Science and technology

It's getting to be the season for new phones, which means it's also the high season for selling old ones. Here are tips on how to wipe your phone, safely, before you resell:

1. Take out the SIM card. The SIM card in your phone is tied to your particular plan – so there's no reason why the next owner should want it, and hanging on to it ensures that messages sent to your old phone don't end up with someone else.

2. Have removable storage? Remove it. Many Android phones offer users the option of using an SD card to augment the amount of storage on their phones. Before you sell or get rid of your phone, be sure to take back any storage card you've put in, to make sure that your files stay with you. Apple users don't have expandable storage options.

3. Encrypt your data before you wipe it. Or just as a general rule. Encrypting your phone scrambles the data to make it unreadable to anyone who doesn't have the password to decrypt it. Any version of Android released in the past three years gives you the option to encrypt your data, normally through the security menu. (Different manufacturers may keep it in different spots.) This is, in fact, the method that Google recommends for folks who want to get rid of their old phones. "If you sell or dispose of your device, we recommend you enable encryption on your device and apply a factory reset beforehand," the company said in a statement.

Tips for better pics

Here are three quick tips to better fall smartphone photos:

1. Learn how your phone deals with colour: phone cameras don't always like too many colours at once. In this case, remember that software is your friend. Companies have been steadily adding more sophisticated camera options – Apple, for example, added saturation and light control options to its standard camera app in iOS 8 — so that you can more easily adjust the pictures to fit what you're seeing rather than what's come through the lens. And if you can't find what you need in the standard app, consider adding a photo app such as VSCO Cam (free, for Android and iOS), that gives you more editing options.

2. Play with light: November is a great time also for light and shadow as we head toward winter. While there are some rules you'll want to follow for standard snapshots — faces you want to show up in shots, for example, should always be front-lit if you can avoid squinting — there are a lot of more artful shots you can take by playing around with shadows, or light shining through leaves. The beauty of a phone camera is that you're not limited by film exposures, only the phone's storage capacity. So snap away; just don't forget to delete the rejects.

3. If you have one, use the dedicated camera button on your phone: it may be hard to realize in a touchscreen world, but a lot of phones are programmed to recognise a shutter button, just like the cameras of old. In most cases, this is the "volume up" button on your phone, though a few phones do still have dedicated camera buttons. Using the button to take pictures instead of tapping is not only glove friendly, but also lets you steady your camera with your other hand for better pictures overall.

Hayley Tsukayama
The Washington Post