7 settings to change on your smartphone right now

Welcome to Product Support, a column dedicated to helping you get the most out of the gadgets and software you already use.


Leaving your iPhone set up exactly as it was when you took it out of the box is an option, sure, but you’re missing out on a whole host of little tweaks and reconfigurations that could make your smartphone more productive (and enjoyable) to use. Here are some of the settings you should change right away.

In the instructions below, we describe the process on the latest version of iOS (iOS 16) running on iPhones and the latest stock version of Android (Android 9) at the time of writing. If you are using a different software version or a different version of Android, the steps may vary slightly, but all options should still be available.

Enable Wi-Fi Calling

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If your iPhone is having trouble finding a cellular connection but has a strong Wi-Fi connection, it can use the latter option to send and receive calls – as long as your carrier supports it (all major US do).

To enable Wi-Fi Calling:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Select Cellular.
  3. Select Wi-Fi Calling and enable it.

    Dim notifications for some apps

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    The better your notification setup, the more you’ll be able to do, with and without your iPhone. Android and iOS allow you to turn off notifications for certain apps, or just turn off notifications for certain apps (so they appear on the screen but don’t cause sound or vibration).

    To adjust your notification settings:

    1. Open the Settings app.
    2. Select Notifications.
    3. Scroll down and select the apps you don’t want to receive notifications from.
    4. Uncheck Allow Notifications.

      Identify who is calling you with a specific ringtone

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      When your phone starts ringing from across the room, it can be helpful to have an idea of ​​who’s calling, as that’s likely a determining factor in whether you want to answer the call or not. To that end, iOS lets you associate particular ringtones with particular contacts in your address book.

      To change the ringtone for a specific contact:

      1. Open the Phone app.
      2. Select Contacts (bottom middle) and select the contact whose ringtone you want to change.
      3. Select Edit.
      4. Scroll down and select Ringtone.
      5. Choose one of the different ringtones.
      6. Select Done.

        Extend your iPhone battery life

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        If you want to extend the battery life of your iPhone, you can turn on Low Power Mode. This will automatically help your iPhone save battery by reducing screen brightness, drowning out certain visual effects, auto downloading, fetching emails, and refreshing apps in the background. The interesting thing is that when enabled, Low Power Mode will automatically turn on when your iPhone is below 80% and then automatically turn off when it reaches 80% or more. (Note: This is the same mode your iPhone automatically asks to be activated when you are at 20%).

        To enable Low Power Mode:

        1. Open the Settings app.
        2. Scroll down and select Battery.
        3. Enable low power mode.

          Save storage space by reducing photo size

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          Your iPhone has built-in tools to erase photos and videos from your phone once they’ve been safely backed up to the cloud. Enabling these features can save you from running out of space on your iPhone at the most inopportune times, like when you’re trying to take a new photo.

          1. Open the Settings app.
          2. Scroll down and select Photos.
          3. Make sure iPhone Photos is enabled and below that there is a checkmark next to Optimize iPhone Storage.

            If this option is selected, your iPhone will automatically reduce the resolution of photos it has saved to free up space. However, it will only do this when storage is low. And you can access full-resolution photos later via iCloud.

            Rest your eyes by activating Night Shift

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            The blue light produced by our gadget screens has been linked to reducing the quality of our sleep, so it’s probably not a good idea to watch YouTube for hours before bed. If you need to check your phone late at night, you can at least change the display temperature so that less blue light is emitted. Your iPhone calls this Night Shift.

            How to activate Night Shift:

            1. Open the Settings app.
            2. Select Display & Brightness.
            3. Scroll down and select Night Shift.

              From there, you can schedule a specific time each day for Night Shift to turn on automatically. Or you can activate it manually until tomorrow. You can also adjust screen “warmth” levels when Night Shift is on.

              Limit distractions by managing screen time

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              If you want to limit the time you spend playing with social media apps and the web, but don’t necessarily want to go so far as to delete the offending apps from your phone, you can set daily time limits for specific applications. Of course, it’s your phone, so you can just turn them off again…but it might help your willpower.

              How to use Screen Time:

              1. Open the Settings app.
              2. Scroll down and select Screen Time.
              3. Select Add limit.

                From there, you can search for a specific app (like Instagram) that you want to set a limit for. Where you can select one of the default groups (Social, Games, or Entertainment) and your iPhone will group a set of apps and websites that will be restricted.

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