21 Things to Know & Things to Do with your new mobile phone this Christmas

December 21st, 2011

Have you received a new mobile phone from Santa this year? In this guide, we outline 21 useful things you want to know and things you might want to do with your mobile phone this Christmas.

Getting Started

  1. Transfer your phone book and SMS messages from your old phone. You don’t need to copy your phone numbers over one-by-one and it doesn’t need to be a time-consuming job just to hold on to those precious phone numbers. Either copy contacts using your SIM card or through your computer and it can take no time at all.
  2. Keep your mobile number even if you’re switching networks. Just because you’re switching network or upgrading to a new phone doesn’t mean you also need to change your phone number. If you’re staying on the same network, call the customer services hotline for your network and they can switch your number over. If you’re switching network, you’ll need a PAC Code. Our “PAC Code Finder” tool will walk you through the whole step-by-step process of transferring your number.
  3. Find out what your international number is. If you’re changing phone number this Christmas (even temporarily), make sure your friends and family who live abroad can still get in touch with you – they’ll want to share their festive greetings. To obtain your international phone number, simply replace the 0 at the start of your new phone number with +44. Oh and if you plan to call abroad from your mobile… check the price first. It often costs up to £1.50/minute and you’d be better off making the call from a BT landline, a specialist international call provider or over the internet using Skype or Google Talk.
  4. Getting started with a second hand or pre-owned phone. It is now commonplace for people to pass their old phones on to friends or family members when they receive an upgrade themselves. If you’ve received a pre-owned phone for Christmas, you can keep your existing SIM card providing the phone isn’t locked to a different network. Be warned though: if you’re moving up to a smartphone you’ll need to add a data plan to your tariff. See our detailed guide to getting started with a pre-owned phone and some of the pitfalls.
  5. Choose a good value tariff for your new phone. Chances are you’ll get a SIM card with your new mobile phone and chances are that SIM card will be Pay As You Go on one of the five main networks (Three, O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone). On these networks, you’ll pay around 25p/minute for calls and 12p for every text message you send. Why not switch to a low-cost network such as giffgaff (see our giffgaff review)? Calls on giffgaff cost 10p/minute, texts cost 6p each and accessing the web costs 20p per day. Heavy users can get goodybag bundles such as 250 minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited internet for £10/month. You can get a free SIM card from giffgaff here.
    Network Calls Texts Internet Voicemail
    Giffgaff (uses O2 network) 10p/min* 6p* 20p/day for 20MB then 20p/MB 8p/call
    O2 25p/min** 12p £1/day (500MB free with £10 top-up) 15p/call
    Orange 25p/min 12p £2/day (100MB free with £10 top-up) 25p/minute
    Three 26p/min 11p 11p/MB (150MB free with £10 top-up) 16p/minute
    T-Mobile 20p/min 12p £1/day 12p/minute
    Vodafone 21p/min 10p £1/day (500MB free with £10 top-up) 21p/minute

    * On giffgaff, calls and texts to other giffgaff mobiles are free providing you’ve topped up once in the last 3 months.
    ** On O2 Pay As You Go, the cost of calls to landlines and other O2 mobiles drops to 5p/minute after the first 3 minutes.

Proud new smartphone owners

  1. Understand what download limits such as 500MB and 1GB mean. If you’ve received your first smartphone, you might be wondering what it means to have a 500MB download limit or a 1GB download limit on your data plan. We’ve got a detailed guide outlining download limits and what they mean in reality.
  2. Get yourself a decent Pay As You Go data plan. If you’ve got a new smartphone, you’ll need a data plan to go with it. Pay As You Go customers can add a data plan to go with their existing tariffs. Prices are as follows:
    Network Monthly Price Usage Limit Get…
    Three £5.00/month 500MB/month Order Free SIM Card »
    O2 £7.50/month 500MB/month Order Free SIM Card »
    Orange £5.00/month 250MB/month Order Free SIM Card »
    T-Mobile £3.33/month* 500MB/month Order Free SIM Card »
    Vodafone £5.00/month 25MB/day Order Free SIM Card »

    * £3.33/month when you pay for 6 months upfront; otherwise £5/month.

    Alternatively, opt for a goodybag package on giffgaff. They start from £10/month with 250 minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited internet. It costs more than paying for internet alone on one of the big five networks but could work out cheaper in the long run. You can get a free SIM card from giffgaff here.

  3. Grab yourself a decent Pay Monthly tariff for your smartphone. If you make a lot of calls or send a lot of texts, you might find it better value to get a Pay Monthly contract. We’ve reviewed the best value SIM-only tariffs for smartphones.

Cool things to do & apps to download to your new phone

  1. Never get lost again with free sat nav for iPhone or Android. Proud new iPhone owners can download free applications such as Skobbler or Waze, both of which offer free turn-by-turn navigation directions. Meanwhile, Android owners don’t need to download an app at all: the Google Maps GPS navigation service is built in and it’s free.
  2. Download a gazillion applications. If you’ve got a new smartphone, make sure you check out the app store. You’ll find the “App Store” icon on the iPhone, “Market” icon on Android and “App World” icon on BlackBerry phones. You’ll find thousands of apps to download – many of them free. Some of them will be useful and can save you a lot of time, others will waste a lot of your time (e.g. Angry Birds, Cut The Rope, Fruit Ninja).
  3. Watch television on your smartphone for free. The TVCatchup service for smartphones allows you to stream most Freeview channels straight to your mobile phone. It doesn’t cost you a penny but don’t use it over a 3G connection as it’ll use up your entire download allowance in no time. Use it over a wi-fi connection for best performance. You should also check out the BBC iPlayer application from your smartphone’s app store.
  4. Read and speak a different language. Download the free Google Goggles and Google Translate applications and learn how to say “Merry Christmas” in dozens of different languages.
  5. Measure your heart rate. Believe it or not, your smartphone can measure your pulse too. It uses your phone’s camera and LED flash and works in the same way as a pulse oximeter. You’ll need the “Instant Heart Rate” application which free on Android and $1.99 for iPhone.
  6. See the invisible infrared world. If you’ve got a cameraphone, you can begin to see glimpses of the infrared world. Point your cameraphone at a top of a television remote control, press a few buttons and you might be surprised at what you see. Also works great with the Nintendo Wii sensor bar and the Microsoft Kinect sensor.
  7. Download games. Games, games. They’re a complete waste of time but we love them all the same – a perfect accompaniment for a long train journey or a wait for the bus. Top games include Angry Birds, Cut the Rope and Fruit Ninja. All three games can be found on your smartphone app store (Android Market or App Store). They’re free on Android and under a quid on the iPhone.

Your Tariff

  1. You’re allowed to change network/tariff. Just because your new phone comes on a certain network or tariff doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it. In fact, the tariff included with your new phone often isn’t the most competitive tariff at all. Shop around and look at changing tariffs… even look at changing networks if the phone is unlocked.
  2. Opt in for free things every time you top up. Everybody loves free stuff right? The big networks all run scheme whereby you’ll get some free stuff every time you top up. Sometimes you’ll be opted in by default but it’s worth double-checking. Three provide 150MB free internet with top ups, O2 have the “Text and Web” tariff, Orange provide free texts/music on their animal packages, T-Mobile provide free calls and Vodafone have the Freebees scheme where you’ll get either free texts and internet or free international calls.
  3. Cheaper Pay As You Go tariffs do exist. Giffgaff (get a free SIM card) offer calls for 10p/minute and texts at 6p each. This compares to about 25p/minute for calls and 12p per text on the larger networks. You could find significant savings by using your new phone on these tariffs instead.
  4. Pay Monthly might be better value for chatterboxes and smartphones. If you like to talk or you’ve received a new smartphone, you’ll often find it better value to switch to a Pay Monthly “SIM Only” tariff. These are tariffs which provide you with shed loads of airtime at a low price.  We’ve got a comprehensive guide to the best value SIM-only tariffs and best value SIM-only tariffs for smartphones.

Your old phone

  1. Don’t get rid of your old phone just yet. You’ve got a shiny new mobile phone but don’t chuck away your old one yet. We recommend keeping it for at least a few weeks before doing anything with it. There might still be some data you’ve not copied over to your new phone yet and you’ll not notice until you try to access it. It also means you’ll have a phone to return to in case there are any problems with your new phone.
  2. Recycle your phone, but wipe it first. If you recycle your old mobile phone, you could get cash for it. However, make sure you’ve deleted all of your personal information first and remove the memory card and SIM card. Before sending it off for recycling, check whether any friends or family want your phone. You’ll both get a better deal from doing a deal: recycling companies don’t pay the full market value of the phone and your friends could get a handset for less than it costs in store.

A little something for 2012…

  1. Subscribe to Ken’s Tech Tips. We’re an independent mobile technology website. Throughout 2012, we’ll be reviewing new phones and mobile devices, highlighting exciting new applications and reviewing new tariffs and price plans as they become available. We’ll also have information on how to get more out of your phone. Enter your e-mail address to subscribe to our newsletter and you’ll be a mobile technology expert in no time. We promise.

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About Ken

Ken Lo

My passion is helping people to get the most out of their mobile phone. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005.

Aside from writing about mobile technology, my interests are in software development, digital marketing and physics. Outside of the blog, I work with numerous technology companies helping them to explain their product and helping them to market it to consumers. Please get in touch for more information.

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