I bought a Galaxy S8 + a couple of years ago, and for the first few months, I totally loved it. It was my first Android phone. Before that, I’d had several iPhones and one Windows phone, the Samsung Focus.
But, after a few short months of use, my S8 developed several large, deep scratches in the screen glass. I initially wrote this off as something I’d have to live with, but I now believe a whole batch of these may have had incorrectly- baked Gorilla Glass. I’ve never had this sort of problem in 12 years of smartphoning before this, and I should have been more skeptical.
These weren’t usual wear-and-tear scuffs caused by ramming the phone into things or the elusive “pocket minerals,” but rather deep grooves you could feel easily with a fingernail, all concentrated around the top right corner of the screen.
Rather than selling myself on the rest of the phone’s features being a reason to tolerate these scratches, I should have pursued either a warranty replacement or an insurance claim.
A few days after my warranty expired in 2018, the crashes began. These were no ordinary phone crashes, either. No overheating warnings or down clocking, no clear pattern of being caused by certain software. After a random period of light or heavy use, the phone would emit a small pop out of its speaker, the screen would go dark, and it would behave as it does when the battery is too low for the phone to boot, regardless of current charge level.
If I tried to reboot the phone, it would just crash into this deep sleep state again about 20 seconds later. If I booted into Samsung’s custom OS installation menu, it would run for hours. But a standard boot was crash city.
The only way to break the loop, derived by me after many tests and fruitless internet searches, was to wait for the phone to cool down and then do a full reboot.
At first, I’d just let it sit on my desk for a while. The crash would only happen about once a week, and so it was easy to take a break from the phone. But eventually, the frequency of crashes increased. First, every three days. Then every two. Then sometimes, multiple times per day.
In order to expedite the cooling process, I started putting my phone in the fridge.
I let this drag out for over a year. Because it was “fine,” and I was ridiculously holding on to all the things I liked about the phone.
I could never nail down the exact cause of the issue. It seemed to be OS-related, because certain software updates would dramatically improve the situation. The recent upgrade to Android 9.0 gave me a week and a half of crash-free operation…
But then the problems returned. And so did my phone’s time in the fridge.
I could never tell when this issue would happen. Sometimes, if I was out and about, I’d have to get creative. It’s totally normal to hold your phone in front of a car’s air conditioning vent. It’s completely okay to walk around with your phone in your hand for no reason in the overly-chilled electronics store. It’s right and good and logically sound to browse the ice cream at the local shop while your phone cools inside the freezer, next to the chocolate fudge delight.
This past Memorial Day weekend, logic finally prevailed over my extreme cheapness and stubborn way of thinking. I bought an iPhone XR on sale, and although it was a bit of a kicking-and-screaming nightmare to extract myself from Google’s mobile ecosystem and shove myself back into Apple’s, it’s so nice to have a phone that I can use without waiting for it to crash.
Yes, I could have used my insurance. But in spite of my dogged persistence, I no longer really believed in the S8. I didn’t want to pay a deductible to get another copy of the phone that had wronged me. But I couldn’t admit defeat.
It was a horrible and stupid cycle, and admitting my shame about it publicly is the final step to letting it go.
My Galaxy S8 worked just well enough to keep me in a strange, abusive relationship with it for far too long. Yes, Android is a more flexible, customizable, robust, and intricate user experience than iOS. But after a year and change of putting my phone in the fridge, the simplistic “it works” mentality of iOS means I can finally enjoy my phone again.
I’ve also promised myself I’ll never again fall so badly into the Sunk Cost Fallacy. I forgot to chase the experience instead of the hardware.