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Decluttering your smartphone

Everybody now seems to be tugging a smartphone along. It has become so ubiquitous that it has replaced the pocket watch, thermometer, radio, TV, laptop, video and sound recorder, camera and book, among others, to most. But the utility of a smartphone depends on the applications that are installed in it.  Some of these applications are free while some are not.

Moreover, some applications may be available to one smartphone but not with the others because they have multiple operating systems such as Android, IoS, and others.

If you have a smartphone, what applications would you install? Most often than not, Facebook and Viber are top on the list. To maximize the utility of your smartphone, you may opt to install as many applications as possible. But hold on, installing applications even those that were downloaded free from the Play Store or Apple Store still has a price. The “hidden” costs are memory space for storage, mobile data for application updates and time used for accessing an application.

All smartphones do not have infinite memory; even Android smartphones expandable with micro SDs have a limit. Installing applications to smartphones consumes memory, and this is very cumbersome for those with limited memory. The phone’s memory should not only be for applications as you need a portion of it for your office files, personal pictures, memorable videos, and others. Installed applications that are seldom used consume a chunk of your memory otherwise intended for important matters. You need to optimize the usage of the limited smartphone memory.

Given that you have the luxury of colossal memory space, say 256GB, but you installed so many applications. Do you think this won’t cost you a peso more? It still will. Most of the applications require regular updates to keep it working up to date. These regular updates consume mobile data and data has a price attached to it especially now that the telecommunication mobile data providers do not offer unlimited mobile data for a fixed price.

Imagine if your mobile data subscription is only limited, say you are only entitled to only 3Gb per month, the regular application updates will consume the majority of your mobile data which means that there may only be a little or nothing left for your Facebook updates, movie streaming, internet surfing and other important personal uses. In other words, your mobile data is used for the “irrelevant” update of the seldom-used applications that should have been allotted for important activities like searching on Google for the information you needed to know for your reports, downloading attachments on your personal emails, and more. You need to be more prudent in your apps.

You may rebut me when your data subscription reaches the monthly limit of P2,500 or beyond. And you may even say, data consumption from application updates won’t cost that much. So you keep on downloading so many other applications in your smartphone to the extent that it reaches more than five display screens. Chances are, when your smartphone is disorganized, your navigating display screens when you use multiple applications will be competing for your attention. These display screens may not cost you a peso but it will cost your time and attention. This can be apparent when you are performing a task on your phone that is doable in seconds but because of the many chaotic navigating screens you have to turn off or put on hold, the seconds will become minutes. Congratulations, you have just wasted your time when you could have used it for other productive works. You should spend your time wisely.

Installing irrelevant applications costs you memory space, mobile data, and time which you may otherwise allocate for essential use. Smartphones are designed to make your life efficient but too many applications can dispel this. In order to maximize the benefits of having a smartphone, you only install frequently used and important applications. To save some memory space, you may consider uninstalling all applications in your smartphone that have no future use. This may cost you time in doing this but it will surely provide you more benefits like low data consumption on application updates and lesser time in the future when accessing an application.

To save mobile data on application updates, you may visit an area with free, fast and reliable Wi-Fi then perform your application updates. If there’s none, you may consider to manually choose what application to update instead of setting your smartphone to regularly update all applications when their updates are available. Only update the applications that are frequently used and important. This process may cost you time in manually selecting the relevant applications but if you have few applications on your smartphone then this is not a matter of concern.

Moreover, if you skipped an application update it won’t interfere on the next application update as application updates are designed to bring any application of older version to its latest version. To save time in accessing an application, only install frequently used and important applications on your smartphone.

As in life, too much clutter can only bring stress and chaos. Live simply and make your smartphone smart.

Mr. Young is an Audit Senior of Audit & Assurance at P&A Grant Thornton, Cebu.  P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading Audit, Tax, Advisory, and Outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 Partners and over 850 staff members.   For comments on this article, please email   or  For our services,visit  Follow us on Twitter: pagrantthornton, and FB: P&A Grant Thornton.


As published in Mindanao Times, dated 26 June 2017