These days, more and more people are turning in their feature phones for a brand new spanking smartphones. Contrary to the belief of some, you don’t necessarily have to shell out the big bucks for your smartphone. Today’s mobile phone manufacturers know the needs of the global market and work overtime to produce multiple models at different price points. You’re sure to find a smartphone that will suit both your requirements and your budget – or, at the very least, reach a good compromise.

Still, at the end of the day, we’d like to know that we got our money’s worth. Social networking apps and games are fun and dandy, but a smart consumer knows how to make her gadget work for her.

Here are some tips on how to get your smartphone to earn its hefty (or not) price tag:

Exploit the P.A. functions of your phone.

Among the standard features of smartphones are the calendar, clock and to-do apps. Use these to input appointments, schedule meetings and take note of your tasks. Most importantly, activate the alert option to make sure that you won’t overlook any small detail. If you find that the default apps on your phone aren’t effective enough, there’s a whole cache of options waiting for you in the application store.

For those who prefer dictating to typing, Apple’s iPhone has Siri built-in while Android devices accept apps such as Maluuba, which may be downloaded from the Android Market for free. Both function as virtual personal assistants, with the ability to input notes and texts, initiate a web search, get directions and even rearrange meetings. Once you get the hang of giving clear and concise instructions, you can definitely cut down your typing to a minimum.

Use The Cloud for easy access and instant back-ups.

Cloud technology is one of today’s best innovations. You no longer have to collect a slew of USBs; all you need is to sign up for cloud storage and an available Wi-Fi or data connection. This will allow you to access your files across several devices, say your smartphone, laptop and office computer; and instantly synchronize any changes, minimizing effort in carrying several devices and hardcopies at a time while maximizing efficiency.

Evernote makes for a good addition to a typical file storage system like Dropbox. Aside from its universal sync function, it can also be used to take down notes, clip articles from different websites, and annotate text in images. Though it requires an Internet connection to sync, the program may still be used when offline. Best of all, it’s free, with a specific usage limit per month.

These are just a few ways to maximize the productivity of your smartphone.

It would also be nice to see a smartphone version of computer apps such as Anti-Social, which forces you to stay focused on your work by blocking access to Facebook, Twitter and other social websites. Considering how much time is wasted on constantly checking updates, this could prove to be a good addition to your app collection.

Think of your phone as an office extension.

When you’re scouring the App Store, don’t just focus on the Media and Entertainment sections. There are tons of productivity apps that’ll help you utilize the time you spend waiting for the train or standing in line wisely.

For handy word processing, install a mobile office suite such as Quickoffice. This is available across most operating systems like Apple and Android, and allows you to access, create and revise your Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF files. Note that to be able to use the edit functions, you’ll have to pay for the full version of the suite – definitely a fine investment for a professional worker or student.

For the seamless integration of your personal and work calls, download the RingCentral app, which is free for RingCentral business phone system users. Not only can you receive business calls and voicemail on your smartphone without divulging your personal number, this app also lets you make free VoIP calls using Wi-Fi or data connections.