by Joel Saltzman
Maybe I have a bad device because most of my friends love their iPhone X models. There is no question that the last Samsung S8+ Smartphone I used, blew the doors of my iPhone for battery life and pure screen beauty. Apple will never be able to convince me that my crappy iBuds work as good as my wired JBL headset does. As I travel quite a bit, it really pisses me off that it is now impossible for me to charge my iPhone X, while listening to music or movies on airplanes. That's because Apple's brilliant engineers claimed they could not "waterproof the iPhone without removing and replacing the 3.5mm jack with their lightning port.". Well Samsung and others had no problem waterproofing their devices without removing this industry standard connection.
It's all about selling accessories which Apple is very good at. Ever notice that after doing an "Apple iOS upgrade", that charger that's worked great up until now suddenly gives an error message that "This device may not be supported"? It's no coincidence. I no longer do software upgrades, unless they address a major security flaw or issue that I am having. In other words, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"!
The above is not to say don't get an iPhone X. If I was to buy another one knowing what I know, I would avoid the higher end models with AMOLED screens and get the less expensive XR model with TFT, or even an iPhone 8.I am now using my old iPhone 6+ while awaiting repair on my iPhone X. I feel like I've reunited with an old girlfriend who knows what I love. Apple told me that I no longer needed a HOME button. I think they are wrong on this too. It may be time to grab a deal on an Android 9 or 1o and go back to the darkside.
I've been in the consumer electronics industry since 1975. Usually newer models add features, faster speeds, and greater functionality. It seems like Apple may be the exception to this rule. About 8 years ago, I replaced an iMac computer that I was using with an HDMI cable to turn my 55" Mitusbishi Flat screen into an iMac on Steroids. All was great and I decided to do the same for another Flatscreen in my office. Well, the newer version of the iMac, did away with the DVD recorder/player, yet is the exact same size. Why did they do this?
They did the same thing on the newer MacBook Pro models. They also eliminated the Apple logo that lights up on many models. Before you trade on your old Apple model for a new one, do your homework. The same thing happened to the iPhone 7. Remember Apple saying that they had to remove the industry standard 3.5mm jack in favor of their new lightning port connection. Well, I use a JBL set of headphones when I fly to drown out engine noise and relax. With my iPhone 6s+, I could easily plug in and charge at the same time. This is not possible with the newer iPhones. The first time I flew back to Los Angeles with my iPhone X, I had to take a taxi cab because Lyft was not an option with a totally dead iPhone. Ironically, Samsung, the provider of Apple's AMOLED screens, had no problem waterproofing their devices and maintaining their use of the 3.5mm jack. I believe someone at Apple thought this was a great idea that would force all of the current 3.5 headset solutions into retirement so they can sell more of their wireless earbuds. These are cool but are not in the same league as a wired pair of high fidelity headphones. Yeah, they make an adaptor, but you still cannot charge and it's just another thing you carry around and will lose. I cannot keep those wireless earbuds from falling out of my ears, especially in between my seats. Ugh!
The above has never been more true than on the original iPhone X model (A-1865 series). It appears there are two downsides to moving to the newer. Improved" model. Unless you have been living under a rock or don't follow technology, Apple and Qualcomm have been at war. The problem is Qualcomm had always been Apple's primary chip provider. They have the market cornered and their SnapDragon processors are the fastest and best available. Unfortunately Qualcomm is very aware of that and charges a premium for these. Apple recently decided to give their competitor, Intel, who offers a cheaper processor., the bulk of their business. Apple won't admit it but independent testing has shown the Qualcomm processor to be much faster than the Intel replacement.
If that wasn't enough to dampen your upgrade spirits, how about this...
Not only does the older model A-1865 series have a superior processor, it is a true global device whereas the newer A-1901 series offers a GSM-only experience with the slower Intel processor. What all this means is this. The MSRP of these devices is the same starting at $999.99 up depending on 64GB or 256GB. The resale value though and performance will be better on the A-1865 series (Verizon, Sprint) versus the A-1901 (AT&T, T-Mobile). Fortunately, in the US, both of these models work fine pretty well. In fact, Verizon is moving away from CDMA altogether.
Interestingly, in Germany the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 are now being offered with the Qualcomm chip set since they are suing Apple over there for patent infringement. Evidently, the only way they can continue to sell these devices is with Qualcomm's processor.
I soured on Apple about the time they did away with their 3.5mm Headset jack for their "proprietary" Lightning connector. This would not have been as bad as it was but Apple took away the option of charing your iPhone while listening to wired headphones. They try to convince everyone that their wireless earbuds are as high fidelity as wired but this is a lie.
Glueing in batteries and inventing their own proprietary screws clearly show Apple does not want anyone else fixing their products. I've personally had bad experiences in their stores and have heard horror stories. Not to say there are not unethical 3rd party repair shops but that is the best way to go.
Apple has even threatened legal action against third party companies that publish repair schematics for their products. They have previously done some nasty stuff without disclosing to their customers. The most egregious was probably when they admitted to slowing down performance of older iPhones.
While I prefer the device technology that SAMSUNG Smartphones offer, I'm stuck with Apple because I prefer the stability and security of Apple's iOS. I would never trust them for doing any out of warranty repairs. I have had a number of cases where they told me devices were unrepairable because of water damage and my personal 3rd party Apple expert fixed them easily. For two decades, I have utilized Mobile Fix Center to do all SmartPhone and Computer repair work for myself as well as all of our Dr Wireless clients. If you need any type of Smartphone or computer repair, ask for Jerry Fung. He's the best! You could take your out of warranty work to Apple but why? Here's a good reason not too.
Recently, there has been much confusion as to who is offering what. Using the term "Unlimited" is one thing, offering Unlimited 4G Data service is another. All of these companies paint their plans as the same but they are far from it. Now that Sprint is getting purchased by T-Mobile, that will leave 3 major carriers, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, There are also some smaller regional carriers and many, many Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) out there. MVNOs resell and bill for service they get from the major carriers. They come and go as they don't seem to have the long term longevity of the major carriers. As each is competing directly with them, don't expect much customer service. Even though these MVNOs may use a great network like T-Mobile or Verizon, it's not the same as going directly with the carrier, regardless of how big they are. After all Disney and ESPN both attempted and failed at the MVNO game. The reality is customer service from most carriers these days is exceptional.
The big problems with MVNOs is they don't own or operate their own networks. If you need help, calling the carrier directly is not an option. They will give you the phone number to the reseller and that is it. If the resellers support is no good, hanging up and calling back will likely give you the same person. Spectrum is the latest MVNO that jumped into the Cellular business. Since all the wireless carriers like to start their individual plans at the $70 mark, these guys came out with a $45 per line deal. For single line users, that's not a bad deal but if you are a large data user like me, it sucks. Not because of the wireless network, that's Verizon's. It's the fact that Spectrum will throttle your speeds down at 20GB. That's less than all the major carriers and not even half of the 50GB of 4G LTE T-Mobile gives their customers. Don't expect free global data and texting and many other features offered for FREE that the carriers offer their direct customers. Spectrum also utilizes wifi hotspots which may or may not be as secure as using encrypted cellular services.
Today, both T-Mobile and Verizon offer three types of Unlimited plans. Typically, the leader plans offer 480p resolution whereas the higher plans go to 720p or 1080p. This not important on a 4" screen but for those who would use a micro HDMI to HDMI cable to watch Netflix from their Smartphone to a 65" monitor, it's huge. The higher the resolution the better a large screens image will be.
Since I am often asked what plan I'm on personally, here it is...
Assuming your also a geezer like me, T-Mobile's 55+ Senior plan is their best kept secret, and by far, the best deal out there. It offers one Unlimited line for $50 which is fair but two Unlimited lines for $60 which is stellar.
Initially, they only allowed for two lines but I believe they will now allow a third line now for $35.
Anyone in the military can usually get a military discount, usually about 15% off, if you don't ask, you won't get.
Lately, it seems that 90% of all of my inbound calls are robocalls. One of the benefits of using a voIP phone system is screening out these calls. I have mine set up to give them two chances to choose an extension or they will be disconnected. I have one series of numbers that calls me everyday, even though I have blocked them. I have registered all of my numbers on the DONOTCALL government registry but to no avail. It's usually about my business not being listed properly with Google, or I won a trip to Disneyland in Orlando. Unless our business relies on inbound calls, the best solution is to not pick up the phone if the call is blocked or the number calling is unrecognized. After all, that's what voicemail is for. There are call screening features and even an application that allows you to get revenge by engaging robots to waste their robots time. Granted this is not free but well worth it to some folks.
This time of year, it's not just guys breaking into cars in mall parking lots. Cybercrime is the new problem. It's far easier to break into your bank, credit card, or computer than your car these days. My wife gets phishing attempts almost daily. Yesterday, she received an e-mail supposedly claiming that she needs to change her Apple ID do to multiple log -in attempts. They wanted her to click on a "reactivate" link that was likely malware. The easiest way to validate this stuff is to wave your mouse over the return e-mail address. In this case, it was a dead giveaway that it did not come from Apple.
From: Apple <email@example.com>
Date: December 12, 2018 at 2:06:47 AM PST
Subject: Apple ID Deactivated
Also... Never, ever, ever click on any links you find in e-mail for businesses that you currently have relations with, be it banks, e-bay, Paypal, or any other organization. It's always far safer to launch your browser and open a fresh page to play it safe.
If you utilize a credit card machine, be it a bank ATM or a gas station pump, you are a giant target. Always pay a human being in the store or have them run your card, especially in areas where there is not an attendent or clerk watching 24/7. That's because more and more "bad hombres" are using "Skimmers" that attache and emulate the slot you slide your card in. These illegal devices steal your credit card information and are far more common than you would think. Juat ask your local police department.
Lastly, one good way to protect yourself is to use double authentication when possible. This means an additional 6 ditit code is required before anyone can access or make any changes on your account.
After using a Samsung S8+ for a while, I came back to Apple and have been using an iPhone X for the last few months. Personally I found the Samsung Super AMOLED display better than Apple's OLED display which should come as no surprise. Samsung makes them for Apple. Maybe it's the stainless steel but I was also surprised that the smaller iPhone X was also substantially heavier. Despite the fact that I preferred the Samsung hardware, it was the stability and reliability of Apple' iOS that I found the deal breaker. That being said, I was fairly happy with the performance of my iPhone X,... until last night...
I reached for my phone on my night table and noticed this bright green line from top-to-bottom. After doing a soft reset and not being able to get rid of it, I decided to google "Iphone with green line". As Gomer Pyle used to say, "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise! There were at least 25 other folks experiencing the same phenomenon. Word has it that Apple does not want to acknowledge they have a major problem with their OLED displays. It appears that their "geniuses" are quietly replacing these displays as that is the only fix.
Combine the fact that the newest iPhone Xr has a souped up LCD screen instead of the more expensive OLED, 600mHZ T-Mobile support, and a far more attractive price tag, this may be the best iPhone. As I have not used one of these yet, i will be keeping an eye on Apple chat rooms to see if there are any issues. So far, so good!
Do you want to know why this crap pisses me off so much? It's because I have been on both sides of this coin and have a better understanding about this than most people. For 28 years, I activated phones for the wireless carriers. Simply stated, here is why we are here now...
Initially, the carriers made money on the monthly plan charge, minute charges, text charges, and roaming charges. With no less than 4 major carriers competing for your business, competition drove the rates. Today, minutes are unlimited, text is unlimited and data is unlimited. Many carriers like T-MOBILE even offer free global text and data which eliminates roaming charges. If you are a carrier, the question is, how do you stay profitable. Most upsell high resolution add-ons and now sell content. Taking away neutrality will cost consumers and make it harder for small rural providers and small content providers from competing with the big boys.
Today I'm an independent wireless consultant and work hard to protect my clients from getting ripped off by these mega cable and wireless carrier giants as well as their political hacks. Regardless of which side of the political aisle you sit, President Trump and his FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, did you no favor by repealing all of the great things that his predecessor, Tom Wheeler accomplished. I find much irony in the fact that Tom Wheeler, a former FCC Chairman, had previously been the president of the CTIA (Cellular Telephone Industry Association) before becoming FCC chairman. All of the major carriers seemed initially thrilled with Mr Wheeler getting installed as the FCC Chairman. That was until he began to take his job seriously and instead of doing what was best for them, he did what was best for public, at their expense. Mr Wheeler protected consumers and small startups trying to compete by establishing a level playing field.
Enter Jerry Brown, California governor, with an even stronger internet neutrality ruling. What's cool is the governor's law went even further than the previous rules that the Trump administration eliminated. It also prohibits promotions known as zero rating, that give unlimited streaming of certain sites for free but charge for others. Ask yourself how could eliminating internet neutrality possibly be a good thing for consumers.
It hasn't even been a week yet and already the lawsuits are being filed against Jerry Brown's California state initiative to bring back the Net Neutrality laws that pinhead FCC commissioner Ajit Pai repealed. For those who don't know what this means, simply stated, it's all about protecting the consumer. Net Neutrality prevented the big cable companies and cellular carriers from cutting sweetheart deals with some content providers at the expense of others. Do you think for a minute that companies like Netflix, and Hulu could have ever become what they are today if they had to overcome Net Neutrality? The Justice Department didn't even wait until Monday, filing their suit on a Sunday.
It appears California pioneers lots of changes that end up going nationwide. After all, were we not responsible for auto emission laws. The Keebler elf himself, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, said that California’s net neutrality law was illegal because Congress granted the federal government, through the F.C.C., the sole authority to create rules for broadband internet providers.“States do not regulate interstate commerce — the federal government does,” Mr. Sessions said in a statement. “Once again the California legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy.”
Remember, this is the guy with the 1950's reefer madness mentality. He is still trying to roll back state cannabis legalization and would still prosecute medical cannabis patients if he could, despite dozens of states advocating this. Unless you are Comcast, Spectrum, Frontier, AT&T, Verizon, or a politician getting "greased" by these companies, this is terrible for consumers. California's attorney general, Xavier Becerra, indicated that the state would vigorously defend its new law. California “will not allow a handful of power brokers to dictate sources for information or the speed at which websites load,” Mr. Becerra said. “We remain deeply committed to protecting freedom of expression, innovation and fairness.”
It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the best time of the year to buy a Smartphone is after September 12th. Everyone always speculates about this but why? Apple usually refreshes their models with new ones (or "s" models) that generally have a better camera and or bigger processor.
Samsung always tries to steal Apple's thunder by beating them to the punch and launching their newest models a month or two before Apple. With the exception of the Note 7, which had to ultimately be recalled, this strategy has been effective. I highly recommend not buying a new Smartphone until after September 12th and here are several reasons why...
1) Many carriers and mass merchandisers get scared of getting stuck with old merchandise and blow out current models with triple figure discounts and BOGOs.
2) Our main Apple factory "spy" indicates that there will be three new "X models. A copy of the current one (Xs) and two larger models. One is a larger budget model with an LCD display, while the other will be an even larger 6.5" jumbo version of the new "Xs". He also feels strongly that Apple will cut pricing $200-$300 on some or all of these new models to stay competitive.
3) The iPhone 8 never sold great because for a few hundred dollars more, you could have the X which was a major improvement. To make matters worse, Apple is about to acknowledge a problem with the iPhone 8 model that may require a recall. If that is the case, this model will be improved and become quite a bargain. Usually this drives down the other models (7 series, 6s+ and SE models) by $100.
Netflix and YouTube have been the biggest losers since Net Neutrality. That's because the carriers are now throttling them. Each carrier has made sweetheart deals if they haven't outright bought the content providers. That means Verizon has a deal with Apple Music, T-Mobile with Pandora, etc... You can thank FCC Chairman Ajit Pai for this as the major carriers and cable providers did.
The best time to buy a new big screen TV is Black Friday and here is why...
4K LCD/LED screen technology has plummeted with the newer OLED screens now widely available. I actually found a 50" Toshiba Smart TV for my daughter for $289. It is currently possible to find good deals on 55" and 65" 4K Ultra HD Tvs for under $1000. Unfortunately, the OLED models are still over double the cost. Samsung as a "QLED" model that is somewhere in between as far as picture quality and slightly less costly than full OLED. The great news is OLED will be taking a huge price drop by Black Friday. You can always count on the manufacturers to come up with the " next big thing" and it's called IMAX enhanced, which promises to bring the 4K movie theatre experience in to your home.
Yup! This is the part of what I do that makes me feel like Santa Claus. The feeling of giving is pretty awesome. It's even better when what your giving is from somebody else ande not out of your pocket. If you are a T-Mobile subscriber, go to your T-Mobile Tuesday Application today. There you will have the opportunity to get one free year of commercial free Pandora Plus music. If you are on a family plan, the primary user will need to be the one to set up the username and password for this.
Verizon, not to be out done, is now offering 6 months of free Apple music. This is available to current or new subscribers. You can cancel anytime so if you do not want to be billed, opt out month 7.
Both T-Mobile and Verizon are currently locked into a major battle for number 1 carrier honors. Dr Wireless highly endorses both. Each now has three types of Unlimited plans available. Contact us to find out which one is best for you.
After the Santa Clara County Fire Department called them out, Verizon finally came clean and did the right thing. Last week, it was reported that they were throttling the data speeds at 25GB for all of the firefighters rendering their internet connection useless. I'd be pretty upset if my house burned down over what Verizon did.
Last week, Verizon did not even offer essential service for first responders. Their solution was to throttle. When challenged about this, management stated that they treat these cases on an individual basis and the SCC FD should have called customer care and explained the situation. They actually did call in and were told that the Government Unlimited plan they chose, was limited to 25GB of 4G data speeds. They were never offered another solution other than an up-sell to a much more expensive plan that would increase their 4G data allotment.
Well after having this issue added as an addendum to California's fight with the FCC over Net Neutrality, Verizon knew they better fix this problem. Apparently they are going to offer a new "unthrottled" unlimited plan and Essential service for First responders. They have also removed all restrictions and throttling for both the Mendocino Firefighters and those in Hawaii. It's a shame it took a horrific fire to get this stupid policy rectified.
Joel Saltzman has over twenty years of wireless industry experience. He is currently CEO and Chief Wireless Analyst for Dr Wireless.