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A field guide to smart-phone users

A field guide to smart-phone users

There are just about as many types of smart-phone users as there are phones. Understanding the kind of user you are will help you figure out how to strike the right balance between protecting yourself and getting the most out of your phone. For our privacy report, “Keep your phone safe,” we narrowed the types down to three broad categories:

The minimalist. A phone is a phone, you say. It’s for making calls, and maybe sending a few texts or e-mails. You install very few, if any, apps. And there are plenty of you out there. Fifteen percent of smartphone users haven’t installed any apps at all in the past year, according to Consumer Reports’ latest State of the Net survey. Another 47 percent downloaded nine or fewer.

The mobile enthusiast. It’s all about the apps for mobile enthusiasts. You download lots of them, and you don’t mind trying out brand-new ones. Our survey showed 31 percent of smartphone users downloaded between 10 and 29 apps in the past year.

The daredevil. You want total control of your phone, and you’re willing to take a few risks to get it. You might modify the operating system on your iPhone (called jailbreaking) so you can download apps from third-party stores. (Three percent of iPhone owners we surveyed visited one such app store, called Cydia.) Android users can shop from third-party stores without modifying the phone. But daredevils might root it, because you get lots more control over the phone’s performance, and you can add new features and dump pre-installed software.

No matter which category you fit into, make sure you protect the personal information you store on it. See our story, Keep your phone safe, for tips on how to do that.

See more of our survey findings along with our infographic, “How well do you protect your information?”, and our interactive quiz: “Would you download this app?” in our story, “Keep your phone safe: How to protect yourself from wireless threats.” And for many more tips on keeping safe and private online, visit our Guide to Internet Security.

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