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There is so much information and instruction packed into the General Settings in iOS that it’s really not so general. You already have your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch set up and are using it, but now you have additional questions and concerns.About
The About section in the General tab of the Settings is more informational than anything else, but there are a few hidden gems. It includes:
network and carrier you use
number of songs, videos, photos, and apps you have loaded
memory you have available
version of iOS
Modern firmwareSoftware Update and Usage
Underneath the About section is Software Update and Usage. If you tape on Software Update, it will tell you what version you are using and if an update is available. Tapping on Usage first shows a list of the apps you have loaded and how much memory they’re using. If you tap the arrow in the right next to the app, it will give you an option to delete that app. It’s surprising how much memory they use sometimes. It also shows your iCloud storage and options, how much time you have used since your last full charge, how much standby time is remaining, and information on your cellular usage as far as how much call time and data you have remaining. A toggle switch to show your battery remaining percentage in the top right is also in the Usage pane.Cellular
The Cellular section allows you to toggle between Cellular Data, LTE, and Data Roaming. You can choose to only use data if you’re under WiFi, and can choose whether the device will use LTE to load the data faster. You can turn off Data Roaming to avoid getting charged while traveling. There is also an option to Set Up a Personal Hotspot to share your device’s Internet connection with another device. Back to the General settings, you will also find a toggle for a VPN connection. If you choose not to use iCloud, you can sync your device with the “iTunes WiFi Sync” tab by connecting the device through a USB port on a computer.Spotlight Search
The Spotlight Search tab allows you to choose which information will be used in your search. From the home screen, if you swipe to the right, it will give you a search field for locating apps and information on your device. Certain fields can prove to locate a lot of data, like Mail, so you can tap the Spotlight Search tab in General Settings and either turn these fields off and on, or tap and hold the three screened bars to reorganize the order of the list.Lock
Your device will automatically lock after a certain amount of time. You can change the amount of time for it to auto-lock or choose Never to disable it. Passcode Lock requires you to enter a four-digit passcode to unlock the phone. From this Setting, you can turn this option off and on, choose which apps you’ll still be able to access when locked, and set the passcode. You can also use a longer alphanumeric code for the lockscreen. Additionally, you can set the device to erase all data after ten failed login attempts. Back in the General Settings, there is also a Restrictions tab just below the Lock options that allows you to turn certain functions off, which is helpful if a child is using the device.Accessibility
In the Accessibility section, you can set the time zone and choose 12-hour or 24-hour. Under Keyboard and Accessibility, you can choose options for entering text, such as a spellcheck and auto-correct. You can add or delete keyboard options as well, such as a keyboard with an alternate language or Emoji. Shortcuts allow you to determine text shortcuts that will spell out the words for you after you type it, such as “omw” for “On my way!” International allows you to change the language of your device, the region format, and the regional calendar type. You can also set options for VoiceOver to speak the items on your screen, Zoom, Large Text, and Inverted Colors. Options for hearing disabled and learning and/or physically disabled are included as well.Reset
The Reset option needs to be accessed with caution. It provides different forms of Reset. You can choose just to reset all your settings if something is giving you trouble, and you are having a hard time locating which setting it would be. You can Reset your Network Settings if you switch networks and can also reset your dictionary, the Home Screen Layout, and your Location and Privacy. The “Erase All Content and Settings” will do just that. It will completely wipe your device. If you have the device backing up regularly, it won’t be much of a problem, as when you restart after choosing this, you can restore your device as of the last backup, including all settings and storage, but make sure you have this backup before erasing.
This information will help you to have every setting exactly the way you want it in iOS to make sure your device is working the best for you. Siri and iCloud are also included in these settings, but this will be explained more in detail in later posts.
Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site’s sponsored review program.
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Last Updated on July 6, 2023
Artificial general intelligence (AGI) is a hypothetical software that programmers had envisioned many years ago. The idea is to create a machine with the same or higher level of intelligence as humans. That is, the system would be capable of handling various tasks and solving problems even in situations where humans could not.
AGI is supposed to have complete computative knowledge. Its behavior and performance would be indistinguishable from that of humans, but its capabilities would be beyond human abilities. However, the AGI is still fiction and scientists are working to bring it to life.Artificial General Intelligence Systems – The Marriage of Understanding and Perception?
An AGI system’s primary goal is to emulate human intelligence, a complex amalgamation of understanding, perception, and reasoning. At its core, understanding allows the system to comprehend information and its context, while perception enables it to interpret and respond to inputs effectively.
The essence of an AGI system lies in its ability to not just process data, but to assimilate the background knowledge, grasp nuances, and formulate responses that reflect comprehension. For instance, a robot powered by AGI would not just understand the command “pick up the bottle,” but also perceive its surroundings to locate the bottle and identify the best way to pick it up, much like a human would.Neural Networks – The Building Blocks of AGI?
Neural networks are a fundamental component of AGI systems. They mimic the interconnectivity and function of human neurons, enabling machines to process information in a non-linear and context-aware manner. Neural networks learn from the information they process, thereby acquiring a form of “common sense.”
This ability allows AGI systems to not only understand complex topics but also to apply this understanding in diverse contexts, thereby moving closer to the overarching goal of AGI – to mimic human intelligence.Alan Turing and IBM’s Watson – Their Impact on AGI
Alan Turing, often hailed as the father of modern computing and artificial intelligence, provided the initial theories that have shaped the development of AGI. His pioneering work, including the famed Turing Test, has been instrumental in defining the field of artificial intelligence.
On the other hand, IBM’s Watson demonstrated the practical application of these theories.
Watson showcased the potential of AI in understanding, processing, and responding to natural language in the context of a complex game scenario. It marked a significant milestone in the development of AGI systems, showing that machines could understand and respond intelligently to complex, unstructured data.
Both Turing’s theoretical contributions and Watson’s practical demonstration have significantly influenced the development and understanding of AGI.Cognitive Computing Capabilities: Is AGI Mimicking the Human Mind?
Cognitive computing is a critical aspect of AGI. It refers to a machine’s ability to simulate the human mind’s complex functions, like understanding, learning, and reasoning. This entails mimicking human cognitive abilities and motor skills, enabling machines to interact with the environment as a human would.
For instance, NLP (Natural Language Processing), a subset of AI developed by computer scientists and psychologists, allows machines to understand and respond to human language, significantly enhancing their interaction with human users. Innovations like these, driven by institutions like Microsoft Research, bring us a step closer to achieving human-level intelligence in machines.Consciousness and Artificial General Intelligence: Does Strong AI Need Self-Awareness?
Consciousness – the state of being aware of one’s surroundings, thoughts, and feelings – is a distinctly human trait. Translating this into AGI, often referred to as ‘strong AI,’ is a contentious and complex issue.
Some researchers believe that without consciousness, AGI remains fundamentally limited, unable to fully understand and interact with the world as humans do. However, developing a machine that possesses self-awareness and consciousness brings forth significant scientific, ethical, and philosophical dilemmas that are currently unresolved.Empathy in AGI: Can Machines Truly Understand Us?
Teaching machines to comprehend and exhibit empathy remains a significant hurdle for AI researchers in the development of AGI. Machines, regardless of their level of artificial intelligence, are fundamentally different from humans.
They lack the lived experiences and emotional range that shape human understanding and empathy. While current AI technology can simulate responses to emotional cues, such responses are based on pre-programmed algorithms, not genuine emotional understanding.
For AGI to be truly integrated into our daily lives, it must bridge this empathy gap, posing a complex challenge for AI researchers and psychologists alike.The ‘Theory of Mind’ in AGI: How Crucial Is It?
The ‘Theory of Mind’ refers to the understanding that others have beliefs, desires, and intentions different from one’s own. This concept is pivotal in developing AGI that can genuinely understand and interact with humans.
An AGI system with a theory of mind would be capable of understanding humans on a deeper level, leading to more meaningful and effective interactions. Such an AI system could adapt its responses based on its understanding of the individual user’s mental state, thereby displaying an unprecedented level of adaptability.The Role of Supercomputers in AGI: Are They Fast Enough?
Supercomputers, with their unparalleled computational power, are often seen as key enablers in the development of AGI.
The fastest supercomputers can process vast amounts of data at incredible speeds, thereby facilitating the complex computations required for AGI systems. However, the quest for AGI is not merely about processing power. It also involves developing algorithms that can accurately mimic human intelligence, an area where even the fastest supercomputers face significant challenges.The Elon Musk View on AGI: A Pocket-sized Revolution?
These devices would be capable of understanding and even emulating human behavior, providing personalized assistance across a wide range of tasks. Such a reality could transform the way we interact with technology, allowing AGI to revolutionize the human race as profoundly as the internet did.
However, the distribution of such powerful technology also necessitates extensive ethical guidelines to ensure its responsible use.How is Artificial General Intelligence Different from Artificial Intelligence?
Many of us are already acquainted with the different AI systems such as Siri, Chatbots, Alexa, and others. But how do these intelligent models differ from AGI?
The artificial intelligence programs already in use are considered narrow AIs compared to the AGI. While the intelligence of the AGI is like the human brain, the existing AI software uses machine learning and natural language processing, which cannot imitate humans fully.
In addition, artificial intelligence technologies are designed to perform specific operations and problems. In contrast, artificial general intelligence will be able to serve various purposes without human intervention.Emulating Human Consciousness
AGI’s objective extends beyond simply replicating human intelligence. It aims to emulate human consciousness aspects, such as understanding emotions, demonstrating empathy, and possibly possessing self-awareness.
Although this goal remains mostly in the realm of theory, it differentiates AGI from traditional AI, pushing the boundaries of what we perceive as possible within machine intelligence.Scope and Capabilities
The key difference between AI and AGI lies in their scope and capabilities. Traditional AI, or ‘narrow AI,’ is designed for specific tasks, whether it’s recognizing speech with Siri or recommending movies with Netflix’s algorithm.
However, AGI, synonymous with ‘full artificial intelligence,’ aspires to emulate the cognitive capabilities of the human mind. This means an AGI system could perform any intellectual task a human can do, from writing a symphony to solving complex mathematical equations.Understanding and Adaptability
AI applications operate within a predefined set of parameters – they excel at the tasks they are designed for but fail when presented with unfamiliar scenarios. For instance, a chess-playing AI, despite its sophisticated algorithms, cannot assist in drafting an email.
AGI, however, is theorized to possess the ability to learn and understand concepts outside its initial programming. This adaptability, mirroring human learning processes, allows it to adjust to new tasks and environments.Examples of Artificial General Intelligence
Although an AGI machine is not yet obtainable, some artificial intelligence software possesses some of its anticipated features. The following are some of those systems;
AlphaGoHow do AGI systems integrate understanding and perception?
AGI systems combine understanding and perception using complex algorithms and neural networks. They process information and understand context much like a human brain, enabling them to perceive and respond to inputs in a human-like manner.GPT-4 – Is It the Next Big Leap in AGI?
Built upon a sophisticated neural network, GPT-4 is capable of deep learning, enabling it to acquire knowledge and improve over time. While it’s not a fully realized AGI, GPT-4 represents a significant milestone towards achieving a system with human-like understanding and perception.How does GPT-4 contribute to AGI development?
GPT-4, with its enhanced deep learning capabilities, offers a significant step towards AGI. It has improved comprehension, an expanded knowledge base, and the ability to understand complex topics, all of which contribute to the development of AGI.The Leap to Artificial Superintelligence: A Future Prospect?
Artificial Superintelligence (ASI) is often viewed as the next frontier in the field of AI, projected as intelligence that surpasses human cognitive abilities in every aspect. Renowned figures like Stephen Hawking and Ray Kurzweil have expressed both excitement and caution about the prospect of ASI.What is the Future of AGI?
A common question that is typically raised is whether the AGI will continue to be a hypothesis or will be achievable in the near future.
Yet, its development timeline cannot be ascertained at the moment. Some experts believe that the existing AI programs are an incomplete form of the AGI. Others argue that some required components of the system have not been invented.FAQs How has Alan Turing and IBM’s Watson influenced AGI?
Alan Turing’s pioneering work laid the groundwork for modern computing and AI, while IBM’s Watson demonstrated the potential of AI in understanding and processing natural language. Both have significantly influenced the development and understanding of AGI.Conclusion
The AGI is a conceptual software or machine with the complete ability of the human brain. It is a versatile, autonomous system that is capable of performing at the level of human intelligence, unlike the existing AI programs that can only complete specific tasks.
Many security suites, like those you’ll find below, also come with a VPN, password manager, parental controls and more: worthwhile add-ons that add more security, privacy and – if you have kids – control over screen time and what they see on their devices.
The best antivirus deal for you will depend upon how many devices you need to protect. Subscriptions cover a certain number of them: you can’t just install the app on as many as you want.
Naturally, it isn’t simply about the lowest possible price. Features do vary across packages, as does the level of protection, so it’s worth reading our antivirus reviews to find out more about how well they defend your devices – and you – from the latest threats.
Remember that these are subscriptions: you can cancel them after the deal period ends, but they will renew (often at higher prices) if you don’t.
Note: Authorities such as the FCC and BSI currently discourage the use of Kaspersky products, and Tech Advisor owner Foundry has also suspended its business partnerships with Russian companies. Although we haven´t removed the content about Kaspersky from our websites, you won´t find any purchase links for these products.Norton 360 Deluxe – 1 Year, 5 Devices
Was: $104.99 / £84.99
Now: $49.99 / £29.99 ($55 / £55 off)
View DealTrend Micro Internet Security – 1 Year, 3 Devices
From: Trend Micro
Was: $79.95 / £49.95
Now: $29.95 / £19.95 (62% / 60% off)
In AV-Test’s latest report, Trend Micro earns maximum points for protection, usability and performance, making this not just an affordable deal, but top-notch protection as well.McAfee Total Protection – 2 Years, 5 Devices
Was: $159.99 / £159.99
Now: $69.99 / £69.99 ($90 / £90 off)
View DealBitdefender Total Security – 1 Year, 5 Devices
Was: $99.99 / £74.99
Now: $39.98 / £29.99 (60% off)
View DealMcAfee+ Premium
Now: $44.99/£49.99 ($105 / £60 off)
View DealAvast One – 1 Year, 5 Devices
Was: $99.99 / £79.99
Now: $50.28 / £39.99 (50% / 60% off)
View DealWhere to find antivirus deals
To see the best deal available right now from each of the top security companies, simply use the links below.Antivirus deals: What to look for
Antivirus software detects, and then prevents, disarms or removes malicious programs and malware, often referred to as ‘viruses’. But as we’ve said, security software is no longer just about countering viruses. It’s also about the security of personally identifiable data and protection from other threats such as ransomware.
You can buy basic antivirus software that prevents malware but may not come with ID protection, breach monitoring, ransomware protection and other extras such as a VPN and password manager.
Almost all those are available separately, and sometimes for free, but you’ll only get the best protection and support when things go wrong if you subscribe to security software.
Also bear in mind that going direct to the antivirus providers isn’t the only way to get their software. You might also find good deals from the likes of Amazon and Best Buy in the US, and Amazon, Argos and Currys in the UK.
You’re unlikely to get a competitive price by downloading the app from an app store and signing up from within it.
Remember that you can pay less to protect fewer devices: there’s no point in paying for a 10-device subscription if you only have one laptop and a phone.Antivirus student deals
If you’re a student, be sure to check out Tech Advisor’s Student Beans page. There, you can benefit from massive discounts from some of our favourite antivirus brands for school, college or university.Related articles for further reading
In a world that’s full of gadgets, people who constantly switch between devices need a reliable and efficient method to move their data from one place to another. There are various methods that you can use to do that, but if you are living in the Apple environment, you might want to check out DeskConnect. It’s an app for Mac and iOS that can send files between Mac and iOS devices, from a simple text to clipboard content to website links to map location to images and documents.DeskConnect vs. AirDrop
Why would you even consider using DeskConnect when Apple has already included AirDrop natively in the soul of both macOS and iOS? For those who are not familiar with AirDrop, it’s a file transfer service which enables users to send files wirelessly among supported Macintosh computers and iOS devices without using mail or a mass storage device.
Distance also becomes a problem with AirDrop. You can’t share files to devices that located outside of the WiFi range.
Those with older machines have no choice but to find alternatives to AirDrop, and DeskConnect can be the answer to their prayers. The benefit of the service is that it works with all generations of hardware because it uses a different method to share. Instead of using a direct WiFi/Bluetooth wireless connection which depends heavily on hardware compatibility, DeskConnect uses temporary cloud storage as the buffer.Using DeskConnect
To use the app you need to install it on at least two devices. You can download the Mac version here and the iOS version here. Then create a DeskConnect account from either version of the app and log in to all of your devices using the same account. After that, sending files between your devices is as simple as dragging and dropping or pushing the Share button.Sending and Receiving Files on the Mac
After installation DeskConnect for your Mac will reside in the menubar. To send files to another device, just drag and drop those files to the menubar icon and pick which device you want to send them to. Those files will automatically appear at the destined location.
When you receive files from other gadgets, a notification will appear – even if DeskConnect is not opened. To view the files you need to open the app. They will be listed under “Recent” in the menubar.Sending and Receiving Files on iOS Devices
On iOS devices you can send files from within the app itself or by using the “Share” button from other supporting apps.
If you receive files, they will appear in the main window of DeskConnect. Simply tap on one of them to open it. Then you can continue to save the item or open it using supporting applications.Privacy and Security
Even though DeskConnect stated that all the files sent using the app would be encrypted end to end, there are concerns about privacy and security on Internet-transferred files. The general rule is if you think your files contain sensitive information, don’t use third party services.
But if you are looking for a quick and easy solution to move and send files between Mac and iOS devices that is not limited by hardware compatibility nor distance, you should consider DeskConnect.
Jeffry Thurana is a creative writer living in Indonesia. He helps other writers and freelancers to earn more from their crafts. He’s on a quest of learning the art of storytelling, believing that how you tell a story is as important as the story itself. He is also an architect and a designer, and loves traveling and playing classical guitar.
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Written By Steven T. Wright
Published Sep 20, 2023 11:00 AM
From smartphones to tablets to laptops and everything internet-connected in between, most of us rely on multiple devices every single day—all the more reason we should rely on a VPN. To stay online all the time, you may wind up relying on public Wi-Fi or a connection through work or school, which often isn’t as secure as you might think. If you’re tired of worrying about trackers and hackers potentially sifting through your data, you should consider using a virtual private network, or VPN, to hide your online presence and make it harder for companies and bad actors to find your data. Some VPNs specialize in phones or PCs, but the best VPNs for multiple devices can protect your entire tech arsenal.What is a VPN?
When you surf the internet, you transmit certain information about yourself to the sites you visit, including your location. A virtual private network (VPN) is an online service that hides your digital identity from online utilities like Google or Facebook that wish to collect and sell your data, as well as from hackers and scammers. A VPN acts like a mask that your computer puts on before it walks into a party. Websites can tell that you’re there and that you’re wearing a mask, but they can’t see any of the personal information that they normally would.
Each of the following VPNs encrypts the data that you send, and most of them have a “no-log” policy, which means that they do not keep any record of your activity. Some even allow you to mask your identity from the VPN server itself. While you might not care if a random person knows about your online shopping habits, you certainly don’t want them to know the password to your bank account.
VPNs also let you set a virtual location, allowing you to appear as if you are browsing from another country. This allows you to look at the many international versions of sites like Netflix, which may offer different content to other parts of the world.
When it comes to finding a VPN that supports many devices, the good news is that most VPNs have apps that allow you to easily modify your phone or tablet’s internet connection. However, the quality of those apps does vary somewhat, as we’ll go over in the next few sections.
For more information on how VPNs work and how to set one up, please check out our full-length guide on how to use a VPN.How we picked the best VPNs for multiple devices
As a professional tech writer for almost a decade, I’ve personally tested many of the most popular VPNs for friends and my own personal use, and I know how they perform. To make these recommendations, we consulted online guides, reviews, specs, and spoke to several information security experts. Thanks to this research, we know which VPNs are worth your hard-earned cash, and which ones are better left in the bowels of Google.Things to consider when buying a VPN for multiple devices Why do I need a VPN?
When you access the internet from your phone, tablet, or computer, you’re transmitting information about yourself, whether you like it or not. Most companies collect this information and track your activity across the internet to help them sell you products. Some bad actors will try and use it to target you for identity theft scams, such as phishing schemes.
If you use public Wi-Fi often for work, you should keep in mind that most public Wi-Fi networks are not secure. Whether you’re relaxing in your dorm or enjoying a cup of coffee at your favorite cafe, public Wi-Fi often leaves you unprotected against scammers who want the password to your Amazon account. Using a VPN in these situations makes it much harder for people to grab your data, even when it may be vulnerable.How many connections do you really need?
In a perfect world, a VPN would provide perfect protection to every single internet-enabled device you own. Realistically, most services won’t allow that. Even if they did, you probably don’t really need that level of protection.
When picking your VPN, take a moment and think about which devices need extra security. Laptops, desktops, tablets, and phones are the most vulnerable because they connect to an internet browser, as well as email phishing scams. Game consoles like a PlayStation 5 or a Nintendo Switch are far less likely to fall victim to malware. Most VPNs that work across many kinds of computers do put a cap on the number of devices you can protect. Most popular services will have plans that can go up to 5-10 devices, though some services offer plans to protect an unlimited number of devices.
If you want a subscription package that supports you and your entire family’s massive constellation of tech toys at the same time, you will only have a couple of options. Alternatively, if you just need to protect your three primary devices—a PC, a phone, and tablet, for example—you can safely go with any of our picks.Killer apps
VPNs designed for multidevice use should offer a free app that you use to mask your tablet or phone activity. Not all of them are easy to navigate, but they allow you to protect your mobile devices before you log on, not after.Speed and cost
Using a VPN will always make your internet at least a little bit slower. When you use a VPN, you’re forcing your information to make a couple of stops on the way between you and whatever website you’re looking at. Since you’re routing your browsing through another server, the sheer fact of that distance means that it’ll take a little longer to load your sites.
The best VPNs will only slow you down the slightest bit. Others may slow it down quite a bit. This is one of a few reasons why it’s always worth it to pay for a well-known VPN rather than use a sketchy “free” alternative.Reputation is everything
While many VPNs like to vaunt their latest and greatest technology as a must-have innovation, the truth is that most of the big VPNs offer extremely similar services for very similar prices.
When you connect to a VPN, you’re giving that provider an inside look at your browsing habits. As such, we only picked VPNs that are well-known, reliable brand names that have proven their worth over the years. The usual VPNs might be a little more expensive than the new kids on the block, but using a no-name provider could theoretically be worse than using none at all.Price
Most trustworthy VPN services charge between $10 and $15 per month to use their platforms. If you’re looking to get the best bang for your buck, we highly recommend paying up-front for a year or two of service, as that will significantly reduce the cost of admission. In picking the best VPNs, we weighed the cost of the service heavily, as well as whether or not those premium prices resulted in more simultaneous connections.The best VPNs for multiple devices: Reviews & Recommendations
Hopefully, you now feel comfortable poking around and picking a VPN to keep your daily browsing data safe. If you’re looking for a VPN that can cover all your fun electronic toys without much of a hassle, our recommendations are a great place to start.Best overall: NordVPN
Why it made the cut: NordVPN delivers everything you would want from a VPN provider, including thousands of servers, six simultaneous connections, and ultra-reliable service.
Server count: Over 5,500 servers in 59 countries
Connection limit: Supports 6 device connections at once
Home country: Panama
Free/trial version: None
Standard plan price: $11.99 per month, $59.98 per year, or $126.96 every two years
Trusted brand name
Many, many servers
Fancy bells and whistles you actually want
Only six simultaneous connections
If you’re thinking about using a VPN, you’ve almost certainly heard of NordVPN, and that’s for good reason. Pound-for-pound, it’s arguably the best VPN provider on the market. Nord boasts thousands of servers in dozens of countries, as well as competitive speeds worldwide. NordVPN also offers dedicated IPs for an additional monthly fee, which is useful for users who want to hide the fact that they’re using a VPN at all.
Though the brand’s reputation took a hit after a 2023 server breach, it still remains one of the most trusted providers in the space. NordVPN’s mobile app is clean and intuitive, and it supports every device you have lying around the house. If you’re looking for more than just a basic VPN service, Nord also offers a data breach scanner, a password manager, and encrypted cloud storage for additional rates.Best for unlimited connections: Surfshark
Server count: 3,200 servers in 95 countries
Connection limit: Unlimited
Home country: The Netherlands
Free/trial version: None
Standard plan price: $12.95 per month, $47.88 per year, or $59.76 for two years
Unlimited connections on one account
Extremely good value
Less well-known than alternatives
No extra bells and whistles
Surfshark is the new kid on the VPN block, but don’t let that fool you. Though it makes our list for offering unlimited simultaneous connections—making it an extremely good option for large households full of technophiles—it’s a very strong service across the board. Its $60, two-year subscription is one of the best deals you’ll find in the space, and Surfshark is consistently ranked high among the fastest VPN services out there. Its mobile app is also quite snazzy.
Surfshark’s major downside is its server network, which is significantly smaller than its well-known competition. That said, 3,000+ servers is nothing to sneeze at. Meanwhile, the ability to access servers in 95 countries gives you far more masking options than most providers. Surfshark is arguably the best deal in VPN-land and is definitely the best choice for users with more than six devices.Best for dedicated IP: CyberGhost
Server count: 7,900 servers in 91 countries
Connection limit: Supports 7 device connections at once
Home country: Romania
Free/trial version: None
Price: $12.99 per month, $51.48 per year, or $78 every two years
No independent security audits since 2012
Some VPN users prefer to pay their provider a little extra for a dedicated IP address in order to fool websites into thinking that they aren’t using a VPN at all. If you don’t pay for a dedicated IP, your traffic will show up as a different IP every time you connect and many websites have filters for popular VPN server IPs. If you want to hide the fact that you’re hiding your info, we recommend CyberGhost, a fully featured VPN provider with all the bells and whistles you need to take control of your cybersecurity.
CyberGhost’s dedicated IP service costs about $4 a month, which is not insignificant. This service ensures that you will always show the same unique IP address when you’re using CyberGhost, which will likely be enough to fool streaming services like Netflix into unblocking you. No more Captchas when casually Googling, either. However, there is a small catch: CyberGhost will issue a unique access token that you use to log into your unique IP. The company keeps no record of this token, but that means you have to keep track of it yourself. If you lose it, you’ll have to purchase another subscription to get another dedicated IP.
Even if you don’t want a dedicated IP—or you’re afraid you’ll lose the token—CyberGhost is an extremely competitive VPN provider. It’s one of the fastest VPNs out there according to speed tests, and its plans are significantly less expensive than some of its competitors.Best app: ExpressVPN
Server count: Over 3,000 servers in 94 countries
Connection limit: Supports 5 device connections at once
Home country: British Virgin Islands
Free/trial version: None
Standard plan price: $12.95 per month, or $99.95 per year
Best app UI and usability
Only five connections at once
NordVPN and ExpressVPN are effectively the Coke and Pepsi of the VPN world. Like its counterpart, ExpressVPN is a well-established brand that gives you everything you expect from a premium VPN, including fast speeds, a widespread network, and a variety of extra services that you tack on.
Express offers only five simultaneous connections, which is significantly less than some of our other picks. However, if you tend to stick with only two or three devices, ExpressVPN is a premium provider that covers the basics quite well for everyday people who don’t want to be burdened with overly technical details.Best for families: Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access
Server count: Over 28,000 servers in 84 countries
Connection limit: Supports 10 device connections at once
Home country: United States
Free/trial version: None
Standard plan price: $12.00 per month, $90 per year, or $56 for two years
10 simultaneous connections
Ridiculous server count
Very reasonable price
Not the fastest
Doesn’t stand out in any category
Private Internet Access is one of the most popular VPNs out there thanks to its compelling price point and feature set. For one thing, PIA boasts a truly absurd server count—over 28,000 worldwide—as well as a simultaneous connection cap that’s more than double some of its competitors. PIA is also regularly discounted for price points that you rarely see in the VPN space, making it a good option for families who want to make every dollar count.
While PIA is certainly a good VPN, it doesn’t necessarily excel in any particular way. Its dedicated IP services aren’t as well-regarded as CyberGhost and NordVPN. Its speed doesn’t compete with many of the major platforms, either. It has standard VPN features like split tunneling, a killswitch, and optional antivirus software, but nothing that sets it apart.
All in all, Private Internet Access is an extremely respectable VPN that doesn’t quite have the brand recognition of its bigger competitors. However, it’s a reliable alternative that costs less than most of our other picks and will protect a lot of devices simultaneously.Best budget: ProtonVPN
Server count: Over 1,700 servers in 63 countries (premium)
Connection limit: Supports 10 device connections at once (premium)
Home country: Switzerland
Free/trial version: Yes, speed-capped
Standard plan price: $10.52 per month, $75.69 per year, or $126.10 every two years (billed in Euro)
A decent free tier that actually works
Supports 10 simultaneous connections
Easy to upgrade to premium
Premium is expensive for what it is
As you might expect, ProtonVPN’s free plan is quite limited compared to its premium competitors. You can only choose from three servers, it’s limited to one device at a time, and Proton blocks popular VPN use cases like torrenting and streaming. As such, if you really want a VPN that supports multiple devices, you’ll need to shell out for its premium services.
The good news is that ProtonVPN makes it very easy to upgrade from its free plan to a paid option. It offers 10 simultaneous connections, which is more than enough for even large households. However, it does falter when compared to other premium competitors like NordVPN and ExpressVPN. It also lacks premium features that power users might expect, such as support for dedicated IP addresses.
The truth is that there is no good free option if you want to use a VPN across many devices. ProtonVPN gives the closest thing: A free taste of its services before you invest.FAQs Q: How many devices can use one VPN?
Generally speaking, the number of devices you can use on one VPN account is determined by the VPN provider itself. Most VPN providers have a cap of between 5-10 devices allowed on a single account simultaneously, though some allow an unlimited number.Q: Do I need a separate VPN for each device?
No. All of the VPN services on our list allow you to protect at least five devices with a single account.Q: Can the police track a VPN?
In most circumstances, neither law enforcement nor private companies can track live VPN traffic—this is why people use them. However, if you commit a crime and a law enforcement agency requests data from the VPN provider, some providers may give the data that they request. Some VPN providers have a strict “no logs” policy, which means they don’t store any information on their users. In that situation, the VPN service wouldn’t have any information to give law enforcement, even if they were legally compelled to do so.Final thoughts on the best VPNs for multiple devices
Excellent battery life
Great software experienceCons
Slightly dated designOur Verdict
It’s far from the best budget phone on the market, but Samsung fans looking for a cheap alternative to the company’s flagships won’t be disappointed here.
Despite the profound impact of the coronavirus pandemic in 2023, the deluge of Samsung phones shows no sign of abating. At £245, the Galaxy M31 is one of the most affordable devices in the company’s current lineup, aiming to provide a great smartphone experience at a fraction of a cost of the S and Note lines.
With a mammoth 6000mAh battery and competitive specs across the board, on paper it looks like Samsung is onto a winner. But how well does that translate to real-world usage? Read our full review to find out.
Design and build
Samsung has clearly cut some corners with the Galaxy M31’s design. The most notable is the plastic back and frame of the device, meaning any illusion of this being a premium device is quickly lost. I was initially fooled by the Galaxy A51’s so-called ‘glasstic’ design, but there’s no mistaking that Samsung has opted for the cheaper material here.
It frustratingly remains a fingerprint magnet, but on the black model I tested the smudges aren’t too noticeable. The phone’s also available in blue and red, if you’d prefer.
While these things would be significant drawbacks for some people, I found they quickly faded into the background once I started using the device as my main phone.
That’s due in part to the screen, a gorgeous 6.4 Full HD (1080×2340) OLED panel which offers rich, vibrant colours and an excellent level of detail. I often wonder just how much of a tangible benefit displays of 1440p and above actually provide, so this was a wise compromise for Samsung to make.
It’s only 60Hz, but with the latest iPhones still not supporting a higher refresh rate, it would be wrong for me to complain about its absence here. That is something you’ll find on the £179.99 Realme 7, though.
Where I will complain is the teardrop notch, which protrudes into the top of the display and houses a 32Mp selfie camera. It feels completely unnecessary, particularly when the bezels aren’t the smallest and there’s a sizeable chin.
It does at least support a face unlock, offering a mostly reliable alternative to the physical fingerprint sensor on the back of the device. The latter is a bit higher up the phone than feels natural, but was impressively resistant to dust and moisture in my testing.
Next to it is a rather imposing camera module, housing 64Mp main, 8Mp ultrawide, 5Mp macro and 5Mp depth sensors. It doesn’t quite sit flush with the back of the device, but it’s sufficient that there’s not too much rocking when flat down on a table.
There’s not much to write home about the sides of the device, which thankfully means there’s no Bixby button in sight. Power button and volume rocker on one side, dual SIM card tray on the other, simple as that.
It’s at the bottom where you’ll find the most notable inclusion: a 3.5mm headphone jack. The M31 is something of an outlier in a world where most phones, including many Samsung handsets, have ditched the port. The phone supports Bluetooth 5.0, but it’s still nice to have the option to connect wired headphones.
Hardware and performance
The Galaxy M31 comes running the Exynos 9611 chipset, which combines with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage on the model I tested. Samsung’s own processors have typically struggled when compared to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon line, although there are signs it’s fighting back. Performance on the Exynos 9611 is thought to be similar to the Snapdragon 712, with both found primarily on mid-range phones.
Unfortunately, in my testing time it fell short of what I expect from phone in 2023, even one that’s priced so affordably. The main problem I encountered were app freezes, with Chrome one of the big offenders. It would often lag on a website for quite a few seconds, although that may be due in part to the number of open Chrome tabs I had.
The other notable area of slowdown was in opening and switching between apps. I found it taking a comparatively long time to launch everything from Facebook Messenger to Spotify, while the aforementioned double tap of the power button to launch the camera was far from instant.
These issues don’t make the phone unusable by any means, although they are frustrations you’re likely to experience on a regular basis. It’ll still work fine if you’re willing to be patient, but the M31’s shortcomings are more glaring when you consider the strong performance in so many other budget phones.
The performance gap is illustrated in the below benchmarks, where the M31 pales in comparison to some of the best cheap phones around
Another area of performance that’s worth noting is the speakers – and it’s a much more positive story here. A single downward-firing speaker combines with the earpiece to provide clear, rich audio. I still wouldn’t recommend listening to music or watching a film on it, but for the occasional YouTube video and social media it’s more than acceptable.
Software and features
The Galaxy M31 comes running One Ui 2.5 over Android 10, and there’s no word on when it’ll get the upgrade to Android 11. If you haven’t used it before, Samsung’s skin is quite a departure from the so-called ‘stock’ version you’ll find on Pixel phones, although it’s come a long way from the clunky TouchWiz days.
The big appeal of One UI with regards to this phone is its optimisation for big-screen devices. Samsung divides the display into two sections, with all the controls you’ll need within easier reach at the bottom of the device. It won’t quite turn the 6.4in M31 into a one-handed phone, but does make a big difference to day-to-day usage.
Of course, this won’t extend to all third-party apps, but makes a big difference when you’re moving through Settings, taking a photo or making a call (yes, smartphones still do that!).
I’m a big fan of the quick settings menu, which allows you to make modifications directly from the notification shade, instead of taking you into the main app. Talking of settings, you can also customise the power key to open any app of your choice with a double press. I found the default quick launch of the camera to be particularly useful, but if you’d rather head straight to Instagram the option’s there.
Bixby’s appearances are also fleeting these days, with even the Google Discover-style cards to the right of the home screen ditched on recent One UI versions. It seems like Samsung has finally admitted its virtual assistant isn’t up to scratch, particularly when Google Assistant is available via a long press of the home button.
You can swap out that and the other two on-screen buttons for gestures, but I found the latter to be a bit laggy and generally not enjoyable to use on the M31.
Cameras are often an area where corners are cut on budget phones, but they remain a crucial ingredient of the smartphone pie. The M31 comes sporting quadruple rear lenses, with the main 64Mp sensor joined by 8Mp ultrawide, 5Mp macro and 5Mp depth sensors.
In general, I was impressed with the quality of stills from the M31. They offer a good level of detail and accurate colours, choosing to saturate images slightly less than Samsung phones have done in the past. Dynamic range is also solid, although it can struggle with exposure at times.
The camera app has a built-in scene optimiser, and seemed to do a good job of adjusting the settings automatically depending on what you’re taking a photo of. This includes switching to night mode, although that didn’t make a huge difference to the quality of low-light shots I was able to take.
The depth sensor enables portrait-style shots, although it tended to struggle quite a lot with edge detection. Like many other phones, the macro lens added almost nothing to the experience, as it wasn’t particularly impressive for close up shots.
A 32Mp front-facing camera yields higher quality selfies than I’ve seen on many phones, and it also offers the option to zoom out slightly and get more people into the shot.
The M31 is also capable of 4K video at 30fps on both the front and rear cameras, although the electronic image stabilisation (EIS) makes it a more pleasing experience on the latter.
Battery life is an area where the M31 excels on paper, with a huge 6000mAh cell. That’s larger than you’ll find on most phones in 2023, although it’s matched by the current budget champ in the Poco X3.
A score of 8 hours and 30 minutes in Geekbench 4’s battery test is more average, but I doubt you’ll have any problems with battery life here. In my experience, I was able to get a good couple of days of moderate usage on a single charge.
When you do finally run the battery down, the included 15W adapter gets you back up to around 23% back in 30 minutes. This is marketed as fast charging, although many other devices can be juiced up much faster.
There’s no wireless charging, but that’s not a surprise or dealbreaker at this price point.
Price and value for money
Talking of price, the Samsung Galaxy M31 comes in at £245/ US$ 299, and it’s exclusive to Amazon in the UK. The 6GB/64GB is the only model you can get on this side of the pond, although the International version linked above doubles the storage to 128GB.
That’s just about in budget phone territory, although competition is fierce at this price point. The likes of the Poco X3, Realme 7 and Oppo A9 2023 are all compelling alternatives and more more affordable than the M31.
It’s much more appealing if you’re only considering Samsung phones, with affordable devices like the Galaxy A20e offering a notably reduced experience.
The Galaxy M31 hasn’t been marketed nearly as heavily as Samsung’s flagships or even the mid-range A-Series, so you might not realise the company makes such a solid budget phone.
For £249, you get a gorgeous OLED display, excellent battery life and a highly polished software experience. There’s even a 3.5mm headphone jack, although the impressive speakers and Bluetooth 5.0 mean that might not be necessary.
It’s definitely not all good news though – performance is more than a little unconvincing at times and the sizeable notch and chin will be unsightly for some.
As a result, it’s unlikely to tempt people away from some other great Android handsets around this price point. But if you’re looking for the core Samsung experience at a more affordable price, this is definitely an option worth considering.Specs Samsung Galaxy M31: Specs
6.4in 1080×2340 19.5:9 OLED display, 60Hz
Exynos 9611 processor
Rear cameras: 64Mp f/1.8 wide, 8Mp f/2.2 telephoto, 5Mp f/2.4 macro, 5Mp f/2.2 depth 32Mp f/2.0 front-facing camera
3.5mm headphone jack
Gorilla Glass 3
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