Smartphones are more advanced than ever. They’re packed with tons of features, like front- and rear-facing cameras, heart rate monitors, fingerprint screen lock, and access to apps galore. For some, there’s a strong learning curve that accompanies the highly sophisticated smartphones of today. Although, most devices are user-friendly enough to warrant ample praise for usability.
Even if you’re a tech-savvy smartphone user, you probably don’t know every tip and hack in the book to get the most from your device. We’ve compiled this comprehensive guide to most useful smartphone tricks to solve common problems. There’s plenty of tips to help you use your device in new ways. This comprehensive list will change your relationship with your smartphone.Useful smartphone tips and tricks
For tips on a specific topic, click a link below to jump to a specific section:
- Tips for conserving your smartphone’s battery and data usage
- Smartphone hacks to make your life easier
- Smartphone camera tips and tricks
- Smartphone tips for travelers
- Smartphone hacks just for fun
Tips for conserving your smartphone’s battery and data usage
1. Disable background data for your non-essential apps.
“Many apps run in the background, even when you’re not using them. This makes sense for things like email and social media, where you might want to know the minute you get a new message or comment, but do you really need your games, notes, and music players gobbling up battery resources 24/7?
“With iOS, you can turn off background data on an app-by-app basis. Go to Settings—>General—>Background App Refresh, and select apps to turn off.
“With Android, you can “restrict background data” for each app. Go to Settings—>Data usage. Tap on your app of choice, then scroll to the bottom to restrict background data on cellular networks. (Note that this setting can also save you from accidentally going over your data plan threshold.)” – Ben Taylor, 15 Tricks For Getting Way Better Smartphone Battery Life, TIME Magazine
2. Disable app notifications that you don’t really need.
“Bugged by annoying app notifications that just keep coming? If you don’t know already, these app notifications also drain your phone’s battery. If you want to turn them off, and you are on Jelly Bean 4.1 and above, here’s how. On any of your unwanted notifications in your notification bar, long press on the notification for a message box to appear. Tap on App Info > Untick Show Notifications > OK.” – Nels Dzyre, 10 Useful Android Tips And Tricks You Should Know, Hongkiat; Twitter: @hongkiat
3. Disable cellular data usage for specific apps and features to conserve battery power.
“Turn off cellular data usage for certain apps and features that you won’t be needing to save battery. Go to the Cellular or Data Usage tab under your phone’s Settings, and toggle off cellular data for specific apps that use a lot of your data. You can always #latergram your photos when you have more battery.” – Brooke Shunatona, 16 Cell Phone Hacks Every Twentysomething Needs to Know, Cosmopolitan; Useful smartphone tips and tricks
4. Premium versions of your favorite apps can save both data usage and battery power.
“Yes, we like free apps. Like most free things in life, they always come with a price. Castro recommends paying for premium version of apps that won’t show you ads. He says free apps constantly use your data to deliver you different commercials! Besides saving your data consumption that way, Castro says it can also save some battery power on your device.” – Wendy Tang, 8 smartphone hacks for the non-tech savvy, LinkedIn; Twitter: @wwtang
5. Don’t use your smartphone while charging it.
“Ever wondered why phone manufacturers make such short charging cables? Do they want to save money? No, the answer is — They don’t want you to use the phone while charging. Yes, they discourage the idea of simultaneously charging and using it, as it reduces battery life to a large extent. Most phones run on Li-ion batteries and these batteries have a limited charge cycle after which they need to be replaced.” – Ashkay, 12 Amazing Smartphone Hacks For The 20 Something, LifeHacks; Twitter: @LifeHacksIO
6. Extend your battery with low power mode.
“Your battery is at a low percentage, and you’re no where near a charger. Don’t panic just yet. If your phone is running on iOS9, go to Settings > Battery > Low Power Mode. (Siri can do this for you too.) By going into Low Power Mode, non-essential tasks are disabled, giving you up to FOUR more hours of battery life.” – Marlisse Cepeda, The Best iPhone Hacks We Learned in 2015, Woman’s Day; Twitter: @WomansDay
7. Disable notifications and turn the fetch function off.
“Every time your phone buzzes with a notification of a new Snapchat, tweet or Instagram like, it loses a little bit of power. Keep the notification alerts to a minimum to maximize that battery life.
“We know, you don’t want to miss an e-mail. But the fetch function—which is always looking for new mail and pings you with inbox updates—is a major battery drainer. Turn the function off on the weekends (at least) to extend the power while you’re out and about.” – Kevin Aeh, Better Battery Life: 10 Ways to Hack Your Smartphone, Birchbox; Twitter: @Birchbox
Smartphone hacks to make your life easier
8. Put the weather forecast on your lock screen.
“Put the weather on your lock-screen! There are many apps to choose from, but here are two free ones I recommend for iPhone and Android.
“For iPhone: Weather Lock Screen (Free, iOS), For Android: Beautiful Widgets (Free, Android).” – Karam Ahmad, 6 Brilliant Smartphone Life-Hacks you should be using, Otterbox; Twitter: @OtterBox
9. Get around storage issues on your Android smartphone with Gmote.
“One of the major reasons why people usually buy smartphones is so that they are able to play their favorite music and videos. However, this usually comes with some limitations, mainly with regard to storage space. For many people, most of their music and video files are usually stored in their PCs, while just a selected number of files are stored in their smartphones. This thus means that they cannot access their music files, and they have to keep deleting some of the files in order to make room for new files. This is a great inconvenience for smartphone users; the good news is that someone saw this and decided to come up with a simple hack that enables one to stream their music from their PC to their smartphones by using Wi-Fi. There is an Android app called app called Gmote that makes accessing this future a breeze.” – Dani, 29 Incredible Android Hacks You’ve Probably Never Heard, Joy of Android; Twitter: @JoyofAndroid
10. Capture something important or entertaining.
“Your friend just made a hilarious typo in a text message and you want to share it with your other friends. Capture it as an image with a screenshot.
“On an iPhone, press and hold the Home button along with the Sleep/Wake button. You should hear a shutter click. The screenshot will appear in your Camera Roll or Saved Photos section.
“On Androids, hold the Power and Volume Down buttons at the same time. The image is saved to the “Captured Images” folder in your Gallery app. That only works in Android 4.0 and higher, though. For Android 3.0, 2.3 or earlier, use an app like AirDroid.
“Once you have the image, share it to your favorite social media site or through email.” – Kim Komando, 5 secrets every smartphone user needs to know, USA Today; Twitter: @USATODAY
11. You aren’t stuck with the keyboard that comes with your smartphone.
“What’s the best Android keyboard? Simple: the one that works for you. You don’t have to put up with your device’s keyboard. There’re loads of keyboard options, from the manufacturer’s version that Samsung or HTC bundle in, through to the stock Android keyboard, or third party keyboards like SwiftKey or Skype.
“First up, turn off the vibration feedback on keypress. You’ll find this in settings > language & input (or language & keyboard) where all the keyboard settings lie. Sometimes the vibrations get backed up and once your fingers start flying, they can’t always keep up, which is annoying. The buzzing of the vibration may also be really annoying to those around you. Some vibrations get hidden in the sound and notification setting. Again, less is more, as they say.
“Although some of the manufacturer keyboards are pretty good, the stock Android keyboard (available on Google Play) is also good, but we’re fans of the advanced features of SwiftKey, which is well worth a try too, because of the strength of its predictive suggestions. It’s also free.” – Chris Hall, Android for beginners: Tips and tricks for your new smartphone, Pocket-lint; Twitter: @Pocketlint
12. Open links in a new browser window on an Android device.
“The standard Android browser offers tabbed browsing, it just doesn’t do a very good job of advertising it. Long-pressing a URL lets you open web links in a new tab – you then switch tabs by pressing Menu and selecting the Windows option. Not that user-friendly a system, but it works. Just remember that quitting to the desktop may automatically close everything in the middle of a tab-heavy session.” – Gary Cutlack, 50 really useful Android tips and tricks, TechRadar; Twitter: @techradar
13. Use the “remind me later” feature to skip calls on your iPhone, without forgetting about them.
“Alternatively, you can get iOS to remind you to call back later. As with the auto-replies, the way you do this depends on your version of iOS: in iOS 9 you tap the Remind Me button above the slide, but in earlier versions you swiped upwards and selected Remind Me Later.
“You can choose to be reminded in an hour, ‘When I Leave’ or (where applicable) ‘When I Get Home’. Make sure your address details are up to date in Contacts, so your iPhone knows where home is. The timings will be based on your GPS movements.” – Ashleigh Allsopp, The 25 best iPhone tricks you didn’t know existed, MacWorld; Twitter: @MacworldUK
14. Back-up your data to avoid losing photos, videos, and other important information.
“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.” – Monica Vila, 7 Essential Tips for New Smartphone Owners, The Online Mom; Twitter: @TheOnlineMom
15. Download memory management software.
“Users can download and install memory management software for free or a very low cost to use on their smartphones. These programs restore memory lost by defragmenting the hard drive or performing a recovery to find the lost information. Defragmentation also helps the Android run faster and this can even be done while using the phone. Once the software is installed, users can click on the app at any time to run the program and free up some memory. These software apps also provide other features for users to help them stay on top of their memory usage.” – 6 Tips for Keeping Your Android Smartphone at Peak Performance, eBay; Twitter: @eBay
16. Use the DiskUsage app to identify major data hogs.
“Like most Android users, you may run into slight space issues when it comes to available internal storage for apps. The daunting task you face, then, is to go through each of your apps and locate the major megabyte offenders. One way to tackle this is an app called DiskUsage. DiskUsage scans the location and displays a visual representation of your disk usage.” – Thomas Jones, Top 5 android memory management Tool to Get the Most Memory of Android, WonderShare; Twitter: @Wondershare
Smartphone camera tips and tricks
17. On an iPhone, you can take photos using the headphone cord.
“You can take a picture using the headphone cord. Ever want to get a bit father away from the camera when taking a self portrait? Everyone should know that you can snap a picture with your iPhone by pressing the Volume Up button, but few people realize this works with the volume buttons built into the headphones, too.” – Ed Hardy, Top 10 iPhone Tips and Tricks, Brighthand; Twitter: @Brighthand
18. Use the volume button to snap pictures.
“Taking selfies is serious business. But it doesn’t have to be a difficult one. It’s surprising how many people don’t realize that you can just hit either volume button (on most phone models—both iOS and Android) to snap a picture. You don’t have to hit the virtual button that’s on your screen. This works one both the front- and back-facing cameras, but it’s particular handy when shooting a selfie. If you didn’t know this before, you will never go back to shooting by tapping the screen. We were able to confirm this feature on various iPhones and several Android models.” – Evan Dashevsky, 14 Cool Smartphone Camera Tricks You Should Know, PC Mag; Twitter: @PCMag
smartphone camera to store highly useful information like your prescriptions (photos of your medicine bottles), your frequent flier number (photo of your frequent flier card), or your hotel’s address (photo/screen-grab of your travel itinerary) in case your lose service." - Brenna Loury" width="300" height="377" data-blogger-escaped-style="border: 0px; box-sizing: border-box; color: #333333; float: left; font-family: Raleway, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; height: auto; margin: 0px 15px 15px 0px; max-width: 100%; outline: none; transition: all 0.4s ease-in; vertical-align: middle;" />
19. Make better use of your smartphone’s camera – it’s not just for selfies.
“It seems so simple, but getting more mileage out of your phone’s camera can truly make your life easier. Snap a picture of your fridge/pantry before you head to the grocery store so that you know exactly what to buy. Suffer from parked-car memory failure? Take a picture of the closest intersection to your car’s location. Use your smartphone camera to store highly useful information like your prescriptions (photos of your medicine bottles), your frequent flier number (photo of your frequent flier card), or your hotel’s address (photo/screen-grab of your travel itinerary) in case your lose service.” – Brenna Loury, 7 Easy Hacks That Turn Your Smartphone into the Ultimate Productivity Tool, Todoist; Twitter: @todoist
20. Use an app (and your device’s camera) to make all your documents digital.
“Thanks to the increasing quality of smartphone cameras, you no longer need a scanner to get all of your paper files up into the cloud. Evernote, Google Drive and CamScanner are three of several apps that can do the job.” – David Nield, 23 smartphone tricks to impress your friends, T3, The Gadget Website; Twitter: @t3dotcom
21. Edit and retouch your best photos.
“Be selective! Try to choose only the best pictures and then edit those.
“There are many apps that will help you to do this, and while we can’t understate their help in creating beautiful images, but don’t try too hard. You should remember that sometimes a picture can be better off without any filters.
“It’s also worth mentioning that there is no ‘magic’ application. Sometimes a picture can not be saved and instead of ‘torturing’ it, you’d be better off taking another photo. Try to use less filters and more individual adjustments that you can apply — each of of your photographs is different, so take an individual approach to editing them.” – DL Cade, 35 Mobile Photography Tips That’ll Help You Take Much Better Smartphone Shots, 500PX ISO; Twitter: @500px
22. You’re not limited to the camera app that comes with your smartphone.
“The camera app that comes with your phone is perfectly adequate (if somewhat minimalist) most of the time. But what if you want to capture the light trails of cars driving past a nighttime holiday display? Or maybe you want to use your phone’s digital zoom while shooting a video of kids unwrapping presents? If so, it’s time to check out one of the many camera apps in your phone’s app store. On the iPhone, I highly recommend Top Camera, which does all the above and more. If you’re looking for other camera-enhancing apps, we have several great suggestions for iPhones and Android phones.” – Dave Johnson, Smartphone photo tips for the holidays, PCWorld; Twitter: @davejoh, @pcworld
23. Use gridlines to line up your shots.
“One of the easiest and best ways to improve the photos you take on your mobile device is by turning on gridlines so you can properly set up your shot. It superimposes a series of lines on the screen of your smartphone’s camera app that are based on the “rule of thirds” — one of the most well-known principles of photographic composition.
“The rule of thirds says to break an image down into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, so you have nine parts in total. The theory is that if you place points of interest in these intersections or along the lines, your photo will be more balanced and will enable your viewer to interact with the image more naturally.” – Lindsay Kolowich, How to Take Good Pictures With Your Phone: 17 Tips & Tricks to Try, HubSpot; Twitter: @HubSpot
24. Don’t use the digital zoom on your smartphone.
“On most DSLR and even some point and shoot cameras, you are able to zoom in on your subject by using what they call an optical zoom. This is where the optics, or the actual lens of the camera, moves to get a closer view of your subject. Due to the fact that most cell phone cameras have to be crammed into tight spaces to make them fit, they generally don’t have the necessary optics needed to zoom in and out.
“Manufacturers have compensated for this by equipping most camera phones with a digital zoom. The main difference is that a digital zoom is done with software and not hardware. Basically, the camera takes the image you want to zoom in on and spreads it out over more pixels on your screen. This creates a subpar and often times blurry photo.
“Instead of using the digital zoom, try to get closer to your subject. If that is not possible for whatever reason, do your zooming after you take the picture by cropping out the unnecessary parts of the image. This will yield a sharper image while still keeping the focus on your subject.” – Dave Koen, Five Tips for Great Smartphone Photography, Storenvy; Twitter: @Storenvy
25. Consider a smartphone lens attachment.
“Invest in a fun smartphone lens. If you’re missing some of the features of your multi-lens camera, check out the fun options for smartphone lens attachments. These attach magnetically and can be switched out quickly and easily. With options like a wide-angle macro lens, an ultra-magnifying telephoto lens and a polarizer lens for a ‘sunglasses on’ effect, the possibilities are endless.” – Five New Tips to Make the Most of Your Smartphone Photography, Princess Lodges
26. Filters are your friend.
“Don’t listen to haters that say how inauthentic and corny filters are. Sure, it’s a better idea to make your own tweaks in apps that allow for more subtle controls over color and tone. Take VSCO Cam or Afterlight for a spin. But if you don’t have time for all that jazz, cozy up to Instagram and be proud of a little filtering. There’s a reason they’re so popular.” – Michael Hession, 7 Tips For Less Terrible Smartphone Photos, Gizmodo; Twitter: @Gizmodo
27. Use a cloud service to share photos with friends and also as a back-up.
“Share your pictures with family and friends! Apps like Dropbox and Google Drive can be used to send large amounts of photos, but also serve as a photo backup. If you have a Dropbox account, pictures can automatically be uploaded, saving you the worry of losing your priceless travel snapshots. Flickr, which also allows you to back-up and share photos via its app, now offers 1TB of storage for free.” – Emily Fischer, 9 Smartphone Travel Photography Tips, Travel and Transport; Twitter: @TandTNews
28. 360-degree panoramas capture the full spectrum of beautiful scenery surrounding you.
“Take 360-degree panoramic video with your iPhone 5, 4S, or 4 using Kogeto’s Dot snap-on accessory lens and Looker, a free companion app from the iTunes Store.” – Amy Bizzarri, Top 9 Smartphone Travel Photography Tips, SocialMoms.com; Twitter: @socialmoms
Smartphone tips for travelers
29. Download movies, music, and other media through Wi-Fi to watch in-flight.
“Rather than streaming everything, you are better off saving some media (music, movies, video, etc.) directly to your device for your travels. You may not always have a data connection and, even if you do, streaming can eat into your data plan and cost you a lot of money. Even though your airline may have on-board Internet service, you can’t normally stream movies using their connection.”– Robin Wright, 6 Useful Smartphone Travel Tips, The Online Mom; Twitter: @TheOnlineMom
30. Charge your device using the USB port in the back of the television.
“When you’re packing for a trip it’s easy to forget a few things, even if you’ve got a great, geeky travel checklist. If you forget your charger, the television in your hotel room can fill in as a substitute.