Slowly Sipping Coffee

Death of a Cellphone

Monday 10/13:

Well, that day has arrived. The one where I go to use my phone and realize, “Hey it shouldn’t be acting like this. I’ll charge it, and maybe it will feel better… Why isn’t it recognizing the charger is plugged in?” So I unplug and re-plug the charger, still nothing. Check the charger port on the phone for lint, no lint. I think to myself, “Hmmm, it shouldn’t be acting like this, I bet the battery is shot, I mean it is 2+ years old. I’ll deal with it when I get home.”   I get home and the battery is really, really, low. So, I pull out the battery and go to Amazon to find a replacement. A few minutes and $10 later and my new OEM battery will be arriving in 2 days. Yeah!! In the meantime, I tell Mrs. SSC my cell phone is sick, and I plug the battery back in and try to turn on the phone and it’s stuck in a reboot loop… My heart jumps to my throat as I think, “Maybe it wasn’t the battery! EEEEP!!!” I try soft rebooting, hard rebooting, and nothing. I think optimistically, “Well…. maybe the battery is soooo low, it is stuck in this loop and can’t power on past this reboot point. I’m glad I ordered a new battery!”


Thursday, 10/16:

My new battery arrives and I think to myself, “Hooray, I get my phone back!”. While it has been kind of freeing to be without my personal cell phone, I’m now more worried that the phone may have caught something terminal and it isn’t just sick or in need of an organ replacement (the battery). I put in the new battery, power on, and now it gets to a new point in the reboot loop before it sets off the flash and the screen blinks off. It then begins to repeat this behavior. After several attempts at this with the same result, I take out the battery, and try charging it, thinking the new battery needs a solid charge on it, and that’s definitely the issue. At this point, I am the definition of insanity, trying the same things over and over and hoping for a different outcome. I search online and find some useful information regarding my specific issue. I found out that there’s only a 50/50 survival rate and the chances at resuscitating my dear little phone are looking more and more grim. So, I go back to Amazon and $6 later, I have a “USB jig” on its way to the SSC residence. Allegedly, you plug this in and turn on the phone and it forces it to go to a download mode, where you can monkey with things to get it to reset that reboot loop. I update Mrs. SSC on the news and she suggests that we should look into cell phone plans if I’m going to need a new phone. Begrudgingly, I start to research online, but out of sight of my sick phone. It’s not dead yet, just very, very, sick, and I don’t want to do anything to impede its recovery back to a working cell phone. I give it some words of encouragement before I start my research, “Hold on buddy, I’ve got the “jig” coming; that will fix you I promise! We’ll get through this!”


Saturday, 10/18:

The USB Jig arrives and the moment of truth is here. I put the battery back in my phone, insert the USB jig, yell “Clear!” and press the power button. Disappointingly, nothing happened. Except the reboot loop, and it wouldn’t even get past the Samsung logo. Poor phone, it’s sicker than I thought. I held out one last hope though that if I took it to the phone hospital (our carrier’s store) they may let me use a fully charged battery and give me an accurate diagnosis.


Monday, 10/20:

I took my phone into the local store, praying for a miracle. After trying to resuscitate it, we called the time of death at 10:16 am, Monday 10/20/14. Good-bye phone. You’ve served me well, and I hate to see you go. So, on to a new phone, but do we need a new plan at the same time? Should we stick with our current carrier, or try something different, something more frugal?

I remember a few months back reading about different cell phone plans on the cheap and with my love for “ghetto cell plans and the phones that come with them” I bypass them to go straight to our current carrier’s online store and start looking at new phones. J Holy cow, when the hell did cell phones start to cost as much as a decent lap-top?! I realize I paid a couple of hundred dollars for my last cell phone (the Galaxy S2), but I didn’t get the S3 because it was almost double the price. Yes, I’m cheap in some regards, but the S2 was great and worked awesomely, until it didn’t. But to upgrade to an S5 was $609 at our current carrier, and $509 on Amazon. I look at the Nexus and i-phones which were similarly priced. Whichever phone I researched,  they seemed to be way more than I want to spend on a phone.

So I researched different carriers thinking I could save some coin on our plan as well as a phone. I looked into a lot of them, but, I only dug deeper into Ting and Republic Wireless. Why those you ask? Well, Mrs. SSC was in love with the idea of Republic’s $5/month plan in which you only use wifi, and have no cellular tower connection. Sounds promising, but after reading some reviews, I realized this wouldn’t fit our current lifestyle. Their other plans range from $10/mo to $40/mo and as you pay more, you get moved onto cellular networks, but our current plan has us at $80/mo for both phones. So, I’m not going to a different carrier and incur a new phone cost for Mrs. SSC when her phone is still working fine, and not save money. It didn’t make sense for us to switch.

Then, I checked on Ting and their plans. I like the concept of their plan which is “you pay for what you use”. They put everything into different buckets marked SX, S, M, L, and XL and More. Looking into our current monthly usage, we would land in the $32/month category. Again only saving $16/month, which, yes, is almost $200/year, but with the hassle of switching carriers, getting phones for their systems, etc… It isn’t worth it to us currently. With our current lifestyle, we need something reliable that works everywhere and comes at a time when both our phones break or need an upgrade. So we’re sticking with our current carrier for now.


Wednesday, 10/22:

That brings us back to what to do about replacing my phone. As Mrs. SSC pointed out I can get a Galaxy Avant for $200 and that’s reasonable. She put down the edict that in her world, over $300 for a cell phone is unreasonable, and I would have to cover the difference out of my allowance. Ugh… I pointed out that the Avant is a downgrade on all levels from a phone that was 2+ years old. So, no, once I’ve tasted the good stuff, I can’t go back!! But seriously, who wants to spend a LOT of money on a brand new phone that’s already slower and takes worse pictures than your old phone? I settled on the Galaxy S4, it was $330 on Amazon and should be arriving today. Swap out my sim card, and I’ll be back in business. I’m sure at some point, I will downgrade my phone to some degree, and our plan will change to a cheaper one. In the meantime, I’ll have a small memorial for my old phone. Say some kind words, share a favorite memory I had of it, and then drop it into the electronic recycling bucket at work.

How do you deal with replacing cell phones? Do you just go with something that fits your needs and you don’t need the bells and whistles, or do you like getting the newest, latest, greatest phone out there? I compromise somewhere in the middle. Maybe the upper end of the middle, but I’m okay with that for now.

2 thoughts on “Death of a Cellphone

  1. Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom

    I’m more bare bones, my husband likes bells and whistles. I had been considering switching to a basic pay as you go plan, but today I was very glad I had a smart phone with calling, texting and data so I had as many ways to try to stay in touch when the power was out and the cell network overloaded.

    1. SSC

      Yeah – I am often tempted to go even cheaper. Really, all I want is phone, text, and access to email. I remember a few years ago when I first got a smartphone, Mr. SSC and I were skiing in Colorado and we were able to check in for our flight in the middle of a run… that was so cool!!! And I learned after moving to the Gulf Coast that text is very important especially during hurricanes when the cell network is super overloaded with everyone trying to tell their family they are safe. Right now we have a plan with T-Mobile, but its only $80 a month, which isn’t so bad.

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