Phones Don’t Last: A Relationship Doomed from the Start

by | Dec 14, 2016 |

Jinxed that is what I am – for whatever reason, my phones don’t last beyond 12 months. I don’t have an explanation; I just seem to run into issues consistently. It all began with feature phone (or smart phone?) Nokia E5-00.

Nokia E5-00

Nokia E5

Nokia E5 | Photo by John Karakatsanis via Flickr

The jury seems to be still out on whether the Nokia E5 can be labeled a smartphone but it ticks the right boxes for me: continuous internet connectivity, downloadable apps, and a QWERTY keyboard. Sure it wasn’t chock full of sensors to provide you with the most intricate details of your movement and use, it was smarter among the other feature phones on the market. I got the phone as part of a package deal from my provider, so I didn’t pay for it. The phone worked great at first, but as I approached the one year anniversary, I ran into a few software issues. Setting changes were not saving, and the phone would regularly freeze up.

Repairable? Probably. Would it have been worth it? Probably not. In any case, my birthday was coming up, and it would be a great gift if I got an actual smartphone. That is when the Samsung S3 entered my life.

Samsung S3

Samsung S3

Samsung S3

My first Android phone, the Samsung S3 worked great. Sure there were a few other phones on the market, but I decided to go with Samsung as I assumed that I would get the best value out of it. Let’s only say that my relationship with Samsung changed dramatically from that point on. I charge my phones overnight so imagine my surprise when I wake up the next morning and see that the battery is at 35%. I initially thought that I had forgotten to plug it in or flip the switch, but everything seemed fine, and the charging icon was in the notification bar. So I decided that I will charge it on my way to work.

No matter where I go, if I am driving, I always have Waze running and this morning was no different except for the fact that the phone was not charging. To add insult to injury, the phone was de-charging; it was losing power faster than it could gain! After completing my 40-minute commute and arriving at the office with a dead phone, I decided to buy a new wire to charge the phone as that could very well be the culprit. Three different wires later and I still had a phone that was experiencing the slowest charge that I had every seen with no clear explanation of what was wrong (only if smartphones could be smarter). I remember Googling the problem and it was related to the contact ports within the phone. They were quite fragile could be easily damaged depending on how forceful you yank the plug out. I don’t remember being forceful, but it could happen. Luckily, thanks to the to removable battery design, I purchased a wireless charging pad and started charging my phone without a cable.

Using a wireless charging pad is not all that it is cracked up to be. Right, the phone is not attached to a wire, but in essence, appended to a large plastic bed. That becomes a major problem if you want to charge your phone while on the road or where you have limited desk space, for instance, on a plane. To put it simply, the novelty of wireless charge wore out pretty quickly, and the need for function over form was becoming a top priority. Luckily I received an email from one of my banks about an offer – buy the Lenovo Vibe Z2 for under AED1000 (under USD272). Seemed like the best time to make the change and so I took them up on offer.

Lenovo Vibe Z2

This phone took me beyond the 12-month mark but not by much. The only problem I had with it (and it was a major issue), is that at least twice a day, the touchscreen would become unresponsive. The problem mostly occurred when I received calls which meant that I was helpless staring at a ringing phone while smashing my fingertips across the screen hoping that it would register that I wanted to answer the phone. Of course, it never worked, and the only way to remedy the situation was to perform a hard reset. There is also a light orange tint on the right-hand of the screen which is barely noticeable, but not able to take calls was a huge let-down. At that time, I was getting frustrated with Androids – I have an itch when it comes to new updates and cannot continue my work if I know an app or OS needs an upgrade. Call it a compulsive disorder, but when an update is there, I need to hit proceed. With Android, it is a complete guessing game on whether your phone will get the next update. Even if earmarked for an upgrade, it’s anyone’s guess when it will happen. For someone like me, that wouldn’t do. So I made the ultimate decision, I said farewell to Android and hello to iOS.

iPhone 6

My current phone, the iPhone 6, has been good to me; it has been there to scratch my update itches and does not lag in comparison to my previous two phones that seemed to get slower over time. What could go wrong? My phone curse strikes again. I’ve had the phone for 11 months and problems arose with charging (it’s Samsung S3 all over again). Plugging in the Lightning cable does not charge my phone. I need to position the phone and cable in such a way that the phone will charge. Take a look at the photo below.

My iPhone requires a unique position in order to charge - resting on my calculator.

My iPhone requires a unique position to charge – resting on my calculator.

Unless the phone is resting in that position, it will charge. Any other position, let’s say flat on the table, it will not. To come to think of it, I have no idea how I even discovered that. So that solves office charging requirements, at home, I have a similar setup. I have tried numerous cables, and they all have the same issue which leads to another port problem. Charging in the car is another matter as I can’t get the perfect resting position. On rare occasions that I do get it right, I cannot touch my phone, or I would lose connectivity.

What Next?

So what do I do next? I haven’t decided. I could send the phone off for repairs, but that would mean not having a phone for a few days. It’s not that I am addicted to my phone, and I can’t keep my hands off it but rather than my phone is my digital key to everything (I am completely in the cloud – I even use a Chromebook since I have nothing saved on a physical hard drive). I am extremely concerned about access to my files and emails and don’t trust the repair industry with keeping my stuff safe.

I am considering a move back to Android as I find Apple excessively controlling what I can do on their phones. I would need to find a Google-backed phone to take care of the OS updates that I just need to have. However, for everything else, the phone still works well, and as long as I can still somehow charge it, I will be keeping it for a little while longer. Ultimately, it comes down to either that phones don’t last with me or they are designed to fail quickly. I have yet to determine which of the two it is.