Pro Tips: When Your Android Phone Dies

I should really make sure to put this in a protective case before I go travelling tomorrow, I thought, juggling two bags, my phone and a coffee cup while trying to open my car door. I had a busted-up Otterbox at home, but had never gotten around to replacing it, and was planning a trip the next day.


Irony-hungry trickster god, you say?

Almost before I finished thinking it my phone leaped from my hands, bounced off the ground three times, and lay there. Face down. Like some irony-hungry trickster god had expressly decided to fuck with me. My phone (an LG G2, highly recommended) had taken some spills in the past, but a sinking feeling in my gut told me this time was different. That sinking feeling was right.

You know the rest of the story: shattered screens, insurance claims, phone replacement hassles, data backups, two-hour drives with only the radio to keep me company… But here are two tips that made the process WAY less painful and stress-inducing that it would have otherwise been, and some things I’m doing to make sure I’m covered in the future.

For the now:

  • Did you know Google lets you make voice calls for free in the US and Canada, straight from your gmail account? I didn’t. But holy cow. Without this function I’d have had to drive into work to make my insurance report. You’ll need to allow pop-ups on your gmail page, which you can do by clicking the little puzzle-piece looking icon that will appear in your URL bar. Not only was I able to call my insurance company, but by sorting through my google contacts via my Chromebook, I was able to reschedule a phone meeting from Skype to Google Hangouts, when I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to let the other party know what was going on.
  • Have phone insurance. Whether it’s the pain-in-the-neck version from Best Buy or insurance via a private provider (mine came as an option on my renter’s insurance), have phone insurance. With my renter’s insurance, the total cost was under $20, with a $50 deductible. At Best Buy, it costs something like $10/month, and they tend to take a few days to replace your critical external brain (well, I find it critical, maybe you’re not as tech-dependent as I am). Whichever way you do the math, it’s a better option than being hundred of dollars out of pocket for the replacement.

For the future:

  • Have a USB OTG (on-the-go) cable to hand. Without having pre-installed software onto my phone, this is the best option for unlocking and accessing my files. It allows you to connect a mouse to your phone via mini USB, and I’ve spent the last half hour looking to see whether I can get ahold of one at any local store. Not even the local Walmart (or any of the five Walmarts within driving distance) keep them in stock. Major fail, major annoyzballs. If you’re very clever and very handy, there are instructions on making your own with a soldering iron – or a lighter, or matches – but ten minutes futzing with teeny weeny copper wires made it clear that metalwork of any sort is really not my calling. Wound up ordering one from Amazon; even if I replace my phone before it arrives, at least this way I’ll be able to get back precious photos of the nieceling. Which brings me to:
  • For gods’ sake, BACK THAT SHIT UP. I used to have a direct upload from my camera to one of my cloud drives; when I moved to my new cell phone provider last year, I didn’t take the time to set up phone photo backups anywhere. DUMB. Just dumb.
  • Install a remote-access option on your phone. I’m hoping to get AirDroid set up once I get my hands that USB OTG cable; it lets you access your phone from a PC or Mac (and now has a web interface).
  • Consider rooting your phone. Apparently there are apps out there that now root your phone quickly and easily, as opposed to a few years ago when you had to have technical know-how to do it. Rooting your phone gives you more access and control over its software and accessing your data. Easier to do before the fact than after.
  • Buy a goddamn phone case that fits and works well and will protect the screen of my replacement phone in the future. Because, well, duh.

Hopefully, you’re less of a klutz than I am, and hopefully that means you’ll never ever ever have to go through this process. But if you do, hopefully the above will help you navigate the loss of your external brain more easily.

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