4 smart-phone tips you may not have heard yet

Consumer Reports

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You may think you know everything about using your smart phone, but there may be a few nuggets of wisdom that you haven't come across yet.

Rescue a drowned phone. An accidental dunk in the sink or a puddle often means the end for any cell phone. But you can give your phone a fighting chance if you act quickly enough: Immediately pull the phone out of the water, remove the battery cover (if it has one) and yank out the battery and SIM and memory cards. If your phone does not have a removable battery, turn it off and eject the cards.

Insert all the pieces into a mason jar or any container with an airtight seal that's filled to the brim with rice. Close the lid and leave it undisturbed for at least two weeks. Afterward, reassemble the phone, turn it on, and try it out. You may have full or at least partial functionality.

Helping hands. Tired of squinting at tiny text on your smart phone's display? Go to your phone's Settings menu, under Accessibility, and click on a feature that makes text appear bigger on your screen. You may see options to help those with vision or hearing impairments. Some new Android phones from LG, Pantech, Samsung, and others, have an "Easy" mode that clears desktop clutter to put core functions such as phone, contacts, messages, and camera front and center. In that mode, you can also easily increase the size of fonts and app icons, and menus present a shorter list of options to simplify use.

Toolbox. You may already know about the free apps that allow you to use your phone's display or camera light as a flashlight. But there are other handy and free apps that let you exploit your phone's hardware in interesting ways. For instance, iHandy Level Free, available free for Android and iPhones, turns your phone as a surface level so you can hang that picture straight.

Other free useful tools, such as a compass or rulers, can be found by typing in those search terms at your phone's app store. To minimize your chances of installing a malicious app on your phone, download apps only from the most reputable sources. For Android phones, that means sticking with the Google Play store or the Amazon Appstore. For iPhones, there's only one source: Apple's App Store.

Myths busted. One popular cell myth is that you can transmit a signal from your car's remote over a cell phone to unlock your car. The idea is that if you accidentally lock your keys in the car, you can have someone at home hold their "clicker" up to a cell phone while you hold your phone about a foot away from your car door. That might work if car locks were controlled with sound waves, but they're not. They're controlled by radio waves, and the radio signals from a car's remote can't be transmitted over a phone call.

Another myth is that you can revive a near-dead cell battery by typing in a special code to tap into some "secret" power reserve set aside by the phone carriers. There is no such code or special power stash. When your phone's battery indicator flashes red, find a charging source fast.


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