My New Phone and How I Got It

Athena ScalziThis past week, I swam in the ocean. Unfortunately, so did my phone.

My friends and I had the bright idea to buy some of those waterproof cellphone bags from the beach store so we wouldn’t have to leave our phones unattended on the shore. You put your phone in, seal it at the top, and your phone is totally protected from the water, not to mention the bag floats and has a lanyard attached to it, so it’s pretty difficult to lose your phone to the ocean.

Everything was peachy keen until I noticed that my bag was sinking for some reason. I pondered it for a moment before realizing that it could only mean one thing. There was water inside the bag. Sure enough, when I looked, the bag was over halfway filled with water, and my phone was totally and utterly fucked.

So I asked my friend to take me to the nearest Verizon store since it’s not a great idea to be on vacation without a phone, and got the iPhone 12 Pro Max. It is the biggest iPhone to date, and the newest. My friend is actually the one that convinced me to get it, since I wasn’t interested in an iPhone that didn’t have a home button. Not to mention the size of it seemed quite inconvenient (women’s clothes have tiny pockets as is, trying to fit a giant phone in one is no easy feat).

For comparison, here is an iPad mini VS my phone:

And just for shits and giggles I brought home my totally destroyed phone, and here it is next to my new one:

For years I have dreaded the no-home-button models of iPhones, and people that have those models always say “I don’t even miss it!” or “you get used to it”. And I never believed them. I was a purist when it came to the home button, there was no way I could stand not to have one. But here I stand corrected. Within hours of getting my new phone, I could honestly say I didn’t miss the home button at all. It doesn’t even occur to me that it’s not there. It’s hard for me to believe that I could adapt so quickly to not having one, when I’d been cringing for years at the thought of it missing.

As for the size, it’s practically like a damn tablet, but it’s actually awesome. Every time I hold someone else’s phone now, it blows my mind how small it is. How did I have something so tiny beforehand and not think it was small? The best part of it being so big is that web-comics look AMAZING. Without the home button, the entire screen is just display with no interruptions, so reading comics is a much improved experience. The only problem I’ve found when it comes to the size is one-handed swipe texting is a lot more difficult because it’s hard to reach the other side of the phone.

And the camera on this thing is amazing! I thought my previous phone, the iPhone SE (2020) had a nice camera, but this one has not one, not two, but three cameras. Every time I go to take a picture I’m shocked at how good the quality is.

Anyways, I’m just here to gush about how much I love my new phone, home-button-less and all.

What kind do you have? Do you like it? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!


45 Comments on “My New Phone and How I Got It”

  1. Your timing is amazing. My current phone (6S+, yeah it’s old) has been unreliable when sending texts to android phones since the last iOS update. I’ve been thinking about getting a new iPhone (or maybe even a Google Pixel like your Dad’s) but I, too, dreaded not having a Home button.

    What do you think of wireless charging? That’s another thing I’m not crazy about, only because I currently buy 10-foot off-brand cables so I can use my phone while charging. Not sure how that’ll work once I’m (ironically) tied to a wireless charger.

  2. Pixel 5 here and it’s the best phone I’ve ever owned. I’m looking forward to the Pixel 6 Pro. It has some really impressive specs.

  3. I have the same phone and love it. You can make the keyboard all squish to one side by long pressing the globe on the bottom left and choosing which side you want the keyboard to compress into. That might help with one handed swipe typing. I’m not sure if there is a setting you have to enable prior to that, but it works for me. Enjoy!!

  4. @Beej:

    Wireless charging is great! At least with a Pixel 3 and above, you can choose to wirelessly charge or plug it in. I use wireless about 99% of the time because it is just simpler.

  5. I upgraded to the regular iPhone 12, like you I was very worried about giving up the home button, and like you, haven’t minded it much. The reset steps still remind me of the Konami cheat code – and I’m sure when I need them I’ll need to look them up… on my phone I’m needing to force a restart.

  6. I’m in love with my Samsung 8 Active. Yes–it’s an android phone. Shortly after I got it (3? years ago now), it few out of my shirt pocket into the washer, and made it halfway through the bedding cycle, under a comforter, in an agitatorless top-loader.
    It got very, very, wet–submerged for half an hour in soapy water.
    When I got it out–it was still on. I called my local cellphone repair guy to ask what to do. Once we established a) the phone model, and b) that I was using it to talk to him–he told me the phone was fine and I should just dry off the outside . . .

  7. My wife and I recently got iPhone 12a and had the same home button transition experience. The only time I still miss it is when using the Wallet — haven’t quite mastered the double-click of the power button without triggering a screenshot because of how I tend to grab it.

  8. I have a Galaxy Note 9 (Android) that I updated from a Note 4. Like you, the size difference was amazing. I do enjoy the larger real estate. With this sort of tech I always love what I have, then I upgrade and can’t believe how much better it all is.

    In the Apple environment. I just replaced my 9 year-old iPad (~9 inch) with the latest iPad Pro (~11 inch) and it’s beautiful. I felt the same about the lack of a home button, how will this work? Can I get use to it? Within a day I got it and loved the new design. No issues at all and I wouldn’t want to go back. It’s perfect. Of course talk to me in 9 years and I’ll love whatever I have then. Ha.

    While I’ve slowed down on my upgrades, when I do take the plunge I am very happy with the general improvements and the extra functionality I get. I really need to explore the camera system more though. These darn devices are basic mini-movie studios in a very compact design. There are times I’m amazed to think that I actually don’t know everything they can do.

    Enjoy your new phone.

  9. I’m rocking an iPhone 12 mini, in blue. I see a giant phone like yours and think, “good God, who needs a screen that big?!!?”

  10. I have the iphone 11 pro (the smaller one) and I don’t miss the home button at all, in fact when I was reading your post I wondered what a home button was despite having it on previous phones. What I DO miss are the bezels. Everything else is spectacular. Enjoy your new phone! & lucky you – swimming in the ocean.

  11. Gush away. We all want a compatible photo. Something in the cloud you shot with your old phone, then take pic with new phone.
    Also you are young and flexible with a great brain

    I am old. I need my home button. Lol

  12. Went through the same thing, when I got mine. I wanted a bigger phone, because I’m in hotels 1/2 my life, and I use it to stream. But I have small hands. Then I read that for the first time there actually was a difference between the 12pro and 12promax, besides size. Camera and battery life. Both are amazing!!! I went from a 6S max to this, and the size was surprisingly close, so I never even noticed the small difference.

  13. I have the SE(2020). How are you dealing with the pocket problem? My phone lives in my pocket (front, much more secure for bike riding) where are you storing it now? Is it just always in your hand?

  14. I have a Pixel 5. It’s my second Pixel phone and I love it. I was a diehard iPhone user for years, despite my husband trying to get me to switch to Android for many of those years. What changed my mind?

    Fashion. Yes, fashion. I decided I wanted a smartwatch, but I wanted something pretty. And, let’s face it, the Apple Watch ain’t pretty. I always thought it was kind of ugly, actually. And since Apple is so secretive about it’s stuff, nothing not-Apple would be fully functional. So, I switched to my Pixel 2 and got a really pretty Fossil smartwatch to go with it. I’ve been happy and don’t miss my iPhone at all.

  15. I have the same phone, and it’s pretty damn amazing.

    I will say that the lack of Touch ID in the middle of a pandemic is frustrating. Yes, with my Apple Watch on, it will unlock things. But using FaceID for passwords with a password manager is frustrating. I hope they look at something similar to the iPad Air, where Touch ID is built into the power button, in a future model.

    But yeah. Perfect phone.

  16. This one will be more likely to survive getting dunked or soaked. They’re not truly waterproof, but they’re pretty resistant.

  17. I have an iPad Pro without the button and I had forgotten about its loss within an hour of using it. My wife and I are still using iPhone 6S phones and I replaced the batteries in each with new, higher power ones ($20 from Amazon including the tools to take the phone apart – easy breezy!) but the latest update has screwed up the battery monitoring function whereby it always displays as 100% charge until it dies, and since I listen to audiobooks much of the day this is occurring nearly every damned afternoon.

    My wife’s phone is problematic too: she’s burning through gigabytes of cellular data everyday even when the phone is connected to our wifi. We’ve changed every setting suggested by Apple and everyone else experiencing this problem to no avail.

    Solution for us both? Time for new phones. We’ll get 12s but you’ve convinced me to go with the pro max. I’ve been trying to justify it having the 11” iPad at home but I do have a hard time seeing the screen of my little 6S when it’s in my car’s cup holder mount, so the bigger phone would be useful. We’ll buy them straight up from Apple, sell the 6S’s on Craigslist and not look back.

  18. …since it’s not a great idea to be on vacation without a phone,…

    You should ask your dad about being on vacation without a phone – he probably has some horrifying stories from the olden days of the 80s and 90s :)

  19. So… want to tell us about some of your favorite web comics? There’s a topic for a post!

  20. I’m curious if you have an Apple Watch?

    I never missed the home button before masks became a thing. Then I missed it desperately (despite rarely actually leaving my house and needing to mask up) until the Apple Watch unlock feature was finally added in a recent update.

    Anyway, I have the X. I also have a non-mini iPad that I used for comics and most games, because I’m a nearsighted old person.

  21. I recently picked up a Google Pixel 4a, inspired by Scalzi the Elder’s encouraging comments about the Pixel’s camera. It is indeed quite fantastic.

    Also, you should ask for your money back from the place that sold you the waterproof bag, which wasn’t.

  22. I’m tickled that you got a phone that you love so much! Bummer on your old phone taking an unexpected swim, but you definitely found a silver lining. I am looking forward to seeing the photos you take with it!

    In answer to the question at the very end of your post, I have a 30-year-old phone that is plugged into a jack on the wall, I dial by pressing buttons, and there are no cameras or face-books or internet browsers whatsoever involved. All it does is place and receive calls, which is all I want from a phone.

    Yes, I am an old fuddy-duddy. Feel free to laugh all you like – my own offspring find my fuddy-duddy-ness downright hilarious, so you’ll be in good company.

    Have fun with your new phone, and be sure to post some photos!

  23. iPhone SX here. re the pockets-in-women’s-clothes issue: I have vowed never, ever to buy another pair of pants that does not have either a cargo pocket or a thigh pocket that fits my phone when it’s in a case.

    Such pants are surprisingly difficult to find but there are exercise tights that have them. My experience has been that the cargo pants LLBean sells don’t have deep enough pockets, but some Duluth Trading Company models do. Still need to check out the situation with Land’s End and Eddie Bauer pants.

  24. Finally broke down earlier this year and replaced my iPhone 5S after multiple messages from my carrier telling me that in the near future it would no longer function as they brought 5G to my area. I went with a iPhone SE 2020, uypgraded memory over the basic level. (I stil have a pefectionally functional iPhone 3, that I have hooked up to my car’s sound system as an iPod. COnvenient way to play the playlists that I copy over from my desktop.)

    My non-negotiable demand is that my phone easily fit into a front pants pocket, which the SE does. As the other phones have grown they do not. If I want a bigger screen I’ll buy a flip phone for actual calls and receiving time-sensitive texts, and carry an iPad Mini around with me. (I’ve begun noticing people with belt cases for their phones, since many have now grown too big for pockets. I suppose the next step will be the return of fanny packs for EDC to include phones; I’ve bought some gear from Vanquest, and they’re now emailing me all about their new fanny packs and how well they’ve been selling. What goes around comes around, what was one old is now new again, etc.)

  25. I haven’t transitioned to a smartphone yet. I like my slide-out keyboard. That and it was under $50. I pinch pennies so hard that I decapitate Lincoln. Hubby has a Samsung Galaxy S8, and he likes it. He just got a new case for it: clear with silver glitter. I covet it a little.

  26. I feel you! Had the 2015 6S+ which was in dire need to be replaced (some hardware issues due to water damage didn’t help!) and felt unsure. I have an iPad with a home button but which supports all the gestures and I never got used to using the gestures on it. But on my shiny new 12 it feels perfectly natural!

  27. Hey Colonel Snuggledorf, I’m an old fogey too.
    It must look strange when, for various reasons, I still carry a backpack like during my youth. Within it is a Mac book air. To use for phone features. So I too could pinch pennies.

    No, I didn’t like being forced to upgrade to a bigger size: to 13″ from an 11″ that is not made anymore

    As for a camera, being a male with big jeans pockets, I bought one advertised as dust proof and water proof, so I think nothing of dropping it into my dirty pants pocket, without any camera case. (The lens has nine lives)

    For me, the trick is take photographs for myself, not my media fans or my ego.

    As for belt cases, I remember people would know we were nerds when we used them for our calculators or slide rules. … At the time, I read of a (Heinlein) 1948 Space Cadet avoiding phone calls by moving his device from his belt to the middle of his luggage.

  28. Quick tip if you or already discovered it for one handed typing is to move the keyboard to the side of the screen. Press and hold the emoji icon and at the bottom you can shift the keyboard over. Doesn’t help with still feeling like you are going to drop the phone though.

  29. My phone is wired to the wall, although it has some kinda radio connection to the walkaround phone, which, to be clear, is NOT a cell phone. Someday I will get a cell phone and drop the land line, but not till visitors quit complaining because we have NO cell phone reception.
    But I am not chasing anyone off my lawn over this.

  30. I stick with Moto phones. Sub $200 and everything I need. I am bugged that you can’t get the phone size I want anymore, which would be about a 4.5 inch phone. My current one is something like 6.2 inches and I really don’t like the size.

  31. Currently rocking the Samsung Note 10. But my two years is up and I’m a sucker for the newest phones, so I’ll likey upgrade to a new Note soon. I love the size of the Note. My wife has a regular Samsung S21 and I can’t stand how small it is.

  32. I was also convinced I would miss my home button forever, but within a week of getting my iPhone 11 I was totally hooked. Now any time my husband hands his older home-buttoned phone to me (maps while driving, ordering takeout, that sort of thing) I feel like the home button is a jagged interloper intent on disrupting smooth operation.

    I’ve had the 11 now almost 2 years and my plan had been to try to keep it for 3, but there’s a crack in the upper corner that’s just starting to spread. It’s entirely my fault for dropping it so many times. It doesn’t even impact viewing or using the screen yet, but I think I’m 2 or 3 more big drops away from looking at repair or replacement.

  33. I have the 12 Pro Max as well and love it. I was glad to get rid of the home button. For some reason the fingerprint thing works great for about two weeks and then my fingers don’t work any more and I have to retrain it. Don’t miss that. I also use the camera a lot and love the flexibility this phone allows for photography; it’s awesome.

    @Tosa Reader; I got some running shorts from Athleta that have a pocket in the side big enough to take that big phone and it doesn’t fall out when running. They are good shorts.

  34. Currently have an iPhone 7 and am thinking of upgrading to the iPhone SE. Not because of the home button but because of the smaller size. I also have an iPad Air which I use for browsing, ebooks, web-comics, and Procreate (for me any screen size smaller is ridiculous for these functions). And prefer larger screens (20 inches and up) for streaming video. I primarily use my iPhone for calling, texting, iTunes, and news and weather updates (with absolutely no social media apps, I have boundaries).

  35. I still have the iPhone 10, but it’s having trouble holding a charge. So, I’m almost duty-bound to get the 13 when it comes out this fall (so they say).

  36. Sounds like a cautionary tale against swimming with a phone, but glad you liked the new one. Although I am a Droid person myself, I have to agree, women’s pockets are not meant for big phones. I still miss my smaller phone, but the smaller ones just don’t come with the features I need, so I am forever replacing the screen protector and have a hefty protection case for all the drops.
    Enjoy your phone.

  37. I’ve had an iPhone X for about 2 years (which I bought used from someone who was upgrading to an iPhone 11). I’ve only ever bought a new smartphone once – a Dell Venue Pro back in 2010 because work paid for it – and I don’t think I’m missing much by being a few days late and a few dollars short on the latest phone technology. At some point, I’m going to have to graduate to a bigger phone, mostly because I’m approximately the same age as Mr. Scalzi which means the eyes have definitely seen better days.

  38. Work basically forced an iPhone 5s on me several years ago… I actually grew to like having a smartphone, albeit reluctantly. Mt work phone is now an iPhone 6s… I work for a non-profit. ;-)

    Last year, I got a personal phone because I wanted to look for a new job. The jobsearch went nowhere, but I’m stuck with the contract for a while. This phone is an iPhone SE, which I mainly chose because it was essentially free with the contract.

    I don’t have any opinion on the iPhone vs Android thing. iPhone was Hobson’s choice for my work phone, and I stuck with that for my personal phone because it was familiar.

    I hate how Apple has gotten rid of the earphone jack.

  39. I’m on my second Samsung 8″ tablet — Android, mostly used for eBooks to read, a little browsing when I’m in town, which is rare.

    I had to buy a new tablet because our new dog ate the old one. Shattered the glass screen, then dropped it and pushed it under the dog bed. Must have been terrible mouth feel ~!!~ Crumbs of glass.

    The phone is an Android by LG, we don’t have cell service here at home, so it stays in the car…

  40. I have always had a Samsung but when I went to get a new phone the Samsung phones are so big that I ended up getting an IPhone 12. As this is my first IPhone I’m kind of on a learning curve. I have not tried out the camera yet but so far I like it. It is not too big and as I have small hands that is a plus. Enjoy your new phone.

  41. I still use my… wait for it… iPhone 4s! Yes, it’s old, it’s slowing down appreciably, the battery is not as good as it was but it functions and it’s small and it does what I want. I only upgraded from my 3GS (I got both phones as new 2nd hand) when the battery went completely sideways and the Apple store refused to repair it. Bastards. Even then the home button had died so I was using the accessibility option on-screen home button.

    Speaking as someone with small hands and incipient RSI the thought of a large phone fills me with horror.

  42. Phones can often recover from a soaking if you let them dry out thoroughly, preferably disconnected, “off”, and with battery removed (perhaps not possible with an iPhone?)

    To be sure, your old phone looks like it’s been used as a basketball, which might not help.

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