A man climbing a cell tower

Let’s Talk About 5G: How It Works 🤔

In this installment of our Introduction to 5G, we’ll be explaining how this new form of communication functions and how it compares to our existing network.

Let’s Talk About 5G

The Electromagnetic Spectrum

First things first, let’s explain how wireless communication works in the real world. All wireless phones and devices operate along the electromagnetic spectrum. The spectrum is the complete range of all types of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) and that radiation is just energy that travels outward in all directions at the speed of light. A lamp, for instance, will trasnmit EMR within a segment of that spectrum (what we see as visible light) and our eyes can interpret that transmission. On the lower end of that spectrum are radio waves which power technologies like AM/FM radio, television broadcasts, WiFi and cellular phones. Radio and micro waves are similar to visible light in that they operate on the same spectrum, just on a lower frequency (30Hz to 300GHz).

Differences: Current and 5G

Bandwidth

Much like our existing 3G/4G infrastructure, 5G is a type network used to transfer data between devices. Each one of these networks operate within a specific range on the electromagnetic spectrum. For decades, we’ve been using the same range for the majority of our devices: 1GHz to 6GHz. As technology progresses, the increasing amount of wireless devices we have are all competing with each other for the same limited bandwidth. The new 5G network is designed to operate within a much larger range above 6GHz all the way up to 100GHz! That’s a substantial increase in the amount of bandwidth in which our devices will now be given for a variety of applications.

Range

Our current 3G/4G signal can travel over longer distances as they operate on a lower frequency which gives them extended range. However, 5G devices will operate on much higher frequencies and those signals can’t travel the distances that lower 3G/4G frequencies can. To work around this, the infrastructure for this new network will require a combination of our existing towers and a much smaller, more condensed grid of “mini” towers every block as these waves aren’t able to penetrate foliage and inclement weather.

Also, most 4G devices were designed to be backwards-compatible with older networks. However, 5G is not meant to be merely an incremental update to existing mobile communication standards. Having said that, your new 5G phone will also still likely work with legacy networks via additional antennas as the transition rolls out.

If you’re having trouble connecting to any of your existing networks, be sure to stop by one of The Fix Hut’s four shops and have one of our technicians check it out. Antennas are usually replaceable, affordable and the turnaround time is quick. Call us if you have any questions!

Worth Noting

There has been much discussion surrounding the potential health hazards regarding the increased exposure to radio/microwaves that 5G will bring. These frequencies for communication have been in use for quite some time, though they’ve never been used on the same scale which we anticipate will be the case with 5G. The arguments for that debate are well beyond the scope of this post, so here are some links to some differing opinions on the matter:

A City Connected By Wireless Communication

Let’s Talk About 5G: An Introduction 📱

5G is coming! And it’s not only going to replace our current existing 4G LTE infrastructure, primarily used by mobile devices. The move to 5G will represent a fundamental shift in the way all of our electronics connect with each other, negating the requirement of hard-wired coaxial and fiber optics for high-speed, low-latency communication.

Let’s Talk About 5G

What network do we have now?

Our current wireless communication networks have predominantly operated within the same 5GHz bandwidth range on the electromagnetic spectrum for decades. That includes your AM/FM Radio, cordless phones (remember those?), bluetooth devices, mobile phones, and both 2.4 and 5GHz WiFi routers which, if you’re sitting at home or work, you’re likely utilizing to have this content delivered to your reading device. We’ve reached a point where there are too many devices competing for the same radio waves and colliding with each other in a traffic jam of sorts.

What is 5G?

While 5G, as you may have guessed, stands for fifth-generation, the changes aren’t merely just a version bump. The implications of this change will be massive! We’re not talking just a speed boost in how fast web pages and YouTube videos load, but also an awareness and focus on location for optimized transfer of data, enhanced security, and reliable, low latency (ultra-responsive) communication. These attributes will enable smart cars, augmented reality, detailed logistics for homes, businesses and agriculture, as well as mission critical data for health and automated appliances at home, work and industry. 5G will enable us to cater to specific aspects of communication depending upon the requirements. We’re only just scratching the surface of the opportunities this level of communication can bring to society.

When do we get to live in the matrix?

We might all have to exercise a bit of patience for this to rollout, so hold your horses. This transition won’t happen as quickly as we’d all like as the infrastructure currently in place must first either be upgraded or completely replaced in order for us to move up to 5G… and it will be costly! You’re more likely to visit our store and get your screen or battery replaced before you start reaping the benefits of 5G in the years ahead. Over the course of the next month, we plan on discussing examples of applications for 5G and what sort of technological innovations we might expect to see in a thoroughly connected world. Stay tuned!

Old mobile phones

Heavy Metal In Your Devices 🤘

In the last three decades, the demand for mobile phones has grown exponentially. What was once a convenient luxury for the fortunate is now a critical component of daily life for the billions of inhabitants. So much so, that the total number of mobile devices have outnumbered the population of the Earth (well over 7 billion) for a few years now! This number is only expected to get larger as with devices becoming more accessible and affordable. It can be argued that, apart from the internet, no other technology has had the effect that mobile phones have had on our modern civilization.

The current trends show there will be more and more devices manufactured, with many users owning more than one device, all of which contain precious metals and materials. One day, all of these devices will become obsolete and disposed in favor of something better, more modern. This cycle will continue just as it has for every other device, appliance or tool we use on a daily basis. According to Asurion [*], 80 million phones are lost, stolen or damaged every single year. Breaking that number down, that’s approximately: 220,000 phones a day / 9,132 phones every hour / over 152 phones every minute / 2.5 phones every second!

Think about the resources it takes to build such complex devices. Every mobile device you have contains precious metals like platinum, gold, silver, and palladium to name just a few. These valuable metals are finite and the process in which some of these have to be mined is dangerous and require a lot of energy. Take a look at the table which lists different types of metals and what they might be used for:

  • Copper: connectors, printed circuit boards, resistors, coils, speakers
  • Nickel: connectors, capacitors, resistors, shield plates, batteries
  • Silver: printed circuit boards, capacitors, resistors
  • Gold: connectors, printed circuit boards
  • Palladium: printed circuit board
  • Cobalt: batteries
  • Lithium: batteries
  • Lead: capacitors, resistors
  • Tin: printed circuit boards, capacitors, LCD displays
  • Zinc: resistors
  • REE: permanent magnets, LCD displays, speakers
  • Gallium: printed circuit boards
  • Indium: LCD displays
  • Iron: resistors, shield plates
  • Chromium: shield plates
  • Niobium: printed circuit boards
  • Tantalum: printed circuit boards
  • Titanium: capacitors

Once these precious metals are gone, the electronics industry will face a monumental scientific task in sourcing materials that will operate in a similar fashion, many of which have no viable alternative. Therefore, it is our duty, as relatively short-term tenants of this planet, to recycle our devices responsibly as many of these components are irreplaceable. Tossing them into a garbage bin for them to end up in a landfill is not something that should even be considered as many of the materials used are toxic and future inhabitants will be left to deal with the consequences of our actions.

We recommend you bring your old devices to any of our shops as we can ensure said devices are recycled responsibly, and in the case we can’t take them, we’ll offer guidance on where you can bring them.

The Trap of Fake Apps

Anyone who’s used Android’s play store has seen them at some point. Applications claiming to improve battery life or “clean up your phone”, or even providing antivirus capabilities when you download them. A recent report from an Australian antivirus testing group, AV-Comparatives, found that of a pool of 250 apps tested, two thirds were ineffective in detecting malware downloaded on to a phone. Only about 10% of all apps had a significant (at or near 100%) detection rate. So, why’re there so many poor quality applications on the play store? The main reason is the relatively lax requirements from google to put an app on the store, but how can you find the right apps for you on the app store? First and foremost, look for applications that are highly rated (at least 4 stars and above) and have a large number of downloads. While this isn’t perfect on its own for learning what apps are good, it’s a start where you can look into information on it and see what people think of the app on the internet.

Antivirus and anti-malware apps aren’t the only “fake” apps on the play store though, many other applications are more or less malicious or are a front for some other aspect of the application. There are flashlight apps that are widely downloaded that operate to harvest the user’s data. An application like this should only be requesting access to your camera, as that’s what’s typically tied into using the built in flash. They could also just make your screen entirely white as well, but any of these applications that also request access to your phone, microphone, calendar, and other personal information. When downloading applications, keep an eye on what it’s asking for access to and decide for yourself if you think the application should have access to that information.

In my history of working on cellular devices, I’ve seen plenty of people come in for battery or storage issues on their phone. Sometimes, it’s a legitimate problem from prolonged use of the phone, a dying battery or a phone filled up with photos. However, I’ll always see what applications the customer has. Fairly often, I’ll see these “battery saving” apps or “phone cleaner” apps as well, and the customer complains of constantly getting ads on their phone. When these applications are removed, these problems can often disappear as well. These applications are more or less doing the opposite of what they intend to do, with the battery apps constantly running in the background and eating up more and more power, and these cleaning apps just taking up more space than they “cleaned up”. All the while, due to how these constantly running apps are working they’re taking user information and constantly showing advertisements to their user.

So, how do you as a user protect yourself? Well, first and foremost is to learn what your phone can actually do. Almost all modern phones have built in flashlight functions, on androids they’re typically found from the pull down menu where you can see your notifications. Often from these same menus you can turn on battery savers. From the settings, you can get a granular look at how much battery your phone is using and what’s taking up the most memory. Using these tips, you can help protect your own information and extend the life of your phone.

This Year’s New iPhone

Last year, Apple released their brand new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max to the public. As with each annual release of the iPhone, a question of “is it worth upgrading?” comes about. In 2017, apple released the iPhone X, with its edge to edge curved screens like those seen on Android devices, even dating back to the Galaxy S6 Edge from 2015. This was the first major device redesign since the iPhone 6 was launched and it appears they’re sticking with it moving forward.

The iPhone XS and XS Max aren’t terribly different from their predecessor in terms of actual technology within the device itself. Of course, there’s the highly boasted A12 Bionic chip, new antenna lines (located towards the bottom of the phone near the charging port), a better camera for the rear facing side of the phone and a few other minor changes here and there. The new iPhone XS has 30 minutes more battery life compared to the previous iPhone X, but actually has a smaller battery than the latter. The iPhone X’s battery clocked in at 2,716 mAh, whereas the iPhone XS’ battery is smaller at 2,649. The new iPhone XS Max’s battery sits at 3,179 mAh, which makes sense given its larger size and larger display. In fact, while Apple is reporting an increase in battery life between the iPhone X and XS specs listed on their website, the iPhone XS has the exact same estimated time for uses such as internet usage, video playback and audio playback. The only exception is the call time which has gone down by one full hour compared (at 20 hours) to the iPhone X (which has a reported 21 hours).

However, it’s not all doom and gloom on the horizon for the newest iPhones. The yet to be released iPhone XR has an increased battery life compared to both as well as a notably cheaper price point. Additionally, newer hardware in the devices mean that they can do more for less energy, new software made for these newer phones allows for more high quality pictures to be taken and edited, better videos to be made and so on. In the end, it’s up to each consumer to make an informed decision on whether they think it’s worth their time and money to upgrade to one of these newer devices.
An iPhone Teardown

Avoiding the Headache: Choosing a Repairable Phone

A lot of people, ourselves included, get swept up in the marketing hype whenever a new phone comes out. New features like beveled glass edges, 4k cameras, and all-glass bodies seem innovative and attractive… until you drop the phone.

Suddenly an all-glass body or a beveled edge is much less appealing when it means spending upwards of $400 or more just to fix the screen! This information isn’t common knowledge for a lot of people until they break the phone and can be quite an unwelcome surprise.

We here at the Fix Hut feel your pain, and want to help you make an educated choice regarding what phone is not only a good blend of features, but also fast and cheap to repair.

Our friends over at iFixit have put together a handy chart to help you choose what phone is the best. Their Smartphone Repairability Scores list a number of popular Apple and Android phones with a 10-point rating system to separate the best and worst. A perfect 10 is always going to be our top recommendation to the consumer, but any device that is a 7 or up, would also stand to be a solid choice.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to give any of our four shops a call. Repairing phones is our passion, and sharing the knowledge of what is possible helps make the world a better place for everyone.

3 Easy Steps to Fix Wet Phones

Does this sound familiar?

You’re texting a friend in the bathroom, your fingers slip, and suddenly…. *plunk* your phone falls into the toilet.

 

Or how about this?

You’re getting out of the car, it’s raining cats and dogs, and *plunk* your phone slips out of your pocket into the gutter.

 

Or this oldy-but-a-goldy…

You’re having a blast at the river/lake with your friends, things get a little rowdy, and… *plunk* your phone falls into the water.

 

We here at Fix Hut have heard it all, and although everyone can universally agree what can happen that leads to a phone getting wet…. not that many people seem to know what the best steps are after you’ve pulled your phone from it’s watery grave. Fret not, and follow these three important steps to ensure the best chances of us recovering your phone from it’s water damage.

Step One:

Assume water is in the device, even if it’s a “water proof” or “water resistant” device. Water wicks into small electronics surprisingly fast, and even if the phone doesn’t appear to have water in it, you don’t know what’s going on inside. You’d be surprised how many phones we’ve opened up where the owners have snatched it out in seconds, and it’s soaked on the inside.

Step Two:

Try and turn the device off. Water and electricity do not mix, and the sooner you can prevent power from circulating in your device, the less damage will be done to your phone. Can’t turn it off? Don’t fret…. the next best thing you can do is to let the battery drain naturally. This means not plugging it in. Remember: electricity = bad.

Step Three:

Do not put it in rice. DO NOT PUT IT IN RICE. Putting it in rice is an old wives remedy that is just as ineffective as wrapping your phone in toilet paper, or sticking it in a drawer for a few days. Corrosion happens as soon as the water hits the device, and rice is not going to remove that corrosion and in fact the longer your device is sitting in a bag of rice the more that corrosion is going to spread within the phone. Do yourself a favor, avoid the hassle, and save the rice for a meal. 😀

 

There you have it. Three things that will turn the tide of any water damaged phone. All you have to do now is find the closest Fix Hut to your location and drop off your phone. Using our special water damage service, we meticulously take apart and clean your phone of any and all corrosion. Three passes in a sonic cleaning bath and a battery of tests give your phone the greatest chance of bouncing back from it’s dip.

 

Excited to announce our iPhone repair shop in Milwaukie!

We are thrilled to announce we’ve just opened our 4th phone and tablet repair shop in historic downtown Milwaukie, Oregon. Like our other Portland-area shops, this one in Milwaukie also specializes in iPhone and iPad broken glass repair and water damage services. Located right at the trimet MAX orange line stop for Main St./Milwaukie, we are directly across the street from the new Milwaukie Station food cart pods and beer garden. Next door, we have local Rohst coffee shop, owned by the grandson of the man who built the building (how cool is that?)!

Grand opening of The Fix Hut Milwaukie and Food carts

The iPhone and iPad repair techs at The Fix Hut Milwaukie party

Trimet MAX train stop orange line passing through to Sellwood from Milwaukie

Inside the new Milwaukie iPhone and iPad repair shop for The Fix Hut near Sellwood

MAX train headed for Sellwood from Milwaukie

Milwaukie iPhone repair shop mouse pad in new store

Milwaukie MAX train stop from The Fix Hut window iPhone and iPad repair shop in Milwaukie OR

Milwaukie Water Damage phone repair tablet and smart device information brochure at the new The Fix Hut shop

Our grand opening party was a blast, with lots of balloons, high fives, food cart meals, and little kids passing out free cookies and coloring in broken iPhone glass drawings! It’s always fun to get our team of repair techs together, who all specialize in iPhone and iPad repair!

Coloring in broken iPhone glass coloring pages

The Fix Hut Milwaukie phone and tablet repair shop opening party and balloons

Milwaukie Food Carts and cookies in an iPhone costume!

Passing out cookies at Milwaukie Station food cart and beer garden by the MAX stop from iPhone and iPad repair shop The Fix Hut Milwaukie

We are excited to be in this neighborhood, right by Sellwood Portland, offering iPhone repair Milwaukie!

 

Follow The Fix Hut on Instagram!

We’re excited to announce our new Instagram account for The Fix Hut!

Instagram.com/TheFixHut

The Fix Hut Instagram

We kicked things off with some behind the scenes photos of the team painting our new little mural at the NE store on Alberta St. after hours one night. We’ll be posting photos of iPhone repair, iPad repair, fun promotions, contests, Portland themed goodness, and more! Be sure to follow along for the latest from the Fix Hut family!

We’re Still Wired iRepair, But We Have a New Fixed Up Name!

Don’t you worry, your favorite iPhone repair shop is still here in Portland! We’re the same owners, we’ve just taken on a fresh new name and an updated look. Welcome to The Fix Hut! You can still bring us your toddler-smashed iPads, broken glass smartphones, and water damaged devices with the same confidence in quality of care.

Wired iRepair Logo and Cars

Why the change?

Back in 2009, when we decided to open our first store front, the space was a coffee shop on Burnside. The landlords accepted us, but with the stipulations that we remain a coffee shop and we keep the named “Wired”. We developed a concept in which we would serve coffee while you waited for your repairs to be done, and thus the coffee-cup resemblance of our logo. The name Wired iRepair was born, but as it turned out, we switched gears and opened in the ActiveSpace building on NW Lovejoy St. instead. We already had our name and logo, so we ran with it.

Wired iRepair

Fast forward 7 years and today we have two additional shops in town, none of which serve coffee, and our own parents never get our name right. “How are things at iWired going?” they’ll ask and we’ll cringe. Also, we’ve accepted that we’re better at repairing iPhones then brewing a perfect espresso, so the logo needed to go.

The Fix Hut is our fresh name and we’re kicking off some new ideas for ways to make your experience an even better one. Swing by one of the shops or connect with us on Facebook to see all the new things we’re working on to serve our community better. Thank you for all your support, PDX. Keep Being Awesome!

The Fix Hut iPhone repair Portland logo