There’s no getting away from the fact that the quality of camera hardware in Android phones varies hugely, from ultra-cheap fixed focus affairs on budget hardware to very decent 12 megapixel shooters with good optics on the top Android flagships, capable of rivalling the best the iOS and (most of the) Windows Phone world have to offer. Obviously, the tips presented below will apply more to the latter than the former, but there are many devices in between (e.g. the 5MP camera in the 2010 Nexus S and 2011 Galaxy Nexus is a good dividing line, anything newer and higher spec than these will be capable of good results), for which the tips below should help you take consistently better photos.
Android Tips and Tricks
One of the advantages of Android devices with on-screen navigation keys is the quick access to Google Now by just swiping up from the bottom of the home button. While it may not seem like a biggie, it is a god sent ability to directly jump into Google Now from anywhere you are in the OS.
However, this small feature also a cause for a big headache for many people. Numerous times, I have ended up opening Google Now while playing Zombie Flick or Fruit Ninja on my Nexus 4.
If there’s one issue that affects all Android Jelly Bean users, more or less equally, it’s battery life. Specifically, how to extend it, without having to resort to spare batteries (if applicable) or plug-in emergency chargers (though these are, of course, a great thing to have around). Covered here are generic tips which will apply to almost all Android smartphones (though modeled here on a generic Nexus device), I look at diagnostic screens, at settings, at power saving tips, at choosing your installed applications and wallpapers with power drain in mind, and much more. Each tip may save 5%, 10% or even 20% power drain, but combine them all and you can easily double your phone’s battery life.
As you’ll have gathered from my comments in both my review of the Galaxy S4 and my editorial on hardware flexibility, I’m something of a fan of Samsung’s approach when it comes to giving users the choice – replaceable batteries, microSD expansion, alternative back covers and battery solutions, and more.
Which means that I’m often recommending people buy an S3 or S4, or perhaps a Note II – except I then have to qualify the recommendation with advice over how to make it leaner and faster in order to get the most from it. Advice which I reproduce below for general edification. And yes, I know there’s a whole world of replacement firmwares and (rather easier to implement) replacement application launchers, but there are steps even relative beginners can take to optimise any of Samsung’s TouchWiz devices, from low end to high end models, making them more efficient and more responsive.