2015-08-27 / Columns

Good Housekeeping Reports

How to Be as Smart as Your Smartphone

Your first step? Get a great phone - check out the ones that topped our test below. Then use our Good Housekeeping Lab engineers’ advice on how to extend battery life, save money and text better. Powering up!

Overall Winner

Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge ($199 and $299 with contract): The phones delivered stellar performance across the board (battery life, camera, display and ease of use), and their aluminum-andglass finish rivals Apple’s aesthetic (the Edge’s curved design partly accounts for its higher price).

Lab says: The cameras took the sharpest pics in our low-lighting tests; real-time HDR lets you see how the pic will look before you click.

Testers say: “Display is crystalclear, and the keyboard doesn’t get stuck when texting quickly.”

Screen size: 5.1 inches (measured diagonally).

Battery life: 9 hours.


-How to switch from text to call: If you’re texting someone and want to jump on a call with that person, just hold the phone up to your ear.

-To silence a call: Flip the phone face-down or put your hand over the screen. (Go to “Settings” to enable.)


Apple iPhone 6 ($199 with contract)

The iPhone is the top-selling phone, and the larger-size 6 didn’t disappoint in our tests, especially in ease of use. (Most testers found the 6 Plus too big.) You may want to wait until the 6S or 7 is released (probably this fall) to get a deal on the 6.

Lab says: Navigation is intuitive and the camera launches quickly, though there’s not much new compared to the 5S.

Testers say: “Super-easy to use, and display is great”; “Wish it had a swipe keyboard.” (You may want to use Swype, an app that creates a swipe keyboard.)

Screen size: 4.7 inches (measured diagonally).

Battery life: 7.2 hours.


-To snap a photo while filming: Tap the white button on the lower left-hand corner of the screen to take a pic while recording.

-Shake and remake: Sent an email to the trash by mistake? Shake the iPhone and tap “Undo.” This also works with typing. Need to redo something you deleted? Shake again and tap “Redo.”

Note: Battery life estimates are based on a controlled energy-use test (playing video nonstop). Actual use times will vary.


Find a Bike You Like: Our Ride Guide

Commuter Bike

The upright position lets you see pedestrians and cars more easily. Some even fold up for handy carrying and storage.

Mountain Bike

It has low gears to help you climb steep hills, plus great shock absorbers for uneven terrain. The wheel tread is deeper for better traction.


The beach-friendly, tool-aroundtown style usually has simpler gears (read: little maintenance), and the frame lets you sit up straighter. If you live in a hilly area, get a hybrid (below); you’ll need the extra gears.


It’s a do-it-all ride: The tires have more tread than a road bike’s, so you can take it on dirt or gravel roads as well as on smooth, flat surfaces.


Bonus Top Tech Pick: A Hot New Action Cam

The GoPro has become the gold standard for professional-quality action video, but there are new players on the field. Our experts looked at the TomTom Bandit and loved it! Like a GoPro, the Bandit offers ultra-HD filming and an array of capture modes (video, photo, time-lapse, cinema, slow-mo). But unlike other cams, it lets you edit and share videos on your smartphone via a free app - without having to download them first. As if that’s not cool enough, this camera has sensors that help determine “highlights”- for simplified editing - based on whether you’re going fast (e.g., flying down a mountain’s half-pipe), high up (e.g., jumping from a diving board) and more. And did we mention it’s waterproof up to 160 feet? That’s not all: Its charger has a built-in USB connection, so you don’t need cords.

Bottom line: For an easy-touse HD cam, this is the one to beat. But GoPro is still the go-to for ultra-high-quality video, so if that’s what you need, spring for the GoPro Hero4 Black ($500).

Recals Alert

The following products and vehicles were recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Unless otherwise indicated, discontinue use of the products immediately and return them to the store where purchased for a refund. For more information about the products, call the manufacturer or CPSC’s toll-free hotline, 800-638-2772. Only some cars or trucks recalled are affected. Contact a dealer for your model to see if it is included in the recall. The dealer will tell you what to do.


Flowers By Zoe Girls Hoodie and Jacket, sold at several children’s boutique specialty retailers, such as LaBella Flora in Auburn, IN; Kids Only in Los Angeles; Kids Biz in Dallas; Polkadot Pony in Jackson, MS; and other online children’s stores, such as Everything But the Princess, from February 2015 through May 2015 for about $45.

The hoodies and jackets have drawstrings around the neck area that pose a strangulation hazard to children. Drawstrings can become entangled or caught on playground slides, hand rails, school bus doors or other moving objects, posing a significant strangulation and/ or entanglement hazard to children. Consumers should immediately take the hoodies and jackets away from children and remove the drawstring to eliminate the hazard. Consumers can return the hoodies to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers can contact Flowers By Zoe toll-free at 844-236-7350 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.

•Ford 2011-2012 Ford Fusion without a 3.5L engine

•2011-2012 Lincoln MKZ hybrid

•2011 Mercury Milan

•2011-2012 Ford Taurus, Ford Flex, Lincoln MKS, and Lincoln MKT, equipped with a 3.5L GTDI engine

•2013 Ford Taurus, Ford Flex, Lincoln MKS and Lincoln MKT equipped with any available engine

The affected vehicles have electric power-steering-assist systems that may shut down as a result of a steering motor sensor fault. If the vehicle experiences a loss of power-steering assist, extra steering effort will be required at lower speeds, increasing the risk of a vehicle crash. Ford will notify owners, and dealers will check the Power Steering Control Module for Diagnostic Trouble Codes. If dealers find any loss of steering assist DTCs, the steering gear will be replaced for free. If no codes are found during the PSCM inspection, the PSCM software will be updated for free. The recall is expected to begin during July 2015. Owners may contact Ford customer service at 866-436-7332. Ford’s number for this recall is 15S18.

(c) Hearst Communications Inc.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate

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