Thursday, December 20, 2012

Windows phone 7 tips and tricks

Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 operating system was a big surprise when it first appeared, not because it came out of the blue, but rather because it was so much better than everyone expected. The Windows Phone 7 Metro user-interface managed to almost perfectly combine a really modern feel with sublime ease of use.

However, the operating system is quite deep and there are many hidden features that are not immediately obvious. Here we've put together 30 tips that will help you make the most of your Windows Phone 7 handset.

Tip 1 – Use album art as your lock screen picture
By default your lock screen is set up to show a background picture along with the time and date. However, when you're listening to music you can also get it to show album art for the artist you're listening to. From the start screen tap on settings and select the lock wallpaper option. Here you'll see a slider for 'show artist when playing music'. Switch this to on and now when you play a track the album art for the artist will replace your standard lock screen image. If a track isn’t playing it reverts to your normal image.

Tip 2 – Change the title colour
If you don't like the colour of your tiles, it's easy to change them. Just go to settings and then tap on theme and choose a new colour from the accent colour list.

Tip 3 –  Multi-task while on calls
You can use your phone for other stuff while you're on a call. Hit the Windows button and you'll find yourself back at the start screen. You can return to the call at any time by tapping the notification bar at the top of the screen.

Tip 4 – Jump straight to the camera app
If your phone is locked and you need to quickly take a picture, just press and hold the camera button. The phone will spring into life directly at the camera app ready to take a shot.

Tip 5 – Re-instate your Xbox Live tile
Accidentally deleted your Xbox Live tile from the homescreen and can't find it in the apps list? Look again, because it's actually under Games rather than Xbox Live. Just tap and hold on the Games entry and then select Pin to Start to reinstate it.

Tip 6 – Access playback controls outside of the music player 

If you've got music playing and leave the Zune app, you can call up the playback controls at any time just by tapping the volume button on the side of your phone.

Tip 7 – Turn off the shutter sound
If you're taking a picture in a quieter place such as a library or museum you can feel like a bit of a Muppet if the shutter sound goes off. Luckily Windows Phone allows you to mute the shutter noise. From the start menu tap on settings and choose ringtone sounds. To turn off the sound just untick the box for camera shutter.

Tip 8 – Quick call back
If you've missed a call and need to call someone straight back you can do it with just two taps. Form the start menu tap on the phone icon. This will show you the call history. Now instead of tapping on the person's name and selecting the call mobile option, just tap directly on the telephone icon next to their name and your phone will immediately dial their number.

Tip 9 – Quickly fix photo

There are quite a few extras in the Pictures menu that are not very obvious, but really useful when you know where to find them. One of these is the Auto-fix feature that can be used to quickly correct under- or over-exposed photos. Select a photo in the camera roll and then tap and hold on the picture. A menu will slide up from the bottom of the screen. Scroll to the bottom of this list and select Auto-fix. After a couple of seconds of pause for thought, your phone will automatically adjust the exposure to make the photo brighter or darker. You can compare the results with the original by tapping on the magic wand icon. If you like what you see just tap the save icon, or alternatively hit the X icon to reject the changes.

Tip 10 - Get letter blocks in the apps list
If your apps list reaches more than 43 apps (this doesn't includes games, as they're stored separately in the Xbox Live menu) Windows Phone will automatically add letter blocks into the list. This helps you find your apps faster. Just tap any of the letter blocks and the screen will fill with all the letters of the alphabet. You can then jump to apps beginning with a letter just by tapping on it. Remember, for this feature to appear you must have at least 44 apps in the list.

Tip 11 – Better battery management
In the Mango update of Windows Phone Microsoft has added some improved battery management options to help you eek a bit more life from your battery when it's running low. The first time your battery level is low you'll get a message asking you whether you want to turn on the battery saver mode. However, you can set up your phone to always use the battery saver mode when you get down to the last bar of power. From Start, go to settings and then select battery save. Now tick the box marked 'always turn on battery save when battery is low'. Basically, this mode stops your handset from automatically checking for new emails, updating most live tiles and letting apps run in the background, helping to conserve power.

Tip 12 – Tag faces in photos
Remember those hidden extras that we talked about in the pictures menu? Well, here's another one that may have escaped your attention. You can use your Windows Phone to tag faces in your pictures before uploading them to social networking sites. From the start menu enter the picture menu and select a picture of a friend. Tap the more button at the bottom of the screen and select Share or Share on Facebook. If your handset detects an untagged face it will draw a box around it. You can press the 'who's this' text to tag it. Alternatively, tap the tag button at the bottom of the screen and tap the face you want to tag. You can then either choose a contact from your address book, or just type in a tag.

Tip 13 – Name that tune
You don’t need to download any Soundhound or Shazam apps for your phone, as this functionality is already built-in. Just press the search button to call up Bing and then  tap the music button at the bottom.

Tip 14 – Always start your camera in 720p mode
Are you annoyed that when you use the video camera on your phone you have to keep setting it to 720p mode every time you switch it on? Actually, Windows Phone can remember your settings, but you need to instruct it to do so. In the camera app switch to video mode and then tap on the settings button. Scroll down to resolution and select 720p. Scroll back up to the top of the list and select save settings. Now your video camera will always start up in 720p mode.

Tip 15 – Automatically add a fullstop at the end of a sentance
When you're typing and get to the end of a sentence there's no need to enter a full stop. Simply double tap the space bar on the onscreen keyboard and Windows Phone will automatically enter a full stop and space for you so you can start right away on the next sentence.

Tip 16 – Pin email folders to the start screenYou can pin email folders to your start screen for faster access. Open the email account with the folder you want to pin to the start menu, then press the 'more' button at the bottom of the screen and select 'folders'. Tap on the 'show all folders' option and then press and hold on the folder you want to pin. From the pop up menu that appears select Pin to Start.

Tip 17 – Voice control
You can command your phone to do lots of stuff purely by voice. Press and hold the Windows button and the phone will go into listen mode. Try asking it to open calendar or search for a curry house in your local town. You can also get it to do lots of other stuff like texting or calling a contact.

Tip 18 – Quicker punctuation

Usually, to add punctuation other than a full stop to text that you're writing you press the '&123' button on the keyboard. However, you can access common punctuation marks quicker by simply pressing and holding on the fullstop button. Extra options will pop up above it.

Tip 19 – Turn on caps lock
To turn on caps lock on the Windows Phone keyboard, just double tap on the shift key. To turn it off, just double tap it again.

Tip 20 – A quick way to enter ''
When you open the keyboard in Internet Explorer you'll notice that it includes a .com button. That's handy for most sites, but not so useful if you visit a lot of UK sites. However, there is actually a quick way to enter Just hold down the .com button and options for, .org and .edu will pop up. Handy, eh?

Tip 21 – Highlight words to perform a search 
You can select words on a webpage and then quickly use them to perform a search. Just tap and hold on a word and then move the selection tools to select more words if necessary. Once you've got the whole phrase that you want to search for selected, tap on the hardware search button. Windows Phone will then take the phrase and perform a Bing search using it.

Tip 22 – Pin a website to your start screen
If there's a website that you visit often, why not pin it to your start screen. Open the browser and got to the website. Wait for the browser to full load the page and then tap on the 'more' button at the bottom of the screen. Now select Pin to Start from the list that appears.

Tip 23 – Get to grips with groups 
One of the cooler features that Microsoft has added with the Mango update is the groups option and it really is worthwhile to learn how to use it. From the start menu press People. Scroll across to All and then press the button. Select New Group. Enter a name for the group – Family, for example – and then press 'add a contact'. Keep adding contacts to expand the group. When you're done press the 'save' button. The new group appears at the top of your contacts list. You can also add a group to the start menu by pressing the pin button. The Live Tile for the group will show social networking posts, new messages and missed calls from all the members.  

Tip 24 – Get your phone to read out text messages 
When you receive a new text message you might not have your hands free to access your phone to open and read it. However, you can set up Windows Phone to automatically ask you whether you want it to read out a text message to you when it arrives. From the Start menu go to settings and then select speech. Turn on the 'Play audio confirmations' setting and under 'Read incoming text messages aloud' select 'Always on'. When you get a new text message the phone will ask you what you want it to do. You can say 'Read it' to have it read it aloud, or say 'Ingore' to simply wait and read it onscreen yourself later.

Tip 25 – Pin locations to your start screen

You can pin locations that you've found in the Maps application to your start menu. To do this just open up Maps and do a search for the location that you want to pin. When Maps has found it, the app will mark it with a flag. Tap on the flag and then tap the 'pin' button at the bottom of the screen. Alternatively, to pin one of your stored favourite places, just tap the 'more' button at the bottom of the screen, select Favourite Places, tap on the place and then tap on the 'pin' button at the bottom of the screen.

Tip 26 – Create your own W-Fi hotspot 
Need to get your laptop or tablet online, but aren’t near a Wi-Fi hotspot? Luckily your Windows Phone can create its own hotspot allowing your laptop or tablet to make use of its data connection. From the start menu go to settings. Select Internet Sharing and then turn on Sharing. The phone will display the Wi-Fi network name and a password that it has automatically created. You can change this SSID and password if you want by pressing the set-up button. If internet sharing is not used for a few minutes it will automatically turn itself off to save battery power. If your operator doesn't support this feature - and some don't - it will be greyed out in the menu. Also, be careful using this feature if you're on a tight monthly data allowance.

Tip 27 – Add a 'forward' button to the browser
Windows Phone 7 lacks a Forward button in the web browser. However, the folks over at have come up with a way of adding one. In Internet Explorer tap on the 'more' button and then tap 'add to favourites'. In the name box enter Forward and then in the web address box add the following piece of code without the quotation marks "javascript:history.forward()" and then tap the tick mark icon. Now to use the forward command, tap on the more button, select favourites and then select Forward.

Tip 28 – Add 'find on page' to the browser 
Unfortunately Microsoft has removed the Find on Page option in the Mango update, but again there's a clever work around for this thanks to the clever bods at The javascipt code is much longer than the Forward option, so it's best to visit and cut and paste it. Like the Forward code, you add it as a bookmark using Find On Page as the name and the javascipt code as the web address.

Tip 29 – Use the 'bcc' feature in emails
In the email app you can 'cc' loads of friends just by typing their email address or contact names in the 'to' field. Unfortunately, it's not obvious how you blind copy people into your emails – where multiple people are copied in to an email, but they can’t see the contact details for other receptients. However, it's actually pretty straight forward. In the email app simply create a new email by pressing the button, or hit reply. Then press the 'more' button at the bottom of the screen and select Show cc & bcc. The Cc: and Bcc: lines will now appear at the top of the email that you're composing.

Tip 30 – Find contacts faster in the People Hub 
In the People Hub, you don’t have to scroll all the way through the list to find the contact you're after. Instead tapping on a letter block, "a" for example, will bring up a grid of letters on the screen and you can just tap on one to jump to all the entries in the Hub beginning with that letter.  


iPhone tips and tricks

The recent appearance and quick disappearance of two early prototypes of the iPhone on eBay complete with fledgling versions of the user interface give us an indication of just how much work went into the iPhone's operating system.

The result of all this work (with version 3.0 on its way too) is an OS that's so intuitive that many of us have never even felt the need to glance at the manual. The iPhone is just so easy to use that it almost feels instantly familiar the first time you pick it up. However, under that friendly exterior there are some hidden useful features that are not quite as obvious. In fact, we've managed to round up thirty of them. We'll cover the first fifteen in this instalment and bring you the final fifteen later in the week.

Tip 1 - Extra characters
Need to use foreign accents on characters in an email or note? Just tap and hold on the main letter on the keyboard and several variations will pop up above that key. Simple, but very useful.

Tip 2 - Take screenshots
We're ashamed to say it, but we originally kind of stumbled across this one by accident. One day while fumbling with the buttons on our iPhone the screen flashed and later we noticed a screenshot in our Photo Roll. A little bit of investigation later and we discovered that to take a screen grab you just press home button and standby button at the same time.

Tip 3 - Quickly scroll to the top of a page
When you're at the bottom of a long webpage or in the middle of a list of contacts it can take multiple swipes of your finger to get back to the top. However, Apple has included a handy, but little known shortcut to quickly jump to the top of any page or list. Just tap at the top of the screen and, hey presto, you'll find yourself back at the top of the page or list.

Tip 4 - Access that search icon
The Search icon in the contacts book can be maddeningly difficult to accurately hit with your thumb. Usually you either end up staring at the 'A' entries in your phone book or the Add Contact screen. A better way of accessing this icon is to simply tap and hold on the right hand column of letters and then push upwards to the Search icon. Success every time! Double-tapping at the top of the screen also works, but is a fraction slower to bring up the search box.

Tip 5 - Save images
Come across a picture on a webpage or in an email that you want to save for later? To quickly save an image just tap and hold on it and then select Save Image in the box that appears. You'll then find the image saved in your camera roll.

Tip 6 - Where's the Caps Lock key?
You've probably noticed that the iPhone soft keyboard doesn't have a Caps Lock key. However, there is a way of enabling Caps Lock. All you have to do is double-tap on the Shift key. If you've doubled-tapped fast enough it'll turn blue to show that Caps Lock is now on. For this to work, though, you have to have the Caps Lock function enabled. Go to Settings, select General and then turn on the ‘Enable Caps Lock' button.

Tip 7 - Longer Autolock
Fed up of the iPhone's autolock kicking in too soon? No problem, it's easy to change how long the iPhone waits before going into standby mode. Just go to Settings, select General and tap Autolock. You can set the autolock delay to any duration up to 5 minutes, or alternatively turn it off completely. Be careful, however, as a long autolock setting can cause you phone's battery life to suffer.

Tip 8 - Home Button double-tap
By default, double-tapping the home button just takes you to the home screen - the same function as tapping it once. However, you can set up a double-tap to act as a shortcut to either the iPod screen or your Phone Favourites. Just go to Settings, select General, choose Home button and highlight the function you want.

Tip 9 - Home Button iPod controls
The home button double-tap trick can also be used for another function. You can set it up so that if you double-tap the button while a song is playing in the background or while the phone is in standby, it will bring up a mini iPod control bar on the screen. All you have to do is Turn on the 'iPod Controls' function in the Home Button settings screen. At all other times double-tapping the home button will take you to the main iPod screen or your Phone Favourites, which ever you have set up in Tip 8.

Tip 10 - Unfreeze your phone
Contrary to what some Apple enthusiasts would have you believe, Apple's products do crash and do suffer from lock ups. The first time your phone completely locks up it's easy to think that it's dead as it will refuse to turn on. The secret is knowing how to force it into a reset, but luckily this is a pretty simple operation. Just hold down both the standby button at the top of the phone and the home button until the screen lights up and shows the Apple logo. This can take quite a while (at least 10 seconds), so don't be tempted to let go too soon thinking that the process is not working.

Tip 11 - Save battery power
The iPhone doesn't really do multitasking, so it never has a pile of apps running in the background and draining battery power. However, pressing the standby button at the top of the phone doesn't really put it into standby mode, it merely turns off the display. If you have an app running and press this button it will continue to run and drain power. This is why it's better to hit the Home button to close any open apps before pressing the standby button.

Tip 12 - Full stop
When typing out most emails or notes, there's no need to use the full stop button at all on the iPhone's soft keyboard. This is because the phone's intelligent predictive text can fill it in for you. When you get to the end of a sentence simply double tap the space bar and the predictive text engine will automatically enter a full stop followed by a space.

Tip 13 - Stop automatic syncing
Stopping your iPhone from automatically syncing with your computer is pretty straightforward. First, connect your iPhone to your computer, then in iTunes select the iPhone in the side bar and click the Summary tab. Now just deselect the 'Automatically Sync When this iPhone is Connected' option. You can also stop the iPhone from syncing just once. To do this press and hold Shift+Control on a PC or Command+Option on a Mac as you connect your iPhone to your computer and keep them held down until the iPhone appears in the side bar.

Tip 14 - Web clips
You can add icons to your home screen to give you quick access to your favourite websites - a feature that Apple calls Webclips. Just visit the site in the Safari browser, tap the bookmark button and then select Add to Home Screen. The iPhone will automatically generate an icon for the page based on the site's graphics.

Tip 15 - Moving between Homescreen pages
OK, everyone knows that you can move between pages of apps on your phone by swiping your finger left and right. However, what some might not know is that you can also quickly move between pages by tapping to the right or left of the little white dots that indicate how many screens of apps are on the phone. Plus, when you want to the return to the first screen just press the Home button.

Tip 16 - Turn off SMS preview
The iPhone is set by default to display a preview of incoming text messages when the phone is locked or you're using another app. This isn't very private if you happen to leave your phone unattended, but luckily you can turn off the preview. All you have to do is go to Settings, select Passcode Lock and then turn off the Show SMS Preview setting.

Tip 17 - Change your iPod Shortcut Buttons
The Playlists, Artists, Songs and Videos buttons at the bottom of the iPod interface on the iPhone aren't fixed. You can easily change them to different categories such as Podcasts, Genres or Compilations. All you have to do is tap on the More button to the right of these icons and then tap on Edit. You can then simply drag the new category icon that you want to use onto the bar at the bottom of the screen. You can also drag and drop the existing buttons to rearrange their order on this bar.

Tip 18 - Force quit an application
Like all computer devices the iPhone suffers from hangs and crashes. If an application stops responding you can usually kill it by simply pressing and holding the Home button for at least six seconds.

Tip 19 - Tap and slide for capitals
It takes a little bit of getting used to, but you can speed up typing on the iPhone by using the tap and slide method to enter capital letters. When you need to type a capital letter instead of first tapping the shift key and then tapping the letter you need, try taping and holding on the shift key and then sliding your finger to the letter you want to capitalise. Once you master it you'll be able to enter capitals with a single slide gesture.

Tip 20 - Microphone controls
The microphone on the iPhone's headset doubles as a button (just give it a squeeze) and as well as being used to answer calls it can also be used to control music playback. If you double press the button your iPhone will skip to the next track in a playlist, while triple clicking it will skip to a previous track or to the start of the currently playing song. Pressing it once will pause a song and pressing it once again will start a song playing again. Sometimes the resume playback feature will time out if you've left the phone paused for a long time. If this happens just double tap the home button on your iPhone (Tip 9 must be activated for this to work) and then press the microphone button again.

Tip 21 - Simpler domain entry
If you're entering a .com domain name into the web address box in Safari you don't actually have to add the http://www bit at the start or the .com at the end. Just type in the core name and hit Go - the iPhone will add the rest for you.

Tip 22 - Clearing stored search terms
The iPhone automatically keeps a list of terms you've searched for in Safari so it can suggest them again the next time you go to enter a similar term. However, there are times when you'll want to clear this. The quickest way to do this is to tap on the Bookmarks button, select History and then press the Clear button at the bottom of the screen.

Tip 23 - View hyperlinks
Not sure where a hyperlink is going to take you? You can find out the full address of the link by pressing and holding your finger on the link. A pop-up box will show you the full URL of the link that you've selected.

Tip 24 - How to scroll in frames
Thankfully, web pages built using scrollable frames are dying off. However, if you do happen to come across one on your iPhone you may be pretty stumped as to how to just scroll a frame of the site and not the whole site. The trick is to use two fingers to scroll within the frame and one finger to scroll around the whole site. This trick can also work when viewing PDF files on a website.

Tip 25 - Send a call to voicemail
If you're in a situation where you can't answer a call, just send it to voicemail. There are two ways to do this. You can simply double press the standby button on the top of the iPhone, or alternatively if you're using the headset, just press and hold in the microphone button for two seconds. Two low beeps will confirm that the call was declined.

Tip 26 - Zooming out in Maps
The Maps application lets you repeatedly zoom in by double tapping on an area of the screen. That's pretty intuitive and well known. What's not common knowledge is that you can also repeatedly zoom out but tapping once on the same area of the screen using two fingers held slightly apart.

Tip 27 - More multifunction keys
With the UK keyboard enabled, getting at the dollar sign is a two tap process: you have to tap once on the number key and then tap again on the symbol key. A faster way to access the dollar symbol is to tap once on the number key and then tap and hold on the pound symbol. Extra symbols including the dollar, euro and yen will appear above it. Also, if you tap and hold the .com button when entering web addresses, other top level domains like .net, and .org will appear above it.

Tip 28 - Avoid camera shake
The iPhone's camera isn't the best, to put it mildly. It takes relatively low res shots and it's easy to end up with blurry ones too. In fact, tapping the camera button is often enough to cause the iPhone to shake and introduce camera blur. Instead of just tapping the button once, it's better to press and hold it down before framing your shot. The iPhone won't actually take a picture until you let go of the button and this often leads to less camera shake and cleaner, more in focus shots.

Tip 29 - Teaching the iPhone bad manners
Are you fed up of the iPhone trying to Disney-fy your swear words. Some iPhones seem to have no problems adding swear words to their dictionary (just type the swear word and then tap the x next to the suggested word to get the iPhone to learn it), but others seem to refuse to learn how to cuss. A work around is to add swear words to your contacts book and suddenly your iPhone will be swearing like a sailor.

Tip 30 - Swipe to delete
The best known way of deleting messages in your inbox is to tap the edit button and then select the messages that you want to get rid of. However, a faster way is to swipe your finger left or right over a message and then tapping the delete button that appears next to it.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S tips and tricks

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S is onother great smart phone which become very popular. Sony has issued a software update for Xperia Arc S, and now you can run it on Ice Cream Sandwich.

Here are some tips and tricks for Xperia Arc S:

Enable auto App updates

Android has a feature allowing you to update Applications automatically. This is turned off by default, but you can turn it on.

Open the Android market, then Menu - My Apps.

Then you need to open up each installed App and tick Allow Automatic Updating at the bottom. Unfortunately you do need to do this for each App.

Turn off App update notifications

If you would prefer not to be told every time an Application has been updated, open the Android Market - Menu - My Apps. Then Menu again. Then Settings. Under General settings, untick the Notifications option.

Increase security with a custom unlock pattern

Instead of the simple swipe gesture to unlock your phone, you can set a custom unlock pattern which can be extremely difficult for a thief to guess.

From your homescreen, go to Menu - Settings - Location and security - Change screen lock. Then chose Pattern to set one up.

It is also a good idea to untick Use visible pattern. Then if someone is watching over your shoulder while you entering your pattern, it will be harder for them to remember the pattern.

If you have forgotten your unlock pattern, then after 5 unsuccessful tries a button will appear saying 'Forgot pattern'. Press this and you will be asked to enter your Gmail username/password. The phone will then ask for a new unlock pattern. If you don't have a Gmail account, then you will have to either call your carrier or factory reset your phone.

Make Xperia Arc S run faster

By turning off the animations, your phone will run faster and smoother. Press Menu -> Settings -> Sounds & Display -> Animation. Turn this to Off. The Off option works best for quickest performance.

Quickly see date
Simply press the top-left corner of the screen.

Remove a whole text message conversation

If you want to remove an entire text message thread, go into Messages and look for the thread. Then long press on it and select Delete thread.

Accents and special characters

If you want to type non-English letters (eg those with an accent), long-press on the relevant letter. A list of options will appear for you to select.

Adding pauses when dialling

To add pauses when dialing numbers, or storing numbers in your contacts, then insert a comma ( , ) when entering the number.

This will pause the dialling for about 2 seconds.

Bookmark a web page on your homescreen

To bookmark a website on your homescreen, go into your browser and find the bookmark of the page you want to create a shortcut for.

Then long press on the bookmark and select Add Shortcut to Home.

If you regularly visit certain websites, this can be handy as you will have a shortcut to the site on your homescreen.

Divert certain contacts to voicemail

Open your Contact list. Find the contact you want to divert. Press to open the contact. Towards the bottom of the page, you will see 'Send to voicemail'. Press this and choose OK to enable the feature.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 tips and tricks

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is the second in Samsung's series of giant-screened mobiles. It improves the stylus, gets a sleeker look and nabs all the best bits from the Samsung Galaxy S3. We've spent a lot of close and personal time with the phone. Here are the secrets, tips and tricks we've uncovered.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Screen and video

Get AMOLED colours in check
OLED-based screens like the Samsung Galaxy Note 2's tend to bring oversaturated colours that make skin tones look unnatural. They pop, but they pop a little too much. There's a solution, though. In the settings menu is a Display Setting submenu that lets you choose how vivid the colours are. We recommend the "natural" or "movie" settings.
Fill video codec gaps with third-party playersThe Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has an excellent inbuilt media player, but there are some files it can't handle. We found that high-quality 1080p MKVs were too much for it. Snag a third-party media player like MX Player from the Google Play app store, though, and you'll be flying. These can use software encoding to fill gaps in natuve video support.

Video multi-tasking is in
One of the neatest additional features of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 is that you can overlay a video playback screen on top of any part of the phone. Just press a button in the nav bar of the media player and a little window will pop-up on the homescreen, playing the vid. Watch an episode of Peep Show while browsing the web? Don't mind if I do.

Free games to show off the screen
One of the best ways to show off the Sasmung Galaxy Note 2's screen is with a fancy 3D game. Top free picks to try include Dead Trigger.

Not bright enough? Turn off auto
The standard setting of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 uses automatic brightness, which judges the intensity of screen brightness using an ambient light sensor on the front. If it's still not bright enough at the max slider point, switch off the auto mode for real searing intensity. But it will affect battery life.

The microUSB port can output video
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2's microUSB port is more special than you might guess. It has MHL capabilities when used with a special Samsung cable, letting it output HD video and surround audio. The Samsung adapter, which is essentially an MHL-to-HDMI converter costs around £25. The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 does not come bundled with one, though.

Mini home cinema? Tick the surround boxIf you want to output surround sound, make sure you tick the Surround box within the Settings menu. This isn't within the Audio bit, which you might expect, but is actually in the Accessory submenu.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Battery life

Keep battery life riding high with auto management

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has a massive 3100mAh battery. Stamina is good at the worst of times, but there's also an auto power management mode to make the most of the phone's juice. It's called Power Saving and has its own section within the main Settings menu. It can throttle the CPU, change the background of the web browser to conserve power (it turns the white background blue), and turns off haptic feedback. These are compromises, but they do work.

Switch off features for extra battery life
The best way to conserve power in any phone is to switch off features - most importantly 3G mobile internet. You can do this manually in the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, directly from the pull-down notifications menu, and apps such as MySettings let you do the same thing.

Reduce screen timeout time
Another dead simple trick is to reduce the screen timeout time. This is in the Display submenu within settings, and lets you choose between 15 sec and 10 minutes of time the screen stays lit after a screen press. It's hardly a secret, but it is something not enough people consider.

Grab a spare battery, live forever
In a time of non-removable batteries - the HTC One X and iPhone 5 to name but two - we love that the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has a removable battery. You can swap it out within about 15 seconds. Spare batteries are available from eBay for well under £10. We recommend shopping around for a reliable brand though as some third-party batteries are as dodgy as Del Boy's VCRs.

Turn off S Pen
The S Pen digitser sucks away at the Note 2's battery life a little, so it's a good idea to switch off the detection feature entirely if you're unlikely to use it for an extended period. You'll find it within the S Pen sub-menu in Settings.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 S Pen

Quick commands let you launch… anything
An S Pen feature that's easy to miss is Quick Commands. This lets you launch any app on the phone with a quick flick of the S Pen. Just press the stylus button and swipe up the screen, and the Quick commands box will pop-up. Draw your pre-determined character or symbol and key-presto, the right app will launch.

OCR means you can forget the virtual keyboard
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 features excellent OCR, optical character recognition, and it's built into the Samsung keyboard. Whip out the S Pen and the keyboard area will turn into a little box for you to write in, whether you're writing an email, text or searching the web. It's remarkably clever at working out your scribbles too although we haven't tested it on a doctor yet.

S Pen keeper - it's a keeper
We love the S Pen, but the thing is terribly easy to lose. Samsung has devised a way to make sure you don't leave home without it. It's called S Pen keeper. Using the accelerometer and the digitiser sensor of the Note 2, the phone can tell when you're walking away without the stylus in its little hole in the bottom of the device. Walk far enough and it bleats out an alarm tone.

Keep the kids happy with S Note
The stylus of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 makes it an obvious choice for creative types, business types and a host of other busy folk. But it'll keep the kids entertained too. S Note has a feature called Idea Sketch, which lets you write the name of an object, only for it to appear in your sketch. It's a perfect educational tool, and a fun one too.

Air View - hover pen fun
Something that makes the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 S Pen so much more than a standard stylus is that it can be sensed without even touching the screen. Samsung makes great use of this with Air View. It's used throughout Samsung's apps, and makes info pop-up when the S Pen hovers over items. For example, you can read the first lines of emails, see previews of pictures and take a closer look at calendar events. It's fantastic.

You can scribble - on anything
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 S Pen also let you scribble notes on anything. Just hold the button on the stylus down, press the nib down on the screen and hold it there until you see a flash around the screen edges. This is the phone taking a screenshot of what's on-screen, which you can then write notes on. This is further integrated into apps like S Planner, which have dedicated handwriting modes.

Other apps use S Pen pressure sensitivity
Now that the Note series is fairly established, a bunch of excellent apps already make use of the pressure sensitive S Pen stylus. Top picks include Sketchbook Pro and Infinite Painter. It's not just S Note that shows the S Pen off these days.

The S Pen takes screengrabs
Here's a really neat S Pen tool to show off to your "non stylus" friends. Press down the button on the Galaxy Note 2 stylus, draw a shape on the screen and whatever's on-screen within the shape will be saved as a screengrab.

For full S Pen compatibility, check out Samsung Apps
Samsung says that if you want full S Pen certified apps, you'll need to go to the Samsung Apps store. This comes built into the Note 2, and there's even an S Pen apps section. At present, you're still best off using the Play Store as well, though, as the Samsung Apps store isn't exactly rammed full of Note 2 apps yet.

Left handers need a tweak
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 comes setup for right-handers as standard, but there's also a mode for lefties in the Settings menu. This offsets the digitiser sensor, to compensate for the way those strange left-handed types hold pens. A creepy bunch, aren't they?

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Interface

One for your grandma? Easy home screen mode
Here's one feature we were a little surprised to see in a device that's such a geek's dreamphone. The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has a mode called Easy home screen, which simplifies the layout of the phone's home screens in a way that even your technophobe grandma might be able to get along with.

Full screengrabs are easy
Like the Samsung Galaxy S3, the Note 2 makes it pretty easy to take screengrabs of whatever's on the phone's display. Just hold down the home button and the power button at the same time, wait or a white flash and a screengrab will be taken and whisked over to the Gallery app.

Use one-handed operation mode for on-the-go useThe big screen is one of the main selling points of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, but it doesn't half make it hard to use one-handed. Knowing this, Samsung as included a one-handed mode, which organises things like the keypad, virtual keyboard and the unlock pattern screen so that you can operate them with one mitt. You'll find it in the Settings menu.

Don't forget side-loading of apps
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is an Android device, with all the benefits that brings. You don't have to rely on the official Google Play app store for one, with APK installation files available for all sorts of other apps online. Be careful, though, as Android viruses are a real issue.

Customise your phone with non-Samsung widgets
Samsung supplied a nice handful of widgets with which you can customise your home screens, but far too few people try a new look with third-party widgets from Google Play. And there are loads out them out there. Some of our old faves include those of the Beautiful Widgets package.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Gadgets and Gimmicks

Motion control
Here's one we're not big fans of, but some of you may like it. The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 lets you control things like the photo gallery and the navigation of you home screens using the accelerometer - by tilting your phone, basically. You can turn it off, though, and it's set to "off" as standard. Phew.

Face unlock

A bit Minority Report, this one. The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 can scan your face to unlock your phone. It takes a picture of your mug, remembers the basic geometry of it and then scans your face whenever you try and unlock the phone. It works pretty well, but as a security measure is about as flimsy as the padlock on a filofax.

Smart Stay
The last user-facing camera gimmick is one that sounds kinda neat in principle. It scans for your eyes to check if you're reading, and if it spots them, Smart Stay stops the backlight from turning off. It's designed to make reading on the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 a good deal less frustrating. It's a feature you'll find in the Settings menu.

Jelly Bean easter egg

The Jelly Bean easter egg has made it in the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. Go to Settings menu > About device and tap on the Android version number entry. You'll be transported to a screen with a picture of a giant jelly bean on it. Hold your finger down on said jelly bean and the screen will fill up with dozens of the blighters, which you can flick around. Pure joy.

Arrange your music by moods
The music player of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 features a fun little extra called Music square. This scans through your music library, arranging the tracks by mood - passionate, calm, exciting, joyful or a little in-between. Tap a block in the 5x5 square grid and you'll be greeted with a tune to match your mood.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Storage

Expandable storage - where to get it cheap
If you're out to spend as little as possible (and the Note 2 doesn't come cheap as it is), your best bet is to buy the cheapest 16GB model, and supplement any other storage needs with a microSD card. Top retailers for bargain basement-price memory cards include 7DayShop and Ebuyer. A 32GB microSD card these days will set you back less than £15 if you shop hard enough.

Flush the cache for extra memoryIf you find yourself running low on memory, you can easily delete the cache and temporary files of any apps you have installed. To do this, go to the Applications Manager section within settings and tap on an app to see how much memory it's leeching. There will be buttons to wipe the cache and data for the app here.

Comes with 50GB of dropbox storage
Cloud storage is the future - you may not like it, but you may as well embrace it. Samsung Galaxy Note 2 owners get to benefit from 50GB of free cloud storage from one of the best providers out there - Dropbox. There are Dropbox apps for mobiles, tablets and computers, and it honestly works like a dream. If this won't convert you, nothing will. You only normally get 2GB of free from Dropbox, making it a pretty sweet deal.

Don't sync, drag 'n' drop
If you chose to go Android rather than opting for an iPhone, there's a good chance that the open-ness of the platform had something to do with it. Samsung is keen on trying to make its users adopt the Kies desktop software, but it's actually completely unnecessary. Plug the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 into a computer with a microUSB cable and it'll show up as a media player drive, which you can drag and drop all kinds of files onto. Transfer speeds are impressively fast too.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Contacts

Nab contacts from Facebook and TwitterWhen we first got our Samsung Galaxy Note 2 in, it didn't have any of the usual social apps installed. Even if you're not a massive mobile Facebook-er, it's worth giving the app a download because it lets you harvest contacts from the network, making populating your contacts book a good deal easier.

Blocking Mode
Do you have a bug-a-boo stalking you? Is there a creep who keeps calling? The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 lets you keep them away with the blocking mode. It restricts notifications and calls from all but your approved contacts - and that can be at all times, or just during the hours you choose.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Camera and Video

Use HDR mode in mixed lighting - or all the time
The 8-megapixel sensor of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is pretty good on its own, but the neat camera app ups its skills significantly. One of our favourite bonus bits is the HDR mode. This effectively combines multiple exposure in a single shot to bring out extra detail in shadows. Both the HDR and normal shots are saved, meaning there's very little downside - other than that taking shots is a little bit slower.

Check out slow and fast motion modes
Nestled within the menus of the video camera app are fast and slow motion modes, capturing either more or fewer frames per second than normal. It's not quite the 120fps mode you get in some dedicated cameras, but will come in handy if you're trying to video a sports event, for example.

Don't forget video effects
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 doesn't have the fun face-distorting video effects you get with a vanilla Jelly Bean phone, but it does have a range of funky filters. There are colour pop modes, extracting all but certain shades from your videos, and the cartoon filter is perfect for some arty rotoscope-style vids.

Give the exposure longer time than the sound effect suggests
Each time you take a photo, a shutter sound plays in the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. However, we found that occasionally the phone needs a little bit longer to attain a solid focus. Hold still for an extra half-second for good measure.

Get vid previews with Air View
Using Air View, if you hold the pen over the transport bar of a movie clip in the media player, you'll be given a preview of what's going on in the film at that point. It makes finding the right part of a film or TV ep a doddle.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Connectivity

Don't go over you allowance, with Data UsageA staple Android feature is the Data Usage counter. This can be found within the Settings menu, and it monitors your data usage, showing it as a colourful graph. You can use it to cut off your mobile data connection once you reach a certain limit, to ensure you won't get charged by your carrier.

Wi-Fi sync with Kies
We've already endorsed drag 'n' drop file transfers over Kies sync'ing, but if you're a Kies fan, don't forget that you can also sync wirelessly. To set this feature up, scroll to the bottom of the More Settings sub-menu, where you'll find the Kies via Wi-Fi option.

S Beam
A feature introduced with the Samsung Galaxy S3, S Beam uses a mixture of NFC and Wi-Fi Direct to let you transfer files between compatible Samsung phones. You just need to tap the phones together to get them playing. S Beam needs to be switched on, though, from within the Wireless and Networks menu.

NFC lets you buy coffee

The NFC connectivity of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 also let you buy small items such as cups of coffee, sandwiches and the like. Several big high street chains have taken the NFC plunge, including Starbucks and EAT, using apps to let you dump credit onto your phone.

Share screens with AllShare Cast
AllShare used to be just about sending a video file from, say, your phone to your Blu-ray player. But now it does a lot more. AllShare Cast lets you send your Galaxy Note 2's screen contents to another display, a bit like AirPlay Mirroring.

Forget Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Direct is better

Wi-Fi Direct is tied into the S Beam transfer feature, but you can also use it easily on its own. This is a version of Wi-Fi that doesn't need an internet connection, as it can hook-up directly with another compatible device. It some ways it's a successor to Bluetooth, letting you transfer files, and at a much greater speed than old Bluetooth could handle.

Watch your 4G
If you want to get a 4G-capable Note 2, be aware that the LTE edition is separate from the standard one. EE says it'll stock the LTE Galaxy Note 2 from October 15.

Samsung Galaxy S3 tips and tricks

The Samsung Galaxy S3 is one of the most feature-packed gadgets of the year. It can do so much that it’s impossible to get your head around everything it's capable of in a few days. We’ve spent an age with the phone, and are here to share what we've found.

If you want to get to know your Samsung Galaxy S3 a bit better, check out our round-up of the 50 juiciest tips and tricks for the Android giant. Think we've missed something? Drop us a line in the comments.


1. Smart stayHere’s a neat little gimmicky Samsung Galaxy S3 feature that could come in very handy if you like to read books or web articles on your phone. Smart stay uses the user-facing camera to scan for your eyes looking at the screen. If it finds them, it’ll keep the screen backlight active, rather than let it sleep. You can activate the feature from within the Display submenu of the full Settings menu.

2. Font changer

If you don’t like the standard, fairly serious look of the Samsung Galaxy S3, you can change the font used in the menu systems for a more light-hearted style. There are three other fonts available from the off, and you can download more from Google Play. The font changer option is in the Display submenu.

3. Check out OAP mode

Android can be confusing for people who aren’t massive tech fans. We’re not quite sure why such people would have bought as fancy a phone as the Samsung Galaxy S3, but we’re not here to judge.  For this eventuality, Samsung has provided an “easy” UI mode, which simplifies the look of home screens, using large, blocky preset widgets. You can try out this mode in the Home Screen Mode submenu within Settings.

4. Motion controller
The Samsung Galaxy S3 takes the “kitchen sink” approach to features, shoving in everything it can manage. Motion controller options are evidence of quite how far this extends. You can flick between home screens by flicking the phone left and right, and that's just the beginning. There are bundles of options here, from zooming in and out of web pages by tilting the phone up and down to being able to take a screengrab by wiping the side of your hand across the screen. Check out the full list in the Motion submenu in Settings.

5. Don’t forget folders
To make effective use of your home screens, you need to think about using folders, which store app shortcuts. To make one, just hold a finger down on an app shortcut and drag it onto another app shortcut.

6. Quick search bar access
The quickest way to perform a quick web search on the Samsung Galaxy S3 when on a home screen is by using a dedicated gestural shortcut. Hold down the Menu soft key for around two seconds and you’ll be taken directly to a Google search bar.

7. Customise your lock screens
The custom lock screen of the Samsung Galaxy S3 features a row of icons that can be used to take you directly to any app. By default, the lock screen houses the phone caller, SMS hub, S Voice app and the camera. There’s a dedicated Lock Screen submenu in Settings that lets you define your own shortcuts.

8. Face unlock – it ain’t magic
Here’s a pro tip – if you want to keep your phone secure, Face Unlock isn’t the way to do it. Face Unlock recognises the geometry of your face to unlock the Samsung Galaxy S3 without any fingers needed. It’s more of a fun feature rather than a hardcore security measure, and someone that looks a bit like you may well be able to unlock your phone. Heck, even a picture of you will do it.

9. You can gesture type, like Swype
The Samsung Galaxy S3 features its own Samsung virtual keyboard. One of the neat extras it offers is gesture typing, which lets you drag a path over the letters in words rather than tapping them one-by-one. Many people find it much faster than standard typing, and with a good corrections algorithm it’s arguably more accurate too. Swipe-y typing is enabled in the keyboard menu, under the heading continuous input.

10. You can have up to seven home screens
Samsung gives you control over how many home screens there are in your Galaxy S3. To add or delete home screens, head to a home screen and use the pinch gesture to zoom out and see the whole roster of screens. From there you’ll be able to add additional ones, or drag existing ones into the virtual dustbin.


11. Contacts book touchscreen gesturesFrom within the Contacts book, you can call and text people directly using touchscreen gestures. A right-to-left swipe across a contact entry will message them, and a left-to-right swipe will call them. It’s a lot quicker than tapping on their entry and then tapping again on their phone number.

12. Install Facebook and Twitter for quickie contact-gathering
The Samsung Galaxy S3 is a fantastic social networking tool, but you can make your social apps work for you too. Install the Facebook and Twitter apps and you can use your friends and followers lists to pull contacts into your phone’s Contacts book.

13. Avoid people with block mode

If you’re just a little too good at making friends and influencing people, you may want to check out the block mode. This lets you control the sorts of notifications, calls and alerts you get at certain times of the day. The most obvious use is to stop people from ringing you while you’re asleep. The Samsung Galaxy S3 also lets you keep up a list of “approved” contacts that can get through at all times. You’ll find the blocking option in the Settings menu.

Battery life

14. Make use of notification bar settings options
The quickest way to increase battery life is to manage the connections that the Samsung Galaxy S3 uses. 3G is one of the biggest drains on a smartphone’s battery, cutting stamina from several days to a day and a half. The pull-down notifications bar lets you turn off connections within a screen tap or two. Connections we recommend managing include Bluetooth, 3G, Wi-Fi and GPS.

15. Investigate power saving mode
When your battery level gets a bit low, the Samsung Galaxy S3 comes with its own emergency power saving mode that cuts down the power-draining features used by the phone. These include haptic feedback, screen brightness, CPU speed and the background screen colour in the internet browser.

16. Boost battery with a dark background

The Samsung Galaxy S3 has an AMOLED-type screen. As it does not use a universal backlight, this display uses more power when more of the screen is bright white. Use a dark or black background and you should find that the battery lasts that little bit longer.

17. You can change brightness from the drop-down notification bar
Along with connectivity settings, the notifications bar also has a brightness slider. It’s the quickest way to change brightness. There’s also an “Auto” tickbox, which lets the Samsung Galaxy S3 use the ambient light sensor on the front of the phone to judge how bright the screen needs to be, altering the backlight automatically depending on the surroundings.


18. You can record radio using the FM tunerFM radio isn’t really cool anymore, we’ll admit, but it uses a whole lot less battery than streaming internet radio over 3G – and it doesn’t demand you’re connected to the internet either. The FM radio uses your earphone cable as an antenna, and the Samsung Galaxy S3 even lets you record radio to the internal memory. You can then easily pull recorded files off the phone to archive on a computer, if you like.

19. Check out the custom EQ setting in the music player
Don’t like the sound that your earphones produce? The Samsung Galaxy S3 lets you tweak audio output with a custom equaliser. There are loads of presets included, or you can choose your own settings, with a 7-band EQ, 3D effect, Bass boost, reverb, and Clarity treble optimiser. You’ll find the shortcut to the EQ on the playback button bar of the music player.

20. Use Music Square for auto playlists

Gimmick or genius? Music Square tip-toes along the divide. It analyses your music and decides whether it’s relaxed or exciting, joyful or passionate. You can then pick exactly what mood you’re after using the Music Square interface – which looks a bit like a Korg Kaosspad. It works remarkably well, and is a boon if you like playlists but can’t be bothered to make them.

21. You can edit videos in the video player
The integrated video player of the Samsung Galaxy S3 is excellent for several reasons, primarily because it can play loads of different video types. It does more besides, too. You can trim videos from within the app, which is handy for those who love making their own little videos using the phone’s camera.

22. Check out AllShare
AllShare is Samsung’s take on DLNA. Sound like tech jargon? DLNA is a wireless standard that lets you stream video and music over a Wi-Fi network. AllShare uses DLNA and packages the tech into an easy-to-use package, especially if you’re piping content between Samsung brand devices. Plenty of Samsung gadgets support AllShare include tablets, Blu-ray players and TVs.


23. HDMI adapter
The Samsung Galaxy S3 does not have a dedicated video output, but there is a way to output video from the phone without using Wi-FI – the Samsung MHL adapter. This uses the microUSB port on the rear of the phone to send up to HD video and surround sound to TVs and other devices. The £20-odd adapter plugs in to the socket and ends in an HDMI socket, letting you jam in a standard HDMI cable.
24. Consider a battery booster
There are plenty of batteries available Samsung Galaxy S3 - standard-size ones, extra large ones and dodgy knock-off ones that might set your house aflame. Some will double your battery life, such as the top-quality Mophie juice pack that’s made specifically for the Galaxy S3. The phone slots into the battery pack, increasing the body size without ruining ergonomics.

25. Forget the 64GB edition
Our buyer’s tip is to forget the 64GB edition of the Samsung Galaxy S3. It’s not widely available in the UK – the 16GB and 32GB editions are far more common – and it’s not really worth the extra cash. The Galaxy S3 has a microSD memory card slot, and expanding the memory using one of these cards is much cheaper than spending the extra on a phone with greater internal memory.

26. Get a capacitive stylus – nearly a Note
The main thing that has got so many people buying the recent Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is its neat stylus. It uses clever Wacom tech that enables full pressure sensitivity. There’s no easy way to get this sensitivity on the Galaxy S3, but you can get a similar pen input feel with a capacitive stylus. These pens have tips that the touchscreen of phones like the Galaxy S3 can sense.


27. Search the web with your voiceThe Samsung Galaxy S3 has a dedicated Voice Search app that lets you search the web by speaking into your phone’s microphone. It uses Google’s voice recognition tech. Alternatively, you can use S Voice, which is Samsung’s own take on the voice recognition feature.

28. Save sites for offline reading
The integrated web browser of the Samsung Galaxy S3 lets you save websites on the internal memory of the phone for reading while you’re out of range of Wi-Fi and 3G. To save a page, tap the menu soft key while on a site and tap the Save for offline reading option. Right by this, you’ll see the Request desktop site checkbox, which is another useful nugget.


29. How to use NFCThe Samsung Galaxy S3 features NFC, or Near Field Communication. There are several uses for this short-range connectivity type, and the most interesting is mobile payments. These let you use your phone as a contactless payments tool. Support is limited at the moment, but if you’re on Orange, you can use the QuickTap system, which will let you buy small items from food outlets like Subway, EAT and others. For more on NFC, check out our full guide.

30. How to use S Beam
S Beam is Samsung’s own utilisation of NFC. It lets you transmit files between compatible phones. At the moment, that’s limited to the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy Note 2 – hardly a vast array. However, it is one way to open up NFC to those who aren’t keen on using their mobile as a debit card of sorts. You can turn S Beam on from within the More Settings submenu in the main settings area. Don’t miss it if you have Galaxy S3-owning friends.

31. Kies is optional
Kies is Samsung’s desktop software, which can be used to sync content to Samsung phones, and can be used to update firmware. In the past it has been mandatory to use it for some uses in some phones, but it’s largely options with the Samsung Galaxy S3. You can easily drag ‘n’ drop files onto the phone, and firmware updates can be made directly from the phone. Why use it when you don’t need to? That said, Kies does support Wi-Fi synchronisation, which is neat.

32. Use data usage monitor if you’re on a data limit
Most Samsung Galaxy S3 owners will probably have to live with a data limit, whether it’s 1GB, 500MB or 10GB. Unless your mobile data usage is completely unlimited, it’s best to keep an eye on your consumptions to avoid unnecessary bill stings at the end of the month. Right near the top of the Settings menu is a Data usage section that will do just that. It lets you see how much data you’ve used, and within which apps. If you need to cut down, switch off mobile data and stick to Wi-Fi.

33. Don’t forget Wi-Fi Direct
Wi-Fi Direct is great. Once we were restricted to Bluetooth for wireless file transfers. It was slow, unreliable and, well, a bit rubbish. Wi-Fi Direct is here to change all that. It lets you fling files from one Wi-Fi Direct compatible device to another, without needing a Wi-Fi internet spot to act as the middle man. It’s one of the best ways to get a file from A to B, and can be used throughout the phone – look for it in the Share options of any given app.


34. Essential Android appsAndroid apps you need to download or check out right now include Evernote, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify (if you have an account), Netflix (again, if you have an account), BBC iPlayer, Instagram, Flipboard, Movies, IMDb, SoundHound, WhatsApp Messenger, TuneIn Radio. Also, do take a look at the Google apps pre-installed on the Samsung Galaxy S3. They’re all fab.

35. Essential Android games
Android games you need to download in 3… 2… 1… now include World of Goo, Fieldrunners, Angry Birds Space, Bad Piggies, Infinity Blade, Dead Trigger, Shadowgun, Temple Run and the original Angry Birds. That should keep you busy for a little while.

36. Solving app problems
Android is a lot more stable than it used to be, but you’re going to have to expect the odd crash/computer implosion. If you find that a particular app is giving you a lot of trouble, it’s a good idea to try wiping its cached data. To do this, go to the Applications manager in the Settings menu. Then pick the errant app from the list that appears and tap the Clear data and Clear cache buttons. If that fails, you can try reinstalling the app. You’ll see an Uninstall button on this screen that’ll wipe its current install.

37. App side-loading
Google Play is the place to be if you’re out for Android apps and games for your Samsung Galaxy S3, but Android does not limit you to the official app store. You can side-load apps from just about anywhere, you just need to remove the security barrier blocking apps from unknown sources. This is in the Security submenu of Settings. Once done, you can download APK Android installation files directly from within the browser, or transfer them to the internal memory manually from a computer. Then locate them using the My Files app, tap the app you want and follow the on-screen prompts. Be careful though and only download from trusted sources as apps downloaded from unofficial sites have a much higher chance of containing all sorts of viral nasties.

38. Adding app shortcuts to the homescreen
One of the key uses for a Samsung Galaxy S3 home screen is to give you quick access to your favourite apps. To add one to a home screen, go to the main apps menu, hold a finger down on an app icon and a home screen preview will pop up, letting you place the shortcut

39. Backup to SD = a good idea
If you value your data, it’s a good idea to backup your data every now and then. There are two main ways to do this. The first is to use Kies, Samsung’s desktop software, which lets you keep an image of your phone’s goodies on your computer. There are also plenty of apps that will backup your precious data to an SD card. Just search for backup on Google Play for a selection.


40. Video overlaysA great gimmick of the Samsung Galaxy S3’s video player is that it lets you properly multi-task. On the bottom right of the transport bar is a little button with an arrow on it. Tap this and any playing video will appear as an overlay on your home screen. It’ll hang around until you tap the cross icon (which appears when the video is tapped), letting you watch videos while browsing the web, reading emails and so on. You can also resize the video with the pinch gesture.

41. Galaxy S3 codec support is great
Samsung has been a bit of a mobile video star for years. Its top-end phones always tend to offer better video support than just about any other maker’s models. The Samsung Galaxy S3 is no different. It can handle most file formats, including – in our testing – the popular MKV type. Most people shouldn’t need to transcode many of their videos to get them playing on the phone.


42. Check out HDR modeHDR mode is a useful mode for getting good photographic results in conditions of problematic lighting. It involved merging the information of multiple exposures, letting the Samsung Galaxy S3’s camera reap the most detail information from dark and light areas in a scene. The phone saves both an HDR version and a non-HDR version, so there’s no downside other than that the processing time needed between each shot will slow down your photo snapping.

43. Combat closed eyes photos with Best Face
If you’re trying to take a snap of a difficult subject, Best Face is a great way to avoid papping them with their eyes closed, or while pulling a face. It takes five shots of the same scene in rapid succession, then lets you pick the one with the best result. As the Samsung Galaxy S3 camera is so fast, the whole five exposures only take a bit over a second.
44. Panorama
The classic add-on feature of any phone camera that wants to impress is Panorama. It lets you take a wide shot of your surroundings, capturing the shot as you slowly turn the phone around. It’s not quite as good as the iPhone 5’s panorama, but it’s not bad.

45. Fill in the Photosphere gap with an app

One of the features that the Samsung Galaxy S3 currently misses out on is Photosphere. It’s because the phone uses Android 4.1 Jelly Bean rather than version 4.2, which brought the world the new photo feature. It lets you take a full 360-degree panorama shot of the world around you. Don’t fret, though, because there are apps that do just that form Google Play. Apps to try include 360 Panorama and Photo360. The Galaxy S3 may get the official Photo Sphere feature once the update to Android 4.2 arrives.

46. Share photos directly with Share Shot

Share Shot uses Wi-Fi Direct to let you fling shots over directly to other people nearby. It requires that the recipient device has Wi-Fi Direct engaged too, though.


47. Root it – if you dareThere’s a massive Android modding community, and if you want to get involved you’ll need to root your Samsung Galaxy S3. This strips off a layer of protection, giving you direct access to the phone’s virtual organs and bones. It will also let you install custom ROMs – customised installs of the Android operating system. Doing this, you could strip away TouchWiz if you like. You can brick your phone in this process, though, so proceed with caution.

48. Remote wipe your phone with Remote Control
A great security feature of the Samsung Galaxy S3 is remote wiping of data. You’ll need to sign up for a Samsung account, after which you can remotely manage your phone from You can wipe data, lock the phone so it can’t be used and even locate the device using the Find my Phone feature. If there’s even a small chance you’re phone’s going to be nicked (let’s face it, there is), we recommend signing up for this. It doesn’t cost you anything either.

49. For frequent fliers – dual clock lock screen

Here’s a clever bit of software jiggery-pokery. The lock screen clock can change automatically when you’re roaming to show two times, one for the country you’re in and another for the time back home. You’ll find this in the Lock screen menu of the Settings menu, called Dual clock.

And finally…

50. Jelly Bean easter eggYou’ve never seen an Android easter egg? You haven’t lived. To experience the wonder of the Jelly Bean easter egg on your Samsung Galaxy S3, go to the About device section in Settings, repeatedly clock on the Android version entry and you’ll see the beaming face of a cartoon Jelly Bean. Hold a finger down on the little guy and the screen will fill with whizzing beans. Who needs an iPhone 5, eh?

//PART 2