Last Dance With The iPhone 4S
January 21, 2015
I'd been pushing my iPhone 4S long past its expiration date. Purchased in June 2012 after my iPhone 4 did a spinning flip off of a countertop and smashed screen-first into a cabinet handle, my trusty 4S had been showing signs of wear and tear for a while. No cracks, scratches, or cosmetic damage, thankfully, but instead I'd noticed little things like ongoing decreased battery life, apps frequently crashing, apps forgetting data, settings not staying set, and the ballooning of "Other" data that iTunes was unable to recognize, delete, or handle that had filled up the gadget's meager 16 GB of storage. The phone even refused to be wiped for a fresh install from a backup. I keep my technology around until I've clearly worn it out, so the 4S's time had clearly come. It was time to upgrade. Like all technology transitions though, nothing is ever as easy as it sounds.
I was ready to move up to the snappy new iPhone 6 last year (my cellular contract was up by then), but good luck finding a place around here that'd sell me one. It turns out that Florida has the unique distinction of being an international tourist destination for people to come, buy up every last iPhone (and other in-demand gizmo), and ship them home where they can sell them for three to five times the American retail price. Stores sell out as soon as stock arrives. The tourists actually camp out every day to buy these phones out from under everyone else. So I waited. And waited. And waited. The tourists went home at Christmas and, finally, iPhones started to come back into stock where the average person off the street could buy one. It took some more patience and vigorous checking of inventory, but I finally found an Apple store within driving distance that had the phones in stock, so last Monday I took a ride about an hour north of here to buy an iPhone 6. I was unfamiliar with the route though, so I turned to my fading 4S for one last job: use GPS to lead me to the store. And that's where it all went wrong one last time.
The Maps app and Siri chose what it believed to be the best route north, but I knew better. Siri's idea of a quick drive actually led through heavy rush hour traffic and road construction. I decided to deviate from the route and counted on the app to reroute me, but I guess the 4S knew I was on my way to trade it in for a fancy new 6. It refused to update the directions or track my current location. Instead Siri kept chanting "Please proceed to the route" over and over again as I continued on my way off of the chosen path. I eventually pulled off the highway into a parking lot to give the 4S a chance to catch up, but it was unable to find where I was. I reset the app and tried to get updated directions from it, but Siri insisted that getting to the Apple store was impossible now. Even rebooting the phone entirely didn't help. According to the 4S, I couldn't get there from here! I gave up on the phone and had a general idea that if I kept driving north long enough, I'd reach the store. As I eventually pulled into the mall parking lot, Siri decided to speak up unprompted with "You have reached the destination." Better late than never, I guess.
After twenty minutes in the store and a phone upgrade later, I'm now the owner of a flashy new iPhone 6. It's quite the step up from my old 4S which, after being wiped clean, is now on its way to be recycled or refurbished or whatever happens to old iPhones that bloat up with "Other" data and give bad directions. Wherever it goes next on its journey, I cannot follow. I can't get there from here.