I spent the last few years avoiding the iPhone phenomenon. I appreciated the concept but at the time I simply didn´t want to carry a mobile sized laptop around just so that I could surf the web from wherever I could get a mobile or wifi signal. Times change.

So, a few weeks ago it was time to upgrade my mobile from the Sony Ericsson Vivaz that I had grown accustomed to using. I was particularly looking at the Sony Ericsson Experia Arc however the release was delayed and I couldn´t wait any longer for my smartphone fix.

I was inspired by all the raving reviews of my HTC owning friends but was sadly disappointed by the feel of the phones, not to mention the lack of any exciting update after the Desire.

So, I ended up with the Samsung Galaxy S II – or the GT-I9100 for those otherwise inclined. I didn´t really want to go with Samsung with recent history of poor build quality but it felt NICE in the hand, had Gingerbread installed and was Dual Core. I decided to risk it with the caveat that if all else failed I could revert back to the Vivaz if I got desperate.

Let me tell you right now, that ain´t happening.

Anyway, being a “novice” smartphone user and knowing that there are an increasing number of us joining the smartphone revolution on a daily basis I thought I would offer a list of 5 things you must do with your new smartphone device.

1. Learn how to use it.

Now this might seem particularly obvious but having spent an hour trying to work out what a notification meant only to find out it was facebook chat it seems practical to advise you to learn about your phone. Find out how to lock your phone and how to read any notifications it has for you. Learn how to turn on and off the Wifi, GPS and other connection settings. It could be important and save you loads of cash on data charges. Don´t forget the connection to your home computer – although you possibly won´t need it to upload your pics to Facebook or your videos to YouTube it will be handy to backup your data. Work out how to use the camera and video recording software so that you can comfortably record your happy snaps. Explore the apps that come with the phone and know how to download more apps, in particular the free ones!

2. Download Angry Birds

If you haven´t heard of Angry birds you have possibly been locked in a basement for the last 10 years. If you have heard of it, it is a free game that is highly downloadable and addictive. It also comes in some additional versions such as Angry Birds Rio and Angry Birds Seasons. You may love or hate the game but you should at least know what it is and be able to capably discuss it at business functions or over the water cooler.

3. Download a Light Saber app

You aren´t a proper smartphone user until you have done this. There are a few around but they all basically do the same thing – insert whizzy light saber noise here. Essentially they turn your mobile into a Star Wars special effect and you can happily run around “attacking” people with your whizzy sounding smartphone as they look at you and contemplate your sanity. Anyone who has wanted to be a Jedi should have this on your phone and for all geeks it is a total necessity.

4. Download Shazam 

I did this because it was there, not because I was specifically looking to improve my scores on “name that tune” type pub quizzes…although that would naturally be a bonus. A bit like Angry Birds, this app is well known and a lot of use if you aren´t up to speed with the latest music and want to know what that ultra cool tune it. It may also be practical in showing up your classical music buff by helping you to name the concerto before they do. However, I find that a somewhat surreal situation to envisage so if you do actually use it for that purpose please let me know.

5. Show off your phone to all your friends.

Let´s be honest. Having the latest smartphone is the latest fashionable trend in the world of gadgets. If you have just got the latest smartphone then it won´t stay the latest for long. Show it off while you still can and hopefully before one of your mates gets to upgrade theirs.

6. Enjoy it

Ok, I did say only five things you must do, but I like to over deliver and this is no different. Enjoy the phone and the things that it can do to improve the quality of your life. The whole purpose of having the phone is that it can do things that make life a little easier, like finding out when the next train to Albuquerque is. Utilise its functionality to stay connected to your friends, family and random Facebook stalkers. At the end of the day it is a communication tool and you should try to get the most out of it and communicate to your heart´s content 🙂