A few years ago, I became an iPhone convert after resisting Apple‘s seductive marketing for many years and finally deciding to sacrifice the privilege of being able to put music onto my phone without the use of proprietary software. Basically, like millions of others, I sold my soul to Apple.
The problem I have now is that I can’t imagine using any phone other than an iPhone, so having to go back to using a very basic Nokia can be quite a shock to the system.
I’ve been travelling to Scotland at the beginning of the week for the last couple of weeks, so my trusty iPhone has been more important to me than perhaps it would otherwise be and one could argue that it’s the only thing keeping me sane. Without it and the Google Translate app, I wouldn’t have a fucking clue what anyone in Scotland was saying to me. Using the free wifi at the airport (they block porn but force you to sign up to their newsletter in order to use the internet), using flight mode to watch some videos or play some games on the plane, using Google Maps to navigate your way around a strange city, using Google to find places to eat or to drink at- these are all things which iPhone and other smartphone users have become accustomed to having at the touch of a button or a swipe of a finger.
Years ago, when cameras started to appear on mobile phones, I thought it was an utterly ridiculous notion- cameras and mobile phones go together no better than Jeremy Clarkson and subtlety. But when I bought a Nokia 7650, which was the first Nokia to have a camera, I found that actually, it was quiet handy to be able to take random photos whenever I wanted. No one carries a camera around with them all of the time, do they? It was ideal for the opportunist peeping tom who was now able to take up-skirt photos far more conveniently.
A perfect example of an ad-hoc photo opportunity presented itself during a particularly harsh snow storm in either 2003 or 2004.
It had already been snowing a little when I was sitting at traffic lights one winter evening, waiting an ice age for them to change. Very suddenly, the ice age arrived and snow started to come down in thick blankets of pure white which quickly built up on the ground, centimetre by centimetre, right in front of me.
My wipers were on full speed at this point, but I thought I’d use my brand-new camera phone to take a photo of the snow, so that I could show anyone who didn’t believe how heavily it had come down.
Obviously, the camera was crap and didn’t really capture anything at all. But somehow, I managed to snap a shot in between wiper sweeps, so that the wipers weren’t in the way and at exactly the same point when someone was mid-stride across the road. The photo didn’t capture what I wanted it to capture, but it remains one of my favourite photos because of it’s simplicity. I loved that phone and like my Nokia 9500, it’s one which I’d still have now if a previous, moronic housemate whom I’d leant the phone to hadn’t have changed the security code, forgotten what it was and rendered the phone useless. I hope bad things have happened to her in life.
The next unlikely pairing with mobile phones was sat-nav. Most people already had their Garmin or Tom Tom systems and using your phone for sat-nav would only drain the battery and render the phone a sleek, expensive paperweight until you could find an opportunity to charge it again. The Nokia N95 not only included a full sat-nav solution with Nokia Maps, it also had a 5MP camera, which was the best one around at the time, although as is always the case with technology, the N95 didn’t don this crown for very long.
Nokia Maps was pretty decent and like having a camera on the phone, the idea of having yet another function to enhance further what used to be a simple communications device made perfect sense. I did find the Nokia N95 literally trying to burn it’s way through my inside pocket on more than one occasion, which I suspect was caused by what would have been a mammoth, power-hungry processor for the time. I suppose you could argue that the Nokia N95 was one of the original, true smartphones, based on what it could do and by the fact that it needed to be charged each and every night. Still, plugged in to the cigarette adaptor in the car, the Nokia N95 made for a perfectly good alternative to Tom Tom. It also made for a perfectly good alternative to gloves during winter, as whenever it tried to set itself on fire it was more than warm enough to take away any chill from my hands. Again, this is a phone which I would have kept for posterity, but sadly it became defective and T-Mobile insisted it had been water-damaged (which it hadn’t), so I had to claim for it under an insurance policy I had. The insurer couldn’t replace the phone so offered me a cash settlement instead.
Now we have the iPhone.
The iPhone took a while to catch up with standard features that Apple‘s competitors already utilised. Simple things, such as Bluetooth or 3G.
But now the iPhone has caught up and we’re all used to how well the latest smartphones perform, which takes me back to what I’d originally intended to write about before I started to waffle.
I’m usually very careful with phones and rarely drop or damage one. Unfortunately, I’ve dropped my current iPhone twice now; each time on the same corner by the power button. It’s a terrible moment when you realise that gravity has a hold of your shiny phone, as it falls in slow-motion towards the concrete below. It never lands and stays where it is- it has to bounce or flip over, so both sides can get scratched up, dented or smashed. It’s like the ground is getting one up on you and revels in the opportunity to destroy your beloved phone. The ground is a bit of a bastard in that way.
When I received the phone, the power button used to rattle and annoy me, especially when the phone was vibrating, but the drops have dented the outer frame in such a way that now the power button no longer vibrates. Every cloud and all that.
It seems that the dented outer frame now has a small gap somewhere, which lets in tiny bits of dirt. These tiny bits of dirt find their way into the camera housing and eventually, right into the camera lens, which has resulted in blurry, out-of-focus photos. This is annoying for me as I love having a camera with me at all times, so am constantly taking photos. With dust in the camera, the photos I’m taking are shit.
I’ve replaced the back cover of an iPhone before by following a YouTube video, so I thought I’d do the same to find out how to clean out the contaminated camera lens.
I successfully took the front off the iPhone but the camera unit didn’t want to budge, so rather than risk damage to my phone, I put it back together again.
The whole dirty lens thing started to bug me, so I went back to YouTube to find another way of solving my problem and came across a video which shows that all you need to do is gently prise the camera unit out of it’s housing as it would just fold back.
This seemed simple enough, so I set about dismantling my phone again.
Because I’d already loosened the screen by removing it the first time, I didn’t need to apply quite as much force as I had originally. But I didn’t know that. I pulled firmly and slowly, but without any warning, the screen just came straight off. I didn’t realise until I put it all back together again (after successfully cleaning out the camera lens) that I’d severed one of the flat cables which attaches the screen to the rest of the phone. My poor iPhone would now no longer turn on.
This happened on the Sunday morning when I was due to fly to Scotland that afternoon. I admit that I do like having my phone with me but I thought sod it- it would be nice to have a small break from technology. We all managed years ago, with just our house phones and payphones- why couldn’t I do this now? It would be easy and I was sure I could avoid the urge for porn on the hotel’s wifi when I arrived at my destination.
It wasn’t as easy as I thought and I soon realised that actually, I couldn’t be so far away from family and friends without being able to at least text every now and again. And that I couldn’t make do without looking at tits or fannies on the internet. I popped to Carphone Warehouse to buy myself the cheapest pay-as-you-go phone possible, just to last me until I could get my phone repaired.
The phone is simple to say the least. It doesn’t have a web browser, a camera or Bluetooth but sends SMS and makes/receives calls. It also has a talking clock, which I quite liked using as an alarm. It has some games on it but disappointingly, the version of Snake is nothing like the original version. The phone was no good for accessing porn, but at least I could communicate with others.
The pros of this little Nokia are the usual incredibly long battery life found in the simpler phones of yester-year, a torch in the top of the phone, timed profiles and timed SMS. The latest iOS versions have the timed silent mode facility incorporated (Do Not Distburb) as well as the torch feature, but the timed SMS feature is quite a useful one.
My little Nokia makes for a perfect backup phone but I couldn’t live with it on a permanent basis. 10 years ago, I would have loved it due to it’s compact size and the useful features. I have no doubt that a full charge can last a week (it pretty much did) or that I could drive over it and it would still work but I much prefer my more fragile, more expensive, more convenient iPhone which thankfully, has now been fixed.
Could you live without your smartphone?