Smartphone Basics

Do you have a smartphone? According to new statistics, 81% of Americans own one. Of course, since there are a whole lot of Americans. The rate of smartphone ownership has nearly tripled in the past 10 years. A full 96% of people between 18 and 29 own one. But 53% of those 65 and older own one, too.

So what’s the difference between a smartphone and a regular old dumb cellphone or even that old touchtone phone in your living room?

Basically, a smartphone isn’t really a phone. It’s a very small but powerful handheld computer that has an app that makes phone calls installed on it. The difference between your smartphone and a tablet is that smartphones come with a SIM card. (Subscriber Identity Module). That means a company can assign a phone number to your device and people can reach you by calling that number from a cell phone or a landline.

The phone on your smartphone is just an app that can make phone calls. Like any computer, your smartphone has a processor and a hard drive and is vulnerable to viruses.

Smartphones connect to the Internet either through your data plan with a carrier or via WiFi. That means, if you have a data plan, you can access your email, online accounts, Facebook, and anywhere else on the Internet from just about anywhere. While some tablets offer a 4 or 5 G connection, most of the time, tablets and laptop computers depend on a WiFi or wired connection to the Internet.

Even people, like me, who depend on their smartphones in everyday life, sometimes don’t think about their phones as computers. It’s important to realize that, like any computer, you have to take care of routine maintenance like deleting old files and programs.

It’s also very important to back up the information on your phone like photos. While many phones will back things up to the cloud automatically if you aren’t careful you could lose years’ worth of treasured photos if you don’t regularly back them up.

Don’t forget about security software, either. It’s as important to have security on your phone as it is on your PC. Interestingly enough, young people are more likely to fall victim to phone malware than older folks.

Picture it as a tiny laptop without a keyboard. Act accordingly.

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