Android smartphone survival guide

Cape Town - If it's time to upgrade your phone, odds are that you might opt for an Android-powered device. But if change is intimidating, these tips to deal with your new phone will help.

Power

There's nothing as annoying as wanting to send a text in the early afternoon and finding that your phone's battery has died.

With battery power, all manufacturers are not created equal. While there will always be a compromise between features and power, you can significantly extend the battery life of your phone by disabling wireless features that you don't need.

Drop the Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and even NFC unless you really need it.

In fact, the HTC One (M8) can be set to automatically switch off your data connection during long periods of inactivity and has an extreme power saving mode that should comfortably see you through two days of use.


Android smartphones offer ways to limit your battery power consumption. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Sony's Z3 has one of the best batteries in a smartphone available today, and the device features a clever location-based Wi-Fi setting that will only connect to networks that you have authorised.

To save battery power, you can set the display to auto brightness so that it uses less energy. Also, consider setting the automatic timeout to 30 seconds or less to save battery power.

To check if you have power-hungry apps, go to Settings and check your app power consumption. The Android system and cell network consume the majority of available power, but if there's an app that consumes more than 30% of battery power consider getting rid of it, or using a similar application.

Data

Undoubtedly, the cost of data is one of those grudge purchases for smartphones. While Android KitKat (version 4.4) is far kinder to data bundles than Gingerbread (2.3) ever was, if left to its own devices, the operating system can easily consume in excess of 500MB per month.

However, go to Settings and find those apps that are data hungry. Social network apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are notorious for their data consumption; check that your favourite game behaves itself.


Social networking applications consume large amounts of data with regular use. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Popular games such as RealRacing 3, Legion of Heroes and Summoners War are free to play, but require a data connection and healthy bundle for good gaming experience.

If you have a Samsung smartphone, you are eligible for data through the AlwaysOn Wi-Fi network. The company also offers 5GB of data for R29 per month at 1 400 South African locations.

If you're not keen to pay, find shopping malls and restaurants that offer free Wi-Fi data. Orange offers Wi-Fi to African Eagle customers in Cape Town and the company intends to roll out local Wi-Fi networks.

Security

There are scores of criminals who can't wait to get their grubby hands on your shiny new smartphone. To foil them (a bit), ensure that you only install apps from the Play Store.

Go to Settings -> Security -> Unknown Sources for that control. While it's not a perfect prevention, you will have some protection from malicious applications.

You could also install a monitoring app such Watchdog Lite which automatically checks for misbehaving apps - especially those that gobble processor power and data.

Watch this online video of how to get the best out of your Android device.




- Follow Duncan on Twitter

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