When I noticed my iPhone 3 (not a typo) had a small black spot on its screen, I started thinking that maybe I needed to replace it. Maybe. It was a difficult decision as it was the first smartphone I ever owned and since 2010, it had served me quite well. I liked it because it was small (it could easily fit in my back, or when in tourist country, front pocket) and because it had a retro-cool steampunk vibe, that occasionally turned heads (is that an iPhone?!, that’s the smallest phone I . . .). Best of all, I didn’t have to worry about it getting stolen, who would steal a 10-year-old cell phone (with a black spot on the screen)? Also because it was so old I metaphysically couldn’t lose it, as you only lose things that are expensive. It’s like the $20 sunglasses you bought at the mall kiosk, you don’t lose them, you lose the $200 Ray-Ban Aviators.
An added benefit of being retired is having spare time, which I used to think long and hard about this issue. I perused a multitude of Amazon.com listings, reviewed T-Mobile’s current deals, and took the Missus’ iPhone SE (2nd generation) for a test drive. I even tried to understand what caused this black spot disease (either a hard bang or some other impact had caused liquid to leak out of the liquid crystal display), if it would become fatal (maybe or maybe not), and how to economically fix it (it appears to be incurable).
The problem was that all this analysis brought me no closer to a decision. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more paralyzed I became. Then I remembered an interesting book I read many years ago titled “Decisive, How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work” by Chip and Dan Heath. It mentioned that when faced with a decision, short-term emotions can get the better of you, causing you continually review the details of the decision, which does not lead to a better outcome, just more stress and worry.
To overcome your short-term emotions, the book states you need to “attain distance before deciding”. One way to facilitate this distance is to imagine your best friend was facing the same exact decision. What advice would you give them? This allows you to attain distance and to look at the situation from a different perspective.
Well when I thought about it from a best friend’s perspective, I said to myself “you travel a lot, using your phone to book hotels and flights and to keep in touch with your wife. If your phone completely succumbs to the black spot disease, you’re screwed. You need to get a new phone, ya cheapskate!”.
So that is exactly what I did, not a brand new iPhone mind you, as going from an iPhone 3 to an iPhone 12 Pro Max, could have irreparably shocked the system (mine, not the iPhone’s). After a thorough review of what was out there, I determined the iPhone 6s would be a good fit. Physically, it was not that much bigger than my current iPhone (5.44” x 2.64” x 0.28” vs 4.55” x 2.44” x 0.48”), had a bigger screen (4.7” vs 3.5”), a better camera (12 vs 2.0 megapixel) and a headphone jack.
I went back to Amazon to purchase a pre-owned one, but was disappointed, as its listings weren’t very organized, were somewhat limited, and didn’t give me a warm and fuzzy. Then I remembered a website I used to sell a Blackberry (many) years ago, gazelle.com. It’s listings we’re well organized, mentioned a rigorous testing and inspection protocol. I quickly identified an iPhone 6s in excellent condition for $95, with free shipping and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
While I’m thankful, I read the book “Decisive”, I’m even more thankful that I remembered many of the rubrics it mentioned. I’ve read a number of the classic must-read business books in my life (The Seven Habits . . , How to Win Friends and Influence People, The Art of War, etc.) but have found it very difficult to remember the important parts, especially when facing a stressful situation. Maybe an idea for a future article?
Epilogue: I’ve been using my iPhone 6s for a few weeks now. It has taken a little while to get used to it’s bigger size, but the larger screen and improved camera have been quite useful. I think I’ll keep it for a little while.
Note: Prior to making any decision you need to realize that you most likely will not make a perfect decision. If a less than perfect decision is made, you need to learn from it and then move on. In my case, while writing this article I realized that the iPhone SE (1st generation) would have been a better selection. It is a little smaller and newer than the 6s, and has a headphone jack.