You might have come into this article wondering how anybody would go about asking such a dumb question. "How do you make a smartphone yours?" You buy it, doofus. Duh. But that's not what I meant when I asked how do you make a smartphone yours. I mean, hopefully you knew that's not where I was going with this, but just in case we'll just go ahead and get that out of the way first and foremost.
But back to what this is really about. Smartphones, or really any phone in general, are personal to us. When we see somebody on the street talking on their phone, it doesn't mean anything to us. That's their phone, their business, we don't care. But when we're looking at our own phone in our own hands, for many people it is the foundation to our world. However, you're probably not the only one carrying that particular phone, and if you're into getting the latest and greatest phones you have probably noticed a lot of other people using the same phone as you. Naturally, you're going to want to make yours stand out and be unique - something that makes your phone look and feel like it's really yours. Fortunately, a lot of phones have several ways that you can personalize it to make it stand out in a crowd.
I love personalizing my phones, inside and out. The first and most obvious customziation that I put into any phone is the case that I use. I'm a huge believer that cases will do more to save your phone than if you went without. Unfortunately, I find that the most rugged cases that will prevent the most damage usually either adds too much bulk or just plain looks ugly. For example, I am a huge fan of what OtterBoxes can do for phones, but I am not a huge fan of how they look. Even with different colors and designs, I just can't bring myself to like the way they look. I generally find myself looking at cases made by Poetic, Incipio or Speck to get the look that I want from my phone. I also really love BearMotion cases for the way that they feel, but they are very thin and only seem to be able to add a grip rather than protect the device. I'm kind of an in-betweener when it comes to cases; I like ones that give it some oomph so it can survive at least a decent fall from my height, but I also want it to still feel comfortable in the hands when I'm using it and look good, too.
Aside from cases, there isn't much else that goes on the outside of the phone for me. At this point, it's time to take a look at how the inside of the phone is customized. This will vary depending on which platform I am using, because each platform gives you varying customization options. Android is my favorite to tinker with because you get the whole rooting/flashing ROMs deal if you're into that (I am!), but I pretty much tinker with all operating systems when I'm using them. I always change my background (usually frequently), and in Windows Phone I find that I change my Live Tile theme color just about every day or so because I can never decide which looks best. iOS is probably the platform that I've used that I mess with the least because all you really can change is the background, but it's also kind of nice because everything is just right there for you. If I don't mess with Android, the phone looks kind of bare. If I don't mess with iOS, the phone looks like it should.
The last thing that I change, but usually not often, is my ring and text tones. I generally don't remember to do this because I almost always have my phone on vibrate for some reason. But on the off chance that I do have the volume up, changing the text and ringtone to something unique is a good way to know whether it was your phone that just went off at the store, or whether it was somebody else's standard ringtone that did it. I always chuckle when I hear a Marimba or Tri-tone ringtone because at least 3 other people in a crowded area will start to scramble looking for their phones, but there can only be one.
I don't think I've ever had a phone where I left it completely alone. I've always been pretty fond of prettying it up so that I know right when it see it it's mine. A lot of phones these days have such similar designs that it can be hard to tell just from the face what is what, but when you have a case on it you'll always know which one is yours!
Readers, how do you make your phone "yours"? Do you use cases, skins, custom ROMS, or what? Let us know your customizations in the comments below!