Many of us spend more than a small fortune on our mobile phones, paying out hundreds a year, and then hundreds more on service plans. Then we add cases and other personalized accessories to our devices, further increasing the overall cost. For BlackBerry, Droid, and Windows users, it’s often money spent on additions, like a 128GB micro SD card, that can set them back a little extra. Users of iPhone’s and iPads lean more towards extra battery packs, or car charges so that they can keep their device powered on the go, but these are no less expensive.

Whatever your needs, after looking over our mobile buyer’s checklist there are a few other things you should consider when shopping for and setting up a new phone.

1) Check your number portability before you do anything else. While the laws on Mobile umber Portability (MNP) in the UK and the EU are very straightforward, some carriers make it difficult. Confirming that you can easily transfer your number before shopping for plans will let you squeeze your own carrier a bit to get the best deal, while also enticing new providers to give you their best deals. Under the old rules, carriers would post the required Porting Authorisation Code (PAC), which could take a week to reach a customer interested in initiating a transfer. New regulations require service providers to immediately issue this number over the phone, or by text or SMS not more than two hours after a request is made. Still, some carriers can be difficult, so it’s best to do your homework first. Contact Ofcom if your carrier gives you a hard time.

2) Which carriers have the best deals? Many times, carriers will offer a great deal, but bundle it with a bad package. Knowing what the competition offers in terms of mobile phone sales and deals can keep you from falling into the trap of saving on a phone, only to spend extra on a plan you’ll likely have for two or more years. Any time you are shopping plans and deals, consider the cost of your plan over a two-year period to make sure you’re really saving money.

3) Plan out your accessory purchases in advance. Often, far better deals can be had through Amazon or off brand markets than you’ll get in phone stores. However, many people snap up a nice premium priced battery pack, SD card, or leather phone case when they get a new phone, never considering the money they’re wasting by shopping directly from a phone retailer, rather than looking for deals elsewhere. Plan your purchases, and depending on what accessories you’re interested in, you can easily save £50 or more when kitting out a new smartphone.

4) Charge that battery. Most phones require little or no charge when they’re out of the box, but it’s always a good idea to charge them up anyway. Older batteries required this, and while the newest generation of batteries doesn’t necessarily need it, you’re still better off with a full charge on your battery than running flat a few hours after using it. Part of the reason for this is that setting up a new phone can be a labour intensive process. The phone is downloading updates, installing new apps, syncing accounts, and generally doing far more work than you’d normally ask of it. Take care of your phone, and it will take care of you.

5) Secure your new phone. Too many people skimp on phone security with their new mobiles, or incorrectly assume that factory defaults will protect them. While companies like Google want to scrape as much of your information as they can for advertising purposes, other companies like Apple and BlackBerry don’t. Still, all manufacturers genuinely want you to protect your device from loss and theft. Follow their setup guides to protect your phone. Also, remember that in most cases, you’re protecting your phone from would be thieves, not expert hackers. Having a 20-character password that you’ll immediately forget is unnecessary, but a strong 8 character alphanumeric password is a great way to protect yourself, without racking your brain later trying to remember it.

6) Configure your accounts when you set up the phone. Many people wait to set up their accounts, and then wonder why their phone battery runs flat so fast. This is usually because a new account sync is labour intensive, particularly if you have a huge number of email messages or chats you’ll be syncing to the new device. In these cases, it’s both cheaper and faster to do it from home or work. You can use a secure Wi-Fi connection there, and avoid using up all of your plan data. You’ll also be assured of a stronger signal, meaning downloads and updates will be faster, and require less battery charge to complete.

Smartphones are amazing little packages of function (or big if you have a phablet). They do everything that several other devices would be needed for, but are expected to outperform them in terms of quality of service, battery life, and overall usability. Setting up your phone early and properly will let you get the most out of it, and stretch your battery life out over a much longer period of time than you would otherwise be able to.

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