TEACHING AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS

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SKIP THE IPHONE

We tried an experiment. We went out to the drugstore and bought a $40 cell phone. It wasn’t the cheapest one; we could have bought one for $13, but Bob noticed it was a so-called clam-shell or flip phone and you can’t load apps onto those. The impetus for this experiment was our 97 year-old friend Ida. She said she may have to give up driving one day and switch to using one of the ride services, like Uber or Lyft. So then, she would have to get an iPhone so she could call a cab. Uh-uh, we said. You do need a smartphone or a computer to call one of those ride services but you don’t have to spend […]

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CELL PHONE SERVICE GETS CHEAP

We love our cell phone service from Google’s new “Project Fi.” It only works with Google Nexus phones, but if you get one, your bill might be as low as $25 a month with tax.  Now they’re expanding it. Google Fi currently works with three phone carriers. If the signal is strongest from T-Mobile, for example, that’s who they’ll connect to. If Sprint is better, you’ll be using Sprint. They’ve recently added U.S. Cellular. A Google Fi account gives you unlimited text and phone calls for $20 a month. Each gigabyte of data (which is what you use up when you’re on the Web and all those words and pictures come in), is $10. But you get money back if […]

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CHEAP PHONES STILL WORK

A reader wrote to tell us his young daughter got separated from him and his wife during Mardi Gras. Instead of it being a desperate situation, she called and told him where she was. “I found her in short order,” He says. His daughter uses an old LG flip phone with $10 a month service from Kajeet.com. This made us think of other ways out of tough situations. Since she had an old-fashioned flip phone, it lacked apps, including the Uber app for calling a cab. With services like Uber and Lyft, no cash is required because a credit card is linked to your account and charged automatically. So if you have no money — say you’ve been robbed or […]

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PHONE PLANS

PC Magazine surveyed thousands of readers to find out which phone plan is best. The big winner was Google’s “Project Fi,” which hardly anybody has ever heard of. It combines T-Mobile, Sprint and Wi-Fi into a virtual network. (A virtual network is one that doesn’t really exist but seems to. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to make sense.) Project Fi gives you unlimited U.S. calls and texts and unlimited international texts for $20 a month; add $10 for each gigabyte of data you use. The nice thing is, you get money back for anything you don’t use. We used only 100 megabytes last month, so we would have gotten $9 back, for a monthly bill of $21. The catch is, […]

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GIVING AWAY AN OLD PHONE

ConsumerAffairs.com has an article about wiping your old Android phone before giving it away. The bottom line: sexy photos, corporate secrets, and old love notes may still be there, even after a full factory reset.

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GETTING A NEW PHONE

A reader pointed out that we don’t seem to do cell phones. That’s true. And the reason is they change so fast, you can become trapped into becoming a phone columnist. We don’t talk that much. But this one’s for you, dear reader struggling with Holiday decisions. If you’re in the market for a new phone, how do you decide between iPhone and Android? If you want an Android phone, which one? You hear about Apple’s iPhones all the time, and they’re nice, but Android phones are 82-percent of the market. We have a Samsung Galaxy S3. It’s still going strong after several years and we see no reason to upgrade. Our only annoyance is that some of the latest […]

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GETTING THE JITTERS

A friend’s 93 year-old mother is getting a new phone so she can call a ride service to be picked up when she’s out and about. She’s never used a cell phone. We suggested the Jitterbug. We’ve mentioned this before and what we really like about it is you can talk to a human if you’re lost.

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THE BEST PHONE CAMERA

Most people take photos with their phones, not digital cameras. So Yahoo.com/Tech did an informal test of the best phone cameras, using four tech reporters, and looking at six top phones. LG’s G4 phone won easily. Next came Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Note 4.  These were followed by Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6. HTC’s “One M9” came in last.

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HOT PHONE RESEARCH

Joy had noticed her cell phone was hot in her pocket and wondered why. We were in an elevator when this came up and Bob said “why not do a quick survey.”  So we spoke up and asked the three people in the elevator if their phones were hot. We didn’t mean “hot” as in stolen or “hot” as in “cool, man,” but they got it. A young woman answered immediately and said her phone was hot all the time, Someone else nodded in agreement. But the tall guy had the answer: “It gets hot when it’s always searching for a signal.” So that’s the problem. Well at least it was the biggest part of the problem. Joy had inadvertently […]

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