My phone buzzed in my pocket last Monday evening. I assumed I had received a text.
Instead, my iPhone 7 displayed a troubling, new message. It read that it couldn’t update my operating system, and without that update, I would not be able to make calls, send or receive texts, or use cellular data.
I admittedly panicked. As a reporter, there is perhaps no more important tool than my cell phone. I have more than one computer; if one malfunctioned I could use a different one. But I only have the one phone, and I certainly can’t do my job without it.
I tried the most obvious fix – I turned the phone off, rebooted it, and hoped for the best. No luck.
My wife once worked for a telecommunications company. She tried to play with it, but came to the quick conclusion that it needed to be seen by a specialist.
I had to make the awkward email to my boss Tuesday morning, informing him I would be starting late that day, because I needed to get this fixed, one way or another.
As a Chippewa Falls resident, I tried stopping at a computer repair shop here first. The recommendation there was to wipe the phone entirely and reboot it, hoping that would fix it. While I use a cloud system, I was fearful of lost data, so I didn’t try that suggestion.
Instead, I headed to Eau Claire, stopping at an Apple repair shop. The worker there informed me that my iPhone 7 had actually been recalled. She told me she could take it and mail it in, but I wouldn’t get it back for up to two weeks. Obviously, that was not a solution I could live with.
Later on, a quick online search showed me the details of the recall, and that Apple claimed it would contact customers (me!) and would pay for repairs to the phones. I should have received an email from Apple by the end of March 2018. If I got it, I don’t recall ever opening it.
I took good care of this phone; it didn’t show many signs of wear and tear. The screen was in good shape, and it functioned well. I had no real indication that it was about to shut down on me.
I knew I was eligible for a new phone from my provider, so I headed there next. To my great relief, they got me the new phone, quickly transferred my data, and sent me on my way.
It was a stressful evening and morning, wondering how I would fix this problem.
But as I drove back to Chippewa Falls that morning, I couldn’t help but think about how fortunate I was. After all, I was home on Monday night, not doing anything in particular, when it malfunctioned. I wasn’t on assignment, or wasn’t on vacation. I wasn’t in a remote location. I didn’t need GPS. I wasn’t on my way to a game, with my tickets being stored in an app on my phone. It could have been so much worse.
The lesson of my story? When you are eligible for a new phone, consider getting it right away. You don’t want to wind up in my situation, where a machine that was seemingly working fine one minute is suddenly not working because its operating system is outdated.