So you just got a new smartphone for the holidays and you’ve finally figured out how to answer it without hanging up on the person trying to call you. You’ve even managed to save a few phone numbers and fire off a text message.

But you’ve heard there’s so much more you can do with these portable powerhouses of computing. And there’s so many questions: How do I make sure my battery doesn’t run out during the day? Can I create a text message by just talking into my phone? What the heck is an “app?” Can I really use my phone to make my business more productive?

To help answer these questions, Verizon Wireless is holding free workshops at participating Verizon Wireless Communications stores to help smartphone owners unlock the power of their devices.

On Wednesday, January 18, the Verizon Wireless store in Mercer Mall on Route 1 will hold a workshop for owners of Android-based smartphones from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. This workshop focuses on some of the phones’ more advanced functions.

For those looking to learn about their Android from an entry-level standpoint, the store has scheduled a basic workshop on Thursday, January 26, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

“Smartphones have seen huge growth in terms of adoptions. During the third quarter last year, the bulk of the devices we sold were smartphones,” says Sheldon Jones, Verizon public relations manager. “Right now, Smartphones are the holy grail of devices in terms of the industry.”

Jones says Verizon sees the workshops as a way to increase customers’ knowledge about their phones, “and we recognize that knowledge is power. We want to give people a full sense of the capabilities of what their phones can do. It runs the gamut from GPS operations, to gaming, to video surfing.”

“We found a lot of folks don’t understand how to get the most from their device,” he says. “The beauty of these workshops is that they grow with the customers’ knowledge. They are designed to take them to the next step and get them under the hood of the device.”

The workshops are led by Verizon store employees who are certified and “have a vast wealth of knowledge” about the device they are teaching.

Topics covered during the classes include customizing phones, tips and tricks for preserving battery life, setting up E-mail accounts, tapping into social networks, and programs — called apps — that can be used for work or home life productivity. The most common place for people to obtain apps the Market, which is available on every Android phone by clicking the Market icon.

Some useful apps that people might not know are available include:

Kindle and Nook readers. These free programs emulate the tablets offered by Amazon and Barnes & Noble, respectively. These apps allow you download from both companies’ vast library of books, magazines, and newspapers and read them on your phone. If you already have a Kindle or Nook, the apps allow you to download publications you have already purchased.

If you don’t, you can still buy the same publications available to the tablet owners for the same price. The only down side is that the apps don’t have some of the advanced functions of the tablets.

Package Tracker Pro. Available for $1.99, this app allows the user to track packages across more than 20 different shipping carriers. They can also sort packages into lists and set up notifications.

Intuit GoPayment. This free app allows business people to accept credit cards on their phones. “When you sign up from the GoPayment application, there is no monthly fee, no minimums, and you can cancel any time without cancellation fees,” according to the developer.

Due Today. This $2.99 app helps people get organized. It allows the user to create tasks and assign them to projects and contexts. They can also set reminders for those important tasks.

Document Scanner. Available on the Market for $3.98, this program allows the user to scan documents and receipts with their phone’s camera and convert them to PDFs. A fully featured trial version is available for those who want to try before they buy.

According to Jones, Verizon is expected to offer some 500 workshops in the Philadelphia region in January, and 1,500 during the first quarter of 2012. In the final quarter of 2011, Verizon held more than 1,700 workshops.

“We’re seeing a pretty heavy demand as people have unwrapped these (smartphones) as tech gifts,” Jones says. “Now is a good time for people to come in and learn what they can do.”

The workshops are not limited to Android devices. Other classes offered include iPhones, iPads, and BlackBerrys. Verizon Wireless also offers workshops online in English as well as some in Spanish on-demand at

Customers can register online at or visit the Verizon Wireless store for more information.

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