Well worn: Retiring my original 4GB iPhone

I purchased my iPhone just over three years ago. In fact, I purchased it the day Steve Jobs announced the $200 price cut and I snapped up a 4GB model from my local AT&T store that afternoon.

This was a big change for me. I had never really paid for a phone before. I got whatever Nokia was free with the plan… And I rarely used texting, camera or data.

When I first got the iPhone, it seemed like everywhere I went, I was demoing the phone. Everyone wanted to zoom in on maps and flip through pictures.

Several days after I got my new iPhone, my youngest daughter was born. And from the hospital, I took pictures and emailed them immediately to friends and family. (In fact, when my wife went into labor, I found myself without a watch and used the stopwatch to time contractions. It remains the only time I’ve ever used the stopwatch.)

Initially, I wasn’t interested in the camera. I had a high quality SLR and point and shoot. But I found time after time, when I needed a camera, the iPhone was with me. And the high end equipment wasn’t. I got lots of great candid shots with the iPhone.

I also stopped carrying my iPod. While I couldn’t store all my music on the 4GB iPhone, I was able to sync the stuff I listened too most. And found myself slowly using my iPod less and less.


The first sign that my iPhone was starting to show it’s age was that after about two years, the speaker developed a minor issue where it was hard to hear when there was a lot of background noise. It wasn’t a deal breaker, but occasionally, I was frustrated. I contemplated replacing my iPhone with a shiny new 3G or 3Gs. But I didn’t.

A few months ago, I dropped the iPhone. I had dropped it previously without serious damage, but this time it hit just right… and the face cracked. It still worked. But now, a new phone was going to have to happen soon. At the time, the iPhone 4 was just out and with the reception issues, I decided to wait a little bit. After all, it still functioned fine. Plus the idea of replacing my reliable old iPhone made me a little sad.

A few weeks later, I dropped it again. This time, the screen didn’t crack. But the side bowed out a little bit. The side with the volume was bent so that the volume down button was constantly depressed. So the phone would turn the volume down at random times. My iPhone was no longer functional as a phone. It was time to replace my iPhone.

My new phone

I stopped into an AT&T store and upgraded. A shiny new iPhone 4. Shockingly they had some in stock and the transfer was painless.

The phone is faster. The screen is better. The camera is better. I don’t have to deal with slow data speeds. My reception is better and I haven’t had any of the antenna issues that are so well documented. In every way, the new iPhone is a better device. But, just a little bit, I miss my original iPhone.

How we relate to tech

I’ve had a lot of computers. And iPods. And other gadgets. But the iPhone is the first piece of technology that I’ve had with me constantly. I can take my laptop or my iPad with me, but I don’t always have it. I carried my iPod frequently, but if I forgot it, no big deal. However, my iPhone was indispensable. For 3 years, I carried and used it every day.

As gadgets become more portable, they become more a part of our lives. iPhones - and other smartphones - are becoming an integral part of how we experience, document and remember the world around us. My iPhone was with me for a whole range of monumental events over the last three years - my last year as president of AIGA South Carolina, numerous trips and vacations and the birth of my child. And often it was used to take pictures, make arrangements, get directions and even time contractions. And for that reason, I’ll always have a special place in my heart for my slow, well-worn first generation iPhone. (Even if I love my new phone…)