Android developer. Beer & coffee snob. Cultivator of beard. Berliner in training.

Why I'm Unironically Carrying This Small, Older Android Phone

· Read in about 3 min · (571 Words)

I thoroughly enjoyed my last night in Berlin a little over a week ago; so much that I didn’t notice my phone was missing until the end of the night. Shake your head and say it couldn’t happen to you. I thought the same thing until it did. Normally, I keep my phone in one of my front pockets, but I was wearing a coat that covered the pocket, making it a bit more difficult to grab my phone quickly to check Google Maps. Since my coat has a side access pocket in the chest, I stowed my phone there while walking around. I’m guessing a skillful thief at the last bar spotted my phone in that side pocket and was able to slide it out without me knowing. I was in a crowded room and often looking to one side as I talked to different people. Self-shaming thoughts aside, sometimes it happens.

Pro Tip: When traveling abroad, keep your main SIM card with your luggage at your hotel/rental. Buy a local SIM if possible for faster data. Losing my phone but not my main SIM card made a bad situation a bit better.

Once I noticed my phone was missing, I faced all manner of unusual challenges. Did I remember the address of my AirBnB flat? How will I wake up on time for my train in the morning without an alarm? How will I get to the train station? Luckily I was able to get back to the flat without a problem. I did wake up too late for my train the next morning, but had no problem navigating to the train station after checking the route on my laptop before leaving.

I arrived at the train station and learned that there was another train a couple hours later. Not bad. This gave me time to grab a flat white & croissant and then do some phone shopping. With the self-shaming level still high, I decided I didn’t want to spend more than 200€ on a (possibly temporary) replacement. At that price level, a Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini was pretty much my only choice. It shipped with KitKat (4.4.2) and withholding Samsung’s TouchWiz UI nonsense, it’s proven to be a pretty decent little phone. Installing the CyanogenMod 12 ROM got me a stock Android UI and that sweet, sweet Lollipop.

The more technically savvy among you may ask whether I was able to track my device using the Android Device Manager. This is all it’s shown for the past week:

Android Device Manager


After carrying the S4 Mini for a week, I’ve realized a few things:

  1. I miss small phones. I don’t need a phone with a five inch screen for most things. I have an Android Wear watch, so a large portion of my interaction with my phone occurs via my wrist anyway.
  2. Doing Android development on a flagship phone blinds us to what most of our users (even more so for global apps) are experiencing. Who has phones that old/small/underpowered? Most people.
  3. Paraphrasing Tyler Durden, “You are not your smart phone.” Who cares what phone you have. A more interesting question is, “What do you do with it?”

So why am I unironically carrying this small, older Android phone? I think it will help me build better apps. And it may annoy me just enough to spend less time on my phone and more time experiencing the world around me.

Comments