Mobile Phones

How can I keep my phone from always listening?

Episode 1452

Pat from San Gabriel, CA
Motorola Moto Z

Pat upgraded to a Motorola Moto Z with Android 7, but when he listens to music at home, it displays what he's currently listening to on the screen. How does it know? Leo says that the Android has an always listening feature that will pick up the ambient sound in the room and identify it. It's basically for the OK Google feature.

Pat had an issue with it playing a video unexpectedly as well. Leo says he can train it to just listen to only his voice, or he could even disable "OK Google" entirely. It'll be under Settings > Google.

Can I say no to Customs if they want to read my phone?

Episode 1451

John from Westchester, NY
US Customs and Border Protection

John is worried about traveling overseas and then having his mobile device or computer taken away and being forced to unlock it. Leo says it doesn't really happen all that often, though they do have the right to do it, and it hasn't been ruled on being unconstitutional just yet. He'll have to worry when they take his device into another room. Chances are, they've cloned the data or even installed something to monitor him. At that point, if he's security conscious, the only thing he can really do is replace the device to be sure he's secure.

How can I transfer data from my old iPhone to my new iPhone?

Episode 1451

Evelyn from Lake View Terrace, CA
Apple iPhone 8 and 8 Plus

Evelyn just got a new iPhone and wants to transfer all her settings and data from her old iPhone 5. Leo says the first thing she'll want to do is backup the old one in iTunes. Make sure to select encryption, because it won't backup her passwords without it. Then she can plug in her iPhone 8 and iTunes will then ask if she wants to restore. She can just select that, and then it'll backup her passwords, download the latest apps, and any other data she wants. Here's a support page from Apple on how to do it.

What Android phone should I buy?

Episode 1448

Scott from Hisperia, CA
Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Scott owns a Windows Phone, but he's tired of people making fun of them and Microsoft has killed it. So he's ready for a new phone. Should he go with Android or Apple? He doesn't trust Google, but he'd prefer an SD card option. Leo says the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is the ideal phone for Scott. It takes an SD card, has a large screen, and has a stylus. If he doesn't want the stylus, the Samsung Galaxy S8+ is very close in size.

Why doesn't T-Mobile insure the iPhone X?

Episode 1448

Mike from Tinley Park, IL
Apple iPhone X

Mike got an iPhone X on T-Mobile from the Apple Store. He took it to T-Mobile to activate it, but found out that T-Mobile won't insure it. Leo says that's because Mike bought it from Apple, not T-Mobile. So Apple Care applies. Leo tends to self-insure because extended warranties are profit centers for the seller. But the iPhone X is very expensive to repair or replace. So he does make an exception with Apple Care, but he'll want to get Apple Care Plus. If he breaks it once, it's probably going to pay for itself.

How can I get notified audibly that I got a call?

Episode 1445

Lee from Big Bear, CA
Phone notification

Lee wants to know how he can be notified of a call on his iPhone 7. Leo says that if he looks at his phone icon, he'll see a red dot with the number of calls. Then he can tap it and see what calls he missed. What about an audio notification? Leo says that If This Then That may be able to give him what he needs. He should try the iPhone app, but Apple is pretty restrictive on opening up the iOS architecture. So that could be something it just won't let him do.

Why is my mobile phone camera so pixelated?

Episode 1444

John from Long Beach, CA
Samsung Galaxy S7

John bought a Samsung Galaxy S7 to capture video and share it online. But when he records, he sees a lot of pixelation in it. Leo says it sounds like an odd compression issue. Leo advises trying different settings and using a different video camera app. He should also try a lower resolution or he should change the frame rate. If the issue persists, then it could be something called "macro-blocking" where a solid color like a sky ends up looking banded as a result of video compression. Cinema FV-5 could solve it also.

The Best Phone of the Year

Episode 1444

Apple iPhone X

The holidays are a time where product releases and tech news slow down. This gives technology reporters a chance to look back over the year and come up with winners and losers. This is also when reviews really get into the nitty-gritty of what works and what doesn't. Looking at candidates for Phone of the Year, Leo says that there's plenty of contenders.