Maximize Your Phone's Battery Life.Simple steps such as shutting off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when they're not needed, lowering your backlight settings and closing apps (as opposed to leaving them running in the background) can make an enormous difference--and leave you with that extra drop of juice when you desperately need it.
Bonus: Shutting off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi reduces your vulnerability to a variety of security hacks. Sure, most phones let you adjust your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi settings to maximize security, but unless you like getting down and dirty with minutia buried seven menus deep, it's easier to just shut them off when not in use.
Stop Wasting Time Looking for Wi-Fi Hotspots.Get a portable router, such as a MiFi, which gets internet access from the cellular network and then spreads it around to up to five nearby devices. There are at least five more advantages:
- You don't have to pay extra for Wi-Fi service, such as from Boingo.
- You don't run the risk of getting hacked while looking for a free Wi-Fi signal.
- You and your colleagues can share a connection, such as during a pow-wow before a client meeting.
- You don't have to buy a cellular modem and broadband service for each laptop.
- Wi-Fi-only devices, such as iPads, can get connected.
MiFi is available from several major wireless carriers, including Sprint and Verizon Wireless. Although it lists for about $300, sometimes it's available for free after rebates if you sign up for a data plan, which typically runs $40 to $60 per month.
One alternative to MiFi and similar devices is to look for one of a handful of smartphones that can double as a Wi-Fi router, such as the forthcoming HTC EVO 4G from Sprint. Another alternative is to see if there's an app for your smartphone that turns it into a Wi-Fi router. One example is WMWifiRouter, which costs about $20 and works with Windows Mobile handsets.
Set Up Mobile Data Access.Focus on plans that let a number of smartphones share a "bucket" of data megabytes or gigabytes, instead of forcing you to buy a separate data package for each handset at $30 to $45 apiece.
Tip: Small businesses shouldn't overlook consumer-oriented plans, such as Sprint's Everything Data Family with Any Mobile, Anytime, which provides voice, unlimited data, unlimited e-mail (including BlackBerry), unlimited text and unlimited navigation for $30 to $40 less per phone than AT&T's and Verizon Wireless' comparable plans. Why such a difference? Partly because Sprint's plan lets multiple phones share a data bucket.
Don't Wait for Files to Upload.When you're out of the office, do you upload files as often as you download? If so, when comparing cellular services, ask about their upstream speeds. They're almost always significantly slower than downstream, but some carriers offer faster upstream connections than their competitors. That means less time waiting for a big e-mail to send or when uploading to an FTP site. Faster upstream connections can also boost productivity by making mobile videoconferencing more practical.
Consolidate Text Messaging and E-mail.Do you really need text messaging? Having only e-mail on your smartphone doesn't mean you can't communicate with clients, employees and others who text. Use Outlook or another e-mail app--on your PC or your phone--to send text messages to multiple employees at once, instead of pecking them out individually from a phone. Have employees' text messages sent to your e-mail address so you've got everything coming to a single inbox.
Bonus: Besides saving the cost of a monthly text package, you save time having both e-mail and SMS in a single inbox.