Tag Archives: mobile devices

Why are unlocked smartphones so expensive?

locked iphoneWhen signing a new contract plan, users can walk away with a brand new phone for only a couple hundred dollars. With the right options, rebates, and carrier, users may end up with a free, or nearly free version of their favorite smartphone. But it’s the stipulations that provide a good deal. Factor in contract fees and a lack of flexibility, and there’s very little room for wiggling.

Enter the super expensive “unlocked” phone. Phone service providers saw that their customers needed the option to come and go as they pleased, and they decided to let them. By charging them exorbitant amount. Purchasing a new, unlocked iPhone 5 will cost a hefty $649.99 – $600 if buying from a private party. And that doesn’t even include any service to go with it, phone or Internet. In contrast, signing a two-year contract will bring the same phone to $199.99.

What Gives?

A computer can easily be purchased for the price of an unlocked smartphone. It may not be the best or biggest, but it’s still a computer with all its working functions, software, available updates, and whatever else that makes electronics so expensive. Tablets – the fancy ones – even cost less than an unlocked smartphone. Therefore extra fees can’t be chalked up to hardware, parts, or even display.

So why are such large price tags being slapped on our phones? Many argue that users actually pay more over time with their contract deals, as there is a monthly fee built into service agreements. But unless that charge is named “sales tax” or “4G service,” most users would argue against said claim. Others state that the cell phone companies are subsidizing phone company expenses. True or not, this doesn’t account for why phones cost so much more than tablets and computers. If simple cell phones are given away, it can’t be the calling feature racking up the fees, right?

Is it really just about convenience? Even after one’s contract has been fulfilled, the phone belongs to Verizon, or AT&T, or whatever other service provider has stolen the device’s soul. Users aren’t locked into that phone indefinitely, per say, but without some possibly illegal adjustments, the devices are.

While the public may not understand these serious price hikes, it doesn’t look as though they’re going to reduce anytime soon. Fans of the iPhone simply have to decide whether it’s worth paying a few extra dollars, or sitting heavily under someone’s thumb.

How to use iOS folders to keep your apps organized

apple folderWhen there are apps, apps, and more apps, keeping all of those programs organized and clutter free becomes increasingly difficult. Angry Birds intermingles next to voice memos, while Sound Hound and Pinterest become next-door neighbors. The rhyme and reason to mobile apps often only make sense to the person who put them there.

For the make-the-bed-every-day types, the thought of a cluttered device may even keep you from holding onto certain apps. If it hasn’t been used in the past month, it just may be ditched for something more cohesive. Others let the apps fall where they may, throwing all caution to any sort of mobile organization.

Why Folders?

No matter your thoughts on clutter, iOS folders can be a great way to clear up a device. Whether on an iPhone or iPad, these folders allow users to group similar items without taking up pages on the home screen. Group games, business apps, rewards systems, or any other category of apps. It’s a task that can be done in only a few seconds, while providing endless amounts of saved time and frustration.

Folders are also great for family devices, using a different section for each person’s apps. Create a folder for the whole family, one for mom, dad, and each respective child. This will cut back on searching time and allow everyone management access to their own apps. The use of folder organization can be more efficient than Users (especially for young children), allowing parents to monitor kids’ mobile steps and cutting out log in/out time.

Added Bonuses

For the organizationally challenged, folders allow apps to be quickly and easily navigated, no matter how many programs are downloaded to a single device. Just tap the folder and gain access to an underground layer of apps. It’s also a great storage space for those icons Apple won’t let you delete, like Passbook or Stocks. Just file them under “Stuff I Never Use,” and hide all the icons you’ve yet to open in a single slot.

To folder or not to folder – it’s a question many Apple enthusiasts ask themselves daily. But whether you’re the proud owner of 5 apps or 50, iOS’s folders are a great way to keep them in easy access form, no matter your location. After all, you never know when Tweets need updated or when an impromptu game of Fruit Ninja may be a necessity. To be ready for anything, with any app, consider the use of folders for your Apple device.

What happened, Hulu?

hulu logoAfter years of watching illegally obtained TV shows, I still remember the excitement I felt after the announcement of Hulu – a website to stream current TV seasons for free. No more downloading shows (along with viruses), no more recording shows on VHS tapes, and no more wishing that TiVo existed in the Midwest. It was an event that would change the way we watched TV forever.

Or so I thought.

Five years and an infinite number of changes later, that’s not exactly the case. Not only do users have to subscribe (at $7.99 a month) to watch shows that are a certain number of days old, free shows are only accessible via computer. That means internet capable TVs, tablets, and smartphones all cost extra for the same services. This would seem somewhat reasonable if more shows could be seen for free, but now an increasing number of programs require a Plus account, even for the newest shows. (TV shows are generally listed the day after being aired, with only a few available at a time. The older an episode, the less likely it can be seen for free.)

And how many of us have time to watch entire shows at our computer? Sure we can hook up our computers to our TVs, but the quality is never as good, and without a mouse the interactive ads just seem silly.

Double Jeopardy

The plot thickens when looking at Hulu’s owners – Disney-ABC Television Group at 32 percent, Fox Broadcasting Company with 36 percent, and NBC Universal Television Group at 32 percent. As the owners of programs being featured, these major network companies are re-earning from their content. Because they own the rights, it would be easy for them to post shows for free. Web traffic would be through the roof and they’d make a killing on ads – after all, they show tons of them.

But instead of offering up this incentive, they charge a monthly fee. That means if you already pay a cable bill, you have to pay twice to see the same content on the go. Three if you just happened to forget to DVR a show; how many times can we pay for the same access?

It’s likely we are years away from this universal one-fee-meets all access, but we can dream, right? Maybe with enough opposition, Hulu can return to its former glory, which is to say free. After all, if Netflix taught us anything, it’s that there’s nothing a group of angry consumers can’t accomplish. Complain on, folks.

Without making some changes, Apple can’t stay on top forever

alternate apple logoWhen it comes to Apple, most people think they can do no wrong. Each time they come out with a new product, customers are lining up down the street to get their hands on it – regardless of price or how many previous Apple products they may have. So when, say, Apple decides to change their power cords or requires in the upwards of $20 for a single service call, the customers go along.

And why shouldn’t they? Apple is (arguably) the best option for durability and electronic safety, and their products are just so cute. When you buy an Apple, you know it’s going to work, you know there’s only a tiny chance you’ll get a virus, and you know you have purchased from the most recognizable, and perhaps most respected computer/mobile device creator.

But why all the hoops? Why must we buy adapters to charge our new devices with our old cords? Why won’t our old computer chargers work with our new computers – even when the hardware is the same shape? When wanting an unlocked phone, why must we pay hundreds? And even after our wireless contract is fulfilled, the phone is still attached to the service provider – does that seem fair? (Especially since a profit is still being made on the signing price.) But most of all, Apple, why is everything so secretive?

Consumers have proved loyal release after surprise release, yet every new piece of electronic is still kept under pinky-sworn secrecy until launch day. Surely you can imagine our disappointment when minimal changes are made – after all that to-do we wanted screen unlock with facial recognition, two-week battery life, or at least the option of a new color.

Even for the fans, it’s hard to get past some of these glaring issues, especially as the products remain massively expensive with few updates in between.

In an alternate, un-secretive universe, Apple could leak their own news to see the feedback before a product hits shelves. Then again, maybe they just don’t care. Because of all the loyal fan money coming in (even the money they earn from new adapters matters), the company is still making ends meet and then some. Maybe it’s time to get past the “Apple can do no wrong” phase and realize that, just like every company, without happy customers, there’s no business. Without making some changes, Apple can’t stay on top forever. Let’s just hope said changes come before the growing pains are too great.