By VA Cell

It’s easy to take Smartphones — and the ways in which they make our lives easier — for granted. The very word “smart” implies an almost endless number of uses for that little rectangle in the palm of your hand. “Smart” means your phone has GPS, touch screens, voice controls, web browsing, and life management. Thanks to the creativity of individual manufacturers, it can also mean heartbeat sensors, television remotes, and gesture controls.

One of the simplest and most useful Smartphone innovations has come recently in the form of fast-charging, which in most cases can charge around 50 percent of your Smartphone battery in just 30 minutes. This is extremely useful in frantic situations when you’re a long way from a place where you can fully charge your phone and you need to give it a quick shot of energy to see you through the next several hours. Most of the major manufacturers have incorporated fast-charging technology into their phones, although (annoyingly) you usually have to buy a special separate charger. Hopefully, it won’t be long before Smartphones can be purchased with standard fast-charging ability at no extra cost.

Many people are still confused by the need to have a heart rate monitor on a Smartphone, but with the increasing use of Smartphones as health and fitness trackers this feature is perfect for the fitness freaks out there. Samsung is leading the way in this area with fully functioning, accurate heart rate monitors on the back of its Galaxy and Galaxy S6. Track your heart rate before and after your runs, and have the S Health app log your data to see how your heart rate changes over time. There’s really no more satisfying measure of your own improving fitness than seeing your heart rate remain nice and steady after activities that used to send it haywire.

The golden age of infrared (IR) may be long gone, as it has been superseded by “sexier” wireless technologies such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for transferring data. But IR continues to be the main technology connecting remote controls to TVs, set-top boxes, and sound systems. Smartphone manufacturers are aware of this, which is why companies such as Samsung, LG, Sony, and HTC have begun introducing IR blasters into their more recent flagship phones. You can connect them to any number of devices and have different set-ups for different rooms. Thus, the 1990s fantasies of an all-in-one remote can finally be fulfilled.

Google has been taking big steps to make the Android platform more theft-proof. Android Device Manager — which lets you remotely lock, ring, and track your device — went some way towards doing this, but it’s only with the 5.1 Lollipop update that a full-on kill switch has finally been implemented. To activate it, you need to enable “Device Protection” on your device. Then, should your phone get stolen and factory reset, the phone will require your Google account details to let another person use the phone. This will work similarly to Apple’s “Find my iPhone” feature, which reportedly led to a dramatic drop in iPhone theft in New York, London, and San Francisco.

Some say it’s not worth the extra money. Others say it leads the way in Smartphone design and innovation. Both of these things can be true, but there’s no denying that the elegant edges of the Galaxy S6 Edge have their uses. Leave your phone face down (counterintuitive, we know). Then, when a contact calls you, the edge display glows in the color you assigned to that contact. You can also use the edges to stream your selected news sources or have quick access to your favorite contacts. It’s a truly unique use of flexible display technology.

Carrying out actions with the screen off is becoming increasingly prevalent among Android phones. On the LG G3, for example, tapping twice on the turned-off display will activate it — there is no need to press any buttons. “Knock On” also works in reverse: double tap the home screen and the display turns off again. It couldn’t be easier. LG has also built on this concept with their newest invention called “Knock Code.” Using this feature, a pattern of your choice is tapped into the turned-off screen to unlock the phone, meaning you get safety and comfort all in one.

HTC followed the trend of gesture controls with the HTC One (M8) and now the HTC One M9 — swiping over a turned-off screen launches different functions depending on the direction. For example, you can land on Blinkfeed, the home screen, or the last opened app. Also, a double tap wakes up the M8.

With the HTC One M9, you can start the camera by rotating the phone to landscape mode and then pressing the volume down button. The Huawei P8 camera is also super quick — just press volume down button twice to start it up. Even Motorola has focused on a faster and less complicated camera; with the “Moto X,” a clever twist of the wrist allows the camera to be ready for a snapshot.

Since the Android 5.0 Lollipop update, notifications have become much more interactive on all Android devices. You can now jump straight to messages and apps that leave notifications on your lock screen, making them that bit quicker to access. The great thing about seeing them on your lock screen is that you can be cheeky and simply choose to ignore them without even having to unlock your phone. This means there will be no more scrambling to take a look at messages or notifications that you’re not even interested in!

Typing your PIN code in every time you unlock your phone can get tiresome, particularly when you’re in the safety of your own bedroom where you (hopefully) are fairly sure that no one’s going to steal it from you. Android addresses this with the 5.0 Lollipop update, which allows you to set up “Smart Lock.” Using this feature, you can set up certain locations or devices where you’ll be able to use your phone without having to type in a security code. Just go to Settings > Security > Smart Lock to see your options. This is yet another way in which Lollipop makes life a bit easier.

VA Cell, Inc. is one of the leading cellphone distribution companies with a network across Latin America and the Caribbean. Please visit VA Cell on their websites and blogs;

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