7 Top Mobile Apps: Phonetradr’s Staff Picks

top mobile apps

Over the last few years, app makers and developers around the world have truly taken a leap into the future. Not only are there millions of apps to choose from at any given time, there’s also an app – literally – for everything. In fact, so much so that it is almost impossible to go about your daily life without delighting in the ingenuity of some far away app developer. There’s even app where friends compete to see how high they can throw their phone up into the air. Yup, that’s a real app called Send Me To Heaven.

Despite some of the crazy apps out there, the Phonetradr team has come together to share their most useful ones. Take a page out of our Notes app to see which apps you should download today.

Do Instagram like a pro with Spark Post

For anyone who enjoys photography. Spark Post is an absolute must. The app allows you to create Instagram posts and stories using high res images, logos, fonts, background colours, and borders.

It also offers templates based on the category your posts will fall into, such as travel, business or food.
Many bloggers and brands with a large focus on quality social media content use Spark Post. Download it for FREE on iOS or Android!

Figure out your internet speed with Speedtest

What’s more frustrating than waiting for the robot to go green in 35 degree heat with no aircon? Waiting for your Wi-Fi to do its job, that’s what. Speedtest has the world’s largest testing server network and no matter where you’re based, you’ll can test your internet speed. You can distinguish your upload and download speed, change to a faster server and look at graphs showing connection consistency.


The app also tracks every test you’ve done with a note on which connection was tested. The app is downloadable for free on the App Store and Google Play or check out their site – their FAQ section is loaded with cool information on why knowing about connection speed and servers in your location is important, especially if you work on your phone or laptop.
Another reason is that you can do actual test to make sure your ISP is giving you the speeds you paying for.

Pocket: Collecting the day’s news into one place for later

In a world where you are constantly bombarded with news, videos, trending memes, articles and more from multiple channels, we think an app that puts your content in one pocket is extra cool. See what we did there? You can save the latest (or old favourites) news, magazine articles, videos, recipes, opinion pieces, TV discussions, how-tos and so much more in one place. If you enjoy setting time aside during lunch or after dinner to catch up on the day’s activity, simply whip out Pocket and it’s all there.


Even better, the app can read articles to you on your way to work, during a gym session or while you lie on the beach! Download it for iOS or Android for freeee!

Avoid traffic stops and more with Waze

Waze is like that badass friend you always wished you had. Why? Because the app alerts you to the whereabouts of police, traffic stops, road closures and hazards as if they’re a double agent playing those sides of the field… okay, we’re getting carried away.

What’s also unique about Waze is that it lets you listen to music while the app operates – you can have Spotify or your favourite podcast playing while you drive.

Be an office whizz with Scanner

iScanner is your new best nerd friend. iScanner accesses your camera to turn documents into PDFs which can be saved, emailed, or sent via Slack or Whatsapp.
The app comes in handy when you need to send proof of identification, your signature to documents, or physical-to-digital invoices. The app offers an ad-free version, however, that requires a small monthly fee.

Download the app for zero moolas on the App Store and Google Play.

Stream with Joox (Because we still can’t close Youtube without the music stopping!)

Joox has been downloaded to people’s smartphones across Asia since 2015, and now the app has come to South Africa! What makes Joox cool is that you can download music to your phone to jam without using up mobile data. Finally!

What’s also cool is that you can customise the design of the app for a look that suits your vibe better and you can also listen to live radio from over 50 stations! It’s available for both iPhones and Android phones, however, a monthly fee of R59,99 is needed.

Get somebody to store your stuff with LightStack

Let’s say you’re moving to a new apartment and no longer like that two-seater couch or the 75 scatter cushions on your bed… Or, your a musician and need to store your drum set somewhere. That’s where LightStack comes in! Using their app, they’ll come collect your belongings and keep them safe. When you need them again they’ll drop them back at your front door. Easy!


What’s cool about these guys is that you can even store individual items like large sporting equipment.

You have three storage options to choose from: The ‘walk-in closet’ option costs R320 per month and offers 1.5m x 1.5m in space. The second option is called ‘pantry’ and costs R650 per month and offers enough space to fit a large 3 seater couch, a TV stand, a filing cabinet, and plenty of room for some more boxes. The third option costs R1,050 per month and is the size of a small garage or 2.5m x 2.7m.
Download their app and get your extra stuff stored!

Nine tech gadgets for your Christmas wish list

best tech gadgets for gifts

The festive season is upon us! For some, that means going on holiday or seeing the best tech gadgets are under the Christmas tree! If you’re still creating your gift wish list or if you know someone who would love something for their smartphone, take a look at the below options…

Light it up with a LuMee phone case


What’s special about LuMee is that the sides of the cover light up to give your selfie the perfect lighting. No more dark and grainy selfies on your night out!

Because LuMee is an American brand, the cases are imported, which means they are a little pricey.

They range from R479 to R1,199 depending on which phone you have. You can purchase a LuMee case on Takealot right here.

Stick it with selfie Popsockets


These little toys have gone viral, from being seen on Expresso TV show to the everyday smartphone user. Using suction, selfie popsockets stick onto the back of your smartphone and allow the user to slide your index and your middle finger around it so that you can take a better selfie. Now, you don’t have to struggle to hold your phone up AND click the little side button. It doubles as a safety gadget so that you don’t drop and damage your phone so easily.

Ranging from R169 to R249, you can buy a popsocket in a range of colours and styles on Superbalist right here.


Three-in-one charger with Calamari 2.0


This gift is less about fun and more about function, however, that doesn’t make it any less cool in our eyes! The Calamari 2.0 three-in-one charger features an Apple MFI-certified lightning connector, a USB type-C and a micro-USB connector for data transfers or charging.

When it comes to handy gadgets, this one takes the cake. You can get it online at Superbalist at a price of R439. Shop it here!

Get lazy with a flexible arm phone holder


Don’t judge us for this one – there’s a reason it’s on the list! If you’re lying in bed at night watching movies or videos or FaceTiming a loved one, the lazy arm phone holder is your new best friend. It simply clips onto the side of your bed and the flexible, adjustable arm holds your phone for you!

You can buy this on 4Home.co.za for R182.99 right here.

Say goodbye to battery problems with a power bank


Again, power banks are more about function than fun, but if you’re a student, working professional, traveler, tired of load shedding killing your charging session, or simply at your wits end about how quickly your phone dies, then you need a power bank. We’d recommend the Swiss Mobile power bank from Takealot.

It’s powered with a 16 000mAh rechargeable external battery for increased energy efficiency. It can charge your smartphone six times before dying and your tablet four times! Get the Swiss Mobile power bank for R314 right here!

Beats by Dre headphones


Anybody who spends time listening to music should know the legendary rapper and producer, Dr Dre. His headphones, Beats by Dre, are on Christmas wish lists the world over and it’s no different here in South Africa!

You can purchase them at most electronics retailers or on Takealot for R4,499. Take a look!

Get away from load shedding with a portable speaker


When the lights go off, the music goes on. Grab your friends, some beers and this Volkano Bazooka portable speaker. You can get them in a number of sizes and colours, however, this one just looks bad ass.

Get it on Takealot for R499. Remember there are smaller and cheaper ones to suit your budget! Shop now.

Guard your screen with ProtectionPro


ProtectionPro is made by Madico which is cutting-edge protection for your device. It doesn’t chip, scratch, crack or shatter and its self-healing when heat is applied. It can be custom cut to almost anything with a screen (your smartwatch, tablet, smartphone, or laptop) and can be purchased at Vodacom, MTN, HiStore, Huawei stores, Incredible Connection. Check out their site here.

Be smart. Buy a smart watch


2019 is around the corner, which means your health and fitness goals should at the TOP of your resolutions list! A smart watch will not only provide you some of the features your smartphone has but will also track your health and fitness goals. It will also play music for you while you exercise!

You can get a smartwatch from Apple, Samsung and Huawei. The one pictured, however, is from Apple and is on Takealot for R5,489. Browse through their options here.

 

Phonetradr has partnered with FASTA to bring you instant credit

instant credit

When you think of the traditional credit application process, a few things may come to mind: Lengthy phone calls, background checks, heaps of paperwork and a lot of your precious time wasted. And even after you’ve played along, you still may not be approved for credit. We understand not everyone can afford to make a purchase in full. We want to help customers afford the smartphone they want with instant credit!

So, if you’re looking to get credit to purchase a used smartphone, we can help.

What’s cool about it?
– You apply online on the Phonetradr website and the deal is done in real-time. Simply choose a phone that has the “instant credit” badge then for a payment method, choose “instant credit”
– You’ll get an answer if your application is approved within minutes of applying
– No phone calls, no paperwork, no call centres
– It’s interest-free!
– An applicant can choose their own payment terms of up to six months

All we’ll need from you is…
– A 33 % deposit to verify that you’re serious about the deal
– Your South African ID number
– Three months of bank statements

Get instant credit, online, in minutes. A first for South Africa!
Shop now and apply during checkout.

Five tips to shopping Black Friday like a pro

Black Friday

We’ve all heard the horror stories or seen the video footage of shopping on Black Friday. It’s chaos, and furthermore, the pandemonium doesn’t disappear just because you’re shopping online. From crashing websites to depleted stock, learning to (successfully) shop online on Black Friday has become an Olympic sport. Here are our top five tips to winning #BlackFriday.

Start your shopping at midnight (yes, that’s correct)


This may sound a little extreme, but take it from us – you’ll be grateful you sacrificed your sleep for this. Many online stores begin their Black Friday deals at midnight, which many don’t know about and don’t take advantage of. Set your alarm clock for 11:55pm, boil the kettle, then get shopping.

Create your wish list days in advanced


This is something avid online shoppers do anyways, so why not utilise it on Black Friday to avoid your shoe size from running out? Stock gets depleted extremely quickly, especially on once-a-year events like this, so make an effort to add all of your items to your wishlist beforehand. That way, you can log in and simply pay without sifting through hundreds of discounted items before you find your picks.

Set a budget


Each year, financial advisers say, “Don’t fall victim to Black Friday!” because of how many people spend money they don’t have on items they don’t need. Just because something is 50 percent off, doesn’t mean you’re making a “saving” – you’re still spending the other 50 percent! Set a budget using funds you know you can spend – shopping responsibly is a thing, people.

Sign up to email newsletters


Believe it or not, if you create an account or sign up to receive email newsletters, you are likely to cash in on extra deals. Many online stores give first-time buyers or customers who’ve signed up an additional discount, free delivery or an early heads up on their deals. You know the saying: the early bird catches the worm!

Shop on websites you trust


If a deal seems too good to be true – especially on a site you’ve never heard of – it probably is. South Africa has many established, trusted online stores that make online shopping a safe and easy task. Do your research: If a site has a good social media presence, plenty of good reviews and is recommended by a friend of yours, you can most likely trust it.

Happy shopping!

Our top six apps to keep you and your kids safe

safety apps

Facing and experiencing crime as a South African is something almost everyone will deal with at least once in their lifetime. In fact, according to the latest crime statistics that were released by the South African Police Service (SAPS) in September 2018, an average of 56 crimes were committed per day. We know, it’s frightening to read that.

Which safety app is best for people who walk/exercise in their neighbourhood?
Many South Africans use walking and public transport as a way to get to work and back. Furthermore, South Africa is a country that enjoys exercising in the outdoors. So how can you keep yourself safe when it’s just you and a long, dark road ahead?

Made in South Africa, by South Africans: Namola


Namola is taking South Africa by storm with over 200,000 downloads and 10,000 app users receiving help in real-life incidents.  Business Insider says the app functions similarly to the 911 system in the USA without having to make a call.
After simply touching the “request assistance” icon which appears on your screen and picks up your exact location, an emergency message will be sent to a Namola call centre. On your behalf, they’ll contact emergency services like the police or an ambulance. Business Insider also tested the response and within 30 seconds, a Namola consultant had responded.

The app also allows to save a number of contacts to it that can be sent an emergency alert. Download the app for free on Apple or Android or check out their website here.

But if the police don’t arrive, who can help you?
In 2016, Namola created a community watch initiative called Namola Watch. This sees members of your community work together to keep your area safe, similar to an armed response company like ADT or Marshall. There are 282 community crime-fighting organisations signed up to the Namola Watch app in areas all over South Africa.

Which app is best for women?
Crime against women in South Africa is on the rise, which is why we wanted to look at which safety app is best for South African women.

MySOS South Africa


– mySOS Active My Emergency
This part of the app allows you to send an emergency alert for yourself or on behalf of a friend. You can choose the nature of your situation, ranging from “medical” to “fire” to “sea rescue”. It also automatically notifies  your pre-listed emergency contacts with your full name, location and phone number.
– mySOS Find Near Me
This part of the app helps you find hospitals, clinics, police stations, fire departments, vets and pharmacies closest to your current location.
– mySOS Track Me
Auto-track the duration of any outdoor event or journey including running, driving or even hiking. Once the timer runs out and is not cancelled, the app auto-notifies your registered emergency contacts on your behalf. It also provides them with your full name, location and phone number.

Check out their website or download it for FREE on Android or Apple.

Which app is best for parents with kids who have smartphones?
Some parents may feel strange about using an app for track their kids, but it is less invasive as one might think, especially if you use one of the below apps.

Live tracking with bSafe


bSafe has been downloaded over 1 million times in 123 countries and is one of the recommended apps for parents who have allowed their kids or teenagers the privilege of owning a smartphone. The live location of the app user (in this case, an adolescent or teenager) can be tracked by a parent or guardian. In other words, Mom and Dad will be able to watch you as you walk to school, run along the beach or go to the movies with friends – and let’s be honest, one can’t be too safe nowadays. The app user can load their parents’ phone numbers onto the app, and if they are ever in a scary situation, a distress message and a GPS location will be sent to them.
Download the app on Apple or Android for FREE!

Monitor online activity with Kaspersky SafeKids


Kaspersky SafeKids is one of the leading cybersecurity companies that acts as an all-in-one tracking and controlling tool for your kid’s smartphone. All you have to do is install the app on your child’s phone and you’ll be able to control it from a dedicated dashboard. This includes which apps and websites they can access and for how long. When you install the app, you will get to use a special pin, which is useful in securing the app from unauthorised access.
The premium version of the app, which costs R180 per annual subscription, lets you schedule screen time, receive notifications about suspicious activities and get summaries of what children search, see and share as well as creating GPS safe zones.
It’s free to download for Apple or Android, however, as mentioned above, it costs R180 per year, which is not a large price to pay for more security for your babies!

Which app is best for drawing attention to you in the fastest way?


In a scary situation that sees you being followed, harassed or mugged, it’s not like you can stop and ask the perpetrator to stop his crime for a few seconds so that you can send a text message and GPS location asking for help. In this instance, it can be helpful to have a siren or alarm that goes off to attract attention to you.

SOS Siren Emergency Alarm


This app functions exactly like the name suggests – like an extremely loud attention seeker. All you need to do is click one of the alarms ranging from “siren”, “scream” or “dog”, which will cause your phone to become a deafening siren to attract the attention you need to be helped.
If ringing the alarm is not what you need for your particular situation, you can also select the “SMS” icon, which automatically sends off a pre-saved text message to a configured phone number.

For iPhone users, there’s Emergency SOS


Apple included a key safety feature into iOS 11 in 2017 that makes sending an SOS even easier than opening up an app. It’s called Emergency SOS which turns your sleep/wake button on the right-hand side of your phone into an SOS feature. All you need to do is click it and one of the volume buttons on the left fives time in a row and emergency services will be called. But first, you need to set it up. Go to Settings > Emergency SOS > toggle ‘Auto Call’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple as offers parental controls which can be set up on the family iPad, Mac or your child’s iPhone. These controls allow you to create a more PG device for the younger members of the family, including limiting features, apps and content by putting a password on it that’s unbeknownst to your little one. To enable this, go to Settings > General > Restrictions > toggle ‘Enable Restrictions’, then enter your secret password.

Android’s safety features focus on parental control too


Don’t worry, Google cares about your kid’s safety too! On an Android phone or tablet, you can create a “restricted profile” which allows you to set up a limited account for the tablet, one that prohibits access to certain apps, messages or wide open internet access. Here’s how to do it: Settings > Users > Add user or profile > Restricted profile > then tap the settings gear on the right > Give your profile a name (eg: My little one) > toggle off the apps you’d like to stop access to > Remember to select this profile before handing it to your child

Our recommendation


All of the reviewed apps would be easy and helpful tools in any situation of panic. But it all depends on what you are looking for. We recommend mySOS for a number of reasons:
– it’s available on both the Google Play and the App Store
– It’s FREE!
– It’s made for the South African audience and geography
– It includes multiple services including an emergency alert system, the ability to locate nearby hospitals, police stations or clinics using your location, and a timing system that sends out a distress message to your emergency contacts if you have not returned home after a certain period of time
– mySOS has also just launched a wearable panic button that connects to your phone via Bluetooth, however, the only downfall is that is costs R499 for the panic button. Visit more here.

How to have a new smartphone with your old phone’s data

how to back up your smartphone

Having a smartphone for an average period of two years means that a lot of memories, routines, information and the ups and downs of a relationship with a smartphone have built up quite a bank of information that screams “back up your smartphone!” You don’t need to start from scratch every time you get a new phone (Although sometimes a new beginning can feel good. But we’ll get to that another time).

If you’re anything like us, you’ll want to keep your beautifully crafted camera roll or your high profile contact list. Apple or Android, here’s how to back up your smartphone! 

If you have an iPhone


If you’re an iOS user, you’re in luck. There are multiple ways for you to back your contacts, settings, photos, app downloads and more using iCloud and iTunes. However, these do come with limitations such as the fact that your iCloud account on your iPhone only comes with 5GB of free storage. You’ll have to pay (in American dollars, that is) for more. With iTunes, your limitation is the fact that you will most likely need a computer or laptop to complete the backing-up process. Nevertheless, make use of the below steps.

iCloud
1. Connect your device to a Wi-Fi network.
2.Tap Settings > iCloud > Backup.
3. Turn on iCloud Backup if it isn’t already turned on.
4. Make sure you are on a WiFi connection and tap Back Up Now
5. Check your backup by tapping Settings > iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage, and then select your device.

Apple offers more iCloud storage, such as 50GB for $1 per month, 200GB for $3 or $10 for 1TB. It may not sound like much of an expense, however, there are other ways to backup your photos and videos without paying a monthly fee (See Google Photos below). Remember, it is  vital that you are connected to WiFi during the backing up process, otherwise you can kiss your monthly data goodbye!

iTunes
Backing up via iTunes means you’ll need a Mac or PC and a USB cable to connect to your iPhone. Sounds like a but of a mission, huh? Your computer needs to already have iTunes on it for this to work, and if not, it takes about 500 MB of your WiFI to download.
Follow the below steps:

1. Open iTunes on your PC
2. Connect your iPhone to it using a USB cable
3. Click File > Devices > Backup

Using this method backs up your videos, photos, contacts, text messages and app data, however, it’s definitely not as seamless as doing it all on your phone.

Google Photos (applicable to both Apple and Android)


One of the biggest things on your phone that takes up the most amount of storage are your photos and videos. So why pay for more storage or mission to use your laptop when you can use Google Photos? The app is free to download and operates well on both iOS and Android. For iPhone users, download the version titled “Google Photos iOS”, however, the process is exactly the same for both operating systems, except you won’t need to do the third step if you’re on Android:

1. Tap the icon in the top left corner with the 3 lines
2. Choose Settings > Backup & Sync > ON
3. Go to your phone’s actual Settings > Privacy > Photos and turn on “Google Photos” to allow the app to have access to your camera roll

Don’t forget – you will need to be connected to WiFi when you upload all of your content to Google Photos, as the uploading process will certainly take a chunk of your data! What’s cool about once you’ve backed up your media to Google Photos is that once you take a new photo, it is automatically uploaded and stored with the rest of your photos and videos.

If you have an Android phone


Remember, you can use Google Photos to backup and store your photos and videos, but your data and settings will need a separate process found in your Settings.
Simply go to Settings > System > Advanced > Backup, then turn on your backup service, which is often Google Drive for Android phones. Your Drive will store:

1. Contacts, calendar
2. WiFi networks and passwords
3. Wallpapers
4. Gmail settings
5, Language, display, time and date
6. Apps and data for apps not made by Google

When you think of what is most important to you on your smartphone, make sure you’ve backed it up using the above steps. After all, living through our smartphones is never 100 percent reliable!

Stay informed via our blog or get social with us on Facebook!

How to stop Google location tracking from collecting information on you

How to stop Google from locating you

You might not know this but Google tracks your location and gathers information about you. However, living under a rock might just be the best way to stop Google from accessing your personal information.

Wait, why should I care about blocking Google from tracking me?


If you’re wondering why this may be so important to so many people, simply type into your browser “Google location tracking investigations” and you will find out why. Here’s the short version: Google promised smartphone users that if you turn off the “location history” setting on your device, they would no longer be able to track your location and use that information for their benefit. However, a damming investigation by the Associated Press found that that was not true. Google is still able to collect and store users’ data and geo-locations – a gross violation of your privacy used for corporate means. Just last year, Google’s ad revenue jumped by 20 percent to $95.4 billion thanks to location-specific advertising.
The violation has resulted in a number of law enforcers in the US and Europe filing lawsuits against Google. Google has already been fined $5 billion for breaking Europe’s antitrust laws. They’re also currently being investigated for its use of location tracking on devices that have turned off the feature.

Okay, I want to completely block Google from tracking me. How?


Now you can make a choice on how you can stop or minimise how much you’re giving to Google.

Turning off your location history will only stop Google from adding your location to its Google Maps Timeline. However, as we mentioned above, it still collects, stores and uses your geolocations. In order to stop this, you’ll need to access a well-hidden, vaguely-worded setting on your device: Web & App Activity. After going into the setting and selecting ‘off’, a warning message will pop up asking you to confirm that you are pausing your web and app activity. Click pause. Think you’re done? Nope. Then you need to access the Activity Controls Dashboard in your actual Google account. Here, you will need to toggle off Location History yet again. Now you’re finally freeeee!

So, why doesn’t turning off the Location History settings work in the first instance?


Well, unfortunately, it’s in the fine print that even when you turn off Location History, Google’s other apps, settings and services automatically collect location data. For example, any time you enter a word into your Google browser, it automatically picks up where the query is coming from, right down to the name of your road. Any time you use Wi-Fi (in public or not), Bluetooth, GPS or cell phone signal towers, Google gets your location.

iOS users are not immune. If you use the Google Maps app, a gmail account or have set Google as your default browser on your iPhone, then guess what? Google’s got you like a rabbit in a hat. Also, if you go into your settings, click into your Google Maps app – you will see that it asks you to provide your location “always”, “never” or “whilst using the app”. If you don’t manually change this, it stays on “always”.

Following the above steps will stop Google from accessing and using your location to their advantage, however, if you’re an Android user, you will find just how less useful your smartphone suddenly becomes. Since Android is Google’s exclusive operating system, limiting your location history settings will inadvertently limit the capabilities of your phone. At the end of the day, whether you’re an Android user or an iOS lover, it’s your choice.

If you’d like to learn more about which sites track, check out vpnMentor’s “Who’s Watching You?” tool. Share with is your thoughts on the matter by commenting below!

 

Where did your mobile data go? Six reasons for and solutions to your dwindling data

how to save mobile data

Where oh where hath our data gone wonder? That is the question we ask ourselves at the end of every month. No need to ponder – we know not everyone has access to free or uncapped WiFi. We’ve listed the most common ways your data says farewell, as well as our solutions to each one.

Apps that use background data


Background, what? Some apps that you’re not even using need data to remain updated, even if you aren’t using the app. If you go into your Settings, you’ll see every app you have and that it’s set to use data. When you’re in a WiFi zone, it won’t be a bother, but letting your data be used for this will be costly.

Solution: Manually turn off data usage for apps you don’t use often
To adjust your background data on an iPhone, go to Settings > Cellular > Apps using WLAN & Cellular. If you’re with Android, visit Settings > Wireless & Networks > Data usage. You will be able to manually deactivate data usage for every and any app you want on your phone.

Using Google Maps when traveling


Looking for a friend’s new apartment? Going on a road trip? Or even just lost in a new area? Using Google Maps uses a lot of data to be able to access your location and navigate as you travel. The app constantly sends and receive information to keep updated as you drive.

Solution: Download area maps before your travel
Google Maps on Android and iPhone lets you download area maps to your phone to use offline. Download the map to your phone before you leave so that you can find your way without chowing your data. Also, the Google Maps cache on an iPhone doesn’t need a data connection to function – simply enter the location into your Apple Maps in a WiFi zone and you’re good to go!

Just one more video won’t hurt!


We’ve all been there – bored out of my minds, scrolling through Facebook or YouTube to kill time, thinking that watching these short videos couldn’t possibly do damage to your data consumption. Little do you know that videos are one of the biggest eaters of the data pie!

Solution: Use streaming channels that allow offline usage
Long gone are the days where you have to play YouTube videos in full HD to play your favourite songs. Apple Music, Spotify and Google Play Music all allow you to create playlists offline and if you have storage space on your phone, you can download songs and movies to your phone to enjoy without using data.

You could also: Turn off autoplay on Facebook
This feature may only be applicable to iOS users, but nonetheless, it is helpful. When you’re scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed, videos are automatically set to start playing – even if you have no intention of watching them. On the iPhone, go to Settings > Facebook > Settings, scroll down to ‘Video’ and select ‘Autoplay on WiFi only’.

Browsing the internet on desktop version


This may sound a little obscure and obvious, but using a website’s mobile version instead of the desktop version on your smartphone actually uses less data – great for those who don’t have daily access to WiFi. Mobile versions also make it easier for you read and scroll through the information.

Luckily, mobile versions of websites are common and automatic as it can pick up that you’re accessing the site from a mobile device. For Facebook lovers, a data-friendly version of the app, called Facebook Lite, is available for Android users. It’s perfect for low-end phones and poor data connections, meaning less of your data will be used.

Automatic updates – and they’re daily


In order for you to enjoy your phone at its most, your Settings are configured to have automatic updates, meaning every single time one of your apps like Instagram, Facebook, Whatsapp or your banking app has a new release, your smartphone automatically installs the new release. Don’t think this takes up data? Think twice. Automatic updates can take place daily if you have more than four or five apps on on your phone, and that doesn’t include the ones that already come with your phone.

Solution: Manually select your updates
We’ve gotta shut this down to manual, sister. For iPhone users, head to your Settings > Mobile Data and then as your scroll down, you’ll see all of the apps using data. Manually turn off each one you want. Then for Android, you’ll find the settings in the Google Play Store: Settings > Auto-Update Apps. Here you may choose to disable auto-updates completely or only allow auto-updates on WiFi connectivity.

Addicted to social media?


It’s not uncommon these days to spend just as much time on social media during your day than you would on work. In fact, a 2018 study said 40% of social media users say it would be difficult to give it up. An additional 14 percent saying it would be extremely hard. The average person will also spent five years and four months just chilling on social media. If you think you’re heading in this direction, it’s time for an intervention.

Solution: Set yourself daily limits


Yes, there are apps to help you limit your data usage and therefore your time on social media, but come on – let’s be adults about this. Give yourself 15 minutes in the morning to scroll through your social media apps and then another 15 minutes in the evening after dinner. Another tip: Don’t look through your phone while you’re lying in bed waiting to get tired watching videos of how cats are better than dogs.

A general tip we’d like to share with you is to, once a week, enter a free WiFi area where you can do all of your app updates and social media meandering. This way, you’ll still be able to enjoy your smartphone without killing your data.

Stay posted to our blog for more cool posts or check out our website to buy or sell a used smartphone!

How to smarten up so that your phone doesn’t get hacked

anti-hacking smartphone tips

So you’re the guy with the nicest smartphone in your group of friends, but you may also be the guy who opens an email supposedly from your bank that asks you to enter your full password. (Sweet tip: Your bank will never email you to ask you to enter or change your password via an email. The safest way to access your account is through your banking app or the saved link in your browser). Before that happens, we’re here to save the day with our anti-hacking smartphone tips. After all, you can never be too smart!

Beware of free WiFi – it’s awesome, but not always trustworthy


You know that coffee shop you love so much because it offers free, uncapped WiFi? Well, just because it’s an establishment you trust, doesn’t mean the network can be trusted. Public WiFi literally means anyone can access it – including hackers who can see everything you’re doing, accessing any personal information as you enter it into your phone.

So how do they do it?
One way hijackers access your phone through public WiFi is through a process called “Man-In-The-Middle” (MITM), which is when a third party interrupts communications between two participants, your smartphone and a server. Instead of data being shared directly between you two, that link is broken by another element – the hacker. The uninvited hijacker then displays their own version of a site, adding in their own messages. Anyone using public WiFi is especially vulnerable to an MITM attack because the information being transmitted is often unencrypted, leaving your passwords, addresses and private messages exposed.

What to do: Use public WiFi, but safely
For the most part, accessing websites that start with “https” means that the data exchange between you and this website is encrypted. You can also use public WiFi in a safer way, such as turning off your file sharing and AirDrop options for iPhones, turning your WiFi off completely when you leave the connected area, only using public WiFi to check social media or blog updates (instead of doing your online banking), and if you already have anti-virus malware installed on your device, keep it updated to ensure any baddies who want to access it can’t.

Don’t let a stranger use your phone for a call


Believe it or not, it’s that quick. Someone can corrupt your smartphone or access your personal data within a few seconds of having it – all they need to do is copy-paste a link into your browser and your data is toast. We know it’s difficult to decipher who is a hacker or not because bad people come in all shapes and sizes, however, you’re going to have to trust your instinct when a stranger asks you to use your phone for a call.

Traveling Paris? So, you’re standing in front of the Eiffel Tower with a friend and at, some point, you’re going to want a full-length photo of your trip for your Insta page. What do you do? You ask a total stranger to stand a good 5 metres away from you to capture the moment. You don’t know it but you’ve potentially handed your phone to a hacker – so how can you avoid it and still get your photo?  Luckily, you can still take a shot with your screen locked, so make sure you hand your phone over on lock screen mode. (Another cool tip: Taking a pic on lock screen mode also means the photographer can’t see the last photo you took that’s often displayed in the bottom left corner.

See above: The left photo shows access  to your camera if your lock screen is not activated. The right photo shows that no access is given.

So how do they do it?
So, you’ve handed over your phone to a stranger, possibly without the lock screen activated. Renowned hacker and author of “The Art of Invisibility” Kevin Mitnick says that if a hacker has physical access to your phone like the aforementioned scenario, all they need to do is open your browser, type in ‘FlexiSPY.com’, down the software, and they will have access to your messages, photos, they can overhear your phone calls, and be notified of your location at any given time. Mitnick suggests always having the latest version of iOS and GoogleOS and a strong digitized password.

Speaking of cameras, how they can they be used to spy on you?


It says a lot when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and former FBI Director James Comey uses tape over their laptop cameras to stop hackers from spying on them. Think they’re being paranoid? They’re not. Digital Spy reports that the most common way hackers gain access to your microphone or FaceTime camera is through the use of Trojan horse malware that can be downloaded to your phone through something as simple you downloading a song, clicking a link, opening an email or any “innocent-seeming” activity. The malware lets hackers take control of your device, and can give them access to your camera – a very scary thought.

How to avoid this: Use a 6-digit password instead of four
From the good old ‘1,2,3,4’ to birth dates and anniversaries, 4-digit passwords just aren’t bringing it hard enough anymore. You’ve got to up your game with a 6-digit password! A longer, more complex password makes it harder for strangers and hackers alike to access your phone – just don’t complicate it so much that you constantly forget. You can also use a fingerprint or facial recognition login process, however, a digitized password is safer as your face or finger could be used against your will. Those hackers will need the tools of a Russian election meddler to get into your phone!

You could also: Use two-factor authentication for logins
Going through two steps to log into your banking app may sound unnecessary, but with such important personal information stored there, we can’t stress how necessary it actually is. Android phones have a fantastic feature that allows you to lock individual apps – so if anyone does get passed your lockscreen, they will have to encounter a second line of defense by entering another password. For iPhones, you can lock certain notes in your ‘notes’ app, such as passwords, card information and more, allowing only someone with the password to access it.

Don’t be the person who clicks a link from dodgy emails and SMSes


If receive an inbox message from your LinkedIn profile from a profile proposing a business venture, or, if you receive an SMS offering to increase your credit card limit by simply giving a few of your personal details, trust the voice inside of your that tells you opening it is not trustworthy.
Hackers and scammers are able to steal your identity, credit card information and even your home address just by you clicking on that link. A July 2018 report on Independent Online has warned Absa bank users of a new email scam doing the rounds that’s taking advantage of the company’s new logo design to catch customers. The email says it’s from Absa CEO Mario Ramos, however, it uses a “geien0080smtp@nokwi.co.za” address. The email invites you to check out the bank’s new PDF email statements, which is actually a link to a phishing scam website. “Once they have won your trust, they will then request sensitive information such as your card PIN, card CVV or online banking password. It is important to note that Absa will never contact customers and request sensitive information,” said the real Absa in a statement.
Android phones can sometimes be more susceptible to dodgy messages that come through apps, however, the App Store for iOS users offers total protection in this regard.

So how do they do it?
There’s a new text message scam called “smishing” that let’s thieves access your smartphone just by sending you a text message or email that sounds perfectly legit. For example, an SMS might pose as your bank letting you know that money has come out of your account, followed by a link or number to call if it wasn’t you. If you click the link or call the number, hackers will be able to access more of your person info. Unfortunately, you can’t stop smishing messages from being sent to your phone – but you can stop yourself from falling for them.

Haven’t updated your operating system?


We know those constant messages asking you to update your software are annoying, however, they serve a larger purpose. Software developers often upgrade the security measurements on a phone which each new update, even if it’s just a small change. Not keeping up to date leaves your phone open to hackers who are advanced enough to access your phone through flaws in the system thanks to a lack of updating.
If you’re an Apple user, connect your phone to WiFi, go to Settings, then General, then Software Update. However, if you’re an Android user, it’s a little more complicated as not all Android manufacturers release their monthly updates. Security software then becomes more important for Androids.

So how do they do it?
A July 2018 report in The Guardian spoke about a fault in the Bluetooth encryption process that smartphone makers didn’t fix or notice until recently. Apple, Google and Intel’s hardware are among those at risk if not updated immediately, according to the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) in the US. The flaw arises from a missing check on keys while data is encrypting. These are the “keys” that your device and the one you’re pairing with exchange to lock down communications so that outsiders can’t understand or steal the data you’re transmitting. Apple and Google are aware of the mistake and have corrected it in iOS 11.4 and ChromeOS and Android, so ensure your phone is updated!

Choosing a second-hand smartphone IS going green

going green

With the increased use of electronics, smartphones, laptops and tablets are contributing to the globe’s next pollution epidemic: electronic waste. Not everybody tosses their laptop or smartphone, but enough people do it to make e-waste a global phenomenon. The World Economic Forum has surmised that the US alone throws away 9.4 million tons of e-waste each year, including 152 million phones per annum.

So, how can people help eradicate the e-waste problem without knowing it? A sub-industry of the smartphone world is developing. Refurbished smartphones are taking on a second life instead of being thrown into the pile of e-waste that’s growing five times faster than the human population.

More smartphones, less raw materials

Let’s first talk about the materials that go into manufacturing a smartphone – some of them being non-renewable and toxic.

Each smartphone is made of plastic, metal and glass components: Plastic is derived from oil from drilling into the ground, which ends up at a manufacturer that creates parts for smartphones. Metals are extracted from mines, which are eventually transported using fuels to cellphone plants. Glass is made from silica that’s extracted from a quarry and eventually transported, in the same way, to manufacturers. All of these processes require water, a non-renewable resource, and also require transportation methods that aren’t exactly solar powered. Creating a smartphone also uses critical raw materials and precious earth metals like gold, silver, copper, palladium, tungsten and molybdenum – all non-renewable and all going to e-waste when a smartphone user dumps their phone. In addition to smartphones, it takes 530 pounds of fossil fuel, 48 pounds of chemicals and 1.5 tons of water to create one computer and monitor.

In the US alone, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has concluded that if one million cell phones are recycled, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, 33 pounds of palladium and 35,274 pounds of copper can be recovered. Each time a smartphone brand releases a new model, the earth’s raw materials take a knock, and the human desire to have the latest smartphone means that e-waste grows larger. In the face of all of this, Greenpeace’s electronics expert Manfred Santen suggested at the 2017 World Mobile Congress conference that it is time people start considering if they need a contract that gives them a brand new phone every 12 to 24 months.

Going used is going green


The used smartphone market is no longer just young adults trying to sell their old phones so that they have extra cash for the month. In 2018, it’s now a $17 billion industry that has a 50 percent year-on-year growth rate in units and a number of startups around the world that are taking the sale and purchase of second-hand smartphones into a professional space.

Aside of the industry’s massive potential and exponential growth rate, the second-hand trend is also becoming one of the most environmentally friendly ways to tackle e-waste. Deloitte has predicted that new smartphones purchased in 2016 will go on to have three or more owners, with units still being actively used in 2020 and beyond. So, according to the International Data Corporation, approximately 222.6 million second-hand devices will be actively used in 2020, instead of being added to the e-waste epidemic.

Although having a refurbished model instead of a new one may only prolong the life of a smartphone, e-waste expert Elizabeth Jardim from Greenpeace’s branch in the US says that having a second-hand phone is “the first step to responsibly handling phones as it reduces the amount of energy and raw materials used to make a new one. We advise to keep the phones in use for longer,” she told News24. Further experts  who spoke to The Star Online in the US believe that if a smartphone’s life was extended to five years instead of 12 to 24 months, the smartphone industry’s impact on global warming could be reduced by 30 percent, thanks to a saving in carbon dioxide expenditure.

So – regardless of the environmental factor, what’s the benefit of choosing second-hand?


The most immediate benefit is how much less it will cost you in both the short and the long term. According to the going price as of September 2018, you’ll be paying R7,999 upfront if you’re buying a new iPhone 6S. If you choose to sign a contract over 24 months, it’s a total of R619 per month (an eventual cost of R14,856).
When buying second-hand, you’ll be able to get the same phone for R3,000 – R4,000, depending on its condition. Furthermore, a contract will only cost you between R300-400 per month.

An inadvertent advantage of choosing a cheaper second-hand phone is that you’ll be paying less for more storage. Cellphone companies like Vodacom, Telkom and Cell C add an extra R100 or more every month to your contract just to upgrade you from a 32G to a 64G. Thanks to how Apple and Samsung are advancing the technology, smartphones are made to last and can run for years allowing second-hand resellers to offer up to 12-month warranties on used phones.
In all honestly, unless you’re getting paid to be an Apple or Samsung ambassador who advertises a lifestyle with the latest model, you don’t really need the smartest smartphone. Most of their models offer all of the features one would like in a smartphone – internet access, a good camera, a fair amount of storage, and the ability to download social media apps.

Swimming against the current


In 1954, long before smartphones were even a thought, American industrial designer Brooke Stevens pushed manufacturers to create products that would deliberately become obsolete or undesirable long before it breaks by releasing upgraded versions of the product every year. “A little newer, a little better, and a little sooner than necessary,” he said.

Fast forward to 2018, and it’s this philosophy, adopted by smartphone companies around the world, that’s fueling the addiction to have the smartest smartphone at any given time. As the title suggests, it is up to us to swim against this current by choosing a refurbished, second-hand smartphone or simply keeping our current phone for a longer period of time.