Nov 2013 26

Use the Phone! 3 Cell Phone Tips for a Smarter Life

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Talking on the Phone by MLazarevski Talking on the Phone... Photo by MLazarevski

Not long ago, our heads were all exploding over our new phones' built-in cameras. Those days are but a distant memory. Now, our phones are a portable theatre, office, library, and recording studio and they have cameras on the front and the back. But just because the phones have gotten smarter doesn't mean that we have, so here are a few simple but effective tips to maximize your phone's power.

1. Keep It Alive!

At Least Were Not Running on Batterie Yet by anieto2k At Least People Are Not Running on Batteries, Yet... Image by anieto2k

There's nothing more shocking than realizing your phone battery has died. What if someone needs to call you? What if you need to look something up? No one wants that. To prevent this from happening to you, there are a few things to be aware of.

These days, most smartphones run on lithium-ion batteries. What that means for us is that if we're reasonably mindful of our phone, our batteries can last a very long time without any noticeable decrease in battery life. You may have had people tell you that you should only charge your phone when its battery is low. While this may have been true of older battery types, it's actually not an issue with li-ion. In fact, the opposite might even be true. If you want to maintain battery health, don't let it get too drained before you plug it in.

Dont Let Your Phone Die by Jim BauerAnd I Just Wanted to Charge My Phone! Photo by Jim Bauer

The other factor to consider when it comes to battery life (or the general health of electronics) is temperature. We're talking about complex micro-electronics, and most phones don't have built-in fans to cool them like computers do. Try to keep your phone at room temperature, and your battery will thank you. Avoid leaving phones in cars during hot summer months (or at any time for that matter — battery life isn't so important when your phone is stolen).

Of course, sometimes things come up and you forget to charge your device, which is why it can be smart to keep a charging cable with you when you're on the go. While some smartphones only come with USB cables, it isn't difficult to find adapters to plug into any wall socket. There are now even portable phone chargers that you can buy, though they aren't necessarily cheap. If you're going to pay for a portable charger, probably the coolest option is to get asolar-powered USB charger. Comparable in cost to other portable chargers, but with a bit more flexibility and sustainability to boot.

2. Take Advantage of Screen Capture!

In a world where your phone can track earthquakes or test for radiation, it can be easy to forget how useful the simplest things can be. We get so much of the information we need day-to-day from emails, websites, and social media. But even now, in 2013, we still sometimes find ourselves having to write things down. Well, no more if you learn to make the best use of the screen capture feature.

Neat Gadget  Solar USB Charger by cogdogblog This Might Save Someone's Life One Day, You Know... Photo by cogdogblog

Say you get an email invitation to your cousin's baby shower. You're looking for their house and you don't want to have to cycle through all your emails to find their address — and you definitely don't want to have to call them and admit you forgot where they live! So take a screen shot of the email before you leave home and have the info at your fingertips as soon as you need it. This trick is also useful for taking snapshots of maps, dates, or events you don't want to miss.

So how do you do it? Easy as pie. Make sure you're honed in on the critical piece of information, then simply hit the Home and Power buttons simultaneously on your iPhone or the Volume-down and Power buttons on your Android to save the screenshot to your photos. Now you can easily send the image to others, or even set it as your background. This trick is particularly useful if you don't have Internet access on the go.

3. Use a Good Passcode!

You Dont Have to Carry One Of These Around Anymore  Its In Your Phone Use It by Freddy The BoyYou Have One of These Built Into Your Phone. Use It. Photo by Freddy The Boy

This could end up being the most important tip of all. We use our smartphones for a lot these days. We stay up to date with our friends and loved ones, we manage our finances, and some of us even use them to control our cars.(I'll leave it to you to decide how smart that is.) But all this convenience comes with risks: if a criminal were to gain access to all that information, it could mean a massive headache for you. Even if you don't do any online banking, you don't want to let some malicious individual send misleading texts or emails to your friends.

Luckily, all smartphones have passcode protection. Unfortunately, many of us don't take full advantage of this basic safety feature. As Simpleer points out, half of us don't even use passcodes, leaving our vital information open to anyone who might chance upon our phones. Treat your phone password like your bank PIN: don't choose something that someone is likely to guess. Your birthday is a bad password, and so is 1-1-1-1. You unlock your phone a thousand times a day — it won't take long for you to remember four random numbers, but it will make it virtually impossible for all but the luckiest of thieves to access your treasured smartphone.


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