Your new smartphone can do a lot more than make calls, browse the Web or pick up email.
It can also help you save money when shopping for new products, provide free video calling to friends and family around the world or serve as a replacement for other digital devices.
That's right, while a smartphone might cost a hundred or two with a two-year data plan, that pocket-sized companion could mean less strain on your wallet in other areas.
See Also: Smartphone apps for aging in place.
The following are five such ways your smartphone can help save you money while performing day-to-day tasks.
Sure, your smartphone can be used to call people — it is a phone after all — but if you use an application ("app") like Skype (for iPhone and Android) or FaceTime (for iPhone) you not only can make calls anywhere in the world for free, but you have the added benefit of video, too. That's right, as long as you're in a Wi-Fi network you can call other Skype or FaceTime users (on a smartphone, tablet or computer) and talk as long as you like. With Skype — which can also be used via your cellular service — you can also swap files and text with the person you're chatting with. Another iPhone app called Fring lets up to four people video chat at the same time. If you consider all the money you could be spending on long distance calling, free apps like Skype, FaceTime and Fring make sense and save cents.
Deal or no deal
Speaking of apps, there are more than a dozen that can tell you if what you're about to buy is a good deal or not — and these apps work with multiple platforms, such as iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7. For example, with Red Laser, SnapTell or ShopSavvy, use your smartphone's camera to take pictures of product barcodes and within a second or two you'll see which retailer has the best price online or at retail around you (via the smartphone's GPS technology. For example, if you scan a barcode on a $20 DVD you might see it's $13 down the street at another store — and you'll also get turn-by-turn directions there, if you like. Or you'll see that same movie as low as $11 on the Internet, with links to buy it on the spot.