Are you thinking about updating to a smartphone? We list 10 benefits that could make your life easier and might make you dig deep into your pocket and get one
Many people take them for granted but mobile phones are amazing tools. Even the simplest models let us stay in touch from almost anywhere. In recent years, however, mobile phones have evolved into something even more useful.
Popularised by Apple’s iPhone, smartphones combine everything you’d expect from a standard mobile phone with fast internet access, large colour screens, digital cameras and navigational features such as GPS.
Perhaps most importantly, smartphones aren't limited to the functions they came with: applications (commonly known as apps) are small programs that are easy to download and which can exploit a smartphone’s features in useful or entertaining ways.
If you doubt a smartphone could be of use to you, read on. This article isn’t about which smartphone is best; instead, we’ll explain 10 ways in which a modern handset could become indispensable. Most Apple, Android and Windows Phone models will be capable of some or all of what’s included.
Save money in the shops
These days, almost anything that can be bought from the high street is available online and it will often be cheaper, but it’s hard to compare prices when you’re on the move. Armed only with a smartphone, however, it’s possible to scan barcodes and know within seconds whether you could find the same item for cheaper online or in a nearby store.
This requires an app such as Redlaser or Google Shopper. The first is available for all main smartphone platforms, though the latter hasn’t yet made the leap to Windows Phone. Photograph a product’s barcode with Google Shopper, for example, and the phone’s internet connection will search the web for a match. If one is found, Shopper will show other stockists and prices.
The Ebay app performs a similar trick, but restricts the search to Ebay sellers. For more money-saving ideas, see Computeractive's feature on how to save money when shopping.
Have face-to-face conversations
While it’s good to talk, it can be expensive if the other party is abroad. Fortunately, software such as Skype allows phone calls between two users, with sound sent over the internet, so it’s free of call charges.
Skype is a free download for the PC and for most smartphones. Provided the person you’re calling also uses Skype – and you’re using a Wifi connection or have a mobile plan with a generous data allowance – there are no worries about cost.
Skype isn’t limited to voice calls, either. Many devices have a front-facing camera, which Skype and similar applications can use to make a video call.
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