What Can You Do With Your Old Smartphone?

Have you ever really thought about what you can do with your old smartphone(s) when it’s time you’ve decided you no longer want it? You’ve pulled it out of that dusty drawer and now you don’t know what to do with it. Who knows, maybe you have a few smartphones stashed away somewhere? It’s not your fault, technology moves quickly or maybe your phone is at the stage of burnout. Well, I have a few ideas of what you can do with your old smartphone besides giving it away to large corporations that already make tons of money anyways. 

Did you know – just because there is no cell service on your old smartphone(s) that doesn’t make it completely nonfunctional? 

Don’t forget your smartphone is basically a mini computer. If it’s still working, it may still have some uses. Sure, it might be a little slow, but there are quite a few things you can do with it. And don’t you dare think of throwing it in the garbage can because at this point in time,  we damn well know that’s just messed up and it’s definitely not the answer. Here are some ideas of what you can do with it instead: 

Think of it like spring cleaning. Before you decide on whatever you want to do with your old device, perform a backup of your precious data and head over to settings and complete a reset by erasing ALL content and settings. This is final so make sure you have EVERYTHING that’s important off there and on somewhere that’s safe and easily accessible so you can live with no regrets. If you end up giving it away or do keep it after all, a reset will refresh everything and make that device feel good again – like spring, a nice feeling of renewal.

  1. Giving it away/donating. If you are thinking about giving it away, either to family or friends, or even donating it, you should see how the phone’s overall performance is. Old devices are usually stored in that old drawer for a reason after all 🙂 Even though you’re giving it away for free, if it can be helped, you should never give away a phone to anyone who is going to be completely clueless to what they are getting, because that just wouldn’t be fair. Do a little testing first.

Give the phone a complete charge, and once it’s reached 100% charge it for another two hours to ensure you’re giving it a really good charge. Once the battery is fully charged, unplug it. If you haven’t already, connect to wifi. Play around with the phone a little bit to see how it’s functioning. Check the battery percentage – does it seem to be holding a decent charge? Or is it draining too quickly? Make a test phone call to make sure the speaker and microphone are working correctly. Since there will most likely be no cell service you can download an app like Google Hangouts or Skype to do a check phone test. If all seems to be good with the device, you’re ready to give it away, partially tested for the new user. Since you already deleted your data, you are being responsible and won’t have to worry about any of your data being leaked. 

If the device seems to be functioning poorly, you can still give it away but you should let the next user or company know some of the known issues that you found out while testing. 

  1. Selling. If you still don’t know what to do with your device at this point, consider selling it. You will want to do a little more in-depth testing with the device to make sure everyone is happy on both ends. But don’t let that discourage you –  knowing the health of the phone will help you a lot when it comes time to sell your old device. Since you already backed up your data and reset all settings to factory default, by now you should already know the status of the battery sound and speaker. You might want to make note of the body. Are there dents, scratches? Check the charging port, is there any corrosion, or is the port loose or wobbly when plugged in? Things like this are very important in an ad and are very important to a buyer, so you want to provide as much detail as possible. Testing your device’s software and hardware has never been simpler than just downloading an app. Kinda weird right? I recommend downloading a helpful app diagnostics tool that will diagnose any issues with your device. For iPhone I use “Phone Diagnostics” (created by Test & find Repair Shop) and for Android I use “Phone Check and Test” (created by inPocket Software). These apps have helped me a lot and almost always provide accurate information. Once the tests are done, this app will help you know more about your phone and will help with your decision on the price your phone is worth. 

Occasionally I come across good deals on smartphones. Sometimes they are fixable, while others are just not worth my time. When I do come across the ones that are not worth my time, lately I’ve been thinking of things I can do with them so they don’t turn out to be completely worthless. When I say not worth my time, I mean cracked screen and battery issues to the point where the only way the phone is slightly usable is by having it plugged in all of the time or at least most of the time. Once you get connected to wi-fi, here are some ideas you can try to get the most out of that expensive smartphone when you don’t know what to do with it or it feels like there’s nothing left:

  1. iPhone/Android smartphone media entertainment centre. Stream video or audio from your phone to TV, speakers or headphones – and there are a few ways to do this by turning your old smartphone into a media centre!

For TV – HDMI or Airplay. Once connected you can mirror your screen to the TV. This is good for many reasons. You can stream horizontally for the full widescreen size effect. There are so many apps to choose from in the App Store, not just iTunes – Netflix, Amazon, sports and even more to stream your favorite TV apps. 

Music player: Speakers. Turn your smartphone into a music player. Your old device will probably support Bluetooth. Connect your favorite Bluetooth speaker to your old smartphone and turn it into nothing but a MP3 player to listen to your favourite tunes out loud! The App Store has so many music apps to choose from – Apple Music, Spotify and your favorite Radio apps. Who knows what else you can find when you search music!

Music Player: Headphones. Same idea as the speakers, but with the sound in. Have a great experience with just your old smartphone and a pair of headphones. Don’t limit yourself to music – you can enjoy some peace and quiet while meditating with your favorite meditation apps. Nothing else to disturb you when it’s just a music player instead of a fully functioning smartphone.

  1. A real dedicated gaming device. How many of you currently have games on your smartphone? Probably most. Turning your old smartphone into a gaming centre is the perfect solution for your mobile gaming needs, especially if you want to save some space on your current device. Mobile games take up a lot of space, so why not transfer them to your old device and organize your mobile gaming library?
  2. E-book reader. If you don’t mind reading on a small screen, this could be a cheap solution for e-book lovers. Turn your old smartphone into an e-reader by using the Kindle or Kobo app or downloading PDFs into your files. This option also gives you more storage space for all those books. 
  3. A universal remote. Most digital media players offer remote apps – Apple, Roku and Amazon Fire TV to name a few. Download these apps on your old device and you have yourself a handy universal remote! 
  4. Security camera. If you don’t already know, home security cameras can be expensive. If someone (or something)  is lurking around your home at night, be it on two feet or four, you should be able to have the luxury of a camera to detect any intruders. Well, if you have an old smartphone laying around, you can turn it into a home security camera for basically 0 dollars! Try to make it as discreet as possible. 
  5. Kids camera. Let’s be honest here. Kids take terrible pictures – their arms aren’t fully developed, their pictures are blurry and out of focus and just generally bad, and it’s not their fault. Get them familiar with your old smartphone – that way when they are older they will be ready to whip that smartphone camera out like a pro. 
  6. GPS. It should be connected anyways, so if you need a GPS this could be a great solution for a road trip in the car or just biking around the city. Make sure to test it before leaving home.
  7. Money making device. If you like to make some money on the side, your old device could bring you in a small amount of dough. There are apps you can download that will allow you to watch videos, play games and more in exchange for points you can redeem for rewards such as gift cards or PayPal payments. To save wear and tear on your primary device, you can run these apps on your old smartphone instead. Cha-ching!! 😉

And if you really don’t know what to do with it – please, recycle it the proper way. A certified company will know exactly what to do with it. Be kind to our planet, let’s not pollute it with more e-waste.

Buyers Tips – Reliable Phone Cases: What I Recommend For Your Smartphone Apple or Android Devices

Your smartphone tags along with you everywhere you go. Do you drop your phone often? Are you up for an adventure if your case doesn’t do the job protecting it from falls? Or… do you even believe in case protection at all?

What is your idea of the perfect phone case? What makes you choose the perfect one?
Is it.. Protection? Durability? Looks? Comfortability? Price? What do you specifically go for when you want to dress up your phone? Maybe you aim for them all but can you find one that does it all?

The real question is, what SHOULD you be looking for when buying a case if you’re serious about protection? Price doesn’t matter – you need to pay attention to certain details when looking for this stuff and sometimes it’s tough.

Here are some keywords to look for when shopping for a reliable case:

Durability
Protection from impact
Dual layer
Grip
x foot drop protection
Military grade protection
Shock barrier

Everything else you get is just an extra bonus 😉

Let’s start with the packaging – what does the packaging say about the case? This can tell you a lot about the product… have a close look at it. Get to know the brand. Does the packaging do a good job of advertising the product? If the description looks like it’s done up quick or there’s not much of one at all, but the case looks pretty and dope while also looking sorta thin and cheap – it probably is and it might not protect you fully. You should have something reliable.

Look to see if it would be slippery in your hands or slide around on a surface. Does it look like cheap plastic? Can you see any grips on the back? It should have a slightly thick-ish solid rubber to protect from falls. That’s what really prevents your device from being damaged. This is what I mean by not worrying about the price. At Dollarama they sell different cases for iPhones and some of them seem to be decent enough for the price. Before you buy it, have a look at the company – check out what they got going on Google. The case should have a thicker edge and look like it’s got some grip on the back. If you can spot these two things, you should be good to go. Don’t worry, you can cheap out on some of these. If you buy the right one from Dollarama, it will do a decent job. These are okay to buy. I mean, not everyone can afford a somewhat expensive phone case.

Often when devices see the tech trainers, it’s because of shattered screens. If the phone drops and it lands on the corner, it’s definitely going to smash or crack the screen. Certain cases do a great job at protecting against these things. If the case doesn’t have a pre-installed built-in screen protector, you should consider tempered glass for maximum protection.

My new favorite smartphone company is Speck and I think I will be sticking with them. When I look for a case, I want something that offers solid grip and good protection, but I also appreciate having a colorful design. I need a case with a good grip that feels comfortable in my hand since I use my phone for hours on a daily basis. It’s a good feeling when you find an honest brand to know your device is safe from falls. I’ve had so many phone cases, I’m tired of dealing with new ones.

Candyshell Grip — Designed For Impact
Drop-tested: Meets or exceeds military standards
No-slip grip: Raised rubber grips for secure hold and confident control
Dual-layer impact protection: Exterior layer disperses impact while interior layer absorbs shock
Bezel screen protection: Raised bezel protects screen from impact

This company seems to be promising. I decided to look on Twitter to see what the latest tweets were under keyword “Speck case” and I came across someone’s tweet that said they had dropped their phone from a three-storey apartment and their phone survived intact. That’s crazy good. Their device was being protected with Speck. So yeah, it’s got to be good.

You don’t have to be, but you should be slightly concerned if your phone isn’t fully protected. These devices are super expensive; who wants to spend extra money and waste time dealing with problems caused by accidental falls? Certainly not me – I do care about my sanity. Are you one that has spent numerous dollars on smartphones because of accidents? Think about it, some of these phones are just as much as rent for the month. You break your phone accidentally and you end up having to buy a new one on top of paying all your other bills. Investing in the right protection for such a valuable device seems like a wise decision to me.

Why Are Emojis So Hard To Find on Smartphones/Tablets?

I know most of you reading this can relate. If you’re looking for an emoji or especially a specific emoji… good luck finding it in under 40 seconds. You keep thinking, “yeah, I believe I saw a fairy or a pair of socks somewhere in this list but I’m not 100 % sure.”

Preinstalled system keyboard emojis are VERY UNORGANIZED imo.

It should be a very easy thing to do, to find the emoji you’re looking for. But with the preinstalled keyboards the emojis are all over the place, therefore trying to quickly find that specific emoji is hard. I just want to get on with it, not have to scan my eyeballs for that certain emoji, keeping scrolling and scrolling. Ha! It’s bad enough the emojis are small and hard to see on top of all that in the small boxed area. Okay, sure, then there’s the Frequently Used tab for the emojis you use the most, but finding the perfect emoji within all the pages to scroll from for your message is just a pain.

Emojis are POPULAR. They are a big thing being used by millions of users each and every day. Businesses have also come a long way using emojis in the business world. (Weird right?) But mostly if you post and interact on social media, you will find that emojis come in handy.

I use a lot of different emojis throughout the day. I’m so tired of scrolling through them when they are so unorganized. It seriously does take up some time. On my last straw of finally getting frustrated that finding emojis takes way too long, I had to see what can be done about it. Thankfully, I came across a few apps that will make your emoji productivity much easier. At first when I started using the app it sure was a breeze. An easy search for the emoji you are looking for and it’s right there, right away and you don’t have to worry about your poor little eyeballs scanning the screen trying to find that certain emoji and no more soaking up too much of your time.

Here is the first option I tried:

Gboard – The Google Keyboard
Android: Rating: 4.5 – ‎5,675,271 votes
iOS: Rating: 4.1 – ‎26,947 reviews

The bad: It’s a great keyboard but it doesn’t work properly. I tried it out, but it seems there is some glitchy stuff going on. The keyboard freezes at random times and the app seems to crash at times when you are typing.

It’s not just an emoji finder, there’s more. Within the keyboard you can also find GIFs, Google Search, Translate, YouTube, Maps and Contacts. You can also customize your theme to any picture in your album. There are also lots of customization tweaks you can choose in the keyboard settings.

If you depend on emojis and don’t want to waste time, this will still make a good option. If you find the app buggy, you can always switch back to the default keyboard and just use this one for emoji hunting.

Another app you can try (but not for free) is Fixmoji. US Apple Store also has EmoKey, although it is not available in Canada.

Apple, please make a search button for iOS so we don’t have to install weird apps on our devices. I know you believe in security, right? Protect us from weird 3rd party and give us what we ask for! I think adding a search button is within reason 🙂 And please don’t add anymore emojis until you’ve considered a search button – I just can’t take anymore being added without them properly being organized.

A World Full of Digital Ads and Annoying Pop-ups Also Can Be Known as Malware

Ads think they are quite sharp; the sad thing is, they are. It’s not that I don’t like advertising – it’s that the advertising isn’t relevant to me. The random pop-ups that appear out of nowhere annoy me the most, and that seems to happen quite often. Pop-ups are flooding our screens and ruining our browser experiences. Nowadays most devices we use are FILLED with ads and pop-ups. Almost every page or app out there has some kind of advertising attached to it. While some ads can be tolerated, there are quite a few out there that are annoying and often may be completely irrelevant to you. It’s very frustrating when you are trying to do something and they pop up, get stuck, slow the computer down, blast your ears with random audio and just plain harass you when you are just trying to browse. You have to do whatever it takes to get rid of them before you can return to what you were doing.  As you can see, they do a great job of distracting you from what you were trying to do in the first place. We’ve all been there.

Let’s take ads on a blog or website for example. Chances are if it’s an irrelevant ad, it’s going to be a distraction, or the visitor may not return back to the link.  When I looked at my website, I couldn’t believe that I saw some weird wormy ad. I wasn’t given the option to choose… why the hell is that there? No one wants to see some weird wormy like thing on the side of my page. Out of all the options in the world why do I have to have that as a choice? Seriously, these things interrupt train of thought and it’s distracting and disturbing.

Ads have evolved, that’s for sure. I don’t recall ever using the public washroom and all of a sudden there’s some blasting audio coming out of nowhere, just to find out it’s coming from your own pocket. What the…?! I just closed ALL my apps. Why is there strange audio coming from who knows where out of my phone. And why? It’s completely stupid.

What are ads? Not all are bad, but a lot of them can be dangerous. They get pushed into your devices when you browse or download certain apps and programs. If you click on a pop-up ad it could be attaching malware to your devices – without you even knowing it. You really need to be careful what you are clicking on, but sometimes accidental clicking happens.

Most ads are devious, manipulative and try to stalk you by following and invading our privacy while being sneaky about it. Do you find it a bit ridiculous? I do. It’s weird, creepy and strange.

Is there anything we can do about it that’s straightforward and not complicated? Not really. You won’t be able to completely stop getting ads online. However, you can try to prevent unwanted ads by checking over your settings, exercising caution when you browse, and being extra careful when clicking and downloading.

There should be better choices for us when it comes to ads being targeted at us. We can’t do much, but we can try our best when we are given options to choose from.

Here are some tips:

1) If you are using Gmail – open your browser and log into your Gmail account. Click on your name bubble on the top right-hand side. A drop-down menu should appear. Click on “Manage your Google Account”. A new browser window will open. Here you will see that you have lots of options to have better control over your account.

On the left-hand side there are 6 options: Home, Personal Info, Data & Personalization, Security, People & Sharing, and Payments & Subscriptions.

I would go through all of them just to make sure everything is set how you want it and just to confirm that everything is correct. You have the choice(s) to help make your Google account and your experience more useful to you that might help your browsing experiences and security. You might be surprised what you find in there.

2) Turning off pop-ups. For Chrome: On your Chrome browser, click the 3 vertical dots on the top right-hand side. Click Settings, then go down to Advanced – Privacy and Security – click Site Settings. Click Pop-ups and Redirects. Now disable it. You do not need to be signed in to do this.

For Safari: Open your browser. On the top left-hand side click Safari and then click Preferences. Choose Websites and click on Pop-up Windows.

Keep in mind some websites will require you to have pop-ups enabled in order to use their websites or services.

3) Clearing your cache and history – this applies to all web browsers – and might be really annoying to do every time you start and finish browsing. But you should always clear your history and clear the cache.

4) Browse in incognito mode – when browsing in incognito mode, your browser won’t store any data. This is good for keeping your privacy safe. And especially use incognito mode if you are doing banking on the net. It’s important to protect your financial well-being.

Windows/Android users – will an antivirus protect your browsers and devices from bad pop-ups and malware? Yes, there is antivirus software out there that will promise to protect you from malware but for some devices and browsers, it might not always work. You might have to adjust your settings for some browsers and programs. In the long run, it might give you more headaches. I would stick with the built-in Windows Defender for PC and use your common sense when using Android. Don’t be silly and click or install things that don’t make sense or have bad reviews. Don’t take the risk. If the website or app looks strange, chances are it probably is. Compare websites and apps that look professional vs not so professional. If it doesn’t look that great, it probably isn’t. Don’t just click, know what you are clicking. There are WAY TOO MANY tricks on the internet for you to just be clicking – think it through.

Apple users – Yes, it is possible to get malware on your devices. However, the chances are very low. When choosing Apple there is less of a chance for your devices to get infected with malware. Apple has great safety precautions and amazing software to keep you safer on all their devices.

In the meantime, Google says by August 5, 2020, they will block invasive video ads and do a better job of online advertising.

It’s important that we take care of our devices. Are they cheap? No. Expensive – absolutely. Since you can’t stop ads completely, do your best to try and make them less annoying today! Here’s to hoping Google will keep their word and get these ads a little more under control!