Sometimes, smartphones can be a boon for your personal productivity, but other times it’s amazing how much trouble they have performing simple tasks. Here are ten things your phone probably sucks at, and how to make it work better.
10. Lasting Until the Next Charge
When you have something that runs on batteries, it’s inevitable that it’ll run out of juice. That’s just the nature of the beast. But oftentimes, your battery dies long before you want it to, and that’s not good (remember how long dumbphones used to last?). Luckily, there are two things you can do to fix this: first; make sure your phone isn’t wasting its battery. Check out our guides to getting better battery life on Android and the iPhone for more. Next, just make sure you charge it whenever you can. It’s easier than you think—and we have strategies for that too. Image by Jaroslav Machacek (Shutterstock).
9. Understanding What You Type
This one isn’t really your phone’s fault—it tries really hard—it’s just that typing on a keyboard that tiny is really difficult (even with the sometimes-hilarious autocorrect helping you out). The best solution is to improve your typing skills, but if you’re on Android, you’re also lucky enough to have your choice of keyboards. Here are the five best keyboards around, but if you don’t like those, check out our guide on finding the right keyboard for you. With the right tools and some honed skills, you should make typing with your thumbs just a little bit easier.
8. Giving You Control
I don’t want the Blockbuster app on my phone. Why can’t I get rid of it? I want to use Google Maps for all my navigation. Why won’t my iPhone let me? Sure, you could root or jailbreak, but manufacturers are constantly working against you to make that more difficult, and even the Nexus phones come with some unnecessary apps these days. At least they’re a bit easier to root, but good luck finding one on your carrier of choice—depending on the device, that’s all luck. Thankfully, you can at least make up for some of this by rooting, jailbreaking, unlocking, and getting rid of that crapware on the phone you do have—no thanks to the manufacturers and carriers, of course. Image remixed from myVector (Shutterstock).
7. Being Durable
Remember the days of Nokia phones that could survive a nuclear holocaust? What happened to those? These days, it seems like dusting your phone wrong could crack the screen, cause your buttons to stop working, or even just wear on that darn battery cover. We understand it’s all in the name of design, and luckily you can fix most of these things yourself—whether it’s replacing the screen, making the most of your broken buttons, or just getting a case to protect it all.
6. Taking Good Pictures
This has become less of a problem over the years, but smartphone cameras are still far from the best cameras around—yet most of us have replaced out superior point-and-shoots with the cameras in our pockets. Luckily, while they don’t always take the best of pictures, there’s a lot you can do to make the best of what you’ve got. Take extra care to follow the basic rules of photography (like using your light), tweak your camera app’s settings, and even do a little post-processing work to make those pictures usable.
5. Keeping You Focused
It’s nice to have a phone that gets email, browses the web, and entertains you when you’re bored. The problem? It also distracts you while you’re driving, keeps you from interacting with people, and all-around annoys the people around you. You don’t need to give up your smartphone to stay focused, though—you just need to change how you use it. Read up on the most annoying things you do with your phone that you should quit for more info.
4. Staying Up to Date
It’s amazing how fast a “modern” phone can start to feel out of date. The iPhone 4 can’t navigate using Apple Maps, and multiple Android phones from the past two years have no hope of getting Jelly Bean (or even Ice Cream Sandwich). As annoying as this is, a little ingenuity (and a few good apps) can get around this problem nicely. We always try to keep you up to date with the latest OS’ features now, whether it be iOS 6 or Android Jelly Bean. Plus, with the right buying and selling tactics, you can upgrade to the latest and greatest every few months, without spending a fortune.
3. Giving You a Moment’s Peace and Quiet
Out of the box, your phone probably vies for your attention a lot. All those notifications are annoying at best, and productivity-killing at worst. You could just put your phone on silent, but you’re better off pruning your notifications and optimizing how you use them. Turn off the notifications you don’t need, keeping only the important ones, and give them each a different tone so you know whether something is important (and when it can be left alone). With a good system in place, you should be able to keep your phone from going off every ding dong second and keep your sanity in place.
2. Saving You Money
When did having a phone get so gosh darn expensive? If your wallet’s feeling a little light, never fear—there are a few things you can do to keep the cost down (that the carriers probably won’t tell you about). First of all, you can trim a bit off those bills by using free services like Google Voice to cut down on texting, or VOIP services to cut down on minutes usage. If you’ve lost your coveted unlimited data plan, you can reign in usage to make sure you don’t incur overages (or, if you don’t want data, you can get rid of it altogether). However, if you’re really looking to save some dough, go prepaid. The average iPhone user can save over $1000 by switching to a prepaid plan, so if you’re tired of paying up the nose for cellphone bills, that’s one of your best options. Photo by Jason Rogers.
1. Being a Phone
Shockingly, the thing your phone is worst at? Being a freaking phone. When we polled you about your biggest smartphone annoyances, dropped calls were one of the most cited problems, and unfortunately, there’s only so much you can do about it. We offered a few solutions, but generally the best thing you can do is optimize your phone’s reception (and not just by holding it correctly). If you get particularly bad reception in your home or office, there are a few ways to work around that, but if you seem to have it more often than not, you’ll need to get to the bottom of why before you fix it. In the end, the best thing you can do is have a secondary phone line—whether it be a landline, VOIP on your computer, or even VOIP on your phone—to make sure you’re always connected. Image remixed from assets from PSDGraphics.
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