It’s 5:15am. My iPhone’s rise-and-shine alarm begins to ring. I reach over to tap the screen. I tap it again. This time I open my eyes and tap three times more.
My iPhone 6 Plus’ screen has become positively unresponsive.
Good morning, Barrett…
Clear the Cache
A few minutes later I trick my digital companion into compliance by clicking the home button a couple times and rebooting. (I forget the exact sequence.)
But clearly something is wrong as the ‘issue’ repeats itself twice more over the next couple of hours.
So I jump in my car and whisk my iPhone to the Apple Store for an emergency check up with an Apple Genius. The first thing she asks me is if I’ve done a ‘hard reboot’ by simultaneously clicking the home button and the sleep/wake button.
“That will clear out the cache, which can really build up over time,” she explains.
“Uh… no,” I respond sheepishly.
She proceeds to do that and a few moments later, my iPhone comes back to life as if nothing was ever wrong.
“Let me do some diagnostics, just in case,” she offers.
Another few minutes pass, and everything looks great on the report.
My iPhone is a picture of perfect health.
The Genius hands my iPhone back to me.
The Thin Gray Line
I look at my device.
Then I remember something else.
“You know… there was one other thing…
Once, when the screen was frozen, I noticed a thin gray line shimmering on the very top of the screen.”
“A thin gray line?”
“Yes… at the very top.”
“Is that not a good thing.”
“No, it’s not.”
“What does that gray line mean?”
“It’s a documented sign of a logic board error.”
“Logic board error? That’s bad, right?”
“Yes… that’s bad.”
“But it only happened once. Could it happen again?”
The Genius looked at me. I already knew the answer.
When tech begins to malfunction, of course the problem can or will eventually come back. It’s just a matter of when.
Logic Board Blues
So I really can’t have a smartphone with a glitchy logic board.
That’s not going to work.
I’m planning on upgrading to the iPhone 8 when it’s released. But that’s an eternity when you’ve got an unhealthy iPhone. I see no viable option to just ‘wait it out…’
I turn to the Genius. “What are my choices?”
Her eyes squint a bit as she thinks. “What I can do is give you a new iPhone 6 Plus with the same specs as your old one for the same cost as a screen replacement.”
“And how much is that?”
“One hundred and fifty dollars.”
It’s Going to Cost You
What choice did I really have? Sure, it’s a band-aid solution… and you might recall, I replaced the battery on my naughty iPhone a few months back.
And that cost eighty bucks!
You might say the collective $230 would be better spent on a newer iPhone 7. But in a sense, I’d be buying into newer (though not more advanced) tech… The Genius explained that my new iPhone 6 Plus was built out of new and refurbished parts and came with a 90-day warrantee.
“Okay… let’s do it.”
“Good… So have you done a full back up of your old iPhone? You’ll have to re-sync everything to the new one.”
Thousands and Thousands… of Photos
Okay… so this is a little bit of a touchy subject for me…
I’ve been syncing all of my important iPhone data to iCloud like Mail, Contacts and Calendar. But I haven’t been using iCloud for a full back up.
I’ve got thousands of photos on my iPhone, which I’ve collected over the years.
(The basic 5GB of iCloud storage couldn’t handle that.)
And I’ve felt I haven’t needed to pay for more iCloud storage, because I’ve been religious about archiving my iPhone photos to my iMac… originally into Aperture, and now into Lightroom.
(I’ve also been archiving my iPhone’s video files onto my iMac.)
So I’ve been saving all of my phone’s media elsewhere.
There Are No Shortcuts
Separately, I’ve properly backed up my iPhone to my iMac via iTunes.
But… not recently.
Still, I know I’ve got all my media plus the old back up. I’m thinking I can confidently hand my iPhone over to Apple… never to see it again.
The Genius looks at me. “You don’t seem certain.”
“No, I’m good.”
So she unboxes the shiny replacement and slips my old iPhone’s SIM card into the new iPhone.
And that was it.
I must have suddenly turned pale, because the Genius says, “Do you want me to help you restore your data from iCloud?”
(I don’t do this every day.)
So I stay in the Apple Store for another fifteen minutes, and she guides my next steps to ensure my new iPhone properly downloads all of my iCloud data.
I thank her and leave behind my old iPhone… and all of its photos forever.
(The device’s memory gets wiped and usable parts recycled.)
Rebuild and Improve
When I return home, I have a little more work to do. Since I’m not doing a full restore from a back up, I have to download my apps again and sign into them.
(A full back up solution of course would be better next time.)
The good news is I take the opportunity to only re-download the apps I’ve actually been using. And then I organize them on the screen in way that makes more sense.
(Like organizing your sock drawer… when do you ever make time to do that?!)
And then I tap on the photos app…
Of course, all of my thousands of photos are not on this iPhone.
Well… not exactly…
iCloud Photo Sharing
Over the years, I’ve been organizing all of my best photos into shared photo albums in iCloud. So all of the pictures that really matter to me… have already popped back into their respective shared albums on my new iPhone.
And then I had my Aha Moment…
These iCloud photo albums are now where I always go when I want to show someone a picture on my iPhone. I haven’t been going back and searching for a pic in my ‘Camera Roll.’
How many times have you waited for friends to show you photos on their smartphones, and then they have to swipe through hundreds (thousands?) of locally-stored pics to find the right ones?
I gave up that embarrassing practice a long time ago…
So really… why would you need to carry around your past decade’s worth of disorganized photos locally on your iPhone?
…As long as you’ve backed them up… you don’t!
Plus, without all of those photos bogging down an iPhone… it suddenly recovers a whole lot more local memory for other uses.
Make Sure the Sun Still Rises
This all points back to the bottom line that you shouldn’t get too attached to any particular iPhone or the data it houses locally.
It’s always all about backing up and properly organizing your data and files… elsewhere.
Because eventually… all good tech goes bad.
Even your trusty iPhone.