Sunday, September 07, 2008

replacing a mobile phone


So I got wrecked at a festival and lost my phone. Shit. I'd had my Nokia 5140i for a couple of years. Its the rubberised, dust & water-resistant model that they discontinued because they weren't making any money from replacing broken ones because . . .well . . . it didn't break. I'll leave that little market failure alone as I can't discuss it using more than four letter words.

Anyway, my phone was gone and I was distraught. Really, I was! I loved that phone with its built in LED flashlight (the most useful add-on to any phone I've yet discovered), sound meter (useful for working out whether my car stereo was loud enough to damage my hearing- it was), compass (utterly useless but great to impress people with). But most of all I loved it for its rugged nature and all-round sturdiness. I am an abuser of technology. I believe that it is entirely possible to build electronic devices to a reasonable standard of resilience. The people who developed "design obsolescence" need to be shot. I use stuff like I mean it and things that aren't up to scratch inevitably suffer. My Nokia 5140i (and the 5140 I had before that) were both awesome. I could have happily drop-kicked them over rugby posts. Did I mention that you could use them as telephones too?

So, having pined the loss of my 5140i I started to search for my wife's old 5140, which I knew to be lying around the house somewhere as a 'spare' phone. I found all of it except the keypad. Bugger. Seeing the need for a new shell & keypad- you can't buy them separately- I ordered one from ebay. The phone still worked without the keypad, you could push the contacts underneath but the case got in the way so I took to carrying around without its case on so I could stay connected. Unfortunately the case also protects the screen which ended up getting cracked in my pocket. Double bugger.

I imagine this would have been the point where most people would have jumped onto the net and started looking for a new phone. I confess I did browse around ebay looking for another 5140i but as these phone's were no longer being manufactured and other people seemed to appreciate its position at the pinnacle of mobile phone design, new ones from Hong Kong were going for at least £45 and even 2nd hand ones carried a premium and weren't much cheaper. As I had already shelled out £16 for a new case- I had ordered a genuine Nokia one as the keys on the cheap replicas had a nasty feel- I was loathe to fork out good money after bad. At this stage I also suffered a wave of eco-guilt as I realised that I had already consigned the cracked-screen job to the recycling bin. This reflected the worst influence of consumerism over common sense as I hadn't even looked to see how much a repair would be. A little googling indicated this would be at least £30, not much cheaper than a new phone but the old one wouldn't end up in recycling/landfill. Joy to the world!

I pondered this awhile whilst staring at the poor, shattered screen of the faithful old handset. The 5140s comprise a chassi like any other phone but with sealed gaskets around all the ports and I/O devices, covered by a rubberised case to make it shock-resistant. The chassis looked to be a fairly straightforward dismantling job with 6 screws around its edge and no nasty internal clips that are designed to break when you try and take them apart (new Ipods!).

There's even a step-by-step guide online to dismantling them! A couple of googles later and I had located a vendor for a replacement screen for the princely sum of £12.50, including p&p. So now I am replete with a fully functioning mobile for a fraction of the price of a replacement!

I rule.

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