Sunday, November 26, 2023

Another Weekend Taking Care of Broken Down Stuff

This time it was something I've spent weeks, if not a full month, trying to determine the optimum way to fix things.  Our cell phones.  

I know that topic will turn off some number of people, but that's what I've spent most of my time working on.  (Spare time?)

Both Mrs. Graybeard and I have been using iPhones since the iPhone 3 back in the '08-'09 time frame (as if we keep notes on this sort of thing).  The last time I replaced a phone was in June of '17, and I bought an older model, what Apple called the 6S, rather than the "latest, coolest".  That makes my phone 6-1/2 years old, and was obsolete when I bought it. We bought Mrs. Graybeard's 6S around this time of year, so it's closer to just six years old. 

In the last few months, mine has been showing signs of the battery failing, in particular the increasing charge times and the tendency for the last few percent of charge to take as long the first 80%.  I have a few chargers; the ubiquitous white cubes they sold with the phones, as well as one that will double the 1A (5W) that those provide.  It's only reasonable to charge it on that one.

Compared to Mrs. Graybeard's mine seems wonderful.  She has to leave hers on the charger almost constantly and it self-discharges exceptionally fast. She'll charge it to 100%, go to bed and in the morning it's less than 50% charged.  Mine can be charged every other day.

The first big decision is whether to replace battery or the phone.  I replaced my battery when it was three years old.  A battery is far cheaper than a phone, but the first hard to answer question is how long the old phone lasts with the new battery.  Other hard to answer questions are things like how long they'll support the obsolete hardware.

Within the last few weeks, I found a page at Apple that helps you decide which phone might be right for you.  I have no desire to go for the latest, most expensive phone, and that page reinforces the idea that the differences between them are pretty small for the price increases.  I found that with the exception of the newest model, the 15, the next three down, the 14, 13 and 12, are remarkably similar.  It didn't take me long to decide the peak of the "bang per buck" curve was probably the 13.

Screen capture. 

All three phones have three versions called the Pro Max, Pro and the baseline version.  This graphic shows the baseline versions. The main difference between them is the camera is updated in the Pro Max and Pro and both seem to have the same camera upgrade.  To me that's a "Don't Care" because I already have a good camera.

This being Black Friday weekend, I got an ad from AT&T that would offer me an iPhone 14 for $5/month if I agree to a three year contract.  That's $180 for a phone Apple says is $700.  Saturday, we went up to our local AT&T store to ask about buying that special deal as a lump sum and keeping our current pay-by-the-month setup.  The sales guy was honest enough to tell us the whole purpose of the discount price is to get you to sign a three year contract.  He said there was no way to get a phone there for a lump sum payment.

He said if we really want to do that, go buy an unlocked phone elsewhere and bring it in.  So we went home, bought them on Best Buy online and then picked them up about 90 minutes later.  After dinner, we swapped the SIM cards from old to new phones and then arm wrestled the new phones basically all evening. At one point something was telling us I had her phone number and she had mine.  A couple of rounds of resetting everything to the virgin state ended up with us swapping the SIM cards and then they acted normally; both of our phone numbers were what they've always been. Which sounds more reasonable if I don't mention we had already swapped them once and it hadn't change the numbers.  I think it may be necessary to go up to the store for a replacement SIM card, although I understand they have an electronic way of doing that - called an E-SIM.

So now we both have new iPhone 13s, same memory and all.  Everything seemed to port transparently. One less thing to worry about how to fix or replace, but which needs more study than what it replaced. 


  1. Not an Apple fan, I'm a Linux/Unix guy and much prefer Android.

    Apple had an annoying habit of pushing updates out to their users' older phones that caused it to run slower and use more battery when they came out with the latest and greatest, I don't know if they've ceased that practice but I still don't trust 'em. I don't like monopolies.

    I've replaced lots of phone components, mostly batteries which are quite easy if you have the special super-small specialized screwdriver sets, as well as a spudge tool and a few suction cups. Can't do it any more, I shake too bad thanks to age and coumadin ( which I HAVE to take, unfortunately). My working on really small assemblies and surface-mount IC's is over. More's the pity. Won't be too long before I can't do automotive work or plumbing and wiring.

    Old age is not for sissies!

    1. I think the thing about pushing updates that cause the older phones to run slower is gone - if it ever existed in the sense that's portrayed. I mean if the phone can't run the new things because the updates demand too much processor time or other system resources and the system runs slower, that's different than pushing software that looks for a certain processor family or something else it can read and then slows down the machine.

      On older phones, like the ones we replaced, they don't update the SW anymore, except for security or bug fixes. The current OS is 17.1 and they stopped updating our old phones back when OS 16 came out around September of '22. The old phones have 15.8 on them.

      I've replaced batteries before and have those fiddly tools, but I know the greenies' push to lead-free solders has decreased reliability and I have to ask myself if the new battery outlives the phone or vice versa.