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Chips With Everything

Richard Quinn

I EXPERIENCED a traumatic event recently: 24 hours without an iPhone. When I left the house, I felt out of touch, incommunicado. What if someone needed me or I needed them? What if I missed the latest Tweet? It was horrible.

My iPhone X was just about kaput, with a cracked screen and a weak battery. On a trip to the mall, I walked into an AT&T store “just to look.” I ended up with an iPhone 13 Pro, gold-colored no less, with a clear cover so everyone can see it’s gold. To what purpose, I have no idea.

In any case, I traded in the old model and my cost for the iPhone 13 was $27.70 a month for 36 months. But it gets better. I also received a billing credit—the salesman said it was some sort of special deal—which brought the net to $13.33 per month, so the total cost was $479.88. When I bought my old iPhone X, I paid $1,000 cash.

Switching your data from an old to a new device is easy. You just set the two next to each other and they do it for you. That’s what happened—except the new phone couldn’t recognize my telephone number. That meant no texting, no calling in or out. We’re talking utter isolation. I tried everything recommended on various websites. Nothing worked. My wife knew I wouldn’t be worth living with until I was again part of the real world, so the next morning we were at the AT&T store when it opened.

After several failed attempts to fix the phone, the technician decided the problem was a defective SIM card, whatever that is. A tiny piece of I don’t know what had disrupted my world.

I’ve come to realize that the most important word in our language is “chip.” Our entire lives are controlled by chips, everything from cars to robotic surgery to your phone’s selfie EKG app. Technology gives new meaning to having a chip on your shoulder. The array of things we can do with our smart phones is truly amazing—and being a phone is the least of its functions.

My love affair with phones goes back to the 1964 World’s Fair when AT&T displayed its new video phone. Imagine that, seeing the person you were talking to. But it turned out few people wanted to see the folks they were calling and the video phone was a flop. Good thing nobody told Steve Jobs.

Communication has changed dramatically. We’ve gone from it taking months to get a message across the pond to milliseconds—-with video no less. I recently butt-dialed a friend in England and woke him at 1 a.m., but at least the call was free using WhatsApp.

What about the ability to communicate without actually seeing or speaking with a person? Is that good? In some ways, I think it is. Still, receiving a birthday greeting via text message is surely different. But at least it’s cheaper than the $6.95 greeting card I refuse to buy.

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Nate Allen
Nate Allen
3 months ago

But at least it’s cheaper than the $6.95 greeting card I refuse to buy.”

Surely someone as frugal as you knows about the 2 for $1 greeting cards at Dollar Tree. (Which still have not gone up to $1.25 like everything else in the store, at least as of a couple days ago when I went.)

Nate Allen
Nate Allen
3 months ago
Reply to  Nate Allen

Nevermind, I see you already replied to another similar comment

Nate Allen
Nate Allen
3 months ago

Just an FYI: the phone “credit” that AT&T (or the other two of the “big 3”, Verizon and T-Mobile) will give you is the modern day “contract” meant to keep you from switching.

If one were to consider switching to Visible or Mint or any of the other low cost providers that work on the same networks as the “big 3”, then one could end up saving much more money than the statement credit which ends up locking you in.

M Plate
M Plate
3 months ago

Mr Q, always a laugh and sound financial observations from you. Thank you.

Reminds me of an old Mr Bean scene. He exaggeratedly flashed his gold card around at the store checkout. He looked about to make sure everyone was impressed.

R Quinn
R Quinn
3 months ago
Reply to  M Plate

I’m still trying to figure out the big deal with the color of the phone. When the salesman asked what color phone I wanted and I said “I don’t care.” he seemed shocked. How about a gold one he said, I think I have one left. For a moment I thought I had found what Willy Wonka was seeking.

Chazooo
Chazooo
3 months ago
Reply to  R Quinn

The big deal is the signal to your homies that you have the big dog phone, the only one in gold so you get respect. Of course you are more prone to getting robbed, like wearing a gold Rolex. Buy a black plastic case for it. 🙂

baldscreen
baldscreen
3 months ago

”The array of things we can do with our smart phones is truly amazing- and being a phone is the least of its functions.” Thoughtful comment, and true. I remember thinking something similar in 2012 when I got my very first cell phone, an Apple 4s.

you can still get greeting cards for .50/ea at the Dollar Tree, at least here.

R Quinn
R Quinn
3 months ago
Reply to  baldscreen

Actually, my wife buys her greeting cards at the dollar – now $1.25 – store. Eliminating those top brand cards could save enough to enhance ones retirement income.

David Turing
David Turing
3 months ago

The SIM card identifies the phone as yours on the cellular network for any kind of cellular comms: voice calls, cell data “calls”, or cellular messaging. Good news: the iPhone 14 is rumored to use one less chip, completely replacing physical SIMs with virtual ones called eSIMs.

R Quinn
R Quinn
3 months ago
Reply to  David Turing

A 14 already❓You mean I will shortly be behind the times again with only a 13? Blast, that happened to me when I bought the 10. I got only a few months of being the coolest kid in the 55+ condo community.

David Powell
David Powell
3 months ago
Reply to  R Quinn

You will still be the coolest kid by far. Apple typically rolls out new iPhones in Sep. Rumors say the base iPhone 14 will be pretty similar to your 13 Pro and probably more expensive. Price hikes may come with this launch. You got a great price on a great phone you will love.

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