I don't like spending money.... it takes me ages to make it and I lament parting with it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not tight. I'll always be first to the bar and last out of the taxi. I'd just rather not be taken for a ride.
On the other hand, I love technology. I embrace the latest tech and revel in the revelations of the likes of Samsung, Apple and Microsoft at the latest tech shows. However, I don't like spending money... one can appreciate the paradox which befalls me whenever my mobile phone contract comes to an end and predictably my phone appears to have reached the end of its effective life. Upgrade now to the latest machine and you're old phone will look like it's got a dead hamster for a processor... at least that's what they (the big phone makers and network service providers) want you to think.
I once said that my HTC Desire S (my first Smartphone) had reached the end of its usable life. Modern apps were too demanding in both size and processor demands. She had 2 years of good running before she became unusable. Now, I have a Samsung S3 and that too is being tested by the demands of modern apps. However, I began to look into this problem... had I been taken in by one of the greatest scams of the digital era?
I took it upon myself to investigate, what I found has given my S3 a serious boost....
IFTTT... Reinvigorate your wall paper with a funky new pic!
I bore quickly with the look of my phone's wall paper. The thing is, I struggle to find anything I like enough to stick on my phone. IFTTT is an app which can give your phone a fantastic new look everyday! IFTTT is like a macro system, you can assign it a task when an event occurs. In this case, when NASA produces a new image of the day (and they are always stunning) you can assign that image to your wall paper.
It's really not hard at all... IFTTT is programmed in a very logical manner. If "x" occurs, do "y". The wall paper is the tip of the iceberg with IFTTT. You can assign it to perform tasks on twitter, facebook, email and at a push manipulate your home heating system.
Clean Master... Your one stop system manager
Internet usage and surfing facebook is fun but costly in terms of memory. The issue is that the phone doesn't automatically clear out that data when you're done. This means that your system will start lagging. Clean Master is a great little app that cleans up your system resources and takes care of your phone. There is even a CPU cooler... not sure how effective it is but it has a pretty picture. If you're phone is slowing up, push the widget (a clever rocket animation) and seconds later the phone is significantly faster.
You can go deeper and clear up old files (photos and movies), if you feel the urge.
Not a pro with your phone and find yourself running out of battery? Then Battery Doctor is for you. At a single press, the app will diagnose your phone and identify which settings are draining the most amount of power and which apps can be shut down. Another press and it will carry out every operation to extend the battery life. More settings can be accessed to further extend the amount of time between recharges.
I found the S3 ran out of juice after 4 hours (that's using Napster, internet, whatsapp and youtube) but after using Battery Doctor that period extended to nearer 10 hours.
CM Browser... The Faster Browser
Not all Browsers are the same. The standard Internet Explorer is good but sometimes takes a while to access a site. CM Browser seems to be a little more efficient in this respect. I've found it to be quite a bit quicker than any other Browser I've tested.
Do something useful with your phone when you'r not using it... like Cure Cancer!
No idle boast. You can help with efforts to cure diseases like HIV and Cancer by not using your phone. BOINC has been around for more than a decade now. Most will remember their first venture with the SETI screensaver, the program used your processor to trawl through data when you weren't using your computer.
Today, BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing) use the same tech to more useful ends. They've produced an app which sits on your phone and anytime the screen turns off, the app turns the CPU into a number cruncher. The second you turn the screen back on, the app suspends operation and waits until you stop using your phone.
Now, this does chew up a bit of memory and battery but you can set rules like "only run when battery is above 80%". It is free and the data can save lives.
Now, these are just helpful little apps to help promote the life and usefulness of your phones. My S3 is still suffering but now she seems to have a bit more life. The lure of new super smart phones is compelling and with xmas around the corner deals will be plenty.
However, consider this.....
The new Samsung Note 4 has a fantastic screen, processor and memory. By itself, it costs somewhere in the region of £600. With a deal, about £33 per month (24 month deal) with £129 upfront for the machine.
GiffGaff offer a £12 per month deal without a phone that rivals most of the "Big" deals. Here's the proof!
Here are the sums,
A deal with phone = £129 + 24x33 = £918 (ouch)
Sim only + Get the phone independently = £600 + 24x12 = £888 (ouch but less so)
My contract concludes this month. I'd love a Note 4 but not enough to justify the better half of a grand. By revitalising my current phone with these apps, killing features I don't use and giving it a fresh look everyday I am happy to just keep using this phone until the cost of the Note 4 unit becomes a little more digestible.
Okay, I may find myself waiting until early next year, but at least I'll still be first to the bar without feeling my phone burning a hole into my financial security.
You can find all these apps using your local app store, for Android they are free!