Speed Up Everything

Is your PC dragging? Does your broadband network creep along at dial-up speeds? These fixes will get you in the fast lane

Keep Your Battery Happy and Healthy

All of the wonderful things you can do on a smartphone (running multiple apps, taking photos, playing multimedia) take a toll on battery life, and a nearly drained battery significantly slows down smartphone performance. Consider investing in a battery pack to keep your phone running faster and longer. The Phonesuit MiLi Power Pack for the iPhone is slim enough to double as a protective case for your phone, and it provides an additional 6.5 hours of talk time. Also think about downloading a battery utility app. APNdroid (free at the Android Marketplace) selectively turns off your draining data connection while still allowing you to receive calls.

Use Wi-Fi When Possible

A no-brainer, but a sometimes forgotten tip: If Wi-Fi is available and your phone supports it, use it. Web browsing will be faster over Wi-Fi than over a 3G network. You can find some great apps for judging Wi-Fi signal strength. For the iPhone, we like WiFiFoFum, which scans for 802.11 wireless networks and displays their location in relation to you. A slightly different app, Free WiFi Café Spots, does exactly what the name implies and is very useful if you're searching for Wi-Fi on the go. This particular app is available for the iPhone and for BlackBerry OS, but you can find similar apps for other platforms.

Download Opera Mini 4.2

Tired of your smartphone's clunky browser? If you have an Android, BlackBerry (recent model), Symbian, or Windows Mobile handset, give the Opera Mini browser a try. Available in most app stores for free, it renders pages on a server and then compresses them by 90 percent. It uses relatively little of the phone's resources, resulting in a quicker Web surfing experience. It also helps you save time: When you first open a page, Opera Mini shows you an overview and suggests where you should start reading. And if you're entering an address, Opera Mini will recognize it and suggest completions based on your history and Bookmarks. Best of all, you can also search for text within a page to find exactly what you want, faster.

Delete Your Browser Cookies and Cache

If you use your mobile browser frequently, this is a good step to take to keep your phone running smoothly. The browser stores the content of pages so that they open faster the next time you visit them, but these temporary files take up memory. Clear your cache every 5 to 7 hours you spend surfing the Web.

Use the Most Recent Firmware

Firmware updates not only add new features to your OS, but they also fix bugs and other issues that might be slowing down your phone. Most firmware updates come over the air from either your carrier or your phone's manufacturer. Some handsets, such as the iPhone, require you to connect your phone to your PC to receive the update.

Speed Up Your Camera

Want to make your camera faster? You might not be able to swap out its components, but you do have a veritable smorgasbord of options for speeding up your digital photography. We have ways to freeze the action, reduce shutter lag, and reduce the time between taking a picture and doing something useful with it--like printing it or sharing it online.

Reduce Shutter Lag

If you have an older camera or an inexpensive point-and-shoot, you might be frustrated by shutter lag. You can do a couple of things to shorten that wait.

Shutter lag happens because your camera, set at its defaults, has a lot of things to do before it can take a photo. Reduce some of that workload by turning off a few of the automatic settings. Instead of using automatic ISO, set the camera's ISO to 100 or 200. Likewise, instead of automatic white balance, set your camera to a white balance that reflects your scene, like outdoor daylight or indoor incandescent. Most important, prepare for your shot by prefocusing: Point at your subject and press the shutter release halfway to lock your focus. When you're ready, press it the rest of the way to snap the photo. All of these tweaks together can shave several tenths of a second off your time, making your camera a lot snappier.

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