Do it right: Setting up your new smartphone

Posted by Harigovind M

Got you dream smartphone at last?  Here’s what to do to get the best out of the first few hours and set it up right.


Sort out your sim


First things first, if you have a sim card handy, put it in the phone. Make sure you have the right size (nano or micro).


If you have a new iPhone and don’t have a sim card that will fit then you should stop now as it can’t be used without being activated, which requires a valid, working sim. If you have an Android, Windows Phone or other, you can proceed without a sim card and put one in later when you have one.


Plug it in


It is not strictly necessary to fully charge your phone before using it, but setting up a phone is a power intensive activity and you don’t to drain the battery before you’ve even started to use it. So, plug it in.


Connect to Wi-Fi


Most of a Smartphone’s setup is relatively data intensive, so connecting to a strong Wi-Fi signal is recommended.


Sign in and port your stuff


A signing in process is part of the setup routine of almost every smartphone, which allows settings, apps and other useful data to be synced and backed up.


If you do not have an account with Google, Microsoft or Apple and are setting up a new Android, iPhone or Windows Phone you should open a new account to make use of the features that this will enable. You don’t have to use it for email or anything beyond phone management, but it is necessary for access to app stores and other useful services.


A Google, Apple or Microsoft account can also allow you to port information from an old smartphone. Restoring a backup is the fastest way to get up and running. Most restore processes allow you to change the apps that get restored – have a look through and uncheck those you don’t need before you start.


Set a passcode


Once you’ve got your information on your phone you need to protect it. Setting a strong passcode or password will help keep thieves or relatives out.


Try to use a passcode that’s more than four digits or an alphanumeric password, and set the phone to lock when the screen turns off. If you have a fingerprint sensor on your phone, set that up with multiple fingers and use a longer password or passcode.


Using a fingerprint is quick and easy, but it is only as strong as the passcode used as a backup should it not work.


Encrypt your data


Most smartphones allow users to encrypt their data so they are protected from snooping or theft if the smartphone falls into the wrong hands. The process can take a while if it is not enabled early.


Android and Windows users need to enable it in settings, unless you’re running the latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Apple iPhone users who set a passcode will automatically have their devices encrypted.


Set up phone location and remote wipe


Should your phone become stolen or lost, having the ability to remotely delete all the information on it so that your photos, emails and other personal data does not fall into strangers’ hands can give you peace of mind.


Apple’s Find My iPhone, Google’s Android Device Manager and Microsoft’s Find My Phone can help you pinpoint your phone’s last know position and instruct it to delete all your data remotely if it is still connected to the internet.


They work well, but must be setup before you lose your phone. Find them in the various app stores or within the settings app on the phone.




A passcode and remote wipe will help protect your phone from attackers, but backing up will help you get your stuff back.


Most smartphones have a backup service built in. Make sure it is switched on in settings. Photos can be backed up separately using a cloud photo service (more on that later).


Check for updates


Now that the phone is setup, you have backup enabled and if you lose it at least your data is secure, its time to check for updates before you start installing apps.


That’s because software updates often require the modification of apps, particularly for Android. Do it before you install 100 apps and it’ll complete a lot quicker.


Set the screen’s brightness


Having automatic brightness adjustment is great, but you can customise it. By selecting the level manually on the automatic adjustment slider you can teach the phone that you like it slightly dimmer in that particular level of light.


The dimmer the screen the longer the battery lasts, so make it as dim as you can stand.


Install some apps


Time for the fun bit. Hit the app store and download some apps. Some will be free, others paid-for. Beware of in-app purchases as you can quickly run up large bills.


Get your homescreen under control


Once you’ve got hundreds of apps installed it’s time to address the homescreen. First, change the wallpaper with a long-press on the homescreen or within the settings app.


Then sort your icons. There are various ideas of how best to arrange them for speed or ease of use. Some arrange by colour, others by type, some use folders, others arrange them all by frequency of use.


Pin some widgets


Some apps come with handy widgets that display information right on the home or notifications screen. Transport apps have give quick glance information on the status of your commuter line, for instance, or the calendar app can flag today’s events.


Some apps have more advanced widgets than others, but you can always delete them if they’re more trouble than they’re worth.


Sort out your notifications


It’s very easy to be overloaded by notifications. You can restrict the number and types of apps that can send you alerts through the notifications settings. It’s worth blocking apps that become a nuisance or that you never want to be disturbed by.


Five minutes sorting through the notifications settings can save you hours of irritating pings over the course of a year.


Cache some music


Music plays a big part of many people’s smartphone experience. If you have an existing music collection transferring music can be as simple as moving the files to your phone with a cable from your computer or you can choose to upload the entire lot to an online cloud locker such as Google Play Music or Apple’s iTunes Match.


Alternatively, subscription music services are an excellent way of listening to new music if you do not have an extensive library.


There are many to chose from with highlights being Spotify, Google Play Music All Access, Apple Music and Groove music from Microsoft. Sign in to your app of choice, but don’t forget to cache some music for offline playback on your smartphone – stable internet access fast enough for high-quality music streaming is not exactly ubiquitous.


Sort out your photos


Photos can be the heart and soul of a smartphone and should be treated as such. Using the right photo service is the difference between having solid backups and a good experience, or losing everything if your phone goes walkies.


Flickr offers 1TB of storage for free, with automated backup on most platforms. Google’s Photos app, which offers unlimited backup at 16-megapixels and 1080p video for free, is also a good start whether you’re on Android or iPhone. Apple’s iCloud Photo library, a paid-for service, is also excellent on the iPhone. Other services are available for Windows Phone.


Check out a case


Once you’ve got your phone setup it’s worth thinking about protecting the exterior. Modern smartphones are relatively hardy, but drops can result in smashed screens. Thousands of cases are available for the iPhone, hundreds for Samsung devices. Most smartphones made will have at least one option for a case.

Congrats on the new smartphone to you then!


Source: The Guardian







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