Tech News and Commentary
Dave and the team discuss old TVs abandoned at people’s homes by a man wearing a TV over his head (picture below), the Galaxy Note 10, the security measures of a Welsh public toilet, Amazon’s returns and Kohl’s gains, a driver’s 8 Pokemon Go phones, and more.
Roger in Wheeling, West Virginia listens on 1370 WVLY and asked: “Presently have a flip phone from Walmart, looking to move up to a smartphone. Not looking for anything fancy. Don’t do a lot of texting. Probably don’t text at all. Would like to get some apps – like to shop online for groceries. What do you recommend as a low-entry phone that’s not going to cost me an arm and a leg, with the fact that I don’t use cell phones often.”
Roger, your needs are very basic and really most smartphones will do.
You can probably stay with Walmart and buy a Samsung J7 for less than $100 and get what you need, or get an older iPhone or a Samsung S7 for under $200 and they’ll do what you want.
You might look into services like Consumer Cellular. These are no-contract plans. You can get basic plans with 250 minutes of calls and 250MB of data per month for $20. The plans go up from there if you need additional calling and data. When you’re at home, you can connect it to wi-fi and not use up your data allotment. And they have basic smartphones like a ZTE model for $60 or a MotoE5 Play for $80.
Given how little you plan to do with your phone, any cheap option will do, there’s no reason for you to spend a lot of money.
Jim in Bandon, Oregon listens on 630 AM KWRO and asked: “My question relates to news I’ve been reading about how hackers can intercept passwords, credit cards, other sensitive information, just by being close to you in an airport or a shopping mall or wherever. Is this a real concern. Also heard there are cases you can buy for your phone, don’t know if they are lined with lead or some other substance that can block the ability of the hackers. Is that a worthwhile purchase?”
Jim, no, it’s not.
If anyone is intercepting passwords and credit card transactions they’re probably doing via the network the computer is using.
Typically, passwords and financial transactions travel via encrypted connections, but if you’re accessing a site that is less secure, someone connected to the same network as you can sniff out the plain text information that you put out into the network.
The main advice people offer here is to avoid public WiFi and unprotected WiFi, but the last part of that is not great advice. Anyone with the WiFi password can still sniff out the contents of the data flowing through the network.
To dodge the issue you can look into using a VPN server. Virtual Private Networks encrypt the traffic you send out creating a secure tunnel through a potentially insecure network.
If you do get one, and it will probably cost you a few dollars a month if you do, make sure you get it through a reputable service since your information will travel through their servers and could suffer from the same problems on that network if the company is no trustworthy.
Cassandra in Greenville, Tennessee listens online and asked: “My mom has an iPhone, I’m a Galaxy girl. I’m trying to convert her to Galaxy, because the battery lasts better. She’s worried about security. She doen’t do any online banking, just your normal Facebook, Snapchat. How much more secure is Apple in those areas than Galaxy. I’ve never had a problem with security. I trust it, but I wanted your take.”
Cassandra, there’s not much for your mom to worry about in terms of security.
Android and iPhone has a similar architecture when it comes to how they sandbox apps, so there’s not much one can do to affect another one unless the phone is rooted to work outside the restrictions of the operating system.
We’d advise your mom to stick to Google Play, but we’d advise her to stick to legitimate app stores regardless of which phone she uses, so that’s not really an Android thing.
In terms of battery life, your mom may be happier sticking to the platform she knows and upgrading to a newer iPhone with better battery life, but if you still want to drag her to an operating system she’s not familiar with, then security shouldn’t be a major concern.
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