Everyone loves spending time on their smartphones. It’s how we connect with friends, keep up with the world, take selfies and, well, share more than we should. Here are some tips on how to be smartphone savvy:
Data saving tips
1. You can browse the web but use a lot less data with the Opera Mini mobile browser that is available on most handsets. It shrinks a website down to 10% of its original size. Bonus: it has a data counter so you see how much you’ve downloaded.
2. Switch off the 3G/LTE connection for streaming services like Netflix, ShowMax, or music subscriptions; all cloud services such as Dropbox or iCloud; and app store updates. Rather access these services on WiFi only. Top tip: use offline playlists where possible.
3. Check that your WhatsApp settings are optimised to use less data under Data and Storage Usage. You can select “Low data usage” for calls; and you can turn off auto downloads for photos, voice notes, videos and docs. Handy if you belong to many groups who forward the same memes all day.
4. Turn off “Background app refresh” so apps like Instagram and Facebook don’t update when your phone is locked. We recommend you turn it off for all apps, however, both Android and iPhone let you select individual apps. Top tip: monitor how much data is being used by each app here.
5. Disable video auto play across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram under app settings. What you don’t want is a random video or advert finishing up your last bit of data. Mobile ad-blockers are also useful for keeping data costs down.
Battery saving tips
1. You may not know this but the screen on your smartphone is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to battery usage. Change your settings to “Auto brightness” or keep the screen dim by default. It should take the strain off your eyes as well.
2. Apps: go into your battery settings and view the individual breakdown of what uses the most power. Where possible, delete the ones you don’t use any more, and limit your screen time on the ones that are resource intensive. Usually Instagram and Snapchat use the most battery life on a day-to-day basis. Top tip: take pictures on the standard camera app instead of doing it within a social network’s camera.
3. Turn off notifications for most apps. The more apps you have, the more arb notifications you receive every single day, usually to get you to spend more time inside an app. Turn it on for essentials only, such as messaging, email and a few of your favourite social media services.
4. Use your phone’s built-in battery saving mode, usually accessible from the shortcut menu. This automatically limits the activity and prolongs your battery life from the moment you activate it.
Money matters (all apps are free on Android and iPhone)
1. Snapscan – Scan a QR code to make payments for food markets, bills, online stores or street parking. Sign up and link your bank cards to get going. It also lets you pay bills for DStv, SABC and Pay@.
2. Zapper – Found on most restaurant bills, Zapper also works by scanning a QR code from its app. You have access to loyalty cards, vouchers and specials within the app, tied to your profile once logged in.
3. Starbucks – Starbucks makes good use of its mobile app; it is tied to a loyalty scheme and who doesn’t want free coffee? Sign up, load a voucher or your bank card and start swiping. You can view your credit balance, loyalty points and vouchers in the app, with the ability to reload credit.
4. Stash – A nifty app by Liberty Life that rounds up your spend on coffees, restaurants or shopping, and invests it into big companies. You can set it to “stash” between R10 and R50 per transaction, based on your bank SMSes. Think of it as a piggy bank for your phone.
5. Luno – If you have an interest in crypto currencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, and want to buy and sell, download the Luno app. You will need to load money into your wallet first before transacting. Seek financial advice before making any impulsive purchases.
Photo editing apps
1. Foodie – This app spruces up any photo, not just food images. It has an extensive range of filters and allows you to choose the level of intensity so you can avoid making your photos look overly fake. (Android and iPhone)
2. PhotoGrid – This is the easiest way to stitch pics together through a collage, slideshows, memes, posters or just basic editing. You can add text, stickers or backgrounds, and get creative. (Android and iPhone)
3. Over – The free version offers advanced editing that gives you access to each layer. You can choose image size and add text, stickers, fonts and other features to make simple and elegant projects that can be shared on social media. (iPhone)