Top 9 Things Your Smartphone Sucks At (And How To Fix Them)

Top 9 Things Your Smartphone Sucks At (And How To Fix Them)

Sometimes, smartphones can be a boon for your personal productivity, but other times it’s amazing how much trouble they have performing simple tasks. Here are nine things your phone probably sucks at and how to make it work better.

Title image remixed from Jay Tamboli, akshaytkd, Nemo, Nemo, and Nemo.


9. Lasting Until The Next Charge

When you have something that runs on batteries, it’s inevitable that it’ll run out of juice. That’s just the nature of the beast. But often, your battery dies long before you want it to, and that’s not good (remember how long dumbphones used to last?). Luckily, there are two things you can do to fix this: first; make sure your phone isn’t wasting its battery. Check out our guides to getting better battery life on Android and the iPhone for more. Next, just make sure you charge it whenever you can. It’s easier than you think — and we have strategies for that too. Image: Jaroslav Machacek (Shutterstock).


8. Understanding What You Type

This one isn’t really your phone’s fault — it tries really hard — it’s just that typing on a keyboard that tiny is really difficult (even with the sometimes-hilarious autocorrect helping you out). The best solution is to improve your typing skills, but if you’re on Android, you’re also lucky enough to have your choice of keyboards. Here are the five best keyboards around, but if you don’t like those, check out our guide on finding the right keyboard for you. With the right tools and some honed skills, you should make typing with your thumbs just a little bit easier.


7. Giving You Control

I don’t want the Blockbuster app on my phone. Why can’t I get rid of it? I want to use Google Maps for all my navigation. Why won’t my iPhone let me? Sure, you could root or jailbreak, but manufacturers are constantly working against you to make that more difficult, and even the Nexus phones come with some unnecessary apps these days. At least they’re a bit easier to root, but good luck finding one on your carrier of choice — depending on the device, that’s all luck.

Thankfully, you can at least make up for some of this by rooting, jailbreaking and getting rid of that crapware on the phone you do have — no thanks to the manufacturers and carriers, of course. Image remixed from myVector (Shutterstock).


6. Being Durable

Remember the days of Nokia phones that could survive a nuclear apocalypse? What happened to those? These days, it seems like dusting your phone wrong could crack the screen, cause your buttons to stop working, or even just wear on that darn battery cover. We understand it’s all in the name of design, and luckily you can fix most of these things yourself — whether it’s replacing the screen, making the most of your broken buttons, or just getting a case to protect it all.


5. Taking Good Pictures

This has become less of a problem over the years, but smartphone cameras are still far from the best cameras around — yet most of us have replaced out superior point-and-shoots with the cameras in our pockets. Luckily, while they don’t always take the best of pictures, there’s a lot you can do to make the best of what you’ve got. Take extra care to follow the basic rules of photography (like using your light), tweak your camera app’s settings and even do a little post-processing work to make those pictures usable.


4. Keeping You Focused

It’s nice to have a phone that gets email, browses the web and entertains you when you’re bored. The problem? It also distracts you while you’re driving, keeps you from interacting with people, and all-around annoys the people around you. You don’t need to give up your smartphone to stay focused, though — you just need to change how you use it. Read up on the most annoying things you do with your phone that you should quit for more info.


3. Staying Up To Date

It’s amazing how fast a “modern” phone can start to feel out of date. The iPhone 4 can’t navigate using Apple Maps and multiple Android phones from the past two years have no hope of getting Jelly Bean (or even Ice Cream Sandwich). As annoying as this is, a little ingenuity (and a few good apps) can get around this problem nicely. We always try to keep you up to date with the latest OS’ features now, whether it be iOS 6 or Android Jelly Bean. Plus, with the right buying and selling tactics, you can upgrade to the latest and greatest every few months, without spending a fortune.


2. Giving You A Moment’s Peace And Quiet

Out of the box, your phone probably vies for your attention a lot. All those notifications are annoying at best, and productivity-killing at worst. You could just put your phone on silent, but you’re better off pruning your notifications and optimising how you use them. Turn off the notifications you don’t need, keeping only the important ones, and give them each a different tone so you know whether something is important (and when it can be left alone). With a good system in place, you should be able to keep your phone from going off every ding dong second and keep your sanity in place.


1. Being A Phone

Shockingly, the thing your phone is worst at? Being a freaking phone. When we polled you about your biggest smartphone annoyances, dropped calls were one of the most cited problems and unfortunately, there’s only so much you can do about it. We offered a few solutions, but generally the best thing you can do is optimise your phone’s reception (and not just by holding it correctly).

If you get particularly bad reception in your home or office, there are a few ways to work around that, but if you seem to have it more often than not, you’ll need to get to the bottom of why before you fix it. In the end, the best thing you can do is have a secondary phone line — whether it be a landline, VOIP on your computer, or even VOIP on your phone — to make sure you’re always connected. Image remixed from assets from PSDGraphics.


  • “The iPhone 4 can’t navigate using Apple Maps” and Apple Maps cannot either, I don’t see an issue here. This is why you just use Google Maps new app. It does all that, but better.

  • Sure, you could root or jailbreak, but manufacturers are constantly working against you to make that more difficult,

    Why do I keep seeing this coming up on Lifehacker and/or Gizmodo?

    Manufacturers are NOT by any means making it harder to root your Android phone. One of the main points of Android is that you CAN root it freely to give you the control that you want. Most manufacturers even provide step by step instructions on how to unlock your bootloader (the first step in the rooting process) and some actually tell you how to root the device too. If they don’t explicitly tell you they often point you somewhere that does.

    Yes, Apple makes it hard to jailbreak iPhones, because that’s apple’s business philosophy. They don’t want you using their products for anything they haven’t approved of. Android is the total opposite of that. Do not lump Android and iOS in the same boat.

    Like I said this isn’t the first time this has been claimed here. Please do your research next time.

    • It took weeks of research before I could find a way to root my LG Optimus L3, none of the usual processes worked and many people had been looking for months before somebody finally came up with a work around. It my not be deliberate by phone manufactures to force you to keep their bloatwear but more and more frequently new phones raise new challenges to rooting (I haven’t seen any manufacturers provide instructions for unlocking their bootloader either).

      I’d argue that jailbreaking an apple is easier simply because of the apple system being a closed standard (no extra little quirks to work around as all the phones and iOS are in the same boat)

      By the way the LG Optimus L3 is a crap phone and only has any half decent functionality if you do root it

      • It my not be deliberate by phone manufactures to force you to keep their bloatwear

        To be fair most bloatware is added to phones by the carriers, not the manufacturers (unless you are counting the manufacturer’s various Android skins as bloatware).

        (I haven’t seen any manufacturers provide instructions for unlocking their bootloader either)

        Sony do (google “sony unlock bootloader”, it’ll be the very first result) and so do HTC (google “HTC unlock bootloader”). Motorola recently has done a complete 180 and actually released a tool that does the bootloader unlocking for you (again, just google “motorola unlock bootloader”).

    • Well, the warranties on Android phones are often voided if the phone has been rooted. I recently had a screen issue on my Galaxy SIII – that prevented me from resetting it back to factory. Luckily – it was still on an approved OSS , as per the fine print in the warranty – regardless of where the problem was – if it wasn’t on approved software they did not have to fix it.

  • re: “Staying up to date”

    It’s not hard to do this. Most phones (well, most Android phones at least) are a piece of piss to root and flash new ROMs to. Which is a great way to rejuvenate an older smartphone, esp since Android’s base system requirements aren’t that high.

    For example, I’m still using a HTC HD2 which is now over 3 years old. Originally shipped with WinMobile6.5, it’s run a succession of Android versions up to currently the latest build of JellyBean. And very well too. It’s an excellent phone-phone which is probably the main reason I haven’t bothered with upgrading yet.

    This highlights that multicore processors and large amounts of RAM aren’t really that crucial on a smartphone unless you want to play games or do graphic editing.

  • The biggest thing that I miss with nearly all new smart phones is the ability out of the box to be able to connect the phone to my PC to receive and send SMS messages. This was something I came to expect as a standard feature on mobile phones long before they became ‘smart’ – yes usually only the higher end phones allowed bluetooth or wireless connection so most phones needed you to connect by usb but the point is they could do it. I get numerous SMS messages throughout the day and stopping to check on them and reply by the phones tiny keyboard is a major PITA it would so much easier and quicker to be able to see the message on my computer screen and respond to it with the computer keyboard.

    I know that there are a few android apps out there at allow you to do this but usually only do a ‘half arsed job’ of it. If there are iPhone apps they are way way over priced for what should be a out of box service and as for Blackberry – well good luck finding any app that does anything for that

      • Yep tried Airdroid but prefer MyPhoneExplorer for my android phone. Can’t say I’m that taken by android – too much mucking about with settings and having to root the phone to actually get any half decent use out of it, reminds me of PCs 20 years ago (and I don’t want to have to learn a new operating system to be able to use my phone I may be old fashioned about this but I expect a phone to just work with out me having to delve into the operating system – I’d compare it to driving a car you shouldn’t need to know the ins and outs of how the engine works to be able to drive the car from point A to point B). I reckon I’ve got RSI in my fingers from the number of times I had to do a recovery reboot on my andriod to get it up and running properly.

        I wouldn’t use android as my work phone so it really just leaves the iPhone (no way in hell I’d get another Blackberry) and I still think it should be a standard out of the box application, as it used to be, like the ability to sync your phone book.

        • I can totally sympathise. Being able to control everything except physically making a call with your PC (including picking up an incoming call) was awesome. SMS, MMS, contact info, calendar, installing/uninstalling applications, managing media on the device … Nokia had all this down-pat a long, long time ago and I’ve yet to see anything like it from any other manufacturer.

          S40 and S60 were, and in many ways remain, the shit.

        • I’d need to ask what Android device you actually have (you didn’t actually specify).

          I only ask because I own several different Android devices from different manufacturers and I have never really felt the need to delve into the operating system and “muck about with settings”. In fact I didn’t even bother rooting my phone for about 18 months or so, and the only reason I eventually did was to remove some Telstra bloatware that was annoying me that I didn’t use.

          Sure, I’ve played around with the settings and stuff, but that’s the way I’m inclined, I’m tech minded and want to fiddle around to see what I can do. That’s one of the major advantages of Android, it’s super customisable. But that was a “want to”, rather than a “need to”. I certainly never felt the need change anything in the settings to get “half decent use out of it”.

        • I dropped the Nokia boat after experiencing the N97.
          Nokia’s flagship phone has never been fixed by Nokia. I was not able to fix it myself because of how locked down s60 is. I used a HTC legend after that phone, the specs were not great but it felt like moving from a 286 to a core2. when I run out of application space, i could modify my phone quickly and use the external storage on the SD card. The N97 had 32GB internal and this mod was not possible.

          Nokia S60,S40, etc has the mindset of being an accessory for the PC in regards to connecting it up. Android is more like using another PC with your PC.

          I don’t consider this a missing feature if your android device is half decent and recent ( with JB). get a swipe keyboard if you need a faster input method and try using it as the PC instead of an accessory to one. some android phones support usb OTG which allows you to plug in anything as long as you have the drivers on your Rom.

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