If–like a lot of people–you got a new iPhone 13 or iPhone 13 Pro during this holiday season, you’re probably enjoying all of the new features and capabilities. Whether it’s your first iPhone or you’ve been carrying one since the last time they shipped with flat sides, there are probably a few things you should do now to make using your new device a better experience. Here are the five things I suggest you change right now:
1. Turn Off 5G
When Apple introduced the iPhone 12, the company went to go to great lengths to be sure everyone knew how amazing 5G was and how it was going to change everything you do with your smartphone. Except, for most people, 5G isn’t real. Sure, your phone will tell you it’s connected to a 5G network, but unless you’re in a dense urban area, it probably isn’t.
Even if you do live in one of the cities that boast 5G networks, there’s very little benefit. It’s unlikely you’ll get faster speeds unless you happen to be standing near an ultra Wideband antenna. For everyone else, LTE is as fast, if not faster. On the other hand, there’s a very real cost, especially in terms of battery life. That’s why you should probably just turn off 5G until mobile carriers are able to consistently deliver something worth spending your battery on.
To turn it off, go to Settings > Cellular Data Options > Voice & Data and select ‘LTE.’
2. Move the Address Bar in Safari
If you’re coming from an older version of Safari, you may notice that the latest version looks a bit, well, different. Apple went through a series of changes over the summer, largely due to the pushback it received after beta users expressed their frustration with the way Apple crammed everything into a single toolbar at the bottom.
The shipped version kept much of the good design elements while rolling back some of the clutter and more controversial user interface. Still, many users aren’t fans of having the URL bar at the bottom of the interface. If that’s you, the good news is Apple lets you change it back so that the tools are on the bottom, and the URL bar is at the top.
To do that, go to Settings > Safari and select the “Single Tab” option.
While you’re there, you might notice the added privacy features in Safari, which leads us to the next thing you should set up right away:
3. Protect Your Privacy
Apple has made an effort to make it easier for users to control what information developers and apps have access to, and how they’re allowed to use things like your location. You might be surprised by the number of apps that think it’s important to know where you’re located. The reality, however, is that most simply don’t need to know.
To turn off Location Services, or be selective about which apps have the ability to access your location, visit Settings > Privacy > Location Services. The nice thing is that you can decide for every app, or turn off location services altogether.
The other big privacy setting you should manage is whether apps are allowed to ask you for permission to track what you do on websites and other apps. Apple implemented the change in iOS 14.5, and it’s why you see a pop up every time you open a new app asking if you’re cool with having your personal information collected and used to show you “personalized ads.” If you’re tired of opting out, you can simply go to Settings > Privacy > Tracking and uncheck “Allow Apps to Request to Track”
4. Set up a Focus Mode
Before iOS 15, Apple shipped the iPhone with a Do Not Disturb feature that shut off notifications while you were sleeping, for example. The thing is, sometimes, depending on what you’re doing, you want some people to be able to get through. That’s what’s great about Focus, the feature that lets you set up different modes for different tasks like work, reading, sleep, or whatever you use your device for.
Each Focus allows you to choose which apps and people can send you notifications. Even better, they sync across devices, so if you set a Focus on your iPhone, it’ll also apply to your Mac. Go to Settings > Focus and tap the plus icon to create a new Focus.
5. Change the Default Mail and Browser
Apple has let you use third-party email and browser apps for as long as the App Store has existed. The problem is, you still had to keep the default Apple versions around. And, if you happened to click on an email address, for example, it didn’t matter that you prefer to use Spark or some other email option, Apple’s Mail app would open up.
Now, however, you can choose from third-party apps and make them the default. Apple rolled out the ability to change the default for email and browser apps and it’s a welcome change, especially if you’re a fan of one of the many great third-party email apps.
To be honest, the browser is less of a change since all browsers use WebKit, Safari’s browsing engine, on iOS. The main difference is the ability to be signed in and sync data like browsing history and favorites with your other devices. You can set up the default by going to Settings and then selecting the email or browser app. Then, tap “Default Browser App” and select the app you’d like to use.
Bonus: Turn on ‘Unlock with Apple Watch’
This is probably the most helpful setting you can enable, but it doesn’t quite make the top five list since it only works if you have an Apple Watch. If you do, and you have an iPhone with FaceID, Apple added the ability to unlock your iPhone using your Apple Watch when you’re wearing a mask. Since that’s something most people do a lot of the time, it comes in handy when you’re out and need to access something on your phone.
If your iPhone detects that you are wearing a mask, it will look to see if your Apple Watch is close by and unlocked. If both of those things are true, the iPhone will unlock. To enable it, go to Settings > FaceID & Passcode > Unlock with Apple Watch and select the watch you want to use.