I’ve had a lot of smartphones and mobile devices over the past decade. For some reason, I’m going to list them to you so you can kind of see a sort of snapshot of how my life progressed as technology changed (and as I ran into some quite odd situations).
Surprisingly, I didn’t break most of these! I mean, I didn’t break most of these.
Before the Smartphones: The Verizon Wireless Juke
My very first phone, which I had from October 2008 to July 2011, was a Samsung Juke. It was a flip phone designed for music, and it was cheap as shit. I have no idea why my parents got me a phone for music when I wasn’t a huge music head, but, hey, it was better than my CD player. (Yes, I had a CD player I actually took around with me in 2008. That was only 13 years ago.)
That buddy barely worked, had almost no storage, and playing mobile games on it was almost impossible. But when you’re 14 and the Blackberry is still the premiere mobile device, a Samsung Juke is still okay. I certainly have fond memories of learning to type texts with the tiniest little 1-9 keys ever.
Shortly before I left to Japan, I went and found my old Juke. It still works and everything. What a cool artifact.
The First Smartphones…
July 2011-July 2011: LG Revolution
Finally, right as my family’s financial situation improved remarkably, I got my very own smartphone! 4G phones were brand-new at the time, and so I was going to get my very own top-of-the-line device.
Unfortunately, this one crapped out on me after two days, right as my family was taking a trip to Gatlinburg for a family reunion. Oops.
July 2011-November 2013: LG Revolution
Okay, another LG Revolution to replace the one that broke after two days. I sure hope that doesn’t happen again…
Sadly, the LG Revolution was a bit too shoddy for its own good. The device got super slow super quickly, and I had to deal with it for years. It was one of the first 4G phones, yes, but I’d have been better off waiting with a 3G one, I think.
But I didn’t know any of that at the time! It was my first smartphone; the first device where I could use the internet, look up facts, and even chat on IRC anywhere in the world. I didn’t know that all smartphones weren’t like this; I wouldn’t know until my next phone over two years later.
November 2013-May 2015: Samsung Galaxy S4
Finally, the LG Revolution was no longer enough, and I got a Samsung Galaxy S4, also top-of-the-line for the time. This one actually served me quite well. It could actually run games decently, unlike the Revolution, and didn’t have major stability issues even later on in its run.
Not much to say about this one, except that Samsung established itself well here and basically became my brand of choice. I don’t have time to do lots of research about phones since they’re all 90% the same anyway, so I usually just pick Samsung.
Except, of course, when I break my phone 6 months before its contract is up and can’t afford a new Samsung device…
May 2015-May 2015: Moto X (?)
The Motorola Moto X (at least I THINK that’s what it was) was basically the cheapest smartphone I could get that day at the Verizon store. I dropped my Galaxy S4 and broke the dang thing, but I was just about to go home from college for the summer; since I had to drive 6 hours back home, not having a phone was a massive no-no, and this couldn’t wait.
My Mom probably would have chipped in for me to get a new phone, honestly, but I didn’t ask. I just got whatever I could afford at the moment, which was, uh, a Moto X.
It got trapped in an infinite reboot cycle about two weeks in and crapped out.
May 2015-February 2016: Moto X (?)
I really wish, somehow, Verizon would have just given me a better phone. The Moto X sucked ass and I hated the whole time I had with it. It was slow and bloated even from the start, and only got worse over time.
This is an instance where the price of technology really started to weigh on me. Sure, I saved hundreds of dollars to buy this phone, but I probably lost a lot of time, money, and energy with a subpar device. That lesson hadn’t fully set in for me just yet, but this was the first step.
This device’s reign of terror ended when I accidentally dropped it in the tub while reading Howard the Duck comics. (Don’t use your phone in the bath, folks.)
February 2016-August 2016: Samsung Galaxy S6
Unlike last time, I wasn’t going to settle for another crappy cheap smartphone. I instantly decided to eat the costs and get the best phone available at the time: The Samsung Galaxy S6.
It had been only a year since my last Samsung device… But in reality, it was two and a half years since my last NEW phone, and things changed massively. Everything was faster, smoother, and spiffier. The phone was essentially the same in most ways, but I had a great time with it.
…At least until I went to study in Japan. My Mom took the phone for herself 🙁
August 2016-February 2017: Kindle Fire (?!)
My original plan was to get some carrier free phone and put a SIM card in it, which a lot of other students did at my university. For some reason, I never did it. Instead, I just used a Kindle Fire my former roommate had gifted me. I mean, nothing against Kindle Fires, I guess, but they are NOT supposed to be your main device. Even with an Android launcher to get extra apps, I had a horrible time with this. The camera sucked, it was too big to lug around, and I needed a Pocket Wifi device to use the internet outside of home.
Nevertheless, I persisted.
At least until Winter Break. In my study abroad, Winter Break was far more important than actual school; from late December to early April, there were no classes, no obligations, no anything. That meant tons of exploring Nagoya, tons of travel, tons of shopping. I wasn’t going to do that stuff with an e-reader tablet.
February 2017-July 2017: Samsung Galaxy S5
So, like a gift from the god of used goods, I found a Samsung Galaxy S5 (yes, an older model than what I had earlier) for just 12,000 yen ($120). It was discounted even further because its charging port cover was broken! Since I already had a Pocket Wifi device, it worked like a charm.
The phone was older, but I never had many issues with it. It had a removable battery, which was great, and something my last few phones didn’t have. I will never understand the logic in batteries that can’t be removed, and it’s a flaw that ruins most modern phones.
This Galaxy S5 was locked to Docomo as a carrier, so I could never actually put a SIM card in it without signing a horrifically convoluted contract. That was fine, though, since I was only in Japan another 4 or 6 months.
When I got back to America, you’d think I’d upgrade to the Galaxy S8 and become a big techie overlord when I moved to Seattle. Right?
No, that doesn’t sound like me at all.
Of course I kept using the damn Japanese phone.
August 2017-December 2018: Samsung Galaxy S5 + Samsung B690
Part gimmick, part cheapness, part weird nostalgia for flip phones. Instead of buying a new expensive phone and taking a week to get used to it, I decided just to keep using my Docomo-locked Samsung Galaxy S5. My Mom had a Jetpack Pocket Wifi device lying around somewhere, unsued, so I just used that instead.
For phone calls, I got the only flip phone Verizon even had—the Samsung B690. It’s a wonderful little device that has absolutely no frills. It was exactly like the Juke in every way except no music, just plain old functionality. And the clamshell opening and closing is so satisfying. If I ever go back to America, I’m honestly likely to pick that baby back up, because… I don’t know. I just sort of like having a simple phone that has no internet, only calls and texts.
December 2018-now: Samsung Galaxy C – My Newest Smartphone
But of course I did get a smartphone in Japan. I considered getting a contract with my Samsung Galaxy S5, but I had heard horror stories about phone contracts in Japan and knew better.
So I got a new phone, some budget Samsung phone whose specs remain a mystery to me. I guess it’s basically just the S6? I’d have gone for a more expensive model, but unfortunately I had to buy it upfront. How do people afford $1000 phones upfront?!
It’s a good phone. I’ve never had issues with its speed or functionality, though lately its battery has begun to get shorter and shorter.
I really hate the planned obsolescence of smartphones, by the way. Why can’t I just buy a $400 device and expect to use it for four years? Laptops don’t degrade like smartphones do; I used the same laptop just fine from February 2017 to December 2020, and it only declined a little. I use the same Nintendo 3DS that I bought in August 2011, and it works BETTER due to firmware updates. So why do we just accept that smartphones will become useless hunks of plastic and metal in 2-3 years’ time?
I’ve had three laptops in the last 8 years, and seven smartphones (nine if you count the defective ones).
My Next Smartphones…
This Galaxy C won’t last that much longer, I can already tell. Since the battery isn’t removeable, I can’t buy a new one like I did the S5 when its lifespan degraded. The speeds aren’t unbearable, but each new Android update does a little bit to hurt it.
By the end of 2021, I’ll probably need to buy a new device, and I hate it already.
But you know what, that’s just how smartphones work, I guess.
So, what will I get next? That’s the real question here. I’ve seen some really cool smartphones coming out recently, and I am a huge sucker for the dumb gimmick ones too. Like those new folding phones? A clamshell design with a dang touchscreen? Yeah, that’s my thing.
If you have any other recommendations, please let me know.
Read my other blog post that lists things I thought about doing, but didn’t. Yeah, that sounds stupid, but it’s a bit more interesting than it sounds. Maybe you can match up my life non-events to the phones I owned!