Condition: Grave

About 7 or 8 months ago I had the misfortune of dropping my iPhone 4 into the toilet. It was in the back pocket of my jeans and during the, um, normal course of action in the bathroom it slipped out of my pocket, performed what I can only assume was a gold medal dive, and landed with a splash and a clunk in the bottom of the toilet. Don’t worry there was nothing else in there but water. I pulled it out, dried it off, and wondered if this was the end. The screen no longer responded to my touch and it periodically would flash the shut down swipe bar, then the apple logo, and then return to home. I managed to get it shut off and quickly ran for some rice. I dropped it in a Ziplock bag and dumped in at least  two cups of rice – I wasn’t going to hold back. I let it sit and did some research. One site recommended the removal of the SIM card so that any water trapped inside would dry up. I found a paperclip and opened up the side compartment. It was definitely damp. With great difficulty I allowed the phone to sit relatively undisturbed in this little bag of rice for about 36 hours. At one point I noticed the light on back had turned on. I figured this meant that I hadn’t actually turned the phone off but it really meant that something inside the camera had shorted. After a few days I turned the phone back on and hoped for the best. Miraculously it came to life and seemed no worse for wear. A few minutes of use indicated that wasn’t entirely the case as it had some issues with opening apps properly and the home button worked only about 80% of the time (I’ve since heard that this occurs with a lot of the phones, not just those that have fallen in water). And, of course, the light was still on. No matter how much I tried the light refused to turn off. I was sure this would result in diminished battery life but surprisingly it didn’t. In fact the only thing the light did was annoy me because I could no longer take a picture with my phone without drawing attention. I’ve gotten used to it over the months and rarely notice it anymore.

Fast forward to this morning. Again I had the phone in my back pocket and again it decided to taken another plunge into the toilet. I had completely forgotten it was in there since I rarely carry it around with me anymore. Since I moved to Italy I no longer used it as a phone, it was more like an iPod. Anyway, it takes the plunge and I quickly pull it out, dry it off, and grab some rice. This time only part of the screen won’t respond to touch but I can’t get it to turn off at all. I scramble to locate a paperclip so I can open the SIM compartment and leave the phone to dry out. Everything seemed to be just like the last time I did this except for one minor detail – the phone is now making clicking and crackling noises. I’m pretty sure that’s not a good thing. The plan is to leave it in the rice and hope it recovers but I’m not sure it will this time. I didn’t have much on it, mostly pictures, so if it regains even a little function I’m hoping I’ll be able to get them off. (I previously turned off sending photos to the cloud because it was getting filled too easily. Perhaps that was a mistake.)

The irony of all this is that I was finally eligible to unlock the phone so I could put an Italian SIM card in it. Seriously. I didn’t have to buy a new phone all I had to do was send a request to AT&T and, if everything went according to plan, they would unlock the phone and I’d be home free. Now I’m looking at my options should it not wake up from this coma. I really don’t want to spend $700 on a new unlocked iPhone 5 but it’s not just because of the money. Apple made a few different versions of the iPhone 5 that work on the different networks around the world. Some countries and networks use CDMA while others use GSM. In addition to that there are different frequencies for the 4G LTE data networks in Europe than there are in the US. If I were to buy an unlocked iPhone 5 here in Italy (all iPhones come unlocked) it might not work on the LTE network in the US. If I buy an unlocked iPhone 5 in the US not only will I have to switch from AT&T to Verizon and wait a month to receive it there’s also the possibility that it won’t work on the LTE network here in Italy. On top of all that the SIM cards aren’t even the same size so if I buy a European iPhone and take it back to the US I won’t be able to put my current micro SIM card in it. I’d have to visit AT&T when I’m back there and see if they’d be able to transfer my phone number and information to a new nano SIM card. I’m not sure they even do that sort of thing.

I suppose another option is to buy an unlocked iPhone 4S since it at least uses the same micro SIM. I could unlock the old SIM and use it when I go back to the US and pay for an Italian SIM while I’m here. It doesn’t get me the latest and greatest but it at least gets me back up and running. The thing is I don’t miss having it as a phone so much as I miss having the camera, that’s what I predominantly use it for. I also miss having internet access on it. I rely 100% on WiFi hotspots to connect and those are few and far between here in Naples.

So that’s my current conundrum. I just don’t know what to do. Why must technology be so frustrating

UPDATE: As of 4:56 p.m. CET the light on the back of the phone is no longer lit. That could mean one of two things, the water fixed the light and now it’ll work like it should or that the entire thing is fried.


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