Monday, August 10, 2015

Lessons Learned From a Shattered Phone

(Happy 5 months to Baby!  But first, from last Friday...)

I will tell you, I fought the smartphone revolution heartily and well.  My old flip phone (which I had to eventually relent to get even that) was working just fine, and I liked my service (i.e. family plan...), and as a phone it was all I really needed.  All the texts I wrote to and received from The Wife while we were dating long-distance were on there, and it meant a little something to me, scratches and all.  But then, plans were changing, its camera, such as it was, was lacking, the idea of being able to look things up on the go started to sound really appealing, and in general I figured it was time to grow up and get off my dad's cell phone plan.  I really didn't want to become one of Those People who are always staring at their phones, especially when we had a little one on the way, but I was sure we would be able to use them judiciously.  We switched to some starter phones, which were amazing to us, but which after a couple years started to show signs of aging.  But the real jump to a more legit smartphone was switching to a completely new service.  I could go on and on about the things I like about RepublicWireless (and just one on about the things I don't quite love), but for the price it can't be beat.  The only catch was that you have to buy their phones.  Fine, no problem, we were probably due for an upgrade anyway.  Flash forward about half a year after that magical Christmas morning, full of shiny new phones in stylish protective cases that take much better pictures and have much more reliable internet features and much bigger hard drive space...

One busy morning, my phone disappeared.  We looked everywhere, I tried every possible method of locating your phone (you would think in emergencies this would be easier these days), I seemed to remember putting it on the roof of the car and thought maybe it had fallen off when The Wife went to the store later that afternoon but had no luck driving up and down the road searching, I worried it was going to die and then it wouldn't even be heard ringing (if I hadn't left it on silent...)... And then when The Wife went on her run the next morning, she found this:

Major street cred at least?

Here are some lessons learned from a shattered phone.


• Second things second, if you DO put your phone on the roof of your car, don't forget about it and leave it there all day.

• Third things third, wear shorts with pockets, especially if you're going out and about.  Seriously, this whole thing would have been avoided if I had had pockets and somewhere to put my phone when I came home and immediately started to doing yard work.

• If you find a shattered phone, plug it in and see if it still works.  If it does (like mine did), hurray, you will probably be able to get all your pictures and such off of it!  Especially if (like mine did) it has a removable SD card.

• That screen really does have sharp little pieces and cracks.  It might not have been able to cut me, but it sure felt like it would.  Street cred, pffft.  I'd take a nice shiny screen any day.

• Try not to let that blinking notification light and occasional ding from a phone with an obviously working phone but obviously not working screen get to you.

• If you have a protective cover, it will only go so far.  (Then again, apparently not all covers are created equal?)  This thing didn't have a chance, considering the entire back popped off along with the cover when it was, I can only presume, run over several times before finally making its way safely to the gravelly side of the road.

• When you get your replacement phone, turn off USB debugging and install lost phone recovery apps right away.  This will save you such grief, believe you me.

• Speaking of grief, if you haven't turned off USB debugging or installed lost phone recovery apps, you will still be able to get a lot of your contacts and such from some of your online accounts, but I'm sorry to tell you that, at least for the time being, your texts will be long gone (this does matter to me since I communicate with my family and The Wife so much this way, and now at least seven months' worth of that communication is lost... ah well, fresh start?).

It should be noted that if you figure out after hours of searching that such a thing cannot be done, it's probably best to give up the search, or at least moderate the time you spend on it.  All it will do is make you more frustrated and have the same result, and who needs that?

Incidentally, if anyone ever figured out how to transfer texts without having turned off USB debugging or installed lost phone recovery apps, do let me know?

• It's not a terrible idea to look on eBay for used/refurbished phones, but buy with care and don't be too hasty (luckily mine allowed me to cancel my order the next day when I found a more reputable option), and you can always check with your retailer for specials or deals:

• If you are a RW customer, you may have the option of buying a lower-priced replacement phone from their B-Stock supply, which are phones that are possibly refurbished or new returned for whatever reason but unable to be sold as "New", but are still in working order.

• Sometimes if you get a replacement phone, it will also not work...

• If your replacement phone doesn't work, try not to spend hours trying to figure it out.  In my case I guess it must have been the proximity sensor or something, because every time I tried to make or answer a call the screen instantly went black.  The call was still in operation, but you were unable to use the keypad or even hang up, and the only way to get the screen back would be if the person on the other end hung up (which made for some awkward scrambling after leaving a message).  I found that if I plugged headphones in the screen would come back on, since the proximity sensor is no longer in use, but then would go black again when I took the headphones out, and then if I turned on the speaker and took out the headphones it was fine, but if I turned the speaker off it was black again... It was most vexing.

• If your replacement phone doesn't work, you can try to take it apart and make it somehow magically work, but don't get too frustrated if it doesn't work.  Most of them time you need very specific and very unique tools for such an operation, surely by design.  I had dreams that this would work out, but no.

• If your phone doesn't work AS A PHONE, you need to get a new phone.
Third time's the charm??
• It's a bummer to lose info and pictures (I luckily didn't lose any of those at least), but there are worse things.  And most of that stuff actually does transfer pretty quickly and easily, especially if both phones are at least functional.

• In the end, it's just a thing.  We use and even need things these days, especially if it's our line of communication to friends and family and work, but there are ways to get your things working again, even if it takes (heaven forbid) a week or two.  Try not to let it occupy your thoughts too much.

And, most importantly:

• If you start to even joke that you're trying not to feel like an amputee now that your phone is not constantly on your person for a few days... it's time to detach.  I mean, I'd been meaning to disconnect a little more lately, I'd just have preferred it had been on my terms, all things considered.  Still, the fact that I was so cranky about a phone was a good reminder.  I've been happy to leave it in another room for long stretches at a time so I can concentrate on other things (until I need to grab it and take that picture while the toddler and the infant are being so cute together!).

So I learned a lot from this experience.  At the moment my third RW phone seems to be working just fine, though there is the slightest speck of broken pixel/ding in the screen at some level which lets out just the tiniest little sparkle when the screen is lit up.  I thought about trying to fix it or get the thing replaced again, but:

• If you're on your third phone in half a year and discover the tiniest blemish, embrace it.  I like to think of it as a remnant of some kind, just a hint of its dearly departed father's and grandfather's respective and varied fates.  Like a reminder to its owner of what happened, and really, if this extremely minor version of a shattered, unusable screen is what I'm left with, I'll take it.

It's almost like it has a little scar from its very infancy.

I call it Harry.

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