It doesn’t matter what phone you use. Nor do I care what operating system you run or if you even know. I don’t care what you’re into. Just like you don’t care what I’m into. We’re all into what makes us happy.

And I try to celebrate that. I am not the best at it. I still fall into the trap of dismissing things I don’t care for. But I am aware of it and I try to get better at it. I try not to be a jerk and to genuinely be helpful.

Yesterday, as I was sitting at a Thanksgiving dinner, surrounded my families visiting their mothers and fathers with dementia, one of the daughters pushed an Android tablet towards me and asked if I could get Netflix on it. She didn’t know how.

I said sure and went to work relearning how Android has changed since I used it years ago. I found the Play Store and updated the app. I didn’t enter any payment information, skipping the step to avoid unwanted charges. I located Netflix and downloaded it on to the tablet.

I then showed the daughter where the Netflix app icon was and how to get other applications in the future. I did mention some of them may require a payment and I skipped the payment step when I downloaded Netflix. I mentioned to her it would not require payment for anything free, so if she didn’t want to add a credit card to it, she wouldn’t have to immediately.

I love technology because of what it allows us to do. I haven’t lost my sense of wonder at how I can see friends in far away states, or talk to complete strangers across time zones and continents. I still marvel at the libraries of knowledge and entertainment a single click away.

Technology is my life. But it shouldn’t have to be everyone’s. I had no idea what I was doing with the Android tablet when she handed it over to me. But I figured it out and didn’t ask a thousand questions. I chose some sensible defaults and explained what I had done.

Since this is the time of year where all the pundits predict what will be in the next iPhone, I’ll throw my hat into the iRing.

Water-Resistance

From The Wirecutter’s review of the Samsung Galaxy S5,

…it’s the first widely available flagship smartphone that is water-resistant out of the box. And we mean “dropped it in the toilet and survived” level of water-resistant: the Galaxy S5’s IP67 rating means it can survive being submerged in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes.

I want a phone that will survive a summer rainstorm in my pocket. I want a phone that will live through an accidental drop into a glass of water or slip into a sink.

Drop-Resistance

I know iPhones look very pretty. I know nerds like to ooo and aahh over their gorgeous, glassy exteriors. But I’d prefer a phone that doesn’t shatter upon impact. I’d like a phone that will survive a chance meeting with a sidewalk.

My iPhone 4 was pristine for just over two years. I’d dropped it on my desk, car floor and the tiled floors of my apartment without injury.

Until it slipped from my hands while putting it in my pocket. It fell to the sidewalk during a walk and smashed the front of the screen to bits. A fall of less than 4 feet and the phone was toast.

I know the front of the screen must be transparent. But is glass really the best choice? Is there not a plastic that would serve the same purpose?

Battery Life

I want a phone that can last through the day. And by day I mean the about 12 hours I am out of the house. From when I leave for work to when I return home. I should be able to go to work, use my phone and return home without it dying at noon. You know what can last far longer than that?

My Bluetooth headphones. The Motorola S305. I’ve had these things for a couple of years and they routinely work from when I get in the morning. I can listen to them all day at work. And they’ve still got enough juice to hit the gym after I get home.

I can’t say the same for my phone. Make the phone thicker. Put a bigger, better battery in it. I don’t need a phone that’s a sliver of paper. I need a phone that lasts. Without power, the beautiful phone becomes the world’s shiniest paper weight.

A screen I can read in direct sunlight

When it is bright and sunny outside, I can’t see the screen. Even at its highest brightness, it’s still much too dark. I would love to be able to look down at my phone, standing beneath the summer’s sun and read the screen without straining my eyes. I want to use my phone outside.

That’s what I want out of a phone. Much the same as I got from my first cell phone and have wanted those same features ever since phones got smart. I don’t want a museum piece. I want a telephone I don’t have to be terrified to drop once.

I want a phone I can use and live with. I want a phone I can have in my pocket if I get caught in the rain. I want to be able to enjoy life and not think about my phone. It’s an accessory. A toy. A companion as I navigate my life.

It’s not in control. I don’t want to pretend it is any longer.

I was listening to a recent episode of 52 Pickup. Dave Caolo shared a story about witnessing a women in a grocery store hold up checkout line by diving into her gargantuan purse to find a ringing phone. As the cashier stood with change in hand and bags ready, she ignored him in favor of racing to answer the phone. As he and others looked on from behind her in line and as she tied up the cashier to get this possibly vital phone call.

He talked about how thoroughly we have all become trained to respond in a Pavlovian way to our ringing phones. Whenever there is a ring, bing, gong, tink or pop song blasting, the phone takes center stage.

In a recent story, an iPhone interrupted a symphony. This sparked a debate among tech bloggers about the function of the mute switch and how it should or should not be implemented to assure you don’t become a social pariah, but also don’t miss the vital family member in hospital call.

It got me to thinking how we have all been trained by our phones. We ignore people around us and the effect we’re having on those nearby when the phone starts ringing we dive into our pockets or hand bags to appease the noisy devil.

Is every call this important? Are you waiting on someone in the hospital undergoing surgery? The phone is not important. The ringing device doesn’t need to be answered this very instant. The caller will either leave you a voicemail if it is important. If not, they won’t and in most cases they won’t and it’s not important.

The phone has trained us to heed its call immediately. The phone is rarely important. If someone needs to reach you that badly, the news will still be just as valid and timely if you get it 30 seconds later

There is nothing so important the world must be put on hold because the phone is ringing.

It is most likely a robocall anyway. A machine is interrupting your day by phoning your machine which in turn alerts you. Skynet has won. You are a slave to your machines.