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Receive a new smartphone today? Here's what you need to know*

*And a recap for the rest of us.

Image: Martyn Landi/PA Wire

IT’S THAT TIME of year again where some of us will be getting a new smartphone or tablet device. For some, they will be upgrading while others will be getting a smartphone for the first time.

For those of you who are in the latter camp, there is a fair amount to get your head around, but here are the main things to keep in mind (and a few things for everyone else).

What phone OS are you using?

OS, which stands for Operating System, is the software running your phone. There are three main OS’ and these are the phones they run on.

iOS – iPhone/iPad
Android – Samsung, Sony, HTC, Huawei, Motorola, LG, Alcatel.
Windows Phone – Lumia (formerly Nokia Lumia)

iOS has one physical button – the home button – while Android and Windows Phone add two more – the back button and either a tabs overview or search. All three allow you to create folders while Android users can place widgets on the home screen.

Each one has apps, basically icons on your screen that bring you to specific programmes, while iOS and Android have widgets, which allows you to carry out certain actions without opening up an app. iOS positions them in the

iOS positions widgets in the pull-down notifications screen (under today) while Android places them on the home screen.

Windows Phone has Live Tiles, which uses an app icon to display extra info, similar to widgets except you can only activate something by opening the app.

For those of you who received a new iPhone or iPad, iOS 8 has a number of new additions that you will want to know about. If you’re lucky enough to get a device that’s running Android Lollipop, it also introduced a number of handy features.

2014 Google search lists Source: Martyn Landi/PA Wire

Setting up your email

All smartphones require an email address to properly avail of all services such as the app stores and first-party apps. If you don’t have one, it’s best to set one up whenever you get the chance with a provider like Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo.

The app store

The lifeblood of any smartphone, apps are the very thing that turn it into a multifunctional device. Each OS has its own store, iOS has the App Store, Android has Google Play, and Windows Phone has Windows Phone Apps+Games Store.

There are a number of precautions to take before you hit the download button. For one, make sure you’re downloading from an official store like the ones above, be cautious of downloading from third-party sites, and check whether there are in-app purchases if you’re getting games/apps for your kids. The last thing you need is a nasty surprise.

Google Play Store

Also, it’s worth checking what app permissions are required to use an app. iOS asks you whether you want to activate them when you’re using the app, while Android and Windows Phone present them all together before you hit accept.

There’s a logic to most of them and while it may seem daunting or invasive, there’s usually a good reason for them. More importantly, if your gut feeling tells you that an app description isn’t being honest, stay away from it.

skype-permissions-604x500 Source: Google Play

Touch gestures

While all smartphones have different software, all of them use the same touchscreen gestures.  The basic ones are tap (used to open apps), swipe left to right/right to left (unlock, open up side menu, return to previous page), and swipe top down (brings down notifications screen).

A more comprehensive list of touch gestures is available here.

tap-to-open

Lock screens

For most phones, you can settle for the traditional 4-digit PIN, but there are more diverse and secure ways to keep your phone info safe. Some include fingerprint scanners while others use lock patterns to make it harder for someone to access your info.

Digital Life A Closer Look Beyond Passcodes

For those who have difficulty using their phone 

Not everyone who has a phone can use it normally so if you or someone you know has bad eyesight or aren’t able to touch a small screen precisely, turning on Accessibility Mode will solve that.

The range of features across all three smartphone OS’ is pretty consistent with features like zoom, large text, inverse colours and touch delay and can be found in settings. More details on what you can find under these options can be found here.

iphone-accessibility

Transferring apps and details

This can only be done if your new phone has the same OS as the old one. All your phone details are connected to your email account and can be transferred immediately.

Depending on how much you’ve saved and the speed of your WiFi, you will have to spend a few minutes waiting for them to be transferred.

Certain apps like WhatsApp need to be reactivated before they can be used, those which require a number or email to work will require you to do this.

Transferring contacts

There are a few different ways of doing this. If you’re not changing OS like above, this will be sorted for you already.

If you’re switching from one OS to another, then you can transfer contacts either through official means (iCloud, Gmail or Outlook) or download a specialised app to transfer them.

If you’re going from a normal phone to smartphone, it’s a little bit trickier but still doable. Unless it’s an incredibly old phone, you should be able to connect it up via USB and transfer them to iCloud/Gmail/Outlook.

Alternatively, if you have contacts saved onto web text, you can transfer them that way. More details on the process can be found here.

Keeping an eye on battery life

If you’re not used to a smartphone, then the idea of it only lasting a day will likely come as a shock. Since they’re performing so many tasks and are more powerful, they use up more energy as a result.

There are a few ways to make your battery last longer, but most phones now come with a battery saver mode, reducing your phone to the bare minimum so it lasts longer, or you could download apps like Normal for iOS which will show you the most wasteful apps on your device.

Read: These are the apps everyone should have on their smartphone >

Read: This is the Irish course that has 200,000 people taking part >

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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