Nine 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.

Originally published on Lifehacker



    None of these things are, even slightly, issues for me. My phone lasts 2-3 days on a charge, it understands what I type just fine (although I still think T9 was better), I have no control issues with it, I've never managed to break it, it takes perfectly adequate photos, it is never a distraction, it stays up to date more than well enough, I put it in Flight Mode on a daily basis (peace & quiet) and it certainly works very well at being a phone. I think a lot of these issues centre more around expectations. Mine are modest, at best, which is why Ihave been extremely happy with every aspect of all but one or two of the 10 mobile phones I have owned since I bought my first one in 1997.

      I haven't had any of these problems with my phone either. In particular, I've never had a dropped call, even on Vodafone.

      Standard iPhone4 on Telstra, and I can say the same. Autocorrect only gets me occasionally and only on small words (on instead of in etc).

      The only real issue is battery power, and I only use my phone sparingly. For example, 75% at 4:30pm unplugged from charger at 6am. All I have to do is charge it every night. Seeing as it's my alarm clock, it's pretty easy to remember to plug it in after setting alarms.

      10 phones in 16 years. Man, working that out just now makes me feel so old. In 8 years I've had 4. (Two Nokias, an unknown and this iPhone.)

        My HTC 8S is at 55% after 1 day, 5 hours of heavier than usual use. I probably won't charge it again until Thursday morning, unless I have another big day tomorrow.

    I'll say the same thing I did on Lifehacker when this story was posted there a few days ago, since it hasn't been changed:

    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). 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"). 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.

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