New Smartphone Set Up Checklist

Woman using smartphone on couch
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There are numerous things you need to think about, set up and customize before your smartphone is able to perform at its best. While the exact setup steps may vary between different devices, this checklist will help ensure the essentials are covered.

Wait for a Full Charge

This may seem like basic advice to some, but many people do not seem to understand the importance of correctly charging their phone. Smartphone battery life is notoriously short, with many devices needing to be charged at least once a day even with light use. It makes sense to try to give the battery the best chance of holding on to its charge.

Charge the battery fully when you first get the phone. You can use wireless charging or plug it directly into a wall outlet. You will surely be keen to start exploring your new phone, but this step should always be completed. Incomplete charges, either now or during the future use of your phone will certainly shorten the battery life, so whenever possible, allow the battery to almost completely drain and then give it a full charge.

Install Software Updates

If you buy your phone new, rather than second hand, the system software at least is likely to be up to date to the latest version available for your device (remember that not all phones can run all versions of Android, etc.,) yet it is still well worth checking when you first unbox the device. It is also worth checking that pre-installed apps are up to date. For most of the smartphone operating systems, this is achieved through the app store app (Google Play, Windows Store).

System updates and even some app updates can alter the setup process, so it is certainly better to get this task out of the way before you start changing settings.

Explore Smartphone Settings

Speaking of settings, this is where you should head next. A modern smartphone will allow you to change or customize almost every element, from the ringtone and vibration pattern, to which cloud storage service is associated with the device.

Even if you prefer to see how you get on with the phone before tweaking the settings to suit, it is worth at least going through the settings sections and making sure that you understand what can be changed and what cannot.

At the least, change the sound settings to suit your needs/preferences, and take some steps to protect the battery life of the phone, such as changing the screen brightness and timeout settings, and checking the sync or fetch options for email and other messaging apps.

Secure Your Phone

You can obviously decide for yourself whether the information contained on your phone needs to be protected with a lock screen, but it's recommended that everyone enables at least some sort of security passcode on their device. Not only will it prevent nosy family members or friends poking around in your private messages or photos, but it will stop personal or sensitive data falling into the wrong hands if your phone is lost or stolen.

You should also set up or activate the Find My Phone feature that almost all smartphone operating systems now offer (it may be called something else, e.g. BlackBerry Protect), which will allow you to more easily retrieve your phone if it is lost.

Buy a Protective Case

Not everyone likes to hide their new phone away in a protective case, but you really should consider buying one. Like any piece of electronics equipment, your phone is just one fumbled grab away from becoming about as useful as a brick (or at the very least, having the screen smashed).

The number of people we know who have to put up with an iPhone with a badly cracked screen until their contract runs out is astounding. A simple gel case could have saved them months of annoyance or some expensive repair bills.

As well as helping to keep your phone in working condition while you are using it, by using a case and perhaps a screen protector from the start, you also ensure that it is in the best possible condition for resale. With resale in mind, it is always a good idea to keep the box your phone comes in, as well as any accessories you don't use (earphones, etc.) to further help keep the price up when it comes to selling.

Configure Your Accounts

My Android is currently set up with several different accounts, from the main Google and Samsung accounts to Dropbox, Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter.

Check that the accounts you need on your phone, from BlackBerry to iCloud, are set up and configured (sync options, etc.,) properly.

Some apps, including Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, will add and configure the account information when the app is downloaded and installed on the phone. Although there are always additional account options to customize.