Here are some tips to make gameplay smoother and easier:
For your first game, pick difficulty level "Beginner" when setting up your commander profile. "Beginner" level is not very challenging, because you can always flee, but it allows you to become familiar with the game without dying every few days. As soon as you are comfortable in your role as space trader, end the game and try a game on "Easy" level.
Use the shortcut keys to change screens. While docked, you have to change screens often. Doing this through the menu can become tedious. However, every major screen has a shortcut key associated with it which you can enter on the grafitti pad. You don't even have to provide the shortcut-stroke, just write the character and you will go to the screen. The four screens you will visit the most are the Buy Cargo screen (B), Sell Cargo screen (S), Ship Yard (Y) and Short Range Chart (W, which stands for "Warp"). To smoothen gameplay further, these four screens can be accessed by using the four shortcut buttons in the upper right corner of most screens. You can configure the shortcuts to encompass different functions using the "Shortcuts" option in the "Game" menu.
Examine and use the Options menu. Something which many people find boring is needing to "ignore" every trader they fly past, if they are not inclined to attack. There is a way around this: in the Options menu you can check that you want to automatically ignore certain ships when it is safe. You can separately check this for traders, police and pirates. Traders that offer deals are checked separately, so you can still meet those even if you have checked that you wish to ignore traders. While you are at it, you should probably also check the two options which remove the chore of having to buy a new tank of fuel and hull repairs at every space station. There are several more options in the Options menu, which can help you smoothen gameplay, which the information screen of the Options menu explains.
Don't fight while you are just starting out. Even if you manage to beat a pirate, you might encounter more of them on your way towards the space station and you will be so weakened that even a Gnat may kill you. Wait until you at least have a shield and two pulse lasers before you attempt to become a bounty hunter. Flee a lot. And if you don't manage to flee, you might consider to surrender. Sure, you will lose part of your cargo, but at least it's better than losing your life.
Don't attempt the special missions which require you to kill a tough enemy unless you are totally prepared. There are several quests which send you after a special enemy. These enemies are very, very tough. And since you can't surrender to these enemies, if you can't kill them, and can't escape, that's it for you. So only go after them with the best ship, the best equipment, and the best mercenaries.
If you are wearing out your screen with your stylus, switch "continuous attack and flight" on. A much-heard complaint on Space Trader is that attacking and fleeing need so many taps with the stylus. People even start to tap so fast that they tend to tap the wrong choice, like attacking a police ship. While it is still good for beginning players to decide on each individual attack attempt, experienced players probably benefit from switching on "Continuous attack and flight" in the Options menu. If checked, this will automatically repeat the "Attack" or "Flee" command every second, as long as the situation remains unchanged. This process can be interrupted by tapping the "Int." (for "Interrupt") button or by simply choosing another action. If the player wants to play a ruthless killer and even attack fleeing ships, he can also check the option "Continue attacking fleeing ships", so the repeated attacks won't be interrupted by the opponent turning his ship around and starting to flee.