As we leave the Christmas season, a lot of you have found yourselves with a new mobile phone. Sometimes these can be really overwhelming and we often get frustrated with any and all of the new features we have to wade through. We have made a sort of “checklist,” if you will help you get all of.
Check out whats in the box.
Once you open the box and take out your shiny new device, a lot of people tend to discard what is left inside. You’re excited though, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but there is a lot of great things you could miss out on. Make sure you take out the charger and check to see if your device comes with headphones. Another thing a lot of people are missing out on is the enclosed literature. I have yet to come across a phone with an extended user manual, due to the endless features and options you have, but sometimes there is a quick start guide to help you out. Other times, there are offers that are exclusive to the device. When I first got my Google Pixel, there was an offer for 3 free months of Google Play Music (similar to Spotify or Apple Music). Be sure to check out what you could be missing!
Charge the battery.
You’ve got a lot of fun stuff ahead of you to customize your new phone to yourself, so make sure you get a solid charge on it. Some things like updates, data transfers from old phones, and downloading bigger apps will take up a pretty good amount of battery life, along with having your screen on for the amount of time you’re setting it up, so be sure to get it plugged in.
Go through the set-up.
Any new device will have a set-up process for the first time you power it on. Going through the steps is relatively is to follow through, but be sure to leave a comment if you can’t figure something out. Following these steps will make sure that your information, like your Google account, is set up properly. This will allow you to back up your information in case something were to happen later on down the road. If you’re like me, I enjoy having my data saved across multiple platforms like my computers, phones, and tablets, and in doing this, I can access it everywhere.
This is also the time where you can connect to your home wifi, which will help you download apps faster, save your mobile data, and connect to your home smart devices.
Start to customize!
This is where the fun begins. From here, we can change your wallpaper, ringtones, alarm tones, default apps, and widgets on your home screen. For ringtones, text tones, and alarm tones, I use an app called Zedge. (Download here). There are tons of free sounds for you to download and it’s as simple as tapping the search bar and looking for what you want. If you have a higher-end device, I’ve found that a lot of the wallpapers they offer have a grainy outcome on higher resolution screens. Keep in mind, on that app, there is a lot of ads in order for them to generate revenue and not charging you. To change your ringtones after you have either download a few or are planning on using the default ones, go to Settings>Sound> and from there, you can change your tones as you wish. Don’t forget that you can also assign individual ringtones for each person. This means you can have a specific ringtone for when work or your spouse or that pesky neighbor calls.
For wallpapers, I use the app Wallpapers from Google. ( Download here). There are no ads in this app, and all of the wallpapers will come out in a very high resolution. I’ve found that there is a limited amount of wallpapers in this app, but they are all very simple. I like my phone display to be very simple and minimalistic, so this app is perfect for me. If you would rather, you can use your own personal pictures as your wallpaper as, or download an image off of the internet to use. You can also use what is called “live wallpapers.” These wallpapers are images that move, kind of like a movie that replays over and over. You can get anything from a lily pond, to the ocean, to weather scenes ( like rain or storms). Some of these are interactive, as in the water moves when you touch the screen. These wallpapers are cool, but they do utilize more of your battery, so be cautious of that if you choose one. To change the wallpaper navigate to Settings> Display> Wallpaper>
Let’s talk about Widgets. Widgets are like apps that are always running on your home screen(s). Some of the most common widgets I see used today are weather, clock, stock, news, and social media feeds. I currently use three widgets on my screens. I have a calendar widget, which shows my Google Calendar at a glance. I have a clock widget, which displays a bigger, digital clock on the center of my primary home screen. I also invest in eCurrency (yes, like Bitcoin) so I have a widget that shows me the current price of the coins of I have invested in. A lot of these apps have a refresh rate that can be adjusted. The more it refreshes, the more battery life it will use, so be wary if you have them set to refresh often.
Get some cool apps.
Now we have your phone looking good…but its time to have some fun. Your phone will come with a lot of the basic things like Gmail, a calculator, and a web browser, but what else can we get? In Septemeber of 2017, there were over 3.3 million apps available in the Google Play Store. This will give you a ton of options to download things to assist you in your daily life. After all, that’s why we own a mobile phone, right?
When downloading an app there are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- Read the reviews and check the ratings. This will let you know if the app functions properly and what others thought about it. If it has a low rating and bad reviews, odds are it isn’t being supported by the creator, or its known to have bugs.
- Be sure to check if the app costs money! I hear about this often that people download and pay for apps, and have no clue that they’re doing it. If it just says “install” on the small green rectangle, there is no charge to download it (though it may contain in-app purchases). If you see a dollar amount on the rectangle, it is going to charge you, however, the play store will make you either type in your password or scan your fingerprint before purchasing to authenticate your purchasing.
- Most apps that say “pro” anywhere in the name mean that the app will cost money, but more than likely will not have ads.
Don’t be afraid to pay for an app! If you think about it, you indulge in a candy bar at the grocery store that’s gone in 3 minutes or buy that $5 cup of coffee every morning that is finished by lunch, so why not pay a dollar or two to get an app that you get to keep forever? I personally have purchased a few apps that I use on a daily basis. The Google Play Store does have a 2-hour window that an app can be “returned” for a full refund. (info on that here).
I have compiled a list of apps that I personally feel like every smartphone should have. Click the name to bring you to the Play Store to download:
Find My Device helps you easily locate a lost Android device, and keeps your information safe and sound while you look.
Locate your phone, tablet or watch. Misplaced your Android Wear device? No problem.
Play a sound. Find My Device helps you track down your device when it’s close by.
Lock, erase or show a message. With Find My Device you can secure your device remotely and help someone get in touch.
Use Android Pay by adding a card from any participating bank.
Keep your information safe. With Android Pay, your actual card number is never shared. Instead, a virtual account number is used so that your card details are always kept safe.
Android Pay is available for all non-rooted Android devices (KitKat 4.4+).
Answer quick surveys and earn Google Play credit with Google Opinion Rewards, an app created by the Google Surveys team.
Getting started is easy. Download the app and answer basic questions about yourself. We’ll then send you surveys around once a week, although it may be more or less frequent. You’ll get a notification on your phone when a short and relevant survey is ready for you and can receive up to $1.00 in Play credit for completing it. Questions can range from, “Which logo is best?” and “Which promotion is most compelling?” to “When do you plan on traveling next?”
Slice is the ultimate companion for the online shopper!
The leading package tracker gives you peace of mind with push notifications updating you on the status of your delivery. We’re the only package tracking app that AUTOMATICALLY tracks your packages…so you never have to enter a tracking number again. After your package is delivered, we monitor for recall alerts and price changes–even helping you get a refund on items with low-price guarantees!
Slice is completely free, simple and secure. We’ve processed over 350 million purchases from Amazon, Etsy, eBay and thousands of other retailers.
Delivery Tracker:– Get push notifications and a visual map to track the status of your packages. We support all the major U.S. shipping carriers:
Price tracker: Slice alerts you when the price of something you’ve purchased has been reduced AFTER you’ve bought it. You are able to claim price adjustments directly from the application for supported low-price guarantee retailers:
PRODUCT RECALL UPDATES – Receive push notifications and email alerts when an item you’ve purchased has been recalled by the CPSC for safety reasons.
ONLINE SHOPPING ORGANIZER – Monitors purchase activity by tracking spending habits, categorizing products purchased, saving receipts to facilitate returns, exchanges, and warranty claims.
BARCODE SCANNER – Easily track your outgoing packages and returns by scanning the label before you ship it.
Rolling Sky, Google Play Best Game of 2016, which is a game that pushes the boundaries of your speed and reaction. The splendid 3D effect scene enables you to experience the imaginary traps and barriers. Now, let’s control the ball and conquer the world by overcoming challenges.
How to play?
Drag the ball left or right to avoid all obstacles and try not to fall off the track! Challenge your speed with the rhythm of the music and try your best to win each round!
• One-touch control with simple operations
• Stunning 3D worlds and effects
• Rich scenes (including Massif, Cosmos, Forest, Snowfield, Inferno and lots more!)
• A challenge to test your ultimate speed and fast reflexes!
These are just a few of the options you have available to you now. Please feel free to comment with your favorite apps that you use!
Get some accessories
This is where you can set your phone apart to be unique. There is an unreal amount of cases, screen protectors, speakers, batteries, and home devices you can get to make your phone stand apart from everyone else’s. The more popular your device is, the more options you have to choose from.
When it comes to cases, I suggest spending a little more money on a better case. The case can be the deciding factor on whether or not your phone survives a fall when getting out of the car or when that toddler decides they don’t want it anymore and decide to give it a toss across the room. Some of the more popular cases are Otterbox, Lifeproof, Mophie, and Speck. Otterbox and Lifeproof will give you that “military grade” protection on your device for longer life. (No they will not pay for your device if it breaks while using it. This is a common lie told by phone salesman). Mophie will give your phone an extra battery boost if it dies throughout the day, without having to carry around a spare battery. Speck is more of a “stylish”
There are a few different screen protectors, but the most popular is glass and plastic. Glass is going to last longer when it comes to scratch protection and it is going to help keep the screen intact in the event of a drop, but it is more expensive. Plastic will be cheaper, but not be as effective. Make sure when you buy a screen protector, you buy the one made specifically for your device. I personally use a Zagg Shield (click for website), and they are the #1 selling screen protector in the world.
Having a speaker is a great accessory to have around because music goes great with almost every activity you can do. I love music, so there is never a shortage of speakers lying around my house. There is plenty of factors that you have to take into consideration before buying. Price, sound quality, durability, battery life, and brand are going to be your biggest factors. Some speakers are waterproof and shockproof. These will be great for outdoor activities like camping or hiking. Others are designed to be loud, with crystal clear quality. Other speakers have a solar charging feature which could, in theory, give you endless music.
I personally use a Harmon Kardon Onyx Studio 3 for in-home use. When I’m at work, I use a JBL Charge 3 due to its ability to charge my device with its internal extra battery, and with it being waterproof, I don’t have to worry about getting caught in the rain (I often work outside.)
When it comes to extra batteries, what you really need to look for is the “mAh” (milliamp hours). This is the amount of “juice” that a battery has in it. I use a Google Pixel 2XL, which has a 3,520 mAh battery inside of it. When I purchased my external battery, I had to keep that in mind. You want your battery to at least be able to get one additional charge out of it, which would mean that I would need a battery with at least 3,520 mAh to give me a charge back to 100%. I personally purchased one at Best Buy (that you can find here) that is 15,000 mAh and fits in my pocket or backpack easily. That would give me about an additional 4 recharges for my phone if I needed it. This is something that makes being away from home without a car charger a little easier.
This is what is probably the newest craze to hit the mobile world. Home assistants are something that you use inside the home to make your life easier. There are products like the Amazon Echo and Google Home that are in home voice-controlled assistants. Nest which controls everything from your home security system to your video doorbell, to your thermostat. Phillips has a line of light bulbs that are controlled by your phone to change color or be set on a timer. Take the time to go to your local electronics store and speak to a sales associate about what each of these items does, or send us a message here to tell us what devices you are curious about and what you want to learn. As we come across new products, we will be typing reviews and recording unboxing videos to be posted here.
Getting a new device is fun but can be overwhelming. Give yourself time to get used to what your new device has to offer. Usually its better than what the last device brought to the table. Just because something has more to offer, it doesn’t always mean its a bad thing. Please be sure to comment and let us know what questions you have and maybe if I missed anything. Have a wonderful New Year!