A compendium of Recomendo




Block telemarketer calls on your phone

Truecaller is a free, ad-supported smartphone app that blocks telemarketers’ calls. When a call from a spammer comes in, your phone will display a red screen that says “Identified as Spam.” And if a telemarketer slips through, you can easily add the number to Truecaller’s database. — MF 

Useful protective case

I’ve been dropping my iPhone a lot lately — enough to make really grateful for my Spigen protective case. It’s slim enough to not feel bulky, and the lip on the front of the case has protected my screen from cracking on 30+ clumsy occasions. The kickstand feature is my favorite. — CD

Favorite phone service

For many years, I paid $275 a month for an AT&T mobile phone plan (for a family of four iPhone users). Then I switched to T-Mobile. It’s $175 a month, we get unlimited data, and best of all, international data is free. It’s great to travel to another country and freely use the Internet (for maps, reviews, texts, Instagram, etc). Phone calls are also free in Mexico and Canada, and international calls are usually $0.20 a minute. — MF

Better phone calls

Our house phone sounds awful and we get poor cell phone connectivity at home. But we have wi-fi and I’ve started using FaceTime Audio as much as possible to make phone calls. It works on any Apple hardware and the sound quality is crystal clear, even when using cellular data. — MF

Control your iPhone cursor

My recent discovery is that I can use my iPhone keyboard as a mouse to scroll through text and place my cursor exactly where I want it. All you have to do is hard press the keyboard. This makes editing text on iPhone a million times less frustrating. Here’s how. — CD


How-to fix your phone

My two-year-old iPhone 6 Plus wasn’t holding a charge as well as it used it. I ordered the iFixIt battery replacement kit for $40, which includes necessary tools, and excellent step-by-step instructions (video and PDF). It took less than 30 minutes, and I enjoyed looking at the inside of my iPhone. — MF

Phone car mount

Before I left for a three-week road trip, I bought the highly recommended Kenu Airframe+ car mount for my iPhone. Kind of pricey, but it made navigating so much safer and I’ve definitely grown co-dependent on it. — CD

Phone wallet

Since I’ve started using this wallet case, it’s so easy to just slide it into my coat pocket, grab my keys and go. I rarely carry my purse around now. The kickstand feature makes it ultra practical. — CD

Android/iPhone note sharing

Google Keep on iPhone (Free) makes it painless for me and my Android partner to stay synced-up on shopping lists and reminders. Also useful is Emojipedia, so I can make sure the emojis I’m sending aren’t lost in translation.  — CD 

Selfie helper

We got our teenage daughter a LuMee iPhone case. It has LEDs embedded in the perimeter to illuminate your face when you take a selfie. She loves it and the photos really are a lot better looking. — MF

One-finger zoom

Here’s a tip for zooming on smartphone maps. Instead of pinching to zoom, tap the screen twice, but leave your finger on the screen on the second tap. Then slide your finger up or down to zoom in or out. — MF



Most carriers lock your subsidized phone so you can’t use a 3rd party SIM card with it. This is inconvenient if you want to buy a cheap SIM card in a foreign country. AT&T says they will unlock your phone, but only under certain conditions. I’ve tried before and it’s a waste of time. I gave up and used HangUnlock. It cost $2 and took less than a day. — MF

Prank spam callers

When I get a call from a fraudster (like a “Microsoft tech support” scammer or an IRS impersonator), I merge their call with the Jolly Roger bot ($6/yr). This is software that has canned voice responses designed to confuse and waste the time of the criminal who calls you. Listen to funny recordings of the bot in action here. — MF

Texting tip

When texting, at the end of sentence hit the space bar twice and it will easily put a period in the right place. — KK

Unlock phone

If you bought a phone that’s locked to a specific mobile carrier, you won’t be able to use it with another carrier until you get it unlocked. AT&T says they will unlock phones you’ve had for two years, but the process is so arduous that it’s never worked for me. They make it difficult on purpose, I suspect. But I’ve unlocked phones using an unlocking service on eBay and paying $6 per phone. I gave them the phone’s 15-digit IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) serial number and a day later they sent me an email to let me know it’s been unlocked. I have no idea how they do it, but it works. — MF

TechClaudia Dawson