Need-to-know for new smartphone owners

23:07, Dec 27 2012
Samsung Galaxy Note
POWER HUNGRY? Many new smartphone users are surprised at their device's battery use but it is doing a lot more work than a 'dumbphone'.

The silly season is over, the hangover is hopefully receding, and odds are many of you are now clutching new smartphones from Santa.

If you're new to the smartphone game, it's all a little confusing. Lifehacker has a few articles to give you some pointers - iOS and Android (and here's others for Windows and Mac), but I thought I'd throw my two cents in also.

New smartphone owners are vulnerable to up-selling by salesmen and misinformation by well-meaning friends and family, so with that in mind here are my top three smartphone misconceptions. Avoid them and I'll love you forever.

1. "My phone needs a screen protector."

No, no, no. A thousand times no. This isn't the first time I've ranted about this, and it won't be the last, until our phones are made out of smoke or liquid or something.

But until then, smartphone screens are made of a strong material called Gorilla Glass and are rugged enough to handle any kind of casual scratch, and a great deal of non-casual punishment.


The crappy plastic adhesive screen protector you've bought is just making the beautiful screen - pretty much the only part of the phone you'll look at - blurry and messy. Take it off and save my blood pressure.

2. "I need to quit any app I'm not using to save my iPhone's battery."

I hear this all the time and it absolutely kills me.

When your phone is unlocked, double tap the home button to open up a space called the "multi-tasking bar". You'll notice a bunch of icons for the apps you've most recently used, and if you swipe to the right, there will be more (swipe to the left and you'll get controls for playing media and locking your screen's orientation, which are quite handy).

The misconception is that these apps are currently running and wasting your battery, and that you need to tap and hold, then delete the icons to save it.

In some cases, it's the salesmen who sold new users the phone who have told them this (those guys again).

This blogpost does an excellent job of explaining precisely why these people are wrong, but suffice it to say that your iPhone's operating system (and indirectly Apple's stringent requirements for apps) does a good job of making sure apps you've closed get out of your way, and your phone's battery survives.
The multi-tasking bar is just a list of your most recently used apps, not those that are currently running.

3. "My smartphone's battery is terrible, it only lasts a day."

If you're upgrading from a so-called "dumb phone", with smaller energy needs and battery lives of a few days, it's easy to think you're getting ripped off when your iPhone needs to be plugged in every night.

But that criticism ignores the fact that your smartphone is capable of much more than your old phone, and when you tally up those difference it's not such a bad deal.

Most of that battery goes to running the display, so if you want to save battery you should start by lowering the brightness.

The device's various radios and antennas are also power-hungry, so if you're running low try putting the device into "airplane mode" when you don't need a running data connection.

Location services and wi-fi are also big energy spenders, so use these judiciously.

Also, buy another power cord to keep at work, and charge it while you're sitting around doing nothing.

I generally chuck mine on the charger when I go to bed (it also doubles as an alarm clock), and rarely need to worry about its battery again until after work the following day.

The Nelson Mail