Ever since the first ones came out back in the fall of 2007, our family has used iPhones exclusively. For a while, we would get a new one every other year, but that upgrade schedule was upended over the last five years, thanks primarily to me being unemployed and the fact that the ones we had, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, worked perfectly fine.
Neither one of us are heavy phone users, really. I have a laptop I get on the Internet with, and my wife, well, she doesn't get online a whole lot. If she does, it can be on her phone or tablet.
Fact of the matter is, she's not all that computer/mobile device savvy, and if she wouldn't feel like she was being left out, she'd probably do just as well with an old fashioned flip phone with voice and text.
I generally do the online shopping, searching, etc., etc., which can be tedious when it comes to looking for stuff she wants. Like clothes for the grandkids or pillow cases for the bed. Not my idea of a good time.
On the left is my iPhone 6s Plus which I've used for the last five years. Next to it, the new iPhone 12 mini I got for Christmas. As you can see, the 6s Plus is considerably taller and somewhat wider than the 12 mini, but screen size is pretty close thanks to the latter's edge to edge screen.
So Why The Upgrade?
Well, the main reason why we keep going back to the iPhone is, it's what we know. Our kids and their wives have iPhones so FaceTime is pretty easy to do. I have Macs (a MacBook Pro and a Mac Pro), along with a couple of iPads, a few Apple TVs and few Mac displays.
So, the type of phone we're going to get is pretty much a no-brainer. It's the when part that's been a little tougher.
A large part of what motivated this last upgrade was a change in service providers. We've had AT&T since we first got the iPhones 13 years ago. And in reality, we've had good luck with them. Very little dropping of calls, good coverage area, for the most part, and decent customer service, or at least as good as it generally gets with mobile carriers.
However, for at least two years, I've been eyeing a switch to Xfinity Mobile, which piggybacks onto Verizon towers. We have Xfinity for our home internet, and as part of that package, there is unlimited voice and text, along with a paltry amount of data.
To access the voice and text, though, you need to sign up with Xfinity Mobile and choose a data plan. The plans are among the cheapest I've seen from any of the main carriers, I guess, because of the subsidizing that takes place with the Internet access. They really want you to bundle and have as many of their services as possible so they entice you with discounts. In this case, they essentially offered services that you were already paying for but not using.
The next pieces to the puzzle were the discounts Xfinity Mobile offered on the phones themselves. For a while, I was looking at the second generation iPhone SE because it was the cheapest, and yet would still constitute an upgrade to what we had. When you have five year old any kind of technology, four year old technology or younger is an upgrade, and generally has a lower price point.
I decided to wait, though, to see what this year's iPhone would look like and have to offer, and it's been somewhat of a tradition to get the phones late in the year so they act as Christmas presents.
I'm glad I did. The iPhone 12 series was not only an upgrade in device, but a potential upgrade in service, going from the 4G LTE we had with AT&T to the newer Verizon 5G. That is, whenever it's available in our area, which will hopefully happen before we're ready to upgrade again.
When the iPhone 12 series hit the Xfinity Mobile site, all three phones, the regular, pro and mini, came with the $250 discount. They don't normally do that with the brand new iPhones, so that was the last thing to push me over. Get a new phone at a discount, get enough monthly data to use while we're out and about, and do it all for less than what we were paying AT&T with older phones long since paid for and more data than we really needed.
The iOS mobile device collection. There's an iPod Touch, an original iPhone, an iPhone 3G and an iPhone 4s across the bottom. Up top is the 6s Plus and the new iPhone 12 mini.
This next little bit is not for the faint of heart. Okay, it's not that bad, unless you lived it, like I did. Then it's mind numbingly frustrating and time consuming and you wish you could just go and flip the switches yourself.
Our phones arrived earlier this month. I kept them in their boxes and wrapping in my home office. About a week before Christmas, I decided I'd better open up the shipping box they came in and at least make sure I had the correct number of phones—two—and the right sizes—a regular iPhone 12 and an iPhone 12 mini. Sure enough, there were two phone boxes with the appropriately sized phones.
One thing that I saw that was a little off was the placement of the SIM cards. There were two, each over a phone, and presumably sitting atop the one they would go into. However, the instruction foldout that the card was attached to was labeled with our names, and my SIM card was over my wife's phone, and vice versa.
I didn't think much of it at the time, but I did put the right SIM card over the phone they supposedly went into. When it came time to setting them up, I wanted to make sure I had the right ones matched with the right phone.
Now, keep that little bit of information in mind. It becomes very important later on.
I asked my wife a couple of times if she wanted to open up the phones earlier. I didn't tell her why, but basically, it was to get the phones up and running so they were ready to go Christmas Day. She wanted to wait, though, so I didn't push it.
Christmas came. The phones were opened, and the setting up began. We went through the process of downloading all of the needful data and apps from the old phones to the new ones. Then, I went online to port over the numbers from AT&T to Xfinity Mobile. That was an important part because that's what the new phone discount was based on—keeping our old numbers.
No problem. The Xfinity Mobile site was easy enough. Which iPhone did I want to set up? Mine. What carrier do you currently have? AT&T. What's the account number. I had a bill handy and put in the numbers. Then, it asked for a PIN code. Well, that I didn't know, but I guessed at it. Hit submit. Within a few seconds I was told that the number was ported over and I should be good to go.
Once the SIM card was in, that is.
As it turns out, there is a preferred way of doing things, a sequential order, that is consider best practice. What I should have done, I was told later, was put in the SIM card with the phone off first, next make the number switch online, then power up the phone and set up the rest of it.
What I did was basically backwards.
I did, however, play it safe and only try one phone at a time. I didn't want us both to be without service in the event something went wrong.
After I put in the SIM card into my new phone, I powered it up. Once it got to the lock screen, a message popped up telling me that the phone was awaiting activation and that it might take a while. So, I tried doing something else until another message eventually appeared telling me the activation did not take.
Hunh. Well, as far as Xfinity Mobile was concerned, my phone was activated. Checking the AT&T website, it told me my phone number was no longer associated with the account. So, that part was fine. Just not the phone.
I removed the SIM card a few times, rebooted, but nothing. My son, who was there with his family for Christmas, started looking up possible answers, and each one we tried failed. Finally, though I really hated to do it (it was Christmas Day, after all), I called up Xfinity Mobile to get things straightened out.
This Is Where The Nightmare Begins
I don't think I'm going to give you a blow by blow account, but give you just enough so you feel my pain.
Borrowing my wife's old phone, I called Xfinity Mobile. I got a very helpful young lady, who walked me through the same steps my son had just done, plus a couple of others, to no avail. At the end of that 30 minute call, she told me she was going to do it all over again on her end, and that I should turn off the phone, and wait for her to call back in 30 minutes. It was going to take that long for the whole refresh to take place.
Thirty minutes came and went. I turned the phone back on. The now familiar lock screen message showed up. I waited some more, and once again the couldn't activate message showed up.
I called back. This time, I got a young man, who after a few minutes of futility, bumped me to someone else, a senior IT person, or perhaps a supervisor. She kept calling me Mr. Glen, which was awfully polite, but not really proper titling. I let it go. She had us do a couple of new things the previous two techs didn't, and when that didn't work, she said she was going to set me up with the big guns—the people who really knew their stuff.
Okay, that's my paraphrasing. Regardless, another 20 minutes had gone by before the decision was made to go to the next level.
Unlike the other three, this new tech was working out of her home. I got the idea from our conversation over the next nearly two hours that the company she worked for (not Xfinity Mobile) contracted out their services. Thanks to COVID-19 restrictions in her area, the company she worked for had decided to give up the office space they were occupying with some 300 employees.
Remember the placement of the SIM cards earlier? I kept wondering throughout this messing around whether or not there might be something wrong with that. As in, the SIM cards weren't matching the phones, because whoever wrote down my name and my wife's name got the two cards mixed up.
So, before we got too far into it, I asked the fourth tech if that might be it. She essentially told me that everything looked good on her end and that the only thing we needed to do was get proper reception, or connect to the network.
She had me move to the door just in case there was some kind of interference. That didn't work. She had me remove the SIM card while the phone was powered up. That didn't work. She had me do a couple of things the previous techs and my son had told me to do, and a few more things that only she apparently knew how to do.
None of it worked.
Then, about an hour and a half into the two hours with her, quite out of the blue, she asked me to read her the first four and last four digits of the ICCD number for my SIM card. I told her the numbers. She said, "That's not the right SIM card." She asked me to read the numbers of the SIM card for my wife's phone. Sure enough, the SIM card I was using for my phone was the one that should go into my wife's phone.
BUT YOU SAID...!!! JUST STAY CALM...
She had me use the other SIM card in my phone. To make a long story not quite as long, it worked. It connected with Xfinity Mobile almost instantly. I was so relieved that I didn't even try to call her out on it. We'd been bonding, you see, and I didn't really want to ruin her Christmas by telling her I tried to point that out 90 minutes earlier.
There was still more work to do, though. Because of things she needed to do to test things out, that meant someone else had to do more work, for which we waited them to complete. However, this fifth tech, whoever they were, was equal to the task, and when it was all said and done, nearly three hours later, both our phones were up and operational.
The Moral Of The Story Is...
I should have switched the SIM cards. I didn't want to fry them, or create more of a problem to untangle than what already seemed to be happening. Had I done it, though, I would have saved three hours of IT torture.
On Christmas Day.
On a positive note, I did make a new friend who I will probably never ever talk to again.
As of this evening, I am still acclimating myself to my new phone. It's much smaller than I've been used to over the last five years, but that's what I wanted, so I will make the adjustment. In the meantime, my wife is starting to get the hang of hers, slowly but slowly. There's no button to push to wake up the phone or get passed the lock screen. She didn't want facial recognition, and the new phone doesn't work off her thumbprint like the 6s did. Not all her apps downloaded properly in the big port over from the old phone.
In my case, I've got two of every contact rather than just one, and none of the newest ones. I'll be weeding through those over a period of time as the need arises.
I do have my word game app up to date so I can enter the weekend solo tournaments, and I do have the apps I need for my job functioning properly, when I do work.
We got some cheap phone cases today since going without them the last few days made my wife nervous. Don't need that if I can help it, so our new beautiful phones are now protected in plain looking plastic.
Images courtesy of Glen Anthony Albrethsen