Top 10 Smartphones for the 2013 Holiday Season

iphone gift

Are you thinking about giving someone a smartphone this holiday season, but are unsure which one to purchase? With so many brands and models available today, the choice can be quite difficult, indeed. Nevertheless, to ensure that your gift recipient will be pleased, we’ve compiled a list of 2013’s hottest smartphones on the market for this holiday season.

iphone5s deal

1. Apple iPhone 5s

This phone has the same form factor as the iPhone 5; however, it has an improved 64-bit A-7 processor and a fingerprint-enabled touch ID central home button. iOS 7 first launched with the 5s bringing improved Siri integration and notifications.

2. Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

One of the most sought-after Android phones today is the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active, due mainly to its water-resistant features. The Active can survive a 3 foot plunge for up to 30 minutes. The device also boasts a built-in TV remote and an 8-MP camera.

3. HTC One X

The HTC One is known most for its speedy photo abilities, and the new HTC One X is even faster. This phone has a beautiful LCD display and top-class hardware offering a fantastic user experience.

4. Samsung Galaxy Note 3

The Galaxy Note 3 is perhaps the most capable Android device on the market today. With its large 5.7 inch display, 13 megapixel rear camera, 16GB internal memory and 3,200 mAh removable battery, this phone is one of the best around.

5. Google Nexus 5

The Nexus 5 flaunts many great features including, a Snapdragon 800 processor, Qi wireless charging and an eight megapixel camera with optical image stabilization. This phone is the first device with Android 4.4 offering a terrific user experience.

6. Kyocera Torque

Looking for an indestructible phone? The Kyocera Torque is the perfect choice. This phone is extremely sturdy, waterproof and provides Smart Sonic technology, which allows you to transmit call audio through headphones or a helmet.

7. Moto X

Motorola’s Moto X is assembled in the U.S. and offers excellent voice control functioning and active notifications on a lock screen. The Moto X also boasts an extremely long battery life. As the first smartphone that lets you customize the colors, this is sure to be a big hit this holiday season for those wanting to add a personal touch.

8. Motorola Droid Maxx

Next to the Note 3, the Droid Maxx offers the best when it comes to memory and battery swap capabilities. This phone comes with a five inch AMOLED display, 10 megapixel camera, Qi wireless charging and 32GB internal storage.

9. Sony Xperia Z1

Another top choice in the waterproof category, the Sony Xperia offers a high-powered 20.7 megapixel camera, a five inch HD display and a 16GB internal storage.

10. Nokia Lumia 1020

The Lumia 1020 may be the best device that Windows Phone is offering today. This phone is a must-have for people who love to take pictures as it rivals some of the best point-and-shoot cameras on the market. Popular apps for the Lumia 1020 include advanced camera lenses, Nokia Music+ and HERE Map’s turn-by-turn voice-led navigation.

It seems as if everyone either has a smartphone today or certainly has it marked down on their wish list. If you have a friend or family member who would love to have a smartphone, why not consider giving him or her one of the top smartphones for the holiday season? All of these phones have great features, and any one of them will be sure to please that special person in your life.

What Type of Cell Phone User Are You?

Ninety percent of the American public carries a cell phone nowadays, but not everyone does so for the same reasons. Researchers at Experian Simmons have identified five distinct types of cell phone users. Which type are you?

The Modern Cell Phone User

mobile professionalYou’ve practically grown up with a cell phone in your pocket. It’s likely to be a BlackBerry, Nextel or iPhone, and you’re proud of its wide array of apps. Most people classified as this type of user is part of the generation that has grown up on cell phones and would probably be lost without them.

In addition to being a technologically savvy cell phone user, you are also a very social person. You love trying anything new and will always be one of the first to join a new community or social network. Experian Simmons would classify you as one of the 19 percent of users that it calls the “Mobirati.”

The Go-Getter

Your schedule is busy and so are you. With little time to waste on insignificant matters, you use your cell phone more to assist in running errands and performing your job than you do to chat with friends. Your taste leans toward the iPhone, BlackBerry or Palm, but you’d just as soon get your information from a laptop if it weren’t so inconvenient to carry.

Experian Simmons would group you with a modern group it calls the “Mobile Professionals.” You are a productive cell phone user, and your device helps you complete your responsibilities.

The Font of Knowledge

baby boomer on phoneIf you land in this category, you are likely to be a baby boomer in your 50s or 60s, and although you’ve carried one for a number of years, you’re just beginning to learn that your cell phone can do more than simply make calls. You have now evolved into a cell phone user who enjoys using its Internet connectivity to answer such pressing questions as “Will it rain tonight?” and “Where’s the nearest gas station?”

According to Experian Simmons, you are a “Pragmatic Adapter,” and Nokia, Motorola or Sanyo will suit you just fine.

Just the Basics

A cell phone’s appearance leaves you feeling indifferent, and its technical capabilities have no impact on your opinion of the device whatsoever. As long as the phone can make calls, you’ve found yourself a winner. When the next new application hits the street, you are sure to be late to the party if, indeed, you attend it all.

If this sounds like you, you are a traditional and sensible individual. As a “Basic Planner,” your no-nonsense nature extends to most aspects of your life, and all you want in your pocket is a means of connection should an emergency arise.

The Sociable Butteryfly

social mobileYou don’t care all that much about efficiency or productivity, and having all the answers at your fingertips doesn’t mean that much to you. You’d rather use your phone as a social tool, taking advantage of the ease it provides in chatting with friends, planning events and setting up get-togethers.

Experian Simmons would call you a “Social Connector.” Your lifeline is likely to be a Nextel, LG or Sanyo, and your need to stay in touch with friends can be so strong that if you forget your cell phone at home, you’ll jump right back into the car to retrieve it.

What Does it All Mean?

Although different people have their own particular reasons for carrying cell phones, one thing is certain: Few can remember what in the world it was like to leave home without one!

5 Ways You Are Destroying Your Electronics

On any average day, your personal gadgets go through a punishing routine, from colliding with the contents in your bag to enduring extreme temperatures. Although your devices may seem rugged, these incidents could potentially ruin your gadgets if you don’t use extra caution. Learning more about the common dangers that your electronics face, and taking measures to avoid these occurrences, will help you to avoid paying for replacements in the future.

Failure to Use a Case

electronics bagWhen you bought your shiny new tablet or e-reader, you probably thought that a case would make a stylish addition to your gadget. Over time, however, you may have decided that the case was cumbersome. If you don’t use a case, however, you’re putting your devices at risk of physical damage. Even if you’re careful when transporting your electronics, the people around you on the bus or at school may not be so careful. If your electronics never leave home, it’s still a good idea to invest in a case; cases protect your devices from significant damage when you accidentally drop them.

Extreme Temperatures and Improper Ventilation

Extreme heat and cold can harm the inner components and the screen of your device. Leaving your laptop bag in your car on a hot summer day is a good way to harm the device. Extreme temperatures can also damage the battery inside of your smartphone. Even when your device is in your house, you must help it maintain a safe operating temperature and provide proper ventilation. Leaving your laptop on your bed, for example, may cause it to overheat. Instead, you should keep it on a flat surface that will allow air to pass underneath the laptop.

Improper Cleaning Methods

cleaning cell phonesMany household cleaners are designed to clean tough grime and dirt from durable household surfaces. Using these cleaners on the delicate screens of your laptops and tablets could damage their screens and make your devices unusable. Using the wrong type of cleaning cloth can also have harmful effects. Paper towels, for example, are very rough and can scratch screens. To avoid damage, only use cleaners and cloths that are specifically designed to clean electronic devices. The next time you notice a smudge on your tablet, avoid the urge to wipe your screen with your shirt.

Poor Battery Management

Improperly caring for the batteries in your devices can result in unnecessary wear and failed batteries. Smartphones and tablets typically use lithium batteries. These batteries are sensitive to charge levels and improper charging. Allowing your battery to run completely dry can cause permanent damage, but overcharging can also reduce your battery’s lifespan. In addition, be sure to only charge your devices with the cords and chargers made specifically for that device. Your device’s manual should have more information to help you prolong the life of the battery.

Not Updating Your Software

anti virus on smartphoneIf you don’t regularly update your device’s software, your device may easily get hacked or infected with viruses and malware. In addition to potential loss of data, your devices may quit functioning. Although many viruses and hackers target computers, your mobile devices may be at risk as well. Fortunately, there are a number of antivirus programs designed just for your tablets and smartphones. In addition to updating your antivirus programs, you should also update your device’s operating system to close potential security holes.

Revive your Smartphone with These 5 Tips

If it seems like your smartphone isn’t performing as optimally as it once did, you’re probably not just imagining things. A smartphone is basically a very compact computer. Like laptops and desktop computers, smartphones can get bogged down over time. In turn, they start performing less and less efficiently. Even if your device is still performing well enough, it just may not give you the thrill that it once did. By periodically performing a little smartphone cleanup maintenance, you can keep your iPhone or other smartphone operating well and looking like new.

1. Uninstall Unnecessary Apps

Apps in smartphone

Are you an app hoarder? You’re not alone. Many people download new apps without giving the matter a second thought. Most apps are small, and the amount of space they take up is negligible. When you have dozens of small apps, however, the hard drive on your device can fill up quickly. A great idea is to have one screen that’s dedicated to apps you use all the time. Put the rest on subsequent screens. From time to time, methodically go through the apps on those pages. For each one, ask yourself whether you actually use it or not. You can always reinstall it if you decide later on that you need it.

2. Save Battery Life by Adjusting Your Settings

If it seems like the battery on your smartphone drains too quickly, push notifications may be a main culprit. When you install a new app, it asks whether you’d like to receive these notifications. The default setting automatically allows them, so it’s easy to end up having tons of push notifications enabled. Go through and restrict push notifications to just a few essential apps. Turning off location services will also go a long way toward conserving battery life.

3. Clean the Outside of Your PhoneCell phone cleaning

Just as it’s smart to do spring cleaning on the inside of your phone; you should occasionally clean the outside of it too. Mix a little water with some glass cleaner and remove the phone from its case. Gently wipe down your entire phone; take care not to allow it to get too wet. Clean the case thoroughly too before replacing it.

4. Watch Out for Data-Sucking Apps

Just because an app doesn’t take up a whole lot of space on your device itself doesn’t mean it’s not hogging a lot of resources. Photo apps are especially notorious for this. Many of them store duplicates of photos that are also kept in your phone’s memory. For instance, photos that you take with one of these apps are stored in the app itself and in your photo stream. You’re hit with a double whammy, and your phone operates less effectively because of it.

Smartphone construction5. Update Your Sync Settings

Devices like the iPhone automatically sync information from calendars, contacts and other utilities. However, you may use different apps to handle those things, so you could be inadvertently syncing things that you really don’t need. This activity drains battery life and sucks up processing power, so your smartphone may operate less effectively. A great smartphone cleanup step is to go through and uncheck all of the things that don’t need to be synced automatically. You may be surprised by how many there are!

The Top 5 Most Annoying things People do on their Cell Phones

With the recent post on nomophobia, it got me thinking, people actually have become addicted to their phones…and sometimes it can be pretty annoying! The advent of smartphones has led to unparalleled connectivity and productivity, but the introduction of these devices has also created new opportunities for people to get on each other’s nerves. Thoughtless smartphone users, oblivious to anything but their phone, offer unwanted glimpses of their personal lives to those around them. Persistent users can easily make their friends and strangers alike feel ignored, unimportant and intruded upon by engaging in some on frowned upon cellphone tactics. So, for your own sake, and more importantly those around you, make sure you don’t participate in these top 5 cellphone don’ts.

Phone while golfingIgnoring Friends and Family

Smartphones can be distracting and addicting; they offer a world of information and entertainment at your fingertips, which can be a good and, at times, bad thing. Some people can’t resist the allure of escape that smartphones offer, even when they are in the presence of others. If you can’t pull yourself away from your smartphone, there’s a good chance your guests will feel ignored and unimportant as you disregard others and solely interact with the inanimate object in the palm of your hand. This is one of the worst cell phone don’ts because it gives off the impression that those around you are less important to you than your phone.

Using Your Smartphone While You Walk

Walking can be a long and boring task, and many people can’t resist the urge to pass the time by playing a game or browsing the Internet on their smartphone. However, using your phone while you walk is both dangerous and rude. While you’re using your phone, your awareness is focused on your device; you can’t react to events around you effectively. In addition, when your eyes are glued to your phone, you force everyone around you to assume responsibility for your safety. If you find yourself constantly walking into people or tripping on your own feet, maybe it’s time to put the phone down while traveling by foot and keep its use preserved for your destination (I would like to add here that using your phone while driving is ALWAYS a don’t).

Not Turning Off Your Phone in the TheaterPhone in theater

Cellphone use at the movies has become so widely frowned upon that most theaters provide guests with an explicit reminder to turn off their phones for the duration of the movie. When you talk on your phone during a movie, you obscure the dialog and pull your fellow moviegoers away from the cinematic experience and into your own private life. Even if you’re only browsing the Internet on your smartphone, the glow from your phone can be distracting for your neighbors. If you absolutely must use your phone, excuse yourself to the lobby.

Talking on the Phone While in Line

When you talk loudly while in waiting in line, you are more than likely annoying those around you. Believe it or not, most people don’t actually want to hear all of the intimate details of your life. When they’re stuck in line with you, they can’t easily move out of earshot without losing their place in line. You compound the problem when you continue your conversation as you reach the head of the line. Focus on the task at hand, complete your purchase and then use your phone. Don’t make the cashier or sales person try and guess if you are speaking to them or the person at the other end of the phone. Not only is this rude, but you’re more likely to mess up your order or purchase if you’re not paying full attention.

bluetooth in publicTalking Loudly on a Bluetooth Device in Public

Bluetooth headsets are wonderful devices, but they hold massive potential to annoy people around you. For reasons unknown, many users develop a tendency to speak very loudly while using their Bluetooth headset. The combination of this loud speaking and the small form factor of many Bluetooth headsets can lead to annoyance and awkward situations; a passersby often can’t tell that you’re speaking on a Bluetooth headset, causing confusion as they mistakenly assume that you’re talking to them.

 

Don’t get me wrong, cellphones are absolutely amazing devices. They have made life easier in so many ways; it’s hard to imagine a world without them. However, it is important to remember that the real world exists outside of your cellphone and it is imperative to be aware of your surroundings. By all means, enjoy all the great features your cellphone has to offer, but keep in mind these few bothersome actions to avoid and you can do so without annoying anyone!

5 Questions to Ask Before Purchasing a Cell Phone for your Child

As HealthyChildren.org puts it, “there really is no ‘right’ age to allow our kids to dip a toe into the digital pond.” Each child and family is different and in every case, only the parents can make the ultimate decision when that “right” time may be. Before you can determine if your child is ready for the responsibility of a phone, there are several things that need to be taken into consideration. Here are five questions to ask yourself before you commit to purchasing a phone for your child.

Why does your child need a phone?

ids playing with cell phoneThe main question you should ask yourself is: what are the main reasons your child needs a phone. Is it for their benefit or yours? Would it be used solely for keeping in touch with parents or for use in emergencies, or would it be for a combination of communication and entertainment? If only to be used as a safety precaution, you could consider a prepaid phone with limited capabilities. If you think your child needs the phone to provide entertainment value, smartphones are a better option and they also have multiple apps that provide parental control resources. Evaluate the benefits that a phone could offer to not only your child, but to you as parents, against any of the concerns that come associated with phone ownership; and see what seems to weigh heavier.

Is our child responsible enough?

Age is not necessarily the best measurement of maturity levels as many of us know. Everyone grows at their own rate and if you believe that your child is mature enough to handle the responsibilities that come with a cell phone, than only you can make that judgment. Keep in mind that you will probably be setting rules and guidelines that your child should follow, such as data usage, screen time and acceptable contacts; so it is important to consider if you believe your child is mature enough to actually respect and follow your designated restrictions.

How will this help your family?

For families juggling school, sports, extra-curricular studies and parent work schedules,kids on cell phone staying in touch is often a problem. This could very well be confronted by purchasing your child a cell phone, but there are other thinks to keep in mind before jumping to this quick decision. Will purchasing one child a phone create drama with other siblings? Or maybe you will decide to put every child on a family plan to create ease of communication between everyone. Will having a phone put you, as parents, more at ease, being able to contact your child at any moment? Or will it add more worry, knowing that they have constant access to the outside world. Obviously every family runs differently, but it is essential to really reflect on if this purchase will benefit your family as a whole or will it create strain and constant concern?

What type of cell phone should you get?

As mentioned earlier, deciding what exactly your child needs a phone for will help determine what type of cell phone will best supplement those needs. If the phone will be used primarily for texting, a standard flip phone could suffice. If you would rather provide them with an all-in-one device, combining their music, internet access and communication abilities, going the smartphone route would be more suitable. Set a budget on what you are willing to spend and figure out which features are most important for your child to have access to.

What rules can and will you apply?

cell phone parentingOne of the most imperative aspects of purchasing a cell phone for your child is deciding what rules you should or will apply. Whatever ground rules you deem necessary need to be laid out before a purchase is made. Things to consider include restrictions on call time, who can be called, what hours are appropriate for use and awareness of overuse fees. Smartphones that allow internet access and app downloads further impact rules that will need to be set for your child. Of course, there are multiple parental control apps that can be installed, however be aware that children are extremely technically savvy these days and may be able to get passed any limitations you establish.

You could consider creating a “contract” for your child to sign, so they can see in writing the rules and penalties that come along with the responsibility of owning a phone. This will add a sense of accountability and hopefully generate a feeling of maturity in your child that will lead to proper cell phone use.  However, as with most things, it is important to follow through with any repercussions you have presented with cell phone misuse to ensure that your child knows that an unacceptable action will not be tolerated.

Purchasing a cell phone for children can make life easier for busy parents, but make sure that children know that the privileges comes with strings attached.

Nomophobia: Is it real?

I love my phone

According to a study commissioned by the UK Post Office, 53% of people experience significant anxiety when faced with the possibility of losing their cell phone, losing network access, or simply running out of battery power. This 21st century angst is known as nomophobia. Considering the popularity of cell phones worldwide, nomophobia is indeed becoming a common concern in countries with strong mobile-device cultures. The British study involved 2,163 cell phone users, and its results reveal some interesting trends in human-phone relationships.

Men vs. women

cell phone use on dateAccording to the British study, nomophobia is more common in men than in women. Fifty-eight percent of men and 48% of women reported significant anxiety when they did not have access to their cell phones. Women look at their phones more often than men while on dates, and smartphone users of both sexes check their phones between 30 and 40 times per day, on average.

Generation gap

Differences in cell phone use and dependence don’t end with men and women. Eighty-four percent of millennials take their cell phones to bed with them, compared to 65% of adults over 30. The majority of cell phone users born after 1980 report that checking their phone is the first thing they do in the morning and the last thing they do before sleep, and two out of five from this group agreed with the statement “I would feel like a part of me was missing” in regard to losing a cell phone.

Do I have nomophobia?

Sleeping with cell phone
Anyone who has ever found themselves scouring their apartment for their cell phone while holding—or worse, talking on—their cell phone, can definitely relate to the madness now known as nomophobia. The level of anxiety that it causes is rated comparable to “a trip to the dentist, or wedding-day jitters,” according to the British postal study. If you lose count of the number of times you check your phone per day, feel awkward in social situations without it, or generally use your phone as a security blanket to ease tension, you may be at risk for nomophobia.

Luckily, nomophobia is not a completely debilitating condition and many have been able to overcome or live with it. If you feel worried about a possible too-close-for-comfort relationship with a mobile device, taking a break may be helpful. Set aside an amount of time every day, even just 30 minutes, to not check your phone. When this feels comfortable, maybe consider leaving your phone in your bag when you’re out with friends or having dinner with your family.

As mobile devices become a bigger part of our everyday experience, it’s natural to feel dependent on them. Breaking through that feeling of dependence and going phone free for just a little bit each day can prepare you to cope with a phone disaster, and it might open your eyes to some interesting things going on away from your phone’s screen, too.