Saturday, April 9, 2022

Still Life with Robin: How NOT to Crack Your Smartphone Screen


Image by Wikimedia Commons
by Peggy Robin

My not-very-old smartphone is no longer the beautiful, pristine thing it was when brand new. I've dropped it any number of times before, and its surrounding, rubbery case and screen protector had always done the job of keeping it safe. It took just one bad fall at an unfortunate angle to break the spell and leave a spiderweb of little fractures across the glass. It's not so terrible -- the cracks are mostly in a corner and they don't interfere with any functions, so I've decided to live with it. But I want you to learn from my experience. Here are my top ten rules to prevent the same or worse from happening to you:

1. Get a very protective case, one that has a flap covering the screen. If you always want instant access to the screen, get a case that is thick enough around the front edges to serve as a bumper in the event of a fall onto a hard surface.

2. Always wear clothing with pockets deep enough to fit the phone FULLY inside the pocket, so that you can bend over without the risk of your phone slipping out. This will be a challenge for women, who have a hard time finding pants made with anything more than little slit pockets -- if they have pockets at all. (BTW, if you have ever wondered why women's clothing is so often lacking in this convenient feature available in virtually any garment made for men, you might enjoy a little digression into the history of pockets in women's clothing:

3. NEVER walk up or downstairs while texting, playing games on your phone, or doing anything phone-related that calls upon you to look at it and use your hands to input any commands. Strict observance of this rule will not only help to protect your phone from a fall but more importantly, it will help to protect YOU from a fall. Your phone screen is a lot easier to fix than your tibia. (Yes, this could a good guess in Wordle, but wait till you are upstairs and sitting down to key it in.)

4. Never add your phone to the top of a pile of stuff you are carrying. Sure, it may look stable and safe atop the pile of magazines, some mail, plus a couple of dirty socks you just picked up off the floor -- but then, you are really not in a position to assess the situation objectively, are you? We all have a tendency to assess risk based on our own past experience. So if you've carried your phone atop a pill of stuff an uncounted number of times before and never dropped it, you think you never will. But good risk assessment takes into account outcomes for a large group of people under similar circumstances. And a certain percentage of them do drop their phones. Just factor that into your decision-making each time you find yourself wanting to hold onto your phone along with an armload of other random things.

5. If you routinely carry your phone in a purse or backpack, make sure it's secured at the top by a flap or some kind of closure. Bags of all kinds can get turned upside-down unexpectedly. Without a closing flap to keep your phone inside, you could easily pick up your upturned bag and leave, not even noticing that your phone has been left behind. 

6. The mug of hot coffee or tea or even a seemingly innocuous glass of water is the enemy of your phone. Maintain a wide separation at all times between the mug, the glass, or any liquid-filled vessel and your phone. I recommend a minimum of two feet between them at all times.

7. Do NOT take your phone into the bathroom. Period. Full Stop. No exceptions. If it's never been in a room with a toilet or sink, it can't fall in. (For those of you who believe, even if your phone does get immersed in water, it can be saved by drying out inside a bag of rice -- please note, this is an urban legend! Here's one of dozens of articles I found  when googling this subject that debunked the idea:

8. One of the most fraught times for your phone is when you are getting in or out of a car. Your phone should always be secured during these transitions. A fall on a asphalt or concrete can be tough on a phone -- that is, if you happen to notice that the phone has fallen. Even worse is when you don't notice, and you get into the driver's seat, start the car, and immediately back out of the space. Your phone, no matter how well encased, is not going to survive being run over by a 2-ton vehicle.

9. Always know where the table ends. Sometimes it's hard to tell, especially if there are papers on the table that may lead you to think the edge is somewhere other than where it really is. You also need to anticipate accidental brushing or knocking things over by someone else at the table - or even by yourself. To be on the safe side, it's best to leave a margin of at least six inches between the end of your phone and the table's edge. And (it should go without saying), don't leave it on your chair when you are getting up, even if just for a moment. One of these days you WILL sit on it.

And last of all:

10. Get phone insurance! According to, about 45 percent of cell phone owners have broken or damaged a phone. Here's an article rating different phone insurance plans: Even with precautions 1-9, you can't foresee every form of phone damage -- but you can definitely reduce the cost!
Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.  

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