I made a dreadful mistake when I bought my iPhone 5S. I bought the phone with a 16 GB capacity—even after the recommendation of the esteemed Robin Collins, a noted academic and all-around good guy who contemplates (and speaks and writes about) heady things like the relationship of science and religion. When he buys a device he pays the extra bucks for more memory–especially when the option of expanding the memory yourself does not exist (as in all things Apple)–because the point of the device is to hold your stuff. To this, I can add a resounding note to self: DUH.
I bought my iPhone 5S from my carrier, Verizon, at a time when they had shelved their happy habit of subsidizing phones.The helpful hint of the esteemed Dr. Collins did not echo in my cotton wool grey matter as I stood in the Verizon store on Mother’s Day, 2014, being wooed by an employee who threw in a free Mophie and lovingly applied a screen protector to my iPhone 5S with its paltry 16 GB.
Yes, I had the promise that I could upgrade to an iPhone 6 after six months. But when the iPhone 6 came out, I couldn’t see the point of making the switch. So I didn’t, and now I’m just about done paying full price for an iPhone even though I have been with Verizon for 15 years. Thanks, Verizon!*
More on the upgrade I missed: I reckon I should have checked to see how much of my 16 GB I was using when I first became eligible for the upgrade and before I started receiving the dread, daily message: “Your storage is almost full. You can manage your storage in settings.” Naturally, this message pops up when I’m taking a photo standing in the middle of Times Square and the Naked Cowboy happens by. (NB: He’s not really naked.)
Enter another science guy…my friend LT who works at JPL. LT is that lovely sort of science nerd who is always ready to talk about the latest Dr. Who. One day LT pulls from his pocket a marvel of human design, the lovely OnePlus One mobile phone. As much I as like the look of the Christian Louboutin Vampydoly Asymmetric Red Sole Pump in Black for $1095 (seen here), you’ll not see one on my foot because in all things sartorial, comfort is king for me and a shortened Achilles tendon is not an option. But show me a slick new device and I’m jelly-kneed, and a bit jelly-brained as well because my first thought is, “Oooh, pretty!” and not about the specs under the hood.
Turns out the OnePlus One is quite robust under the hood (if you can live with a non-removable battery) and quite reasonably priced. So I got one, took it to Verizon and BOOM. It’s a GSM phone that will not work over Verizon’s CDMA network. I knew about GSM vs CDMA before I bought the phone, but of course did not bother to check it out (oooh, pretty!). Besides, I wanted a phone that works in Europe without paying Verizon’s completely extortionary prices for the privilege.
Do I go to Europe frequently? Why, no, I don’t. But I intend to rectify this any year now. This past summer, I did go to Europe…France and England. I loved trekking down Oxford Street to the O2 store to get a SIM card. I loved, for a brief two weeks, having a UK phone number. (Of course in my case this is directly related to having lived in England as a teenager. Every teenager wants a phone, right?)
Back at home, I parted ways with my lovely OnePlus One–but not before it greeted me: Welcome to America! Reunited with my iPhone, I have been deleting apps, moving pictures elsewhere…yet still The Dread Message appears.
Let me take a little detour here and talk about why it is important to know (and remember) that there are simply some subjects that your significant other may not have the facility to handle. Simply put, know your significant other and trust that certain things Must Not Be Discussed.
My SO (aka: The Scout) has many wonderful qualities, but talking tech is not one of them–that is, if a discussion about cell phones and memory and data plans can even be considered true tech talk. It is possible that the Scout is so tech-adverse as to actually harbor a suspicion that mobile technology is a threat to our humanity—that it is eating away at true human interaction and replacing it with a simulacrum. In his mind, we are our true human selves in the wilderness, sitting around a campfire, wearing yesterday’s underwear and looking at the stars (he would allow a telescope in this instance).
I will confess that my screen-time habits are less than stellar. I wake up in the middle of the night and grab my phone. I’m not sure why it is critically important to me to read the New York Times “Your Morning Briefing” at 4:00 am, but I often do. The Scout rolls over and is met with an eerie lipid-green glow. He is sure that my soul is being sucked away. I try to tell him it’s not the technology that is a challenge to the soul–it’s the reading about Syrian refugees, unnecessary deaths, and all manner of impending doom…
In an effort to reunite with my OnePlus One, I’ve gone off the deep end researching other cell phone providers: the big guys and the MVNOs—Mobile Virtual Network Operators. I had to consider whether to leave Verizon so I could reunite with my ‘summer love’ phone. The short answer is No. Reasons:
- I get a nice 22% discount with Verizon thanks to my employer. (In other words, I’ve been grabbed by the short and curlies.)
- Verizon’s coverage is excellent, and it is especially good for the Scout—the self-proclaimed “Sultan of the Mojave Desert.”
- I have six people and nine devices on my plan. One of these six people is a true blue Verizon believer and his head will explode if I change to another carrier.
- Thanks to Verizon’s new data plan, we now share 18 GB of data for $100.00 per month.
- Verizon is throwing in 5 GB of cloud storage for “free.” That’s lovely. Too bad I don’t have room to download the app on my iPhone.
Once I realized that I will be wedded to Verizon for a while longer, I bought a tablet for The Scout (details below). He’s got an old flip phone, and this spiffy device gives him an easy way to check his e-mail or send a text when he’s out in the field. Not that he really wants to do either of these things, or the gazillion other things that are possible. Will he take a picture of the stars and upload it for all to see? No. He’ll insist you see the stars for yourself. I can’t say I disagree with him on that.
As for me and my summer love, I plan to play the field. I am going to buy a one month plan with an MVNO for my OnePlus One. More on that later.
*To be fair, Verizon has gone back to their two-year commitment pricing, so I could upgrade to another phone for less than full price.
Notes on the tablet: Costco is offering an LG GPad X8.3 for free (until 10/31/2015). “Free” meaning you pay $150.00 for the device and Costco sends you a $150.00 rebate to use at Costco. Of course, you pay Verizon an upgrade fee ($40.00–a bit nasty of them, I think), and you sign a contract for two years for the device ($10 a month). But this nifty little LG GPad has some nice specs: a USB port (rare for a tablet), expandable memory (Apple, hear that?), a stylus and a decent display. The CNET review is here.