My new Smart Phone

Today, mobile phones are often taken for granted. Who can imagine life without mobile phones?
I remember when mobile phones became popular. First, there were only a few people using them. The phones were big and visible. Sometimes you could see people using their mobile phones in the streets or at work and feeling important. I knew of some people who asked others to call them so that they could show off having a portable phone.
The phones became smaller and smaller before they morphed into little computers, “smart phones” and with the new use they became bigger and bigger again….
When I finally had my own mobile phone, I found it was a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I didn’t have to wait outside public phone booths anymore and then touch the phones that were often sticky and not very hygienic. A curse because people thought that they could always reach me.

Today, I wouldn’t like to miss my phones. I still have a landline and the number for it is only known by very few and very special people. When this phone rings, I know that the person who rings me is someone who is really close to me. Then, I have my private mobile phone which is a tiny pre-paid mobile phone – not a smart phone. It has a wonderful feature: I can call Europe for 1h and pay a fix price of $1. For the last few years, the providedr has tried very hard to convince me to “update” the services which would also mean that I would lose this feature, but I am not interested in it.
The reason for it is that I have my work phone.
I bought it in February 2014: my very first smart phone. A different brand to my private phone. Not only was it easy to use and provided access to the Internet but it was also very reliable but also it introduced me to a different technology.

Time went by and I was so busy that I didn’t want to think of a new smart phone.
I don’t really like going shopping, and I thought that I had to first do my own research before being ready to listen to the shop assistants.
In 2020, I remember being at a meeting where someone said that he had such an old phone that he insisted getting a new phone from his workplace. When I found out that his phone was about 4 years old, I felt embarrassed that my phone was much older.

I have never been crazy about brands nor am I a gadget geek. I was happy with my phone but was aware that I had to look for a replacement.
My smart phone worked so well that I delayed my research and purchase –  until one day the icons on the screen were flickering and moving. It was like a cry for help to be replaced.
As soon as we went into lockdown in August 2021, the phone really caused problems. I couldn’t identify the icons on the screen anymore. I could only answer phone calls if I managed to press the answer button at exactly the right second when the icon was visible for a little flick. I felt like being part of a “game of skill” – keeping my movement calm while hitting the right key at the right moment….
It was impossible to call anybody. It was unthinkable to check emails or use the phone in any other way.

I had to admit this was it. In fact, on 30 August 2021 it gave up its ghost.
Among all the other things I had to organise due to the start of a lockdown of unknown length, I had to do my research and find out what phone to purchase. It could have hardly come at a less opportune moment.
Thanks to my landline and my little pre-paid phone – and my computer, I was able to continue most of my other work.

I spent many hours online looking for the right brand and model. Then, I had to check what was immediately available and deliverable.
Finally, I decided on the smart phone. A different brand, plenty more features (of which I wouldn’t use most of them anyway) – and a well praised built-in camera.
Once the decision was taken and the order placed, I was awaiting the delivery.

In the meantime, I tried to copy data from my old smart phone to my computer. This was easier said than done – how do you communicate between two devices if one doesn’t work?

The new phone arrived within a few days.d When I unpacked it, I saw that they had included a chip with some call credit.
I put it aside as I preferred using the chip from my old phone. Part of my saved data was saved on this chip – and, of course, I didn’t want to change my phone number.
So, I opened my old phone and took the micro-chip out which I wanted to place into the new smart phone.

I swallowed. I wasn’t sure what to say or do: I had completely forgotten that I had jumped so many steps of technology that the microchip had no perforations to be broken down to nanotechnology!

I went back to my computer and started searching for solutions.
The nanochip for the new phone was about half the size of the microchip in my old phone.
On most websites, they said that the best thing was to go to a tech store and ask them to cut down the chip to nanotechnology – they would have a special device that does the job in seconds. But we were in Lockdown Level 4 and the shops were closed!
I realised that I had only two options: either to use the new chip with a new phone number and try to sort out with my provider how to transfer my number – or I would have to cut the microchip by hand.
I didn’t like the first option as I had no interest in changing my number nor did I want to call my provider – all help lines seemed to be busier than usual during lockdowns. I knew that people were trying to reach me. Changing the number would have made everything even more complicated.
So, I decided to take the second option and to cut the chip myself – by hand.
This was a huge risk because you needed to cut it to exactly the right size. If it was too big, it wouldn’t fit. If it was too small, it would fall out and would be useless.

I prepared myself by making sure that my data was transferred onto my computer. I memorised tips and tricks that I read about on the Internet before I started the procedure.
As it was already getting dark, I looked for the best lit and clean surface. I decided to use my stove top. It was nice and clean, and the suction hood provided light from above.

When I started cutting down the microchip, I felt like being a brain surgeon…. One cut too far and all would be lost. I had to cut to the exact size of a nanochip.
This procedure was far from easy. Cutting a plastic card with normal scissors can be tricky anyways but cutting it with precision was even more difficult. Also, it was not only about a straight cut – the corners had to be cut correctly, too.
In addition to this task, it was difficult to hold the little chip in your hands while cutting it. A nanochip is so small that it would easily fit into a 10c coin.
As a kind of template, I used the frame of the nanochip that was provided with the new phone.
I took a deep breath and started my work. The picture of a brain surgeon didn’t get out of my head anymore…

I took my courage in both hands, lifted the tiny microchip and slowly cut it down. Step by step. In between I checked if it would fit into the frame of my template.
Step by step.

My heart was beating faster when I finally fit the chip into my new smart phone. I had to take it out again twice before it fit perfectly. Then – I made it! It fit!
The big moment was when I turned on the phone and checked it. Yes, it was working, and my messages and contacts were available. I was so proud of myself. I had turned a microchip into a nanochip!
Now, I was ready to set up the software and get used to the new Smart phone.

BM – ©2022