Smartphone can almost do it all — once you’ve mastered it

(Illustration by Cathryn Cunningham/Albuquerque Journal)

(Illustration by Cathryn Cunningham/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A smartphone can be a wonderful thing – it takes the place of your telephone, address book, camera, maps, calendar – and that’s just for a start.

Those phones have also become the go-to source for news, social networking, job and health research, navigation and entertainment. In fact, they do just about everything except perform personal hygiene routines.

But utilizing a smartphone to its full potential means learning some smarts yourself.

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A Pew Research Center study released last spring showed that 64 percent of U.S. adults owned a smartphone, up from 35 percent in 2011. Moreover, 10 percent of smartphone owners lack any other home-based way to access the Internet beyond their phone data plan.

Considering how ubiquitous the smartphone has become it seems unbelievable that computer giant Apple brought out the first iPhones in 2007. The first commercially available phone running the Android system owned by Google hit the market in 2008 and phones using the Microsoft Windows operating system were launched in 2010.

Comparing costs

Many people choose Android phones because they are usually cheaper; the website AndroidAuthority.com shows several models priced at under $200. However, the latest higher end devices cost roughly the same. Verizon advertises The Samsung Galaxy S Edge Plus for $864 full price or $36 per month over 24 months, while the iPhone 6S Plus is priced at $850 or $35.41 per month over 24 months.

Wireless phone providers have increasingly moved away from offering a new or upgraded phone at a subsidized price if customers commit to a two-year contract that includes a hefty early termination fee. Instead, they are offering leasing options whereby the customer pays a monthly amount over 24 months with the option to pay the balance to cover the original full price at the end of the period, or upgrade.

It’s also become more common for customers to be able to buy “unlocked” phones, which enable them to choose any provider. Locked phones tie the customer to a specific provider.

Which type of phone you opt for depends on your personal needs and preference.

Apple iPhones have their own proprietary technology that does not work on any other type of handset. Android and Windows technology is installed in handsets made by Samsung, Motorola, HTC, Nokia, Lumia and more.

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The Android visual display and functionality varies according to device. On iPhones the variations typically come with the arrival of new models and sometimes with the iOS operating system upgrades.

A recent CNN Money analysis of Android versus iPhones said photo quality with iPhones was consistently “great” while some Android phones were lacking in that area.

iPhones also have the built-in FaceTime video phone feature that is not a standard on Android devices.

Fan of Android

Tech-savvy Jeremy Chavez, 19, works for Teeniors, a new Albuquerque company that pairs tech-savvy teens with seniors, providing one-on-one coaching sessions to teach them how to use their mobile devices.

Chavez has had a series of Android devices and he points out some characteristics of Android phones that are not available on iPhones. You can insert SD (secure digital) memory cards to provide extra storage for Android and Windows phone devices. Also, like old flip phones, you can remove the back of the Android and Windows phone devices to take out and replace batteries.

“That’s good if you’ve got lots of music and pictures,” Chavez said.

He likes the way Android provides remote storage for music, photos and documents in the Google Drive app that comes pre-loaded on some handset models. Google Drive users get 15 gigabytes of free storage space. Apple’s iCloud storage functionality comes with 5 gigabytes of free storage.

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Additional storage costs 99 cents per months for up to 50 gigs of space in iCloud versus $1.99 per month for 100 gigs with Google Drive.

Google Drive can be downloaded to iPhones and iPads.

Goes with Windows

Another Teenior coach, Savannah Coronel, 14, has a Nokia Windows phone. Teeniors CEO Trish Lopez said some of her seniors clients have appreciated that the screen icons are larger and easier to read than on iPhones and Android phones.

One downside Coronel noted was that some popular apps like Snapchat, the mobile messaging service that sends a photo or video to someone that lasts only up to 10 seconds before it disappears, are not available on Windows phones.

Coronel’s Windows phone uses the OneDrive app for remote storage. Microsoft is scheduled to reduce the amount of OneDrive free storage from 15 gigs to 5 gigs early this year and require users to pay $2 per month for 50 gig of additional storage.

These remote storage functions allow users to share photos, music and more between user’s phone, tablet and desktop devices. Google Drive requires users to create an account. iCloud is tied to the user’s Apple ID and the email address associated with that ID. The Apple ID is also used to buy or download apps from the App store or iTunes.

If you have multiple devices, it’s important to use the same ID and password if you want to share information.

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