I bought a really expensive phone last week. Then I got rid of it.
After the big Apple announcement, I internally debated the merits of a mobile phone that would instantly connect me to a lifetime's worth of entertainment and knowledge, and a slightly larger version of the same thing. I chose the big one. Like so many bad decisions, I made this one at 3AM in my underpants.
On Friday evening, the colossus arrived. Removed from its slim, minimalistic cardboard home, the iPhone 6 Plus's size intimidated me. I couldn't decide how to hold the thing, so I cradled its bottom in my right hand and its top in my left, like a vulnerable cranium.
"This is huge!" said my wife, snatching the phone. She held the slab to her cheek, as if to make a call, and half her head disappeared behind a wall of space gray. It looked like she'd stolen a prop phone from the set of a 1980s sci-fi movie.
Making excuses is a bad sign in a new relationship
After a minute, bored and distracted by her old iPhone 5, she tossed the Plus back to me and I caught it like a kitten that'd fallen from a tree, immediately checking every inch for damage. I found no signs of injury to my new phone, and I exhaled.
Throughout the evening, I bounced without warning between two heightened emotional planes:
On one plane, I obsessed over how best not to drop the phone.
Protecting the iPhone 6 Plus from my clumsiness wasn't a passive activity. Whenever I stretched a thumb to reach a far corner of the screen, the colossal phone would tilt, threatening to drop onto our apartment's wooden floor. Using the phone and preserving the phone were one and the same.
Check out our iPhone 6 Plus review
On the other emotional plane, I happily assembled a mental list of all the ways a giant phone would improve my life:
- It's little easier to type!
- It's a little easier to read!
- And to think, I'd almost hit my high score in Swing Copters in the first few tries!
Making excuses is a bad sign in a new relationship.
Using the phone and preserving the phone were one in the same
I felt something shift in my brain, and I went to sleep knowing the iPhone 6 and I wouldn't work out. But in the morning, while lying in bed, the previous night felt like a silly overreaction. I grabbed the phone, held it above my face and began my 7AM tradition of checking email and Twitter.
It was when I attempted to retweet something about the Kansas City Royals, that it happened. I dropped the phone on my face. When you drop a 5.5-inch plate of glass and metal on your face, you take it for the sign it is.
By 9AM on Saturday morning, I was on my way to the Apple Store. I jogged past the line growing westward from 8th Ave. and 14th St., almost to the High Line in the Meatpacking District. So many tired people, nursing coffees and pastries. I entered the Apple Store, and an employee welcomed me with an exhausted, but genuine smile. I explained that I needed to exchange the iPhone 6 Plus for an iPhone 6, and he told me that would be no problem, then walked to his manager for confirmation.
The smile was gone when he returned. "I'm the bearer of bad news," he said. And then he laughed in the way you laugh when you have to tell someone something so comically bad that your body can't help but pretend it's a joke, as if that might soften the blow. To make an exchange, I had one option: to wait on line.
The line would take me four hours, and the employee couldn't guarantee a phone would be waiting for me when I reached the front. If I chose to pass on the line, I had 14 days to make the exchange, the Apple employee said. No, I couldn't get an extension, and no, I couldn't return the phone at AT&T.
I briefly considered flipping the phone. Because flipping an iPhone is far easier and more profitable than Apple's exchange and refund system. But I've never bought something to make a profit off it. When I can't use concert tickets, I wind up giving them to a friend. I fear there's some legal hook that will end with me in a police van. Because I see the world like some 1930s cartoon.
To make an exchange, I had one option: to wait on line
Instead, I did what a human does when they have a piece of technology to get rid of. I posted on Craigslist. "Person with iPhone 6 Plus looking to trade for iPhone 6 normal, plus a little cash." I received a lot of responses, because I was one of the few people not asking for $1,500 or more.
At 2PM, I met a stranger at the AT&T on Broadway and we made the trade. He was thrilled. I was thrilled. The AT&T employees were apathetic. Apparently, we weren't the first two people to make a similar swap that day.
Yesterday afternoon, I went to the Apple Store in Soho, where the line weaved around the block. I opened the door to enter, and an employee, this one not smiling whatsoever, asked what I was doing. I thought I was buying a phone case, but he informed me otherwise. If I wanted a case for my new phone, I could order it for pick-up on the Apple Store app, then wait on a separate line for entrance into the store. I stared at the secondary line. Everyone looked miserable.
That's when it hit me. I was miserable, too. I spent all this money on something that I thought would make me happy, and instead I felt like trash. I mindlessly pre-ordered the wrong phone from Apple, and my punishment was being treated like a desperate grunt with a loose wallet. Apple has received high marks for customer support in the past, but on iPhone week, their focus is singular: push those units. An exchange won't help break any records.
So here I am disappointed not by my phone, but by the process of securing it. Each iPhone may be better than the last. But for me, the experience of obtaining one only gets worse.
Last week, while I was still cautiously excited about the iPhone 6 Plus I wrote, "If everyone doesn't buy this phone, I'm going to look like a real asshole." I think I managed to do that without anyone's help.