Mobile Phones

Chris Marquardt ... chipping away

Episode 1550

Chris wants to talk about how good smartphone cameras are getting. So much so that many people have simply stopped using DSLRs and personal cameras. There are three areas that smartphones are chipping away at. 1) HDR. Smartphones can now create automatic HDR, which makes it easier to get a better image with dynamic range. This is called computational photography, and it's all done by default and automatically. 2) Depth of field. Smartphones can now do "portrait modes," which creates an emulated, and adjustable depth of field, thanks to it's second (or third) camera.

Why doesn't my phone support Wi-Fi calling?

OnePlus 6

Episode 1548

Milan from Ontario, CA

Milan has a OnePlus 6, but his carrier, AT&T, doesn't support voice-over Wi-Fi with it. Leo suggests a microcell, or femtocell, and tell them he's moving to another carrier if they don't give it to him. Another option is to use an app like WhatsApp or Google Voice to do it. According to the chatroom, it has to be an AT&T branded OS to support that feature.

Here's a list of the phones AT&T supports with that feature. (Thanks ScooterX)

Smartphone Sales Are in Decline

Episode 1548

In what could simply be a case of hitting a speed wall, the latest sales figures indicate that smartphone sales began a decline in 2017, with sales in the US declining for the first time in 2018. Market saturation is nearing 100%, and everyone who wants a smartphone has a smartphone. Phones are now like cars, which you don't really replace as often anymore, since the new phone won't be significantly better.

Where can I get a vanilla Android phone?

Episode 1547

Caller from California

Caller is tried of getting phones with overlays and corporate logos in the OS. Where can he get a simple, vanilla Android phone? Leo says that the Google Pixel 3 is where your want to be, and there's some great deals to be had. And with the new Nightshot mode, it's by far the best phone on the market right now. The key though, is to avoid getting it through a carrier. You can also just go with Apple and the iPhone. It's about as vanilla an experience as you can get, considering it's Apple. How different is it?

How can I turn off active noise cancellation in my Android phone?

Motorola Moto G (3rd gen)

Episode 1546

Joseph from Kalamazoo, MI

Joseph wants to know if there's any way to turn off active noise cancellation on his Motorola Moto. It is cancelling out his own voice! Leo says that under voice privacy, there is a voice cancellation feature. He can disable that. Motorola says it needs to be physically repaired in the phone. If that doesn't work, he can always put tape over the second mic.

Can I just put my SIM into my new Samsung Galaxy S9?

Samsung Galaxy S9

Episode 1545

Patrick from California

Patrick bought a Samsung Galaxy S9 at Best Buy for Black Friday. Can he just drop his SIM card in or does he have to get it activated? Leo says he should just be able to drop his existing SIM into it and get started. Leo says that the FCC doesn't like carrier locks if the carrier isn't subsidizing the phone. So all he'll have to do is call the carrier and ask them to unlock it, if he needs to. But if he's a Verizon customer, it shouldn't be locked at all, and since he's not switching carriers, it should work if it uses the same SIM.

Why can't I connect to Pokemon Go?

Episode 1543

Cheryl from Riverside, CA

Cheryl plays Pokemon Go. But she dropped her phone and now she's having a lot of connection issues in the game. Leo says that isn't the phone, that's just Pokemon Go. He experiences that problem all the time. He thinks it's a software issue, and overly congested servers. Leo says that his wife recently just gave up on the game as a result. But he recommends trying other internet connected apps and see how those work. She should also run SpeedTest.net. If it connects, then she'll know it isn't her phone.

What phone service should I have for a trip to Australia?

Cell tower

Episode 1541

JT from Irvine, CA

JT is heading to Australia for a week. What mobile service should he use? Leo says that Google Fi and T-Mobile both work all over the world. The services isn't as fast, but it's free Edge service, which is nice. He can then use local Wi-Fi at the hotel, coffee shops, etc. whenever he can. The Global plan on T-Mobile is $20 a month, but it's only slightly faster, and the speeds vary wildly. He could also buy a "day pass" of 4G access.

Which iPhone should I buy?

Apple iPhone XS

Episode 1539

Warren from Granada Hills, CA

Warren wants a new iPhone with a large screen. But he doesn't know what to get. He wants one that will last awhile. Leo says that to future proof, he's going to want to get the iPhone XS Max. It'll have the longest runway as for use. He could get the iPhone XR, as it's got the same internals as the iPhone XS, but it's a smaller liquid retina screen, not OLED. He's also giving up the dual camera on the back, but the iPhone XR camera still has a basic version of portrait mode, which is pretty good. The iPhone XR is also available in several colors!