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Posts Tagged ‘smartphone’


The End of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7: Device Explosions Trigger Full Recalls

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

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In a rare move, Samsung fully recalled and discontinued production on its previously well-reviewed Galaxy Note 7 model following several verified cases of the devices catching fire. This unexpected turn of events has left a vacuum in the large smartphone and phablet product space. Businesses often rely on these devices to increase productivity on the go, as they are much easier to haul around than a full-sized tablet or laptop.

What’s going on with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7?

Samsung issued two recalls on the Galaxy Note 7, the second of which included phones that were sent out to replace the faulty ones in the first recall.

Essentially, the problem with the Galaxy Note 7 over other faulty device recalls is that Samsung is unable to figure out exactly why these devices are exploding. Samsung initially thought it was a problem with defective batteries from a supplier, but the fires continued with the new models.

This issue is confined to the Galaxy Note 7: Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. Older Samsung smartphones are not affected. However, Samsung has made the news over defective product problems in the past, including washing machines and microwaves.

Consumer Confidence and Recall Fallout

Because of the safety problems with the devices and tarnished branding, Samsung has discontinued the Galaxy Note 7 product line. The FAA banned Galaxy Note 7 devices from airplanes, even when powered down. According to CNET, 40 percent of people surveyed claim they will not purchase another Samsung phone after this debacle. And while the publication notes that this survey may represent a higher share than reality, there’s no question that the brand has been damaged by bad PR.

The same survey reports that around 30 percent of people will switch to iPhones, while the other 70 percent will switch to a different Android manufacturer. While Samsung’s reputation will certainly take a hit from the Note 7 recall, and Android’s market share will dip slightly, claiming it’s “doomsday for Android” is an exaggeration based on market data.

About Lithium-Ion Battery Safety

Lithium-Ion batteries, which are found in just about every device with a rechargeable power source, are prone to catching fire in overheating, overcharging, and physical damage situations. Issues including swollen and punctured batteries can happen to any phone or device using these batteries. Such problems are, of course, a major safety issue, as the devices can burn people and/or start larger fires.

Galaxy Note 7 Alternatives

Even if your employees love their Galaxy Note 7 devices, they’re not safe to use and should be replaced. Several other viable large-form smartphones on the market can replace most, if not all, of the Note 7’s functionality. Android Community recommends the following devices:

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 5 (there was no Galaxy Note 6 model)
  • Samsung Galaxy 7 Edge
  • LG V20
  • Google Pixel XL
  • Xiaomi Mi 5
  • OnePlus 3
  • Huawei P9 Plus
  • ZTE Axon 7

Alternatively, your employees could look at switching to an iPhone 7 Plus or larger Windows Phone device.

For help improving your business IT productivity and guidance in finding the right technology solutions for your company’s specific needs, contact the experts at MPA Networks today.

Water-Resistant Smartphones Are Here: What You Need to Know

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

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Water-resistance probably isn’t on the feature checklist for your employee smartphones—but judging by how many of these devices meet an untimely end via liquid damage, it should be.

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that dropping the device is the number one cause of smartphone damage at 30 percent; however, liquid damage makes up a substantial 18 percent.

Your business can purchase a range of affordable fitted bumpers, cases, and screen protectors as a line of defense, but waterproof cases like this one are much more expensive and bulky.

It’s “Water-Resistant,” Not “Waterproof”

First and foremost, keep in mind that water-resistant smartphones are not waterproof. If you throw the phone in the ocean or a 12-foot-deep wave pool and leave it there for a few hours, it’s going to break. These devices are built to survive the accidental drop in the bathtub or dinner table spill. Water-resistant devices also have different performance ratings. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S7 can survive being submerged under five feet of water for half an hour.

Why Go Water-resistant?

Water-resistant smartphones can help increase productivity by allowing employees more free use of their devices by lessening water-resistant concerns. For example, an employee with a water-resistant phone will have no qualms about answering a call in the rain. Many smartphones also suffer water damage from sweat seeping in during a workout—not a problem with water-resistant devices. Additionally, a versatile phone can help reduce downtime, data loss, and replacement costs when it continues to function even after being dropped in a pool, submerged in spilled beer, or soaked in a bag in the rain.

Current and Upcoming Models

The water-resistant phone is not an especially new concept; the Sony Xperia Z released in early 2013 is considered the first slim-designed water-resistant smartphone. As of mid-2016, CNET recommends the following water-resistant phones:

  • Samsung Galaxy S7 (Edge and Active)
  • Sony Xperia X Performance
  • Motorola Moto G4

While the iPhone 6S doesn’t have a “water-resistant” designation, Engadget reports that the device holds up surprisingly well against liquid damage, even when being submerged. CNN found that while a dunk test still broke the iPhone 6S, it held up for much longer than the iPhone 5. Additionally, ZDNet reports that the iPhone 6S can alert the user if the lightning port is wet, which hints at future water-resistance.

Your business’s smartphone needs can vary, and depending on partnerships, you may be limited to specific devices on a single carrier. IT consulting services can help find the right water-resistant phones for your staff’s needs. Contact us today for more information on how you can keep the rain from coming down on your smartphone parade.

Are Your Smartphones Properly “Containerized”?

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

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Earlier today the cashier at the local drive-thru miskeyed the amount of cash I gave him into his register. Somewhat sheepishly, he asked if I had a smartphone so I could verify the correct amount of change. Fortunately, I never leave home without it.

In fact, how well could you function today without your smartphone? It’s more than a telephone, camera, or calculator. It’s really a miniaturized computer—with most of the capabilities of a desktop or laptop. For better or worse, it’s a device we’ve come to rely upon.

A Mobile World

The mobility of smartphones has likewise made them indispensable work tools. Once upon a time, professionals carried a company-issued “work phone” along with their personal cell phone.

But today, given a choice, most would rather access work-related data from a single device in their pockets. This creates unique issues, however:

  • How safe is confidential company data on an unsecured mobile device? If it’s lost or stolen, what are the consequences? And how many of the countless downloadable user apps stealthily require permission to access—or even modify—other properties of the phone?
  • By the same token, users are reluctant to link their company network with the same device they use for private activities—personal email, music, photos, or their online dating profile.

How many companies wrestle with defining security of their employees’ access between business and personal data via their smartphones? This is a very important facet of a comprehensive BYOD (bring-your-own-device) policyas we’ve already talked about.

Containerization = Safety and Privacy

The answer for smartphones revolves around what has been termed containerization—creating a virtual partition between business and personal applications within a single device. When switched to a containerized “business mode,” all inbound/outbound network traffic is automatically secured via supplemental authentication, advanced 240-bit encryption, and other measures which block out unauthorized apps—or malware.

If the phone is lost or stolen—or the employee leaves the company—network access from that device can be remotely severed in a flash. Meanwhile, the user can toggle their phone back into conventional Android or iOS smartphone mode, assuring their personal apps and files remain private and “unsnoopable” by Big Brother (or at least their boss).

Containerization is a fairly new buzzword in mobile security, but there’s already a slew of vendors hopping on the bandwagon and offering a wide range of turnkey products. Which options offer the right protection and the best bang-for-the-buck? As usual with IT decisions, finding the right solution can be daunting—but we have the expertise to help. To learn more about containerization and more of the latest developments in IT security, talk with us.

The Death (and Second Life) of a Replaced Business Smartphone

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

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When it’s time to upgrade employee smartphones, your business needs to worry about backing up data, clearing the memory, and figuring out the best way to get rid of the old devices. According to Business Insider, the average smartphone upgrade cycle reached 22 months in 2012. This time frame could continue to increase as carriers drop subsidized plans.

With such a brief window of use, it’s likely your business will end up with a stockpile of functional but unused devices.

Those old phones may still have some life in them—and you may want to consider repurposing them instead of dumping them in an electronics recycling bin.

Backing It Up and Clearing Your Data

Regardless of what’s going to happen to the smartphone, your first task is wiping the data off of it. This usually means backing up all the information on the device and performing a factory reset to erase any confidential information. Android phones can back up data a few ways: via Google’s Cloud, backup applications, and connecting to a computer to manually copy data. iPhones, on the other hand, can rely on the iCloud backup process.

Once you’re backed up, remove any SIM and microSD cards the phone supports, and then run a factory reset to clear any and all data. CNET recommends connecting the wiped phone to a dummy account and wiping the device a second time to further protect your information.

Repurposing Old Smartphones

Your business can extract some extra value by giving old devices a second life. Keeping an older device or two around the office in a shared area as a social media access point is a great way to provide content for your company’s social media accounts. If your company is doing something newsworthy that your audience would be interested, snap a photo of it on the phone and post it to Facebook and Twitter. Employees can also use the device to respond to questions posed on those social media accounts.

Smartphones can break fairly easily. A new device can easily run $400 to $700, while replacement plans on devices can get pretty expensive. Be your own device replacement insurance policy, and consider keeping a few of the two-year-old phones around to replace lost or damaged devices to hold employees over until the smartphone can be properly replaced. While using a two-year-old phone lacks the “new and shiny” feeling, it’s more manageable than a shattered screen. The software and hardware on the slightly older device may not be cutting-edge, but it’s probably far from obsolete.

Alternatively, there’s a second-hand market for smartphones to replace broken devices and avoid paying a premium on new devices.

With a little effort, a smaller business can resell the unused devices on sites like eBay to recoup some of the value to put towards replacements. If your business doesn’t want to repurpose the phone internally, Mashable recommends donating the device to the troops, domestic violence victims, or another charity like the One Fund for Boston Marathon tragedy victims.

Questions? Get in touch with your local MSP.