Many of us use a smartphone these days - they do so much, it's difficult not to.

But are we using them in the right way? People have opinions on the right and wrong ways to use smartphones. Should you use a smartphone at the dinner table? Should you use one when you're having a real life conversation with someone? Are they appropriate on public transport?

Whether you answer yes or no to those questions, these are the smartphone manners worth bearing in mind for general polite use. We also have a separate feature for smartwatch etiquette.

Smartphone use while talking in real life

Talking in real life is a rare treat these days, so should you be fully focused on the conversation?

This one is subjective. If someone is telling you about their cat's recent trip to the vet after playing chicken with an SUV, flitting through cat videos on YouTube might not be advisable.

But, if you're in a group talking about movies and you take a digital trip to IMDB to look something up, that enhances the situation.

Generally, as a rule of thumb, be attentive in one-on-one situations. If you need to get your phone out, show respect, no matter who it is, by saying what you're going to do – if not actually asking.

Smartphones at dinner

This is a very modern cultural issue that's been in debate for a while. Is it cool to use your phone at the dinner table?

Once again it depends on the situation – but generally asking or saying you're going on your phone is best. You don't want to be part of that couple in the restaurant sat in the dark and silence illuminated only by your phones, do you? 

If you want to be super polite, you could stack all phones on the table when sitting down for a meal with friends or your partner, ensuring full attention on the moment.

Smartphones as cameras

So many of us use our smartphones to take photos these days that it's probably one of the more accepted times to use your smartphone in the presence of other people.

That said, there are times when you should be mindful. If you're snapping away as a friend pulls poses sat next to someone on a train, be careful. Some people don't like having their photo taken without permission so this goes for anywhere in public really.

Smartphones in the morning

Do you wake up and head straight for your smartphone? You probably aren't the only one. They do have alarms on them after all, as well as news. 

If you're sharing the bed with someone though, it's certainly more pleasant to stumble bleary-eyed into consciousness together and it's probably better for your eyes too.

Smartphones on public transport

If you have to take a call on public transport, it's best to keep it short, sweet and as quiet as possible. Primarily, you're not sharing your business with others then, but you'll also avoid annoying people.

That said, most people on trains and buses these days are plugged into some sort of sound from their phones or tablets anyway, so it's probably less of an issue than it may have been several years ago.

Then again, those that don't use headphones might be those that will be annoyed by phone conversations even more as they might enjoy some quiet time on their commute or journey. Keeping it short is at least being considerate to everyone on board.

Sharing your phone with a stranger

If someone asks you to let them make a call on your phone, what do you do? You don't want to be a bad citizen but it takes a few button presses for any half-decent hacker to get into your device.

This one is tough but needs to be judged in the moment. If there's an emergency you can see, then of course lend away. Otherwise exercise caution – with banking details on many phones now, you're as good as handing over your wallet.

A happy medium could be to dial the number yourself and speak to the person who answers and pass them over. Then at least you know they're calling the person they say, rather than ringing their own phone to get your number for nefarious tasks.

Smartphones in the cinema

If you talk, text or even use your phone in the cinema, you are a bad person. Simple.