How to Make Your Electronics Last—Even When Companies Don’t Want Them To

Buying a brand-new device is an exciting prospect. The latest iPhone or Samsung, the newest generation of a beloved gaming console, or the sleek, speedy laptop you’ve been eyeing can be a worthwhile purchase for your professional or personal life; and with so many options and new innovations, you’re sure to find something to fit your needs.

However, the same innovations that make buying new tech so exciting can become irritating when your device becomes obsolete in a matter of months. The high-quality camera on your phone, with features considered revolutionary last year, is now overshadowed by Apple’s newest product. Your gaming laptop no longer meets the system requirements for new releases. And that console? The next generation is already in production.

Worse still, sometimes companies intentionally create this frustration using a business practice known as “planned obsolescence.” Planned obsolescence is when a company intentionally designs a product to be replaced at a certain point after release. Not only does this make you spend more, it also contributes to e-waste as old devices get tossed.

You can help combat the effects of this on the environment and your wallet by keeping your electronics working for longer. Here are some tips on how to do that:

If you want to buy new, keep an eye on the market.
We’ve all been there. You’ve finally got some money to spend, and you want to treat yourself. After going through your mental list of Things You’ve Always Wanted But Could Never Justify Buying, you decide on the latest iPhone, and your shiny new toy arrives in the mail. Then, just two weeks later, Apple announces the next model and its rapidly approaching release date. Suddenly, that shiny toy doesn’t seem so shiny. If only you had waited just a few more months.

When buying a new device, it’s important to do some research. While it’s not always possible to know just when new devices are coming out, rumors and leaks often circulate in the year prior to release. If there’s talk about a new model in the works, it may be best to wait.

Buy what you need.
This may sound obvious, but it’s important to know what you need, and which device is right for you. If you’re looking for a gaming laptop, don’t buy a non-gaming laptop that barely meets the typical system requirements for the games you want to play. This could put stress on the hardware, making your system more likely to require repair or replacement sooner. A phone that lags performing your everyday work tasks will inevitably end up being replaced and tossed quickly. Make sure you are familiar with the technical specifications you require in a device.

Repair when you can.

Some companies, as part of this “planned obsolescence,” purposefully manufacture their devices with brittle parts designed to break quickly. While these designs aren’t always intentional, companies have little incentive to fix them. Fortunately, while some repairs are difficult or even impossible, many can be done. Have your device evaluated by a repair shop. These consultations typically come at little to no cost, and a specialist can help get your beloved device up and running again.

Know when to give up.

Sometimes, it just isn’t worth it.

While it’s good to make your device last as long as you can, eventually it will reach the end of its life. Sometimes, repairs on old devices are more expensive than replacements, or they require so many new parts that you may as well replace the whole product. Other times, your devices are no longer compatible with the software or operating systems required. For example, many older computers are not compatible with Windows 10, meaning those devices don’t get important security updates that protect your device. While repair and maintenance are good things, they aren’t always the right answer.

Remember, you don’t have to buy a new device the minute something goes wrong. Taking steps to maintain and extend the life of your devices can save you money and help the planet. Before you buy that new iPhone, take a second to think, first.

How to Remove a Google Account (FRP) from an Android

We’ve already discussed how to remove an account and its data from an iPhone. But what about an Android? If you plan on selling, trading in, donating, or recycling your Android phone, you’ll want to make sure your Google account is no longer synced to the device. Luckily, this is very simple.

1. Locate the Settings App on your device, whether through the Home Screen, App Drawer, or Notification Menu.

2. In the Settings App, navigate to the “Accounts” (LG) or “Cloud and accounts” (Samsung) tab. The name and location of this tab will be slightly different depending on the manufacturer of your phone or tablet. Typically, on an LG phone this tab will be under the General section, while on most Samsung devices you will scroll down from the main section.

3. Click on the account that you wish to remove.

4. Tap the menu icon in the top right corner.

5. Select “Remove account”.

6. You will then be asked if you wish to remove the selected account, after confirming this is the correct account, tap “Remove”.

Once you’ve completed these steps, your Google account and all its data will be wiped from the phone.

How to Remove your Personal Data from your iPhone

Every year, there are tons of functional Apple Devices that become “iCloud Locked”, meaning that they were signed in with an Apple ID, but never signed out. The reasons for iCloud locking was to protect user data, and to dissuade would-be thieves from stealing your phone. This is an excellent security feature of iOS, however it does come with a significant downside. The result is millions of unusable iPhones and iPads, that end up in drawers, sold for parts, and in landfills. This is a guide to removing that iCloud lock when you’re ready to move to a new phone!

  1. Turn your iPhone on and open the settings app.

2. Scroll down and click on the “General” tab.

3. Next, locate and click the “Reset” tab. Depending on what version of iOS your phone is on, this will either be the last tab or the second-to-last tab.

4. From here, we want to click the second option “Erase All Content and Settings”. Now you will be prompted to either “Backup Then Erase”, which you should do if you haven’t already, or “Erase Now”.

5. Lastly, your iPhone will ask you for your Apple ID password twice. This is to verify that it is you erasing the phone, and that you are sure you want to. If you don’t remember your password, it can be reset here: iforgot.apple.com

What do you do if you no longer have the phone? Not to worry, there’s a solution for that as well!

  1. On your computer or phone, open your favorite browser and navigate to icloud.com

2. Now you will need to sign in with your Apple ID. After doing so, you will be greeted with two rows of icons. Locate and click on “Find iPhone” on the bottom row.

3. At the top of the screen in the middle, there is a drop-down menu labeled “All Devices”. Click on that, then click on the device you are wanting to remove from your account.

4. Select the device you wish to remove from your account.

5. Tap “Erase iPhone” or “Erase iPad”, and a request will be sent to that device. Within 24 hours all your data will be erased.

That’s it!

In just 5 simple steps, you can clear all your personal data from your old phone and have it ready for its next life!

What Is the Number One App to Install Onto Your Phone?

There really is an app for that.

From social media, to games, to apps that can track your sleep cycle, both the App Store and Google Play Store have just about everything you may need or want in your day-to-day life. The small rectangles in our pockets can carry an extraordinary amount of data, and various applications help us navigate that data in a way that no other generation has been able to do.

But out of the hundreds—no, thousands—of apps on these stores, which is the best? What is the number one most valuable app to have installed on your device?

In my opinion, it’s Google Photos.

Why do I think Google Photos is better than the rest? What makes this simplistic picture app the most important?

Not enough people take advantage of the amazing features Google Photos has to offer, even when it comes pre-installed on some new devices. Here are the reasons I think everyone should have this app installed on their phone, and what makes it so great to use:

  • Google Photos can back up all photos at a high resolution (up to 16MP) at no cost to you.
  • It can back up all videos at up to 1080p resolution.
  • The amounts of pictures and videos Google Photos can back up at this quality is unlimited, which means you don’t have to pay for any additional storage.  
  • Google Photos is available on both Android and iOS, so you can access your pictures on any of your devices.
  • This app will automatically start to back up your pictures and video as soon as you connect it to Wi-fi. or you can set it up to back them up on the go as you take them. For this, you will have to go into Settings > Back up and sync > turn on Use Cellular Data (I would only recommend this for people with unlimited data, as it may end up costing quite a bit, depending on how many photos you take)

To take advantage of these features,when you use the app, make sure your “upload size” setting in your app is set to“High Quality.” If you want to retain a higher resolution and size, you can select “Original Quality,” but your photos will count against the 15GB of free storage that Google Drive allows. Once your 15GB is full, you will have to start paying for extra storage, or delete some of your photos to make room for new ones. And who wants to scroll through a year’s worth of cute dog photos to choose which ones to ax?

To use this application, you must also have a Gmail account. That way, Google can tie your photos on all your devices to you, giving you access to them on any device you sign in on.

Google Photos is a valuable tool for the casual cell phone photographer. With this app, you don’t have to choose between saving your vacation pictures and freeing up your storage. The Google Photos app gives any smartphone user, iPhone or Android, a way to save those memories without stressing about running out of space. The days of desperately mass-deleting old photos can end.

Why I Ditched Android for the iPhone XS

It was seven years ago when I opened the box to my brand new iPhone 4S. It was a magical moment, full of wonder and awe, at a time when smartphones were really starting to become capable little machines with the capacity to enhance our lives and hold our attention at ransom. This was the first time that I had ever bought a brand-new iPhone, and by any definition you could have called me an Apple fanboy. I was soon obsessed with jailbreaking and tinkering with these devices. It quickly became known around my school that if you needed a phone unlocked or a screen fixed, I was your guy.

However, it didn’t take long for iOS to feel kind of dull, even with all the customizations that jailbreaking brought. Not 6 months after buying that iPhone, I would go on to trade it for a Samsung Galaxy Nexus and enter the world of rooting and loading custom ROMs, only sometimes checking in to see what iOS was up to. I personally was not a fan of the limitations put in place by Apple on a device that I owned; considering myself a “power user” (read: nerd) at the time, I found the limitless potential of Android refreshing.

Now don’t get me wrong; though I’ve had my qualms with Apple for years, I’ve always found their operating systems to be intuitive and honestly designed with the user in mind. Over the years I have watched from the outside as Apple slowly started to figure out what exactly its users wanted. To believe that Apple is still at the forefront of innovation would be disingenuous; instead, they have shifted their strategy to one of patience, taking the time to let others make mistakes first while slowly perfecting the technology and releasing it once mature. Examples of this include Apple Pay, Touch ID, Face ID, wireless charging, dual cameras, and the list goes on. A lot of features were blatantly stolen from Android and the Jailbreak community, none of which I have a problem with, but feel it should be mentioned.

I’ve been an Android user for quite awhile now, but even with all the customization options, I still found myself becoming bored with the platform. I couldn’t help but wonder if I could go back to an iPhone now that the platform has matured. Even with the iPhone XS’ flaws, such as the notch, no fingerprint scanner, and lack of headphone jack, I couldn’t avert my gaze. I decided to take a chance and buy the new iPhone. What started as a mild curiosity has blossomed into full-on infatuation. I love how slick this phone is. Ditching the home button has proven (to me at least) to be the last piece of the puzzle to iOS’s fluidity. Gestures work great, Face ID surprisingly works very well (even in the dark), and my battery life is fantastic. I have very little to complain about with the phone itself. What annoyed me the most is that, this time, the phone didn’t come with a headphone jack to Lightning adapter. For how much this phone costs, there’s no excuse not to include an adapter besides greed.

To be honest, there’s not a whole lot, or anything really that this phone does that any new Android flagship can’t. However, everything it does do, it does extremely well. Every little detail has been thought of and polished. The OLED panel is beautiful, the 120hz Touch Sample Rate is snappy, and the Dolby Atmos speakers are something I didn’t know I needed, but are absolutely incredible, and not just for a smartphone either.

Is the new iPhone worth $999? To me it isn’t, and I actually didn’t pay that much for it. When the phone first launched, Sprint had a killer deal making the iPhone XS free on lease with eligible trade in that I took advantage of.

All in all, the phone is going to cost me less than $500 when I pay it off. If you have an aging iPhone, or if you have an Android and are thinking of switching to the dark side, I’d recommend holding out for a good deal if you can. If the price doesn’t deter you (most phones will require a 30-year mortgage soon anyway), keep the iPhone XS on your radar. If you are looking for something that works well right out of the box and don’t need to be bothered by a bunch of unnecessary options, this could very well be the phone for you.