Welcome to Tech-Knowledgy, where your tech questions are answered!
Q. How can I tell if a website is secure? I enjoy shopping online but with all of the hacking going on lately, I want to be sure that my credit card information isn’t stolen if I buy something online.
A. You’re smart to be careful. While there is no guarantee with any website these days, you should check to make sure you only give out credit card information on secure websites. How do you know if the website you are using is secure? Check the website address (URL) in the address bar. If the URL begins with https and has a valid certificate, the site is a secure website. If the URL begins with http, then the website is not a secure site and you should not enter your credit card information on the site.
If the URL begins with https, the site is a secure website, provided its certificate is valid. Most browsers will warn you if a site’s certificate is not valid. See HTTP Secure for more information on https websites and certificates.
Of course, there is no way to be 100% sure that a website is secure. But make sure your shopping websites have https in their website addresses in the checkout page before entering your credit card information.
Q. I heard that Apple started selling an unlocked iPhone this week. Should I buy an unlocked phone? What do you think?
A. I have to hand it to Apple, they know how to market a product. I don’t know of any other cell phone manufacturer who comes up with so many ways of making an older model cell phone seem desirable. While a new Android phone seems to be launched every month, the latest model iPhone will be celebrating its one year anniversary next week. Happy birthday, iPhone 4!
For the past four years, Apple has launched a new model of iPhone in June. Not this year though. At the WWDC last week, Apple announced software developments not new hardware, indicating that the next model iPhone is not going to be launched this month (see, WWDC: A Slice of Apple’s Future)
So far this calendar year, Apple has made the iPhone 4 desirable by:
- launching the iPhone 4 on Verizon in February
- offering a white iPhone 4 in April
- offering an unlocked iPhone 4 in June
So if you have been craving an unlocked iPhone 4, your dreams have finally come true! If, like me, you have been patiently waiting for the next model iPhone, you are frustrated.
Getting back to your question. The unlocked iPhone 4 was launched by Apple on Tuesday but is not subsidized by any carrier, so you will pay quite a bit more for it. The unlocked iPhone 4 16GB model is $629, as opposed to $199 if you purchase it locked with a two year plan with AT&T or Verizon. If you don’t purchase a phone with a plan, you don’t get a discount on your monthly rate on your plan, so getting an unlocked iPhone can be much more expensive than getting the phone when you sign a plan.
So why get an unlocked iPhone? An unlocked phone gives you the ability to use the phone with compatible carriers. This is handy if you are an international traveler because you can arrive in a foreign country and purchase a SIM card at the airport to have local service with a local phone number in that country. If your phone is locked, you can’t do that.
The unlocked iPhone works on GSM networks. There are two carriers in the US which use GSM networks, AT&T and T-Mobile. But an iPhone has a very slow Internet connection on T-Mobile (Edge, not 3G) so it makes no sense to spend extra money on an iPhone to have a slower Internet connection on T-Mobile.
Verizon and Sprint use CDMA networks so the unlocked iPhone will not work with those carriers.
So if you travel internationally, you might want to consider getting an unlocked iPhone. But even then, you might want to wait until the next iPhone model comes out, maybe in September? Otherwise, you will save a lot of money by buying your iPhone when you sign a new plan.
Do you shop online? Do you check to make sure the checkout page of shopping websites uses https? Do you crave an unlocked iPhone? Let us know in the Comments section below!