Last week I brought a new mobile phone, and it is a Samsung Galaxy Mini GT-S5570 and was running Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread when I received it. This blog post is a ‘getting started’ style post covering a lot of areas, which I hope you find useful.
The blog post isn’t just applicable to people who own the same phone as me, but should help people with other Android mobile phones.
Note: You do any updates / upgrades to your phone at your own risk!
My phone’s overview
This phone was brought off ebay for about half the cost of buying it from the mobile service ‘Three’ directly. I appreciate the battery has already been used, but I’m happy with my purchase.
I’m already a Three mobile customer in the UK, and just took the sim from my phone and placed it in this phone already locked to Three.
Now I’ve read reviews where people say this is a good phone for the price etc, but the screen resolution isn’t good. Well it looks good to me! I didn’t want an expensive phone, but it doesn’t mean I don’t intend to squeeze every last drop of performance and usability out of the phone!
What to do first
I’ve tried to make the steps below of upgrading and tweaking the Android phone easy, by using headings and numbered bullet-lists. So whilst this blog post looks complex, it should be relatively easy to follow.
Install a microSD card
In my case I needed to install a microSD card into the phone to get started (it didn’t come with one). Without the memory card the phone won’t install software, and I installed a 2GB microSD card I had previously brought with another phone.
Connect to a wireless network
Next it is important to connect to a local and trusted wifi network. This will save you money during all the installation and upgrade processes.
How to upgrade the Samsung software and the Android operating system
Whilst it is tempting to move to a third-party Android solution, I want to stick with what Samsung provide, and below is how I upgraded the phone’s operating system and software.
Note: It is best you connect to a local wifi network first, so to save money whilst updating your phone. You should also make sure you have charged your mobile phone’s battery before continuing.
I did all these phone updates with no credit on my Three (UK mobile network) account.
Signing up for a Samsung account and updating software
- Visit https://account.samsung.com/account/check.do and sign up for an account.
- Select the ‘Samsung Apps’ application on your phone and it might want to update the application.
- If the application updated, run again and it might then find new updates for existing packages.
- If you choose to, you can sign-in with your newly created account and download new software.
Updating the Android operating system
- Select on settings → About phone → Software update.
- Type in your Samsung account details.
- Once signed in, select Update.
How my upgrade went.
My phone apparently downloaded just over 23MBytes of OS updates to install. This process took about thirty minutes, and at one stage I thought it had stalled!
The process bar looked complete, but after ten minutes of it appearing not to be active, it suddenly said ‘SUCCESS’ and rebooted itself. You have to let it finish as you don’t want to ‘brick’ your mobile phone.
All the software that was previously installed, was still present and it had upgraded from 2.3.4 to Android version 2.3.6.
Installing ‘Skype on 3’
This advice is for those using the ‘Three’ mobile phone network in the UK. I wanted to install Three’s version of the Skype software, to enable me to have ‘free’ Skype to Skype calls and IM. It took me a while to find Three’s own version of the application and the website address I used was: http://mobile9.three.co.uk/personalise/apps/other
You see there are two versions of Skype, the one you can get from Three’s website to benefit from their ‘Skype to Skype’ offer, and the version of Skype you can obtain from Google Play which I believe doesn’t utilise Three’s Skype offer.
You will have to disconnect from your ‘wifi’ network and be on the Three network to download their version of Skype.
Note: You can download Three’s version of Skype and use Skype to Skype via their service for free, without having any credit on your ‘Three’ mobile phone account.
Installing software using ‘Google Play’
The Android Marketplace has been superseded by the ‘Play Store’, which is a good service, but you need to sign-in with a Google account to use. So for example if you use Gmail or another other Google service, you can use that account. I always make sure I am connected to my wifi network before using the ‘Play Store’.
Depending on how you intend to use the phone, you might want to setup a Google account specifically for mobile use. However I want to access many of the services I already use via a tablet and laptop, so opted to use my Google account I also use elsewhere.
Extending battery life
It is incredibly easy to eat your battery life on this Android phone. The most important way to help extend battery life is to moderate your use of the phone, especially if you know you can’t charge it up for a number of hours.
So when I first got this phone I was eating battery like no tomorrow! However I’ve since calmed down, and with a few tweaks, my battery lasts longer now.
Turn off features when not in use
- Hold you finger down on the top area and drag down.
- Turn off features you are not using, such as wi-fi, bluetooth and auto rotation.
Note: Don’t turn off any features that jeopardise your safety or ability to be contacted.
Reduce the brightness setting
- Select on Settings → Display → Brightness.
- Reduce the brightness of the screen (I turned mine all the way to low).
Look at and adjust applications running
- Select on Settings → About Phone → Battery Use
- Uninstall or disable applications that are listed that are not essential to your phone use.
I didn’t feel the need to change anything as my phone is new, and none of the applications I’ve recently installed seemed to be eating up precious battery life.
I’m sure there are many other ways to help extend the life of your battery, but as a newbie Android phone user, the above methods are what I’ve deployed.
Setting a pattern, pin or password for access
My Android phone holds holds my Google password, and whilst I probably should of setup a password just for this mobile phone, regardless I don’t want somebody to be able to easily access the phone. I’ve set my phone to require someone to type in a pin, to bring it out of standby mode.
- Select Settings → Location and security → Set screen lock.
- Select your lock option. i.e. none, pattern, pin or password.
Software I’ve installed
I’m not interested in logging into Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter on my mobile phone. So far I’ve installed:
- Chess Free (game)
- WC Toilets (to find nearest toilets)
- Reader (to check RSS feeds)
- Skype on 3 (to annoy people)
- Smart Voice Recorder (records notes)
Whilst I’m relatively new to using the Samsung Galaxy Mini GT-S5570 Android phone, I quite like it, especially as I brought it almost half priced via ebay. It connects to wifi networks quickly, is reasonably light and I have plenty of Android applications available to use.
I hope people find this blog post helpful and I’m sure I will blog again about the phone, and how I’m using it.