It’s a very modern type of crisis – how on earth do you cope if you have to send your smartphone away for repair?
It’s been preying on my mind ever since I got my first smartphone five years ago. What would I do if it broke, or I lost it, and I was deprived of it for period of time? My concern has been of the type normally reserved for thermonuclear war, tsunami, planes crashing on your house or the countless other things that would be so unspeakably awful that the best approach is to scrupulously avoid thinking about them and hope that they never happen.
Then last weekend the unthinkable happened. The lower 2 mm of my iPhone 5s screen started to look a bit funny. Now 2 mm doesn’t sound like much; it was just enough to brush the lower edge of the bottom row of icons and didn’t affect the function of the phone. But it did cause me a sufficiently high level of distress to make me realise that all is well in my world. There are people in this world who are starving, haemorrhaging with Ebola and having their heads hacked off by fanatics with blunt penknives and all I have to concern me is a cosmetic defect on a luxury item. However, with only a week remaining of its one year warranty it was clear that it would have to be dealt with, and soon. My local Apple Approved Service Partner could send it away for me, but couldn’t offer any replacement. It would take a week. A week without a smartphone. My mind whirled. I felt slightly nauseous. I had to sit down.
Pull yourself together, what do you need a smartphone for anyway?
After some deep breaths I thought that maybe I could see a way through this nightmarish seven days of smartphonelessness. I could just go without my phone for a week and see what happened. Perhaps I would gain a new perspective on life and renounce smartphone use for good. I might find that I magically had about two extra hours in my day. I could write it up as an experiment. If things got really desperate I could carry my laptop about with me. But it just didn’t seem right. I noted down my anxieties.
1. Making calls and receiving messages. I could use the crappy old Nokia that my employer provides me with, and could receive facebook and iMessages on my laptop.
2. Listening to podcasts. I could use my iPod, there would just be the hassle of remembering to sync it with my laptop.
3. Jotting down notes when out and about. Pen and paper? Or even my Livescribe smartpen, because I cunningly didn’t buy the one that needs an iOS device to work.
4. Recording voice notes when out and about. Actually I can use my smartpen for that too.
5. Taking photos. Use a camera?
6. Navigation. Could use a map and compass.
7. Recording GPS tracks when running. Finally something that has no obvious substitute. I would be reduced to timing myself with a stopwatch. Where’s the fun in that?
8. Headspace app for guided meditation. Again no substitute apart from just using breath which is the point of meditation anyway.
9. Online newspapers, blogs, Twitter. As I have a computer at work and another at home this would only really be an issue when in transit. And I cycle. So not a big issue.
That’s right, you don’t need a smartphone at all.
Once I saw my concerns in black and white I was amazed and perplexed at how disturbed I had been by the prospect of a phone free week. I wouldn’t really notice it at all so long as I could cope with not sharing my running stats with my Strava followers and meditating to naturally occurring rather than pre-recorded silence.
Then I realised that I would have to carry carry around the following:
- Crappy old Nokia (that can’t receive text messages from iPhone users because iMessage has abducted them)
- Laptop (so I can pick up the abducted text messages)
- iPod (which I have to plug in and sync every night)
- Smartpen and notepad
- Map and compass (only required when on unfamiliar terrain)
- Imagination (for meditation)
Actually you do need a smartphone. Luckily you can hire one by the week!
Which all sounded like a right old faff. So I ordered up a replacement handset from loanmeaphone.com. For £20 + £7 postage I hired an iPhone 4s for a week. It arrived the next day. So I didn’t have to confront my demons after all. The only pain that I will have to endure is living without a fingerprint sensor for a week.