Fixing phones

It has been a busy few weeks, the past ones. On the phone front, that is. There was the iOS 8 update, that came around on the 18th Sept. A few days later, there were a few bugs, much battery drain, and shrinking and expanding of memory usage – Free space varying from 4 GB to 125 MB (Yes). I had to run off all the ‘services’ that wanted to use Location. And deny most apps that wanted to use Location. (Helped that I am a control freak who likes to deny apps things whenever I can.) But then these turning offs were part of my earlier usage, so was a bit surprised why they were turned on all of a sudden!

Just as things returned to normal and I could get through the whole day using only 60% of the battery, the rear camera stopped working. This close to an OS update I wanted to blame the OS for it. I even took to the internet where there was a discussion thread on how after iOS 8 update cameras stopped working for a few people. (But then, the thing about the internet is that there really isn’t anything or any possibility for which there is NO discussion thread. You think you saw a UFO above your house, chances are many did, above their houses that is!)

So there was that trip to iRepair in Koramangala to get it fixed. He said 3 hours. Being a weekend I returned home and gave it on a weekday morning to pick it up on the evening. The camera was working nice and proper now and it set me back by a cool Rs. 2500! Now a few days on, after much dropping of calls, I had a sneaking suspicion that things weren’t so proper anymore. Turned out that the speaker at the top of the phone through which you hear people speak when you hold it close to the ear like a phone, had stopped working. I was surprised that I figured this out in a week considering the number of calls that I get! And that I usually use Bluetooth or the headset to talk most of the time! So another visit to the same store and they fixed it in 5 mins. Something wrong with the way they had sealed it up after fixing the camera. All good now. Except that right after I reached home, the phone was back to the same problem. A week later, I dropped it off in the morning and picked it up in the evening and the phone is working fine and proper on all fronts at the time of writing this. (I checked, ok?)

During all this, the Nexus 7 turned one year old in mid-September, and a few weeks later, my parents tried to have a Skype call with relatives only to have the relatives not hear anything from this end. Turned out that the Microphone had stopped working. And guess how long the warranty was? Yep! 1 year! (So if any of you Android folks were getting smug reading the above paragraphs, wipe that smirk off your faces!)  And unlike apple repair stores, there are no stores that do a proper repair job that I know of for Android devices. Can see one for Asus which made the device, but there are warranty services and non-warranty services. I pretty much might have to go to SP road and try my luck there.

My point is that, electronics are being designed to be replaced every year or 2. You don’t hold on to something for years together anymore. I think of my old Nokia 6610 which held on sturdily for 2 years before becoming roadkill after falling off my pocket. I replaced it with a Nokia 6230 for a princely sum of Rs. 16000 back in Jan 2005 and it is still doing service as my Mom’s phone. Of course, every few years the battery bloats up and needs to be replaced at the cost of Rs. 300. But the phone is still as good as new and a charge lasts a few days at least.

Getting back to the point, while people are willing to see, acknowledge and provide lip service to the problem of pollution caused by individual vehicles clogging the roads, they don’t seem to acknowledge the problem of excessive electronics usage. The amount of garbage we are generating or even accumulating in the name of these is humungous. There is a reasonable second hand market in India, but am not sure how that works in the US or other countries. Even then, if you have products that last only 2 years and then need to be pretty much discarded, you’re still putting them out in the garbage. And making more phones! Which use resources! I see the number of phones every company claims to have sold every quarter and it is staggering. And I think that says more about our consumption routines than anything else!

And there’s of course the issue of planned obsoloscence where phones that are more than a few years older will get updates that make them slower or won’t be supported by updates. In which case you just have to dump them and move on. No company is a saint here. They all want to sell more phones. You could argue that Android OSes are meant to run on older devices, but if you read this blog, you are probably smart enough to be above this cycle of excessive upgrading. (I know almost everyone who reads this blog, and those whom I don’t, if you’ve stuck around through all my whining, I can still paint a pretty decent profile of you.) But with increasing hardware capability and selling of features that no one uses or won’t even work in India, it’s a different story. (The number of arguments I’ve heard about NFC not being available, in India, dear GOD!) There’s always the tendency to try something new, to get a new phone. Advertising and marketing helps this along liberally. When was the last time you saw a newspaper which had a front page with news instead of ads for property, cars or phones?

As for my phone, I plan to use it as long as I can. If a part goes, I’ll replace it. If it is a part that I don’t need, I’ll use it without it! But it’ll be pushed for as long as it is alive!

3 thoughts on “Fixing phones

  1. Nokia 6230 in 2005. That year itself in my memory sounds like an eon ago. Phones from Nokia and Motorola in that age were built to last. The software was minimal, but was well tested since there was no easy OTA update. How long does that phone last on a full charge? A week? 🙂

    I’ve noticed that every invention we use goes through these phases. Early stages when they are built to last, but once their features are set and new features give diminishing returns, they become cheaper to mass produce and in the final stage the quality goes down. This is true for the safety pin as it is to the cellphone.

    I like to squeeze out the maximum utility from a device. Hope to do so with my first smartphone too. That’s why I’ve been careful to pick one which runs stock Android, has unlocked bootloader and whose mass popularity in emerging markets means that I’m pretty sure there’ll be a CyanogenMod or something similar to keep it running long after Google stops its update lifeline.

    1. Yeah it lasts a few days. 🙂

      I think there’s also the factor where phones haven’t played such a major role and tied to a company’s success as much before. And in your case the problem would still be hardware quality. Note that I bought a Nexus 7. Beyond warranty the current model is to encourage buying.

  2. In US, most ppl get this on contract and turn it in while collecting new phones I think. Also have seen exchange offers in Apple store, my 4S is just 2 years old but had some issues during last 3-4 months and the guy evaluated it and offered $105 for it which I use against the purchase of any apple product. Similarly there are kiosks which accept old phones and evaluate it and give you its price and if you accept they take the phone and cash is dispensed immediately. Not sure how many ppl use such things though … this phone change every 2 years is really bad … guess everyone misses those Nokia days

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