You just got your brand new iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S for Christmas. It’s shiny exterior beckons you to explore your new smartphone. We want to show you how to get started with your new device the right way, so that you can begin enjoying it from day one.
In this handy guide, we’ll take you through initial setup; teach you some awesome tweaks that’ll maximize your battery life and enhance your experience; introduce you to some of the best iOS apps the App Store has to offer; and tell you about some great accessories that you just shouldn’t be without.
Here’s our guide to setting up your new iPhone the right way.
Thanks to Apple’s new iOS 5 operating system, it’s incredibly easy to start using your new iPhone 4S the second you take it out of the box. You no longer have to plug it into your PC to get started. Simply select your language and the wireless network to which you’d like to connect your device, and you will then be asked whether you’d like to setup your device as a new iPhone, restore from an iTunes backup, or restore from an iCloud backup.
If you’re already an iPhone owner and this is an upgrade, you may want to restore from a backup of your old device. (Your previous iPhone needs to have been on iOS 5 for that to work.) However, if this is you’re first iPhone, you’ll need to begin from scratch by selecting “setup as new iPhone.” You can then enter your Apple ID if you have one, which will allow you to download apps, music, books, and other content you’ve already purchased. Alternatively, you can create a new Apple ID, which is necessary for purchasing items from the iTunes Store.
After setting up your Apple ID, you can login with or create an iCloud account. This isn’t a step you’ll want to skip: iCloud allows you to do all sorts of fancy things like syncing apps, music, books, contacts, calendars, reminders, and more between all your devices; take advantage of Photo Stream; and use Find My iPhone.
After you hit that “Start using iPhone” button, you’ll be taken to your home screen. Now it’s time to plug your device into iTunes (if possible) and begin syncing your content. After connecting your device, you can select which content you’d like to send to your device. To save storage on your iPhone, it’s best to be mindful of what you’re syncing.
Only transfer music that you’re going to listen to, apps your going to use, books you’re going to read, videos you’ll want to watch, and photos you’ll want to look at while you’re on the go. Our iOS devices get filled with all sorts of content so quickly and easily that those precious gigabytes are soon eaten up. By being mindful of the content you’re transferring, you can prevent wasting storage on content you won’t use.
Before get stuck into a game of Angry Birds, which will undoubtedly last until New Year’s Eve, there are some essential tweaks that you should make to your device. Here’s a few things that’ll help maximize your battery life, make your apps and games easier to access, and prevent unwanted access to your iPhone:
Set Up Visual Voicemail
One of the great things about the iPhone is the ability to view your voicemail in the Phone app. Unlike feature phones, you can see your separate voicemails from different numbers and playback certain messages.
To set up visual voicemail on your iPhone, tap the ‘Voicemail’ tab in the Phone app and follow the onscreen instructions. You’ll need your voicemail PIN number from your carrier.
Enable Emoji Keyboard
iOS 5 allows you to take advantage of Apple’s Emoji keyboard, which was previously restricted to certain languages. The Emoji keyboard offers a ton of icons and smilies that you can use in text messages, emails, tweets, status updates, and lots more. In fact, once enabled, you can use Emoji icons anywhere within iOS.
To turn on the Emoji keyboard, open up the Settings app, tap the ‘General’ tab, and then select ‘Keyboard’. Tap the ‘Add New Keyboard…’ button and then select ‘Emoji’. You can now access Emoji icons by tapping the globe key on your device’s keyboard.
Setup Home Screen Folders
After using your iPhone for a little while, you’ll have tons of iOS apps installed on your device, despite being mindful about what you’re installing. Rather than scrolling through pages full of apps to find that one you want each time, you can organize them into folders for quick and easy access.
To setup a folder, simply hold your finger down on an app until they all start wiggling, then drag one app onto another. Most split folders into categories such as games, productivity, social, etc.
Turn On Automatic Downloads
When you download new apps, books, or music in iTunes on your computer, you can have them sent automatically to your iPhone, too. To enable automatic downloads, open up the Settings app and then tap ‘Store’.
Toggle music, apps, and books to ‘on’ — now anything you download on your computer using the same Apple ID will automatically be installed on your iPhone 4S.
Setup A Passcode Lock
With all the personal information stored on our iOS devices, we want to ensure they secure and only accessible by authorized users. To prevent unwanted access, you can setup a passcode lock, which will ensure your data is protected if ever your device is lost or stolen.
Open up the Settings app on your device and tap ‘General’, then ‘Passcode Lock’. Turn Passcode Lock on and select your four-digit code. It’s important to use a code that you’ll remember, because there’s no way to bypass the passcode lock once it’s activated. For a more complex code using letters and number, see our tip on setting up an alphanumeric passcode.
Once your passcode lock is active, only you will be able to unlock it.
Turn Off Wi-Fi
Now, you don’t need to turn Wi-Fi off all the time, but it’s a good idea to disable it if you’re out and about with your device in your pocket. For our convenience, our devices are always hunting for Wi-Fi networks which can eat away at your device’s battery life without you knowing it. By turning this feature off when you don’t need it, your battery will last a little longer while you’re on the go.
Simply open up the Settings app, tap ‘Wi-Fi’ and toggle the feature off. If you have a limited data plan, you want to be wary of what you download when on a 3G connection. Apps, updates, songs, etc. can all require large amounts of data, so save those downloads for your home Wi-Fi network.
Improve Your Battery Life
The iPhone 4S isn’t known for incredible battery life, so you may want to disable some settings. We don’t recommend turning these settings off unless you notice that your iPhone 4S’s battery isn’t lasting long enough.
iOS 5’s Location Services use your iPhone’s GPS to make your experience better and specific to your exact location. However, there are some unnecessary aspects of Location Services that can drain your phone’s battery.
On your iPhone 4S, open the Settings app and tap ‘Location Service’, then swipe down tap ‘System Services’. Now, toggle ‘Diagnostics & Usage’, ‘Location-Based iAds’, and ‘Setting Time Zone’. You shouldn’t notice any effect on your iPhone experience by turning these settings off, but you should see considerable battery life improvement.
The App Store is home to over 500,000 apps and games for iOS devices, many of which are as little as $0.99. Of course, there are far too many terrific ones to list here, but here’s five that no iPhone 4S user should be without:
Instagram — Free
Apple named Instagram the best app of 2011, and rightly so. No iPhone user should not use Instagram; the photography/social networking app is incredibly fun and addictive. Instagram will change the way you share photos with your friends. It’s a beautiful, intuitive app with plenty of reasons to download it for free from the App Store.
Facebook — Free
No iPhone is complete with the official Facebook app. It’s a great tool for communicating with your friends on the go and browsing your news feed. Mobile-specific features, like Places and Deals, are also included in the iOS app.
Tweetbot — $2.99
Forget the official Twitter client, if you’re a Twitter user, you have to have Tweebot on your iPhone 4S. It’s by far the best Twitter client out there, boasting a fast, intuitive, and beautiful user interface; a hoard of handy features; and the kind of stability you’d expect from Apple’s own iOS apps. Tweetbot has become one of the most adored Twitter clients available for iOS, and once you begin using it, you will understand why.
Flipboard — Free
Flipboard is a unique news reader that creates a personalized magazine out of everything that’s important to you, including your RSS feeds, Instagram photos, Facebook updates, Tumblr posts, and articles from your favorite publications. It’s tailor-made to your tastes so you never run into anything that doesn’t interest you, and it features a wonderful user interface that’s just a pleasure to use.
Angry Birds — $0.99
You will have already heard about the mobile gaming phenomenon that is Angry Birds, and if you haven’t already played it yourself, now’s the time. This incredibly popular title is the best-selling game on iOS, featuring physics-based gameplay that has you catapulting birds into flimsy structures in a bid to wipe out the wretched pigs seeking shelter underneath. Angry Birds is hours of fun and incredibly addictive.
Spotify — Free
The Spotify app (subscription required) for your iPhone gives you access to over 15 million songs on demand, and it’s a must-have for music lovers. Create and your playlists between your iPhone, iPod touch, your Mac, your iPad and other devices; receive music from your friends; wirelessly sync your local music library to your device; star your favorite tracks; and Scrobble tracks to Last.fm. You can also create offline playlists that will allow you to listen to your favorite songs while you’re away from a Wi-Fi hotspot.
There are some terrific accessories out there that will greater enhance your experience of using an iPhone 4S, here are just a few of our favorites:
Altec Lansing Octiv 650 Dock — $199
The Altec Lansing Octiv 650 is a dock that combines excellent sounds quality with a wonderful design and an excellent user experience. Gizmodo recently rated this dock number one ahead of alternative from Sony, Bowers & Wilkins, and Logitech. It’s $199 which isn’t bad for a dock of this size, and you’re certainly getting your money’s worth.
Parrot AR.DRONE — $299.95
Parrot’s AR.DRONE demolishes the competition by not only providing a cool flying machine, but it packs a camera that’s viewable from your iPod touch, and your iPhone or iPad. What’s more, Parrot has developed quite a few games and mods for the device that ensures you won’t run out of ideas on what to do with your remote control drone. If you’re looking for the coolest iPod touch accessory, this has to be it.
JamBox — $199.99
If you’re looking for a speaker that’s a little more portable than the Octiv 650 above, then the JamBox should be at the top of your list. It’s the smallest wireless speaker on the planet with the best sound. Despite its minuscule size, the JamBox has an output capacity of 85 decibels so that your music can be heard wherever you go. Jawbone developed the MyTALK platform for it so that you can download apps, software upgrades, and new features making sure the speaker won’t be obsolete this time next year. Plus, it’s got a pretty good-looking design.
Jawbone, maker of the JamBox, also offers a sleek Bluetooth headset for iPhone users to enjoy, costing $129.99.
OtterBox Commuter Series — $34.95
OtterBox makes some of the best iOS device cases around, and the Commuter series is a perfect case for the new iPhone 4S user. No one wants to have to deal with a cracked screen or broken back panel, so OtterBox’s cases ensure that your precious iPhone will be safe from the occasional drop or spill. The Commuter case is durable without being too large, and it comes in an array of colors. Now that you own an iPhone 4S, you want to make sure you that it stays in one piece!
That’s about it for right now! Enjoy your new iPhone, and if you think we overlooked anything, feel free to leave a comment below!