Hands on with the Unihertz Atom Tiny, Rugged 4G Phone

In the June 19, 2018 edition of this blog, I wrote about a new, tiny cell phone that was expected to ship within a few weeks. My description of the World’s Smallest 4G Rugged Smartphone is still available at: https://wp.me/p5httC-18b.

Since that article was published, Unihertz indeed has started shipping these tiny cell phones. I received mine a few days ago and thought I would report on my experiences with it.

I will give the summation first: This is a tiny phone and, as a result, it has some strengths and some weaknesses. I don’t think it is a phone for everyone but, if it fits a specific need you have, it just might be the perfect phone for you.

Now for the details.

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Apple iPhone Allows Anyone to Eavesdrop on Your Conversations Without Your Knowledge

Remember that giant poster that Apple put up in Las Vegas during the recent Consumer Electronics Show that stated “what happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone?”

Never mind.

A 14-year-old iPhone user discovered it is easy to listen in on someone else’s FaceTime conversations without anyone in the conversation knowing that someone is listening.

OOOPS!

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AT&T Claims “We don’t have to disclose any NSA co-operation, not even to shareholders.”

AT&T obviously is helping the U.S. government in its mass surveillance operations. The company claims that divulging such spying would almost certainly be classified by the U.S. government. This comes despite leaks that suggest a close relationship with the telecoms industry and federal intelligence agencies.

AT&T said it complies with government data requests “only to the extent required by law.”

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Google Demanded T-Mobile, Sprint To Not Sell Google Fi Customers’ Location Data

According to an article in Slashdot:

On Thursday, AT&T announced it was stopping the sale of its customers’ real-time location data to all third parties, in response to a Motherboard investigation showing how data from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint trickled down through a complex network of companies until eventually landing the hands of bounty hunters and people unauthorized to handle it. To verify the existence of this trade, Motherboard paid $300 on the black market to successfully locate a phone.

Google, whose Google Fi program offers phone, text, and data services that use T-Mobile and Sprint network infrastructure in the United States, told Motherboard that it asked those companies to not share its customers’ location data with third parties. “We have never sold Fi subscribers’ location information,” a Google spokesperson told Motherboard in a statement late on Thursday. “Google Fi is an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) and not a carrier, but as soon as we heard about this practice, we required our network partners to shut it down as soon as possible.

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You Should Uninstall the Weather Channel App from Your Smartphone. I did.

If you are concerned about your privacy, delete the so-called free Weather Channel app from your smartphone right now.

Why? It isn’t really free. It steals your personal information.

The Weather Channel app records the 45 million monthly active users’ locations every time the app is used, then sells the information to as many as 40 third-party companies without telling any users what is happening to their private information that was unwittingly supplied. The companies that purchase the stolen information are then free to use that information for whatever purposes they want.

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Why Every Smartphone Should Have A Dumb Mode

Mark Wilson has published an article in the FastCompany website that I hope every cell phone manufacturer’s engineers will read and consider. Wilson is in favor of smartphones but feels that each smartphone also should have a switch to convert it into a dumb phone. His definition of a dumb phone is that it would function like the old-fashioned flip phones and “candy bar” phones that make and receive phone calls and little else.

Quoting the article:

“What would dumbphone mode do? Simple. It would turn your smartphone into a device for calls and texts. That’s it. Other apps would simply disappear from your screen so as not to tempt you to tap. And all that spyable data lurking deep in the OS–like GPS tracking–would be deactivated. As a result, you’d get the full dumphone experience without carrying another phone around.”

I will suggest that Mark Wilson’s idea has a lot of merit, both for the reasons he mentions in the article and for a couple of other reasons as well.

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Signal Private Messenger for Safe and Secure Text, Voice, and Video Messaging

“Privacy is possible. Signal makes it easy.”

Signal is a very popular safe and secure replacement for cell phone text messaging systems. Best of all, it is available FREE of charge. If you have an Android device, an iPhone, an iPad, or an iPod Touch, Signal will supplement or replace your present text messaging app. Your cell phone will continue to send and receive normal text messages as it always has plus it will now securely send and receive private, encrypted text messages to and from anyone else who is using Signal.

Millions of cell phone users have installed Signal and use it every day to keep their communications secure and away from prying eyes. Users include many senior politicians in Washington, business professionals, journalists, movie stars, sports professionals, and private individuals alike worldwide. It blocks credit card thieves, identity thieves, nosey neighbors, and (probably) government agencies from tapping into your private communications.

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