4 Common Mobile Phone Scams & How to Avoid Them

Phone scams can be a bit unnerving to think about. When it comes to keeping your personal information protected and avoiding those scammers we all know are out there. Being mindful of these common mobile phone scams can be easier than you think. We’ve compiled a list of phone scams to be aware of, and how to avoid them.

Common Mobile Phone Scams:

 1. Stolen Phone

Of course, you cannot control if your phone gets stolen, but it’s wise to be prepared if the situation were to ever arise. Often times we keep more personal information on our phones than we realize. Because of this, scammers could have quick access to a lot of the things you want to keep protected. To avoid this, consider taking a few of these proactive steps:

  • Use a unique passcode on your phone.
  • Know what type of “Find My Phone” feature your phone has & how to use it.
    Find out more information on how to utilize this feature on your Android phone here.
  • Do a rundown of any sensitive information you may have on your phone. Consider removing vital information or utilizing apps that can keep it secure.

2. Text Scams

Ever gotten that random text you just weren’t sure about? Better to leave it alone and delete it if it seems fishy in any way. A common text scam can be someone posing as your bank, and notifying you that fraudulent activity may have occurred on your account.

They want to get your attention quickly so you act fast. We advise you pull back the reins to assess the situation before making any moves.

 

These scammers and others like them may give you a link to click or some phrase to text back with. Do not follow these instructions and contact your bank directly to confirm the legitimacy of this communication.

3. One Ring Scam

Sometimes you’ll get that suspicious phone call that only rings once. The strange call was likely intentional to get your attention and make you curious to call that number back. This number may proceed to leave you a voicemail prompting you to call them back.

Best next step? You guessed it! Don’t call them back. Better to make this judgment call and protect your information.

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4. Unfamiliar Callers

This may be one of the most common phone scams everyone experiences. In this age of spam calls, it’s best to be more cautious than not when that mysterious number pops up on your phone. If you do happen to answer one of these unfamiliar calls be aware of what the caller is asking you.

Do not give out personal information over the phone if you are not confident about who you are speaking with.

 

Scammers now have the ability to mimic your area code and the first 3 digits of your phone number, making answering that call all the more enticing. Resist the urge to do so!

If you feel more comfortable with answering those random phones calls just in case it may be someone you know, that’s totally fine. Perhaps you’re waiting for a call from your doctor’s office, or from the mechanic.

Here at Republic we’ve been building and testing solutions for unwanted calls.  With more unwanted phone calls coming in by the day we’ve built a spam blocking feature you can manage right from your device. To learn how you can better utilize this feature on your Republic Wireless phone visit our forums.

Have you run into any phone scams? If so how did you handle it?

To find the latest Android phones with top security features like fingerprint sensors to lock your device click the button below.

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Long-Term Savings: Planning for Retirement

When should you start saving for retirement and other long-term financial goals? How should you do it? There are so many day-to-day expenses and concerns that it can sometimes be easy to let long-term plans fall by the wayside. The great news is that technology and access allow everyone ample opportunity to start saving as soon as they are ready and in easy ways to make sure that plans are in place for later in life!

When to save for retirement?

We all would love to save as much as possible as early as possible, but there are a number of things to make sure you take care of first:

  1. Do you have an Emergency Fund?
  2. Have you eliminated Credit Card and Personal Student Loans debt?
  3. If you have kids, are you saving appropriately for future school plans? See our post on Saving for College and 529 Plans

The general rule of thumb is to start saving as early as you can. The reality is that’s not achievable for everyone- but it’s not too late! Regardless of when you plan on retiring (for most people, it’s around age 65-70), every month and year investing your money is better than not, assuming your situation allows for it. Most checking and savings accounts at your bank offer very little interest (under 1% per year) and don’t bode well for growing your money over a long period of time, so finding a way to save something on a consistent basis that earns a little more has a lot of potential.

Many people live by the rule of thumb that you should be saving 10% of your pre-tax income for your own retirement. If you were to earn an average of 3% per year (a modest return, given Bonds have had an annual return of 4.62% over the last 10 years) from your investments and invest $1,000 per month, here’s what that potential could look like ( http://www.helpfulcalculators.com/compound-interest-calculator):

Over 10 years, with your $120,000 of automatic deposits, you will have earned over $19,500. Over 30 years, you will have earned over $220,000 with your consistent monthly deposit!

How to save for retirement?

Our friends over at LendEdu recommend that you pay down your student loan debt as quickly as possible, so that you can then divert those funds into your retirement savings. A couple great tips include:

  • Pay more than the monthly minimum, as frequently as you can
  • Send any windfalls (e.g., bonuses, tax return) straight to your student loan debt
  • Consider refinancing your student loans to a lower interest rate

I was extremely fortunate to come out of college and be able to save within the first few years. My plan is to retire around the typical age, so I could have over 40 years of investments! What I love is how everything has an auto-withdrawal directly from my paycheck, so I never see the money and it goes directly into an account to start saving. I have lived by the general rule of thumb, so 10% of my pre-tax paycheck per month goes into retirement savings. Here are some of my favorite ways to save and invest for retirement:

401(k)

One of the simplest and most appealing options is a 401(k) plan. This is typically offered by your employer and many will match a percentage of your contributions as a way to incent you to save- that’s free money!

Usually, they will say, “We’ll match up to 4% for your contribution.” For example, if you make $75,000 per year, and you save 10% every month toward 401(k), then your employer could match the first 4% of that, so that’s $3,000 every year of additional money they are giving you to invest! 401(k) investments go in pre-tax, and most are done automatically via payroll each month.

Once you sign up and start saving (the limit is $18,500 per year; $24,500 for those age 50 and above), you then get the option to select a Mutual Fund full of stocks and/or bonds which offer annual returns typically between 7%-8%. Once you turn 59 ½, you can then start withdrawing, paying taxes at that time.

And don’t worry, if you leave your current job, it’s easy and free to rollover your 401(k) into a standard IRA so that it keeps earning annual returns.

IRA and Roth IRA (Individual Retirement Account)

If your employer doesn’t match 401(k) contributions or you’re interested in saving more, IRA and Roth IRAs are great ways to invest for retirement and take advantage of some really neat tax laws, while also leaving you some room for other options.

For a Traditional IRA, you invest money now, pay no taxes at the time of contribution, and only pay taxes when you withdraw after you turn 59 ½. A Roth IRA is the same concept except you pay taxes now and no taxes when you withdraw after turning 59 ½. So why would you do one vs the other? The answer is your current situation and your plan for when you’re older:

Do you think you are making more money now than you will when you start making withdrawals? Then a Traditional IRA is likely the best option for you. You are assuming that you are paying more in taxes now than you will when you’re older.

On the other side, if you believe you’re making less money now than you will when you start making withdrawals, then a Roth IRA is probably the best option. Many younger professionals just starting in their career take this path, capitalizing on their lower income now, paying taxes right now and letting that money grow tax-free over 30 or so years.

As with the 401(k), once you sign up and start investing (the limit is $5,500 per year; $6,500 for those age 50 and above), you then get the option to select a Mutual Fund to start earning annual returns.

Both of these have a very cool feature- if you’ve had the account for over 5 years but are younger than 59 ½, you can withdraw up to $10,000 penalty-free for the purchase, repair, or remodel of a first home. So, while you’re saving for retirement, you’re also leaving yourself options on buying your first home!

Stocks and Bonds

Finally, if you want to save more and get a little more control over your retirement, investing directly in Stocks and/or Bonds can be a great way to do that. If you are knowledgeable about the Stock Market, Robinhood offers free trading, while if you don’t know the first thing (or just like having an expert do it), Betterment is another great option that will invest for you for a very small fee. You just select the level of risk you are comfortable with and they will do the rest.

The Stock Market is a risky place, no doubt, but even with the occasional downturn (see 2008 Financial Crisis), the returns tend to average out over the long-term to around 7-8% annually. The generational words of wisdom say you should temper your enthusiasm during the good times, be optimistic when things look bad, and try to buy and hold for as long as possible to get that average return.

There is a lot to consider when saving for retirement. Your personal situation will dictate most of what you’re able to do, but there’s a reason why these various avenues exist for retirement options: it’s so you’re able to customize to your situation and still think about your long-term financial future. Again, it’s not too late to start saving now! If you’re feeling like you could use some help, financial advisors exist all across the world for very reasonable fees to help out.

As always, feel free to leave comments as well as your own learnings and insights into the world of saving for retirement!

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10 Ways to Avoid a Broken Phone

I have been a member of the Republic Wireless Support team for four years. Over these years at Republic, thanks to my endless dinner time product promotion, I have successfully converted my family and friends to use Republic Wireless devices.

The problem with having friends and family as customers is that when they break their phones, they expect me to magically have replacements sitting on my desk. But I believe in the old saying “ teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime” So I’ve outlined the tips I shared with my family for all of you.


Let’s start out with the top 3 ways people break their phones:
1. Dropping it on a hard surface
2. Getting it wet
3. Sitting on it

Looking over that list, we’ll start out with tips on how to protect the outside of your device.

1. Keep it clean

You bought a case. Great, you’re on the right track. Now you need to be aware of the dirt, dust, and moisture that can get trapped in your case. From time to time, you will need to remove your case and clean both your case and your phone. A good time to do this would be after a trip to the beach or pool, an awesome camping adventure, or a sweaty run. You can clean your phone and case by simply wiping and drying it (air drying works best). You can also use a toothbrush (clean) to gently clear debris from any port.

2. Carry it safely

Tight jeans with small pockets seem like a secure place to put your phone. Just remember, the pressure on your phone from those tight pockets intensifies when you move which can, and will, cause the screen to break. Also, forgetting to remove your phone from your back pocket before you sit down could result in a broken device. I would suggest putting your phone, all by its lonesome, in a dedicated front pocket. Keeping your phone and keys in opposite pockets will prevent unwanted scratches and cracks. Ladies, instead of just putting your phone in the main “anything goes here area” of your purse try putting your phone in a side pocket.

3. Buy a case

Seems simple, but a case and screen protector are the cornerstones to ensuring a long life for your device. A good case will protect your device from normal drops, scratches, spills, and maybe even zombie hordes.

4. Avoid extreme temperatures

Extreme temperatures can send your device to the recycling bin quickly with Screen issues, Internal component failure, and even Battery death. For this reason, try not to expose your device to temperatures less than freezing or above 95°F.  Something as simple as leaving your phone on the seat of your car on a hot day could expose your phone to temperatures upward to 200°F – causing all kinds of damage.  If you have to take your phone to the beach or pool remember to keep it in the shade, preferably in a cool spot with air flow.

5. Protect the inside

Let me be forward, using your device in the bathroom is just asking for a water-soaked device, and I’m not just talking about phones dropped in water aka the sink, bathtub, or toilet. Steam is a smartphone killer. The hot water you use every day in the bathroom produces steam. Steam seeps into the device allowing moisture into the heart of your phone. Over time this moisture could short-circuit the hardware inside your phone.

Protecting your device doesn’t just mean maintaining its outward appearance. Even if your phone is in perfect physical condition, it could be rendered unusable if the Android OS (Operating System) isn’t also protected from damage. Over time, Android users find that their phones tend to be less zippy than they used to be, apps don’t open as quickly, screens scroll in slow motion, and even web pages take longer to load. If you ignore these signs, eventually your device will slow down to a snail’s pace, becoming unusable. No worries, by following a few simple tips you can ensure that your device runs faster and smoother for longer.

6. Update apps

Make sure to regularly update your apps from the Google Play Store. These updates contain new features and bug fixes for any identified issues. Apply the updates regularly and your phone will perform optimally.

7. Free up space

Pay attention to your available internal storage.  Your device requires some of its internal storage to operate, so filling it up will cause your device to run slowly or even fail to function.  A good rule is to never use more than 90% of your device’s total internal storage. Also, once your device gets really low on internal storage it will stop syncing emails and app updates via the PlayStore. Below are some tips that should help prevent this issue from becoming an issue.

  • Move photos, music, and video files to either an external memory card (if your device has a memory card slot) or save them in the cloud using services such as Google Drive or Dropbox.
  • Remove unused apps for additional storage.
  • Clearing the Cache. This will remove temporary files from your phone but will not delete your files or setting.

8. Reboot weekly

As much as we rely on our smartphones for almost everything these days, keeping your phone ON all the time is a bad thing. Constantly having your phone powered on overexerts its resources and could result in your phone becoming sluggish. To prevent this from happening, make sure to reboot your device at least once a week.  This will ensure your caches are cleared and apps restarted properly. To simplify it, you know that feeling you get after a good night’s sleep?  Your phone feels the same way after a reboot. Shutting down the device on a regular basis will also help extend the life of your device.

9. Keep the phone out of harm’s way

Another way to improve the life of your device is to keep your phone out of the way of life’s crazy mishaps. You can do this by using more Bluetooth. Using Bluetooth allows you to use the awesome features of your device without having it in potentially dangerous situations.

Using Bluetooth headphones while working out allows you to access music and take calls without the chance of dropping and breaking your device and without continued exposure to sweat and moisture.

10. Use companion devices

While at the beach or pool try bringing along a Bluetooth speaker. This will allow you to stream your music without putting your phone in danger. Remember to keep your device out of direct sunlight and away from water.

The more you handle your device the greater the chance you mishandle it by maybe dropping it or putting it in situations that are less than ideal. A smartwatch allows you to put your phone in a safe location such a gym bag, purse, or even just docked on your desk while still allowing you to stay connected.

A smartwatch notifies you of incoming calls, texts, emails and all of your super important social media notifications from apps like facebook, twitter, and Instagram just to name a few. In addition, smartwatches will send you calendar reminders, events, and alarms just like your phone would. You can even access your phone like a remote enabling you to access and play music, use google search, and much much more. I recommend the Moto 360 but there are tons of options and flavors out there for everyone.

I hope that you have found our tips and tricks for getting the longest life out of your device useful. Before I go I would like to leave you with a few bonus tips.


Bonus Tips:

  • If your smartphone happens to be exposed to the elements such as sunlight and overheating, water or freezing temperatures, the best thing to do is turn the device off for an extended amount of time (Normally 24 hours) and allow it to cool down, warm up or dry off. This will help prevent additional damage to your device that might occur during your next boot up.
  • Keep your phone out of the bathroom. If you need music while getting ready, look into Bluetooth speakers designed for bathroom use.  And ahem, let’s bring magazines back for bathroom reading.
  • Bring a plastic sandwich bag with you. That way you can put your device in the sandwich bag (half closed to allow some airflow) while you’re out having fun adding extra protection from random splashes.

What do you do to keep your smartphone protected and speedy?
Let us know in the comments below.

 

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The Best Smartphones for Senior Citizens

 

Switching from a flip phone to a Smartphone can be scary for anyone, but especially for those who don’t consider themselves “tech-savvy”. In this high-tech world, there is a pressure to keep up with this fast-paced even when you don’t feel ready. If you’re a person who grew up when rotary phones were in most households, you might feel especially overwhelmed at the prospect of picking out a smartphone and having to learn how to use it.

I recently purchased a new Android smartphone and I was surprised at how much more difficult the choice was than I expected! Even as a millennial who, by stereotype, should be pretty smart when it comes to technology, I didn’t even know where to begin.

So many manufacturers, sizes, specs… it was overwhelming! I’m not an overly tech-savvy person and looking up the specifications of a phone online didn’t really tell me which would be the best fit for me. With the help of the RW team, I was able to choose the phone that best fit my needs. Through my search to find the right smartphone for me I learned a lot about the smartphones we carry in the process.

As a Senior Citizen, possibly new to the world of smartphones, you might have certain needs that have prevented you from making the switch.

  • Maybe you have trouble reading the tiny text on these small phones
  • Perhaps you need a battery that will last so you don’t have to fumble with the charger every day.
  • Maybe you need a phone with a loud and clear speaker.
  • Or maybe you just want a smartphone that is simple to use without all the extras.

These Republic Wireless phones might have just what you’re looking for! Hopefully, this breakdown will help you find the right smartphone for your needs.

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If you’re someone who wants a fully-functional smartphone for a fraction of the price, the Alcatel A30 might be for you.

Alcatel A30 
$99*

At a retail value of $99 you simply can’t beat the price. You might be thinking, “You get what you pay for,” and, in some ways, you’re right. The Alcatel A30 won’t have as high a quality camera as a device like the Samsung S7 Edge ($599), longest lasting battery, or lightning speed processor BUT it makes calls, sends texts, and allows for use of apps – pretty much everything you’d need if you were a light to mid smartphone user.

The Alcatel A30  allows you to do everything you need to with a smartphone and at such a low price. It also has nice features such as its 5MP auto-focus camera, 2 MP front camera,  and 5.0” HD display. With a fairly large screen, touch ability becomes easier and reading text becomes less of a challenge as well. One downfall is that it is not water-repellant. I would recommend purchasing a case with this phone to help protect against drops and spills.

“Provided that you put yourself in the mindset of what capabilities should be standard on a super budget device, this phone performs admirably for basic communication functionalities and even single-threaded applications.” – Nov. 15, Republic Wireless Team Member

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If you’re someone who wants a quality phone that can do all of the video streaming and image-capturing for a reasonable price, these phones could be for you.

One thing I love about Motorola phones is that they allow you to have a more “pure” Android experience. What this means is that they do very little to modify the operating system. With fewer modifications, the faster the phone typically runs. It is also argued that phones providing this more “pure” experience are often simpler to learn and use than one with many alterations.

All of the Motorola phones I describe below allow the user to have this “pure” experience – something many Android users say is one of the top things they look for when choosing a phone.

Moto G4
$179*

The Moto G4 gives you a great bang for your buck. You get a lot of awesome features with this phone for what many smartphone users consider a rock-bottom price. Like most Moto phones, the G4 has a large, day-long lasting battery. You get a 13MP camera, 5.5” HD display, and front-ported, loud-speaker for easy listening.

One really great feature of this phone is its water-repelling abilities. Although it isn’t “waterproof”, this phone will survive getting caught in the rain, or being lightly spilled on – and if you’re clumsy like me, this can be a lifesaver! The G4 is also easy to grip due to the rounded edges of the phone, making it slightly less likely to be dropped. Of course, I always still recommend a case to protect your smartphone.

“My first smart phone! I am 68 years old and was a little worried I might have trouble figuring it out. I would say I’m even enjoying it and have found it easy to navigate. I like the size. Old dogs can learn new tricks.” – Jan. 27, G4 owner

 

Moto E4 Plus
$199*

The affordable Moto E4+ is perfect for basic tasks like web-browsing, watching Netflix, texting, making calls, and catching up with Facebook friends. This budget smartphone is best known for its long battery life – lasting 2 days or more with light use! Other notable features include the fingerprint reader and its ergonomic design, so it fits comfortably in your hands. It comes with a front-ported loud-speaker for clear, high-quality audio. The Moto G4, it has a 13MP camera and 5.5” HD screen.

“I like the size – it is just big enough for me to be able to read things on the phone with ease, but not too big not to be able to handle it easily.” – Oct. 24, E4 plus user

 

Moto G5 Plus
$229*
Save $30 offer ends 11/30

The Moto G5 Plus is actually the phone I am using right now. For less than $200 this smartphone provides so many awesome features for just a sliver of the price of other smartphone brands.

Although there are many things I love about this phone, my favorites include the large, bright screen and long-lasting battery. I would consider myself a mid-high range smartphone user. I stream video, play games, and browse the internet and with doing all this my phone battery usually lasts at least a day and a half! While watching videos I love the large, 5.2” HD screen. I went from a 4” display to 5.2” display and also found it much easier to read texts and web pages compared with my old phone.

Other awesome features of this phone include 12MP auto-focus camera, water-repellent nano-coating, and a front-ported loud-speaker. After having this phone for a couple months, the only problem I notice is that sometimes it is hard to hear other people on the phone. However, if I turn it on speaker phone, it is clear and I have no trouble hearing the person on the other end of the line.

“I was using a “not so smart” phone that didn’t have good reception. I wanted one with an excellent camera and something that wouldn’t break the piggy bank. This phone fit my needs and I have really enjoyed using it. The screen is a great size for reading, the apps work well without any slowing.” – Sept. 18, G5 plus owner

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If you’re someone who is extremely tech-savvy, enjoys streaming video and taking super-sharp, clear images, and are willing to pay more for the perks, this may be the best option for you:

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
$599*

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is certainly one of the more high-end, top-tier smartphones you can purchase. Its premium features are reflected in the price. At $599, this phone can be a little on the expensive side if you are a not a heavy user and/or don’t need the fancy features a top-tier smartphone provides. These top-of-the-line features include a fingerprint sensor, 5.5” HD Display, water-resistant technology, and a 12 MP auto-focus camera.

Though I have not used this phone for a long period of time myself, I have seen many mixed reviews about it being difficult to text with the curved screen. People say it is sometimes a challenge to press the buttons you want and that it is easy to accidentally tap something you didn’t intend.

If you are someone new to smartphones, I might recommend something a bit more user-friendly for your first time(like a Motorola). If you are someone who is on their smartphone a lot (streaming video, taking pictures, recording video, using apps), and are familiar with smartphone navigation, this phone might be perfect for you due to its exceptional camera, speed, and display.

Another thing to be aware of is the all-glass screen. This can be problematic if you are someone who tends to drop their phone often. Although I always recommend having a case for your phone, I especially recommend it with this more expensive phone option.

“This is a great phone for those of us with hearing that isn’t as good as it used to be. The camera has a ton of features for those that want more control. Pro setting gives aperture and shutter controls…among others, useful for those low light photos. Phones comes with security features, like fingerprint reader and encryption” – Mar. 28, S7 Edge user

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Even with the many smartphone options out there, it’s possible that none meet all of your needs. That’s where the real beauty of an Android comes in – its customizability. If you need a bigger font, more easily accessible emergency buttons, or a way to simplify your home screen, you can get it!

If you haven’t heard of launchers or aren’t too familiar with what they do, they are apps that make changes to your phone so that it will look and do exactly what you want it to. There are many launchers that can give you just the help you’re looking for!

 

Download now

 

Wiser Launcher gives you the ability to:

-Easily find the essentials (calling, messaging, pictures, emergency buttons, etc.) with an easy-to-use interface
-Quickly access favorite contacts and most used apps
-Easily add and find contacts
-Clearly see all notifications and updates

 

 

Download now

 

Phonotto Launcher gives you the ability to:

-Avoid all the “bells and whistles” of the typical smartphone while still giving you easy access to making/receiving calls, SMS, managing contacts, take photo and video, and use your daily apps.
-Has a simple design with large buttons that make it easy for making phone calls and texting.
-Optimized for people with poor eyesight
-Intuitive to keep use simple

 

 

Download now

 

Necta Launcher:

-Has helped over 400,000 senior people and vision loss people use Android phone
-Uses very large buttons for easy visibility and touch
-Has an easy-to-use camera that reacts to touch anywhere on the screen
-Provides a weather forecast, alarm, local newspaper (with larger text size), flashlight, and more!
-Will get you home so you never get lost.

 

 

Download now

 

Big Launcher provides:

-A home screen designed in consideration with senior citizens and the visually impaired to provide maximum readability and easy use.
-Enlarged icons
-Big font SMS editor
-Large battery indicator and direct dialing button

 

 

Download now

 

Koala Phone Launcher:

-Is focused on easy calling and messaging
-Allows you to see big photos of favorite contacts and provides a large dialer
-Contains touch-optimized apps like the camera, photo gallery, alarm, and flashlight
-Gives the ability to increase text size for more comfortable use without glasses
-Reads texts aloud when pressed on for a couple seconds

These launchers can be downloaded from the Google Play Store. All you have to do is tap the Google Play Store app, type the launcher’s name into the search bar, and tap download. VOILA! You will have a new launcher on your phone.

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While launchers are amazing, they still may not meet all of your needs if you have an especially difficult time seeing or hearing.

  • Device’s hearing aid compatibility – For those with hearing aids, it is important to make sure that the smartphone you choose is compatible. All smartphones suggested above have hearing aid compatibility rating M4/T3.
  • Stylus (for increased dexterity) – A stylus is a pen that does not use ink, but rather uses pressure from your touch to select items on a screen.
  • Phone locator – Phone locators are extremely useful for anyone, but can be especially useful for those suffering from memory loss or forgetfulness. Some great phone locators include: Find My Device, Family Locator – GPS Tracker, and Where’s My Droid.

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*Phone prices subject to vary, check our website for current prices and availibility. Prices last updated 1/11/18.

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The 5 Best Apps to Help Organize Your Phone

 

One thing that I never take time to do is sort through my apps. I have the general categories my phone gave me to start (utilities, photos, etc.) but once I download a new app I never put it in the right category. Pages and pages of apps later, it’s time for a solution. If your phone looks like mine did, check out these awesome app-organizing apps.

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JINA: App Drawer, Sidebar & Folder Organizer

• Automatic app organizer
• 
Organizes apps by usage frequency, size, name, etc.
• 
Sidebar for easy multitasking
• 
Easily share apps
• 
Searches for apps quickly
• 
Customizable app drawer replacement

Download now

 

The best part of this app is the ability it gives you for customization. JINA makes adding folders and customizing them so easy. By being able to change the colors and icons of the folders enhances my ability to find what I need without having to spend much time searching.

 

App Drawer by Radsoft

• A simple, easy-to-use alternative to your phone’s default app drawer
• 
Offers a light and dark theme
• 
Automatically begins in search mode
• 
Ability to change search filter behavior
• 
Ability to save frequently-used search terms

Download now

 

Quick Drawer by Softonic

• Gives you the ability to find the apps you need fast
• 
Contains three smart layouts including last used apps, frequently used apps, and apps by alphabetical order.
• 
Does not modify or alter any part of your Android phone

Download now

 

The previous two apps are both intended to keep things simple. Both look a bit different, but their abilities are nearly the same and they both accomplish the same goal: to be an app drawer. The only real difference I can tell is the ability to change the theme and use a search bar in the App Drawer where it seems you cannot in Quick Drawer. These two apps are great if you are someone who isn’t looking for a whole lot of customization but wants a simple, easy to use app drawer.

 

Categories – App Organizer

• Easily navigate through categories
• 
Automatically organizes your launchable apps into categories
• 
Ability to personalize structure by creating or modifying existing categories
• 
Sorts by recently used, most used, recently installed, or last updated

Download now

 

My personal favorite way to organize my apps is by most used. I tend to use the same apps multiple times a day, day after day. Having them at my fingertips immediately makes it so much more convenient to find the apps I need.

 

EverythingMe Launcher

• Automatically organizes apps into folders you choose
• 
Tracks top contacts for easy messaging/calling
• 
Prediction bar to give you the app you need when you need it
• 
Search bar to easily find any app
• 
Ability to customize
• 
App discovery tool finds new apps you’ll love

Download now

 

What’s really cool about the EverythingMe Launcher is not only its ability to categorize your apps for you, but it also predicts what app you will need, sometimes even before you need it!

Keep in mind, though, that it is a launcher and therefore has permissions to change your phone. This particular launcher is one very popular one along with the Go Launcher, Nova Launcher, Smart Launcher and many others! All launchers are created to help you customize your Android phone exactly how you want it.

All launchers come with some form of app drawer or another and each with their own specialized capabilities. When looking into keyboards, take a close look at what else the launcher has to offer before hitting download. Though easily deletable, no one wants to go through the hassle. Check out this article by Android Central on the best launchers.

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Six aspects of your life should now be improved by these top organizing apps for Android:

  1. You should find staying on top of your schedule and keep your day-to-day commitments organized

2. You should find that the management and budgeting of your expenses has become a whole lot simpler

3. You should be able to shop with ease while saving money by easily finding e-coupons and comparing store prices

4. You should find making dinner a whole lot easier with fast, simple, and healthy recipes always at your fingertips

5. You should notice that keeping track of your workouts and staying motivated to continue living a healthy lifestyle has become less of a chore and more of a pleasure (well, at least something you don’t have to dread?!)

6. You should find that by organizing your apps, you can find what you’re looking for much more quickly… and hopefully freeing up some space on your phone by eliminating those unused apps!

Thanks for sticking around for all six blogs! I hope you will use some of these blogs to help organize and simplify your daily life. These apps sure did help me, and I hope they do the same for you.

If you’ve tried any of these apps in the past, comment below about your experience! Do you know of any other great app-organizing apps? Post it here for others. Have another category of apps you want to see in the future? Leave those in the comments as well and another blog post will be on its way!

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9 Best Budgeting and Financial Planning Apps

In essence, these 9 apps are built to do very similar things: help you budget your money, make paying bills more convenient, and remind you what needs to be paid when.

1 Mint

  • Money manager and financial tracker from the makers of TurboTax®
  • Bring together your bank account, credit cards, bills, and investments, net worth, free credit score, and more!
  • Save time and money by keeping track of your finances in one place
  • Bill pay reminders so you don’t have to worry about late fees again!
  • Get your credit score for free along with tips on how to raise it

Download now

2 Mobills: Budget Planner

  • Create customized monthly budgets that work for you
  • Track spending and be reminded of it
  • Adjust budget when necessary
  • Add expenses, income, and make transfers on the go
  • Credit card management

Download now

3 Monefy – Money Manager

  • See spending distribution in an easy-to-read chart
  • Get detailed spending info from the records list
  • Manage categories
  • Synchronize using your Dropbox account
  • Simply insert expense amount… no other data necessary

Download now

 

4 AndroMoney (Expense Track)

  • Easy-to-use personal finance tool
  • Multiple accounts and support account balances and account transfer
  • Sync with other devices
  • Simple, custom budgets
  • Trend, pie, and bar charts for expense and cash flow

Download now

 

5 Home Budget Manager Lite

  • Track expenses, incomes, and bills
  • Unlimited accounts
  • Bills Reminder
  • Set budgets for categories
  • Statistics graph to see where your money has gone categorized by incomes, expenses, budget vs. expense, etc.

Download now

 

6 Money Manager Expense and Budget

  • Financial planner, expense tracker, and personal asset manager
  • Record personal and business transactions, generate spending reports, review daily, weekly, and monthly financial data, and manage your assets
  • Credit/Debit Card management
  • Instant statistics
  • Budget and expense management

Download now

 

7 Money Tracker

  • Advanced personal finance manager
  • Flexible reports with drill-down capabilities
  • Ability to schedule, enter, analyze, and project your expenses months and even years ahead
  • 8 powerful fully customizable reports with tables and charts
  • Photo attachments
  • Data synchronization between 2+ devices

Download now

 

8 Expense IQ Money Manager

  • Serves as an expense tracker, budget planner, checkbook register, integrated bills reminder, and more!
  • Track your daily expenses quickly and easily
  • Detailed and interactive reports
  • 12+ reports and charts to analyze spending patterns
  • Set monthly budgets to accounts categories and check their health bars
  • Get warnings if you exceed your budget

Download now

 

9 My Finances

  • Will help you manage and control your home budget and expenses
  • Ability to create color-coded categories and subcategories to make the data clear
  • Ability to manage multiple accounts
  • Pay recurring flat-rate bills with ease by setting repeated operations and frequency
  • Predicts your total income and expenses based on your planned operations
  • Tracks your history and follows your earnings and payments
  • Tells you which category(ies) you spend the most in to help you better prepare and save.

Download now

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I hope that these budgeting apps will help make your life a little more organized (hopefully get rid of some of the awful paper clutter). Bills are just another one of those things to keep up with. Let an app do it for you so you can spend less time worrying about when your bills are due, and more time doing what you love (in my case shopping… which is why I need a budgeting app).

If you’ve tried any of these apps in the past, comment below about your experience! Do you use a life-saving financial app that I didn’t mention? Post it here for others. The best part about apps is how easy they are to use and share.

To start saving money on your cell phone bill make the switch to Republic Wireless risk-free. Click the button below to learn more.

See plans

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Staying Safe with WiFi Security

Your security is important! We’ve wrangled these helpful tips for ensuring you stay connected better and stay safe while you’re doing it! Check ’em out!

As a WiFi calling first company, we get asked this question a lot – “Is my phone secure on public WiFi?” It’s a complex question – one we are continuously monitoring as security technology rapidly evolves. The bottom line is all WiFi works on unlicensed radio spectrum, so whether you are using your phone, a computer, a tablet, or console, taking some simple precautions when connecting through a public WiFi network can help keep your information safe!

1. Keep your browser and Internet-connected devices up to date with the latest versions, but make sure to do this on a trusted home, work, or business network.

2. Be aware of rogue hot spots – you’ll know ’em when you see ’em. They sometimes appear as long, random number or letter strings. Verify the name of the network with staff or on signage before connecting when you’re out and about. Public hot spots at places like Starbucks usually require that you agree to terms or login through a browser page first. Luckily, with Republic phones, when you login once, your phone can remember your actions so you never have to do it again!

3. Be careful what sorts of websites you access on public networks. If a website connection is secured, its address will begin with https:// instead of just http://, and you should see a padlock or other indicator showing SSL encryption is in use somewhere on the browser screen (usually in the lower right hand corner). This is especially important if you’re making a purchase on an online store or doing and online banking (more on that in number 5!).

4. If you’re on a mobile device, don’t assume that your apps are automatically secure or using HTTPS. Unless outlined by the app developer, it’s safest to presume that the app is not conducting a secure transaction. In this case, you should use your browser to log on to the service, and check for a HTTPS connection in the status bar.

5. Only do online banking and shopping using secure network – ideally your password protected home network, which is likely utilizing WEP, WPA, or WPA2 security. If you are out in public and must access sensitive info, we suggest turning your WiFi off temporarily and using the cellular network. Though it’s slower, most cell service providers encrypt the traffic between cell towers and your device.

6. Avoid using communication apps, such as for free phone calls and instant messaging, unless you know the network you’re using is secure.

7. Once you are all done with your Internet browsing, make sure to log off any services you were signed into.

8. It’s good practice to enable two-factor authentication on services that support it, such as Gmail, Twitter, and Facebook. This way, in the off chance someone does manage to sniff out your password when on public WiFi, you have an added layer of protection.

9. Use strong passwords for all your online accounts and change them often. There are many good password protection programs – more here.

10. If you’re really concerned about your mobile Internet security, consider using a virtual private network (VPN) on both your WiFi and cell data connections. When connected to a VPN, all your Internet traffic travels through an encrypted tunnel, guarding it from local eavesdroppers. One we like is the free super-easy VPN provided by Tunnel Bear. Launch the app and look in the notification bar for a small key and that means you are on a secure connection.

A few simple steps are the keys to a smarter smartphone and playing it safe. What tips do you have for WiFi security? Share them with us in the comments!

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Getting Smarter about Time Management

Time. There never seems to be enough of it, and we’re always trying to find ways to make it work harder for us. With busy schedules, demanding jobs, families, chores, exercise, rest and social commitments, most of us are stretched thin trying to put more hours back in our days.

And then there’s time spent on Facebook and other social media. Procrastinating. Sleeping in. Running late. Or a million other reasons we’re not using our time wisely. Fact is, time management is a learned skill. You just have to use the things in your life more effectively to help you get smarter about how you manage the time you have in each day.

The new school year is quickly approaching. Whether you’re a student, parent, or teacher, managing your time will be vital to your success this semester.   Below we’ll give you  5 key tips on how to improve your time management, and how your smartphone can help!


1. Jumpstart Your Morning

Put yourself in a position to make sure that the day ahead will be productive. Here are some things you can do to start your day off right:

Program your coffeemaker the night before

The programming feature is there for a reason. Because the smell of fresh-brewed coffee sends a signal to your brain that says, “It’s time to get up.” Also, plan your breakfast and have it easily accessible.

Put your alarm clock out of reach

One way to get going early to is to actually force yourself to get out of bed to turn off your alarm. Some great Android alarm clock apps that offer lots of smart wake-up functions include:

Go outside

If the weather permits, take your coffee or tea outside. Not only will it clear your head and connect you with nature – it keeps you from jumping online right away.

Plan your day the night before

Review your day planner before hitting the sack for the night. By thinking through what needs to be done the next day, you’ll start your morning more prepared to hit the ground running.

2. Create Better To-Do Lists

Lists are essential for making sure that the things in your life that matter – get done. Unfortunately, many of us put way too many things on our to-do lists, which can become overwhelming and work against the goal of completing your tasks. The trick is to treat your list strategically, by incorporating a few basic rules:

Keep it simple

Limit yourself to the most important tasks you need to complete.

Add quick descriptions

If you’re completing your task list the night before, a few words of description can help you remember the important details.

Shuffle the priority of tasks as needed

As you work through your day, you may want to move a task that isn’t as important but is easier to complete – to the top of your priority. Crossing it off your list can provide a necessary sense of accomplishment.

Android apps that can help you manage your to-do lists:

 3. Do More With Your Digital Calendar

Keep track of important appointments, social events, payments and commitments by adding reminders to your smartphone calendar. When the reminder is due, your phone notifies you with a sound or buzz – and a pop-up graphic. You can even add options to your reminders to tell you how much time you need to get to an event and the current traffic conditions.

To help keep your family or work group aware of upcoming events or deadlines, use the option to share your calendar with others – so that everyone is up-to-date and in-the-know.

Android apps that can help you keep your calendar organized and working hard:

 4. Limit Distractions

If you want to get things done, give yourself a quiet, clean place to be productive – and do as much as you can to restrict interruptions to your workflow.

Information overload is real. While the ability to get notifications from your smartphone about key events or deadlines in your personal calendar is great, what’s not so great is getting notified about non-essential items, constantly. Whether it’s Facebook notifications about posts, news notifications about current events, or available updates to your apps – these push notifications can easily distract you and ruin your productivity. Turn them off.

5. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is not only essential to life – it’s also essential to being productive. People who are sleep-deficient have a much-increased chance of storing fat and becoming sick, as well as experiencing a sharp decline in their cognitive performance. Experts say that adults should get between 7-9 hours a night, without exception, to ensure good health and peak brain function.

Android apps that can help you manage your sleep cycles, drift off more easily and slumber more deeply:


Finding the time to tackle the important things in your life takes initiative, planning, and smart decision-making, especially in our fast-paced, jam-packed lives. By utilizing proven strategies to improve your time management, you’ll feel more focused, prepared and ready to get things done.

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“Ok Google…how do you work?”

Your Moto can respond to your voice! We’ve pulled together a huge list of commands you can try for yourself.

Those new motos or Samsungs of yours all have the incredibly cool ability to listen to you when you speak. Simply by saying, “Ok Google…” or “Ok Google Now…” your phone can respond to certain commands. You can also record your own custom voice pattern that it can recognize.  Heck, it’ll even talk back to you sometimes and read your texts aloud. But how do you know what commands it responds to? We’ve pulled together a huge list, with even a few fun surprises that gave us a laugh. Just replace whatever’s in between the brackets [ ] with whatever you’re interested in. Check em out:

Basic Info:

  • How old is [the Dalai Lama]?
  • Where was [Abraham Lincoln] born?
  • Define [revelatory] (Or “What does [revelatory] mean?”)
  • What time is it in [France]?
  • Search for [cooking tips].
  • Show me pictures of [the Italian countryside].
  • Do I need an umbrella today? Do I need a jacket? What’s the weather like? What’s the weather in [New York] [this weekend]?
  • What’s the [Red Hat] stock price? What is [Uber] trading at?
  • What’s [15 yards] in [miles]? What is [16 ounces] in [liters]?
  • What’s [180] divided by [6]? (tons of math equations work.)
  • What’s up? (tells you what is new on your notification bar.)

Smartphone control:

  • Open [Republicwireless.com].
  • Take a picture or Take a photo.
  • Record a video.
  • Open [Pandora].

Getting stuff done:

  • What’s the tip for [148 dollars]?
  • Set an alarm for [8:30 am].
  • Set a timer for [15 minutes].
  • Create a calendar event: [Lunch with mom, Wednesday at noon].
  • Remind me to [buy a birthday gift at 11am] (Locations also work. Try saying: Remind me to [buy a birthday gift at The Lego Store at 11am].)
  • What is my schedule for tomorrow? (also: What does my day look like [Monday]?)
  • Where’s my package? (*Note: This only works if your package tracking info is stored in your Gmail)
  • Make a note: [pay my bills]. (You can also try “Note to self: “)
  • Find [Susan Gilespie’s] [phone number]. (Works with all info in your contacts – addresses, birthdays, etc.)

Communication:       

  • Call [Fred] (also works with relationships: Call [brother].)
  • Text [Fran] [Hey! Thanks for inviting me to the party. I had a blast!] (also works with relationships: Text [Dad] [Sorry for wrecking the car…Please don’t ban me from the house].)
  • Send email to [Luke Skywalker], subject, [Using the force], message, [Trust your instincts. Do or do not! There is no try].
  • Post to [Twitter]: [Way to be a Jedi Luke! Thanks for dealing with that Vader jerk].

Travel:

  • Where is the nearest [Mexican restaurant]?
  • Navigate to [Centennial Campus, Raleigh].
  • Directions to [Umstead Park] by [foot] (also try “Directions home” or “How do I get home?”).
  • Where is [Empire State Building]?
  • Show me the menu for [American Meltdown].
  • Call [the NC Museum of Art].
  • Show me my flight info.
  • Where’s my hotel?
  • What are some attractions around here?
  • How do you say [good night] in [Portuguese]?
  • What is [100 pesos] in [dollars]?
  • What’s the flight status of [Jet Blue] flight [932]?
  • Show me restaurants near my hotel -or- Give me directions back to my hotel (*Note: only works if your hotel confirmation info was sent to your Gmail account).                                    

Are you not entertained?!

  • Play some music (opens “I’m feeling lucky” radio station in Google Play Music).
  • Next Song / Pause Song.
  • Play [Happy] (songs must be in Google Play Music on your device).
  • Watch [Game of Thrones] (movies and TV shows must be in your Google Play account).
  • What’s this song?
  • Listen to TV.
  • What songs do [The Black Keys] sing?
  • Read [The Forever War].
  • Did the [Cubs] win today? What’s the score in the [Mets] game?
  • What movies are playing [tonight]? Where is [Guardians of the Galaxy] playing?

Fun surprises:

Make sure to turn your sound up for these…

  • What is the answer to life, the universe, and everything?
  • What is the loneliest number?
  • It can also do math: What is the answer to life, the universe, and everything minus the loneliest number?
  • What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?
  • Do a barrel roll!
  • Askew / Tilt.
  • Go go Gadget [Spotify].
  • When am I?
  • Make me a sandwich.
  • Sudo make me a sandwich.
  • Who’s on first?
  • Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right.
  • Tell me a joke.
  • Who are you?
  • Beam me up, Scotty!
  • What is [Jennifer Lawrence’s] Bacon number? (as in “seven degrees of Kevin Bacon”).
  • What does the fox say?

So there you have it. These commands should keep you talking to your phone for days. Please feel free to add any commands you come across in our comments section below. Thanks and happy talking.

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