battery life and not being able to get through a full day without the need for a recharge. However, most new phones offer ample tips and tools on how to extend battery life. Mostly found under Settings, power-saving tips will cover everything from reducing the time before the screen times out to turning off Bluetooth, GPS and autosync. Become a battery-saving expert and you will never have to carry that charger around with you again!

5. Backup your data

A friend of mine recently took her phone back to the store for a replacement battery and the technician ended up deleting all her photos and contacts through an inadvertent factory re-set. Make sure you use one of the many cloud services (Verizon customers can use Verizon Cloud) to sync and store all your important photos, media, contacts, and even text messages.

6. Install a phone finder app

The only thing worse than losing all your data is losing your actual phone! Both the iPhone and Windows Phone 8 devices have ‘find my phone’ features built-in to their operating systems. Android users can take advantage of a number of free apps that perform the same function. These apps will allow you to locate, call, erase or lock your phone remotely, adding much-needed peace of mind for individuals who rely on their phones for important personal and business use.

7. Utilize your hotspot

While you almost certainly bought your device as a communications and web browsing tool, your smartphone can also act as your very own personal Wi-Fi hub. Learn how to activate your smartphone’s hotspot (also referred to as Internet sharing). Smartphone hotspots use your carrier’s network to create a local Wi-Fi network that can support up to 10 enabled devices, including laptops, tablets, gaming devices, and more!

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