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Are you new to smartphones?

By January 10, 2020January 13th, 2020Tips and Tricks

Are you a beginner smartphone user? You’re not alone.

new smartphone user tipsMy 25-year-old nephew uses an old flip phone. Surprisingly, you can still get new 4G phones that are not smartphones.

Are you being pushed to upgrade?

Many companies are instituting processes like email, instant messages, and timesheets that pretty much require you to use a smartphone. Or your family wants to connect with you on Facetime or Skype.

If you are ready to make the switch, read on.

5 things a beginner smartphone owner needs to know

What are the most important things you need to know to use your smartphone?

The quick start guide that came with the phone should cover these basics, and there are different configurations, so one size does not fit all in the Android world and Apple has some variations between operating versions as well.

Some phones use buttons at the bottom and others use graphical pictures on the screen that you tap. Learn where to find these functions:

  • Home button
  • Back button
  • Recent apps
  • Swipe up (list of apps)
  • Swipe down (quick settings and notifications)

According to my unscientific research of friends and family, the most often used features of a smart phone are:

  1. Camera
  2. Email *
  3. Internet searches *
  4. Texting
  5. Weather *

* These apps use data

These are all relatively simple to use once they are set up. Don’t hesitate to ask your sales rep to help you learn these. Or if you purchase a new phone (with service) on the internet, check in with our friendly sales consultants at Griz Wireless for help.

Built in camera

Your phone will likely have a rear facing camera and will use your screen as a viewfinder. You touch on the “button” icon to take the picture. There are various settings that are much like standard cameras such as single shot, continuous shots, and video.

Be warned that taking a lot of photos or videos will use up your phone’s storage quickly. You’ll want to transfer these to your home computer or upload to a cloud account or print and delete them. You may be able to add a memory card to your phone so you can store more images.

There may also be a front facing camera so you can take “selfies” or use Facetime, Duo, Skype, WhatsApp, Hangouts, or any number of apps for video calling. Warning: video calls consume data.


Set-up is accomplished the same way as on your computer. You select the app for your email provider such as Gmail, yahoo, or msn and install it if it isn’t already on your phone. Set up your email account with your login credentials. You’ll want to test the notification sound and change it if you don’t like it.

Your contacts may already be populated from your email contact list, but if you don’t have the contact’s phone number, you should add it. The reason is that it will help you start text messages by linking the contact name with the phone number. View your phone’s list of contacts to make sure that at least your most frequent ones are in the list.

Internet Searches

You can look up things on the world wide web using your phone! You’ll need to get used to using the on-screen keyboard as you do with email messages. Remember that these searches and web pages use data.


thumbs upIf you used an old phone to text, the process is much the same. Otherwise, learn where the message icon is located. When you start a message, you need to type the phone number, or start typing the name of the contact (if the person you’re trying to reach is in your contact list).

wink faceTap “next” or move to the actual message area and start the message. Tap the airplane or the send icon[icon color=”accent-color” size=”regular” icon_size=”” image=”fa-paper-plane-o”].

Before you send it, you can attach pictures to text messages and use emojis like smiley faces and thumbs up.


If you live in California, maybe you don’t need the weather, but it can be very useful in a state like Montana. Your phone may come with a weather app, but you may want to look around in the Google Play Store or Apple App Store for one that you like. Free apps (that usually come with some advertisement) include:

After installing the app, click on “open” to set up your home location as well as any other locations you want to follow. Try it out. I keep track of where my relatives live and if I’m traveling, I add my layovers and destinations.

More useful beginner smartphone features

Features and apps you should learn to use after the basics:

  1. Banking (if you already use online banking) *
  2. Navigation
  3. Facebook (if you already use Facebook) *
  4. Hands free assistant – Hey Google / Hey Siri

* These apps use data

Many things you use daily on your desktop computer or laptop are available as apps.


Most banks, credit unions, and investment agencies have an app you can download from the App Store / Play Store. Just search for it and install it. You’ll need to know your login credentials when you use these apps because security is enforced for your account protection.

Useful features: You may be able to set up account balance notifications that are sent as text messages to your phone when your balance goes below a set level, and you can deposit checks by using the camera.


You may have navigation on your vehicle, but what if you are hiking or bicycling? Your Google maps app may have more accurate maps and has the latest traffic conditions. In addition, you can download an itinerary in advance and then even if you are out of cell phone coverage for updates, the GPS continues to work. There are other navigation maps you can check out on Play Store or App Store.

navigation on phoneWarning: using navigation apps will run down your phone’s battery, so make sure you plug it into a car charger when possible.

Facebook (and other social media)

Facebook makes it easy to keep up with your friends, but it can consume data quickly. See our guide for turning off auto play and other helpful hints to conserve data usage for your

hands free assistantHands free assistant

I’m sure you’ve heard other people saying “hey Siri, where is the nearest grocery store” or something like that. Siri is an Apple assistant and Android has the Google assistant that responds to “hey Google”. You can learn to make quick notes, send a text, dial a contact, or fill in forms by speaking instead of typing.

Things you might do with your smartphone beyond the beginner stage

When you are comfortable with the beginner smartphone features, there are many useful things to try.

  1. Get your news *
  2. Play games * (Google Pay / Apple’s App Store)
  3. Look up interesting facts on the internet *
  4. Pair your device to other Bluetooth devices like a hearing aid or wearable tracker
  5. Customize your home screen
  6. Display your calendar
  7. Show a bigger clock
  8. Customize ring tones
  9. Google Pay / Wallet

* These apps use data

Problems a smart phone may have that you didn’t expect

Any time you have trouble understanding or finding instructions, visit Griz Wireless customer service.

Look for more blog posts from Griz Wireless.

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