My Second Smartphone

Six years ago, I upgraded from my flip phone to an iPhone 5s. Since then, I have taken almost 4000 photos, received directions on hundreds of trips, and viewed endless reddit posts on Alien Blue and the official Reddit app. I learned how to text, and the form factor was comfortable to hold and carry.

Over the last year, however, I did begin to notice its age. The case broke first when the hard plastic shell on the bottom around the ports began to break apart. I tried playing Wizards Unite, but I could only catch roughly one-in-three encounters because it took so long to load. The battery life degraded enough that I had to charge it every day instead of once every three days. And websites were just a tad slow to load. All of that being said, I would have happily continued to use it except for one dealbreaker: charging issues.

Several times in the past, I noticed that the phone wasn’t always charging when I plugged it in. Each time, Julie cleaned the pocket lint out of the port, and it went back to normal. Perhaps two or three months ago, I noticed that it was hard to charge again, so I handed it off to Julie again.

And it didn’t help.

Since then, charging my iPhone 5s turned into a mini-game. Depending on the cable, I could wiggle around the connector until it buzzed to indicate that it was charging (usually pushing the connector to the right). Then, it became a careful art of setting the phone and cable down so it would continue to charge. More often than not, as soon as I released pressure on the cable, it would stop charging. I became more and more creative with charging positions, including wedging the cable between a heavy object and a wall. I think I may have broken a few cables along the way.

But I figured it was temporary since Apple has reliably released new phones in the fall, and whatever it was, I was going to buy it. I watched the Apple Event in September with particular interest, and even though I would have been happy with just one camera on the back, I will happily take all three on my new iPhone 11 Pro.

Also, that’s what my kitchen looks like

I have no complaints so far. Instead, here’s a random list of praise.

Phone calls are much clearer now. Phone calls on my old phone were scratchy, especially compared to VoIP. I actually had convinced myself that phone calls were always scratchy, and I only noticed the difference because VoIP was so clear. Turns out that it was just my phone: calls sound great.

I watch more videos on my phone now. At home, I use my iPad for everything. I had never consciously noticed or felt that the iPhone 5s screen was too small for videos but generally avoided it. However, I have found myself happily watching YouTube on my phone without the impulse to swap devices.

The new vibration and dark mode are very pleasant.

Face ID is very convenient. It’s a much nicer way to receive and view notifications, and it’s totally seamless to open my password manager and log into services. Touch ID was already great and a touch away, and this removes even that tiny bit of friction.

In the September event, Phil Schiller mostly talked about the camera, but I don’t actually take too many pictures, so I haven’t taken advantage of that yet. Maybe soon.

More generally, I feel like I haven’t been taking advantage of the power of my new phone. I’m not using my phone too differently for how I did before. Looking at Screen Time, I apparently pick up my phone about 30 times a day and use it for about 40 minutes. I check various messaging and task management apps most frequently and spend the most time in Safari (likely in some black hole of the internet).

So I have been asking for game recommendations. However, I am somewhat picky, and I don’t think my interests align with the most common, popular mobile genres.

Julie told me that it’s okay that I’m not using my phone differently from before, and I think she’s probably right. I want to justify the price tag by unlocking some new, previously unavailable technology behavior, but I’m probably okay without it. If everything just runs and works more smoothly and my phone reliably charges, I’m happy.

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