A Journey Of Cracked Cellphone Screens And Broken Dreams

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Having a cell phone is like playing Oregon Trail, only with less dysentery.

Before last year, I had never had a nice cell phone. I always settled for what was free with my upgrade or a hand-me-down. It never really bothered me.

However, when I last found myself in need of a new phone, Apple had just released the iPhone 5. I was tempted and decided to splurge some of my savings on the latest and greatest.

A friend explained that this would be great for me now and later, because my next contract would likely begin around the launch of the next iPhone in 2 years. There is, however, a major flaw in this plan: it is very, very difficult to keep one cell phone for 2 full years.


To me, an apt comparison of the cell phone journey is the Oregon Trail. No, not the migration path of pioneers across the land (that was actually difficult, while cell phone problems fall firmly into the first-world category of dilemmas).

But it is a lot like old computer game version of The Oregon Trail. The stakes are low, but the desire to reach the Promised Land is oh so high. Our phones have become the 21st century wagon train. We do everything we can to keep them rolling.

The End Of The Line

Those of us who have crossed the proverbial Rocky Mountains know all the tricks. Battery life diminishing? Bring a charger everywhere. Buttons not working? iPhones have an assistive touch feature. Possible water damage? Put your phone in a bowl of rice.

But what can you do when the wagon totally breaks down? After many minor issues, my phone recently gasped its last breaths, never to respond to my touch again. So I sought a money-savvy solution. Here are three steps for how you can do the same.

1. Look around your house. Remember the “old” phone you discarded because it wasn’t good enough anymore? Well, when your new phone stops functioning altogether, the definition of “good enough” changes. I looked around my house and found a fully functional iPhone 3. It was battered and worn, but working.

2. Talk with your cellphone carrier. I chatted with AT&T reps online on more occasions that I’d like to admit. However, I learned a lot in doing so. For instance, a trip to their store netted me a completely free SIM card and moving my number to a device I already owned didn’t cost a dime. I can only speak for my carrier, but the important thing is that with research and interaction, you can avoid a huge purchase.

3. Prepare for sacrifices. Moving back a few models wasn’t without its hiccups.  All of my information on the cloud transferred, but I’m still sorting out my music and lost all the notes I had saved (I can live without the latter). But, hey, that pales in comparison to not having a working cell phone. I’m a millennial with a mild Twitter addiction, after all.


Without spending any money or renewing my contract, I have a phone that works. And for me the best part of all of this, the wheels are back, the oxen are reinvigorated, and we’re headed to Oregon!

Godspeed on your journey, everyone.

How do you save money when your phone breaks? Let us know in the comments!

(Photo: erikthenorsk)

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