A blast from the past: Do you revisit your old phones?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: August 4, 2013

It's not always easy to say goodbye to an old, trusted friend. Upgrades are one of the things that a lot of people look forward to every year, or two years, or however long your carrier just so happens to take to find you worthy of a hefty discount on a new phone. But even for being such an exciting event for many, it can often be bittersweet. Sometimes you don't want to say goodbye, but unfortunately phones seem to have a shorter life cycle than that of a common house fly. It's not that that it doesn't work, but they certainly tend to show their age once newer and faster technology comes out.

Yesterday I wrote an article that asked how you became interested in the mobile industry. Bringing up exactly how I got into this hobby made me think about all of the phones that I have ever owned and been through, which is a lot. Not as many as some, but enough for people to realize that I really liked cell phones for some odd reason.

Admittedly, and I'm sure you have all experienced this yourself, there were phones that I owned that made a more positive lasting impression than others. Take, for instance, my Samsung Instinct. I had never owned a touchscreen device before, and I was actually extremely skeptical of purchasing one. The fact that I would no longer be using buttons, or even have the option to, scared the living daylights out of me. I've had phones where the screen wouldn't work but, sure enough, the buttons and the connections would. I could still make phone calls if I needed to. What good would an entirely touchscreen device do for me if that happened? Not much good, that's for sure. Alas, in typical Samsung fashion, the plethora of commercials that I would see both on TV and in movie theatres convinced me that I should probably just go ahead get this phone. It did have some pretty cool features, and it was something new and different to try. Also, it was the closest I would ever get to an iPhone while on Sprint.

The Instinct did a good job of convincing me that touchscreens weren't all that bad, and in fact I had grown to favor them. It was a long time before I came across a phone with a physical keyboard that I actually wanted to use. I had a couple of stints with phones like the Palm Treo Pro and the Palm Pixi, but despite their fantastic (and I mean fantastic - I have yet to come across a keyboard I like half as much as the gel keys on those Palm phones) keyboards, Windows Mobile left a bad taste in my mouth, and although I really enjoyed webOS my apartment didn't get signal; I was paying the price of a smartphone that didn't really get smartphone capabilities in my situation. Being that the Palm Pixi also didn't have WiFi, I returned the device and ended up going back to my Instinct until late 2010. That's when I discovered Android with the Samsung Vibrant, and although the Vibrant wasn't my favorite device, it did convince me that no other platform I previously used had ever measured up to the sheer awesomeness that was Android.

Ever since discovering Android, I've had mostly positive experiences with my devices (except for that EVO 3D, which really let me down). All of the Androids I had owned were fairly similar in style; candy bar and touchscreen, with the only real defining variant being the overall size of the phone. My first iPhone, which I acquired at the very end of 2011, gave it a little variance but in the end it mostly just seemed like a smoother and more put-together Android. Even switching back to Android didn't hold a lot of suprises. The HTC One is a great phone and all, but it's all things I've seen and used before with a new shell. Maybe it's because I'm still using the same platforms, or perhaps it's because I just know more about how these things work, but even when I get excited for a new phone it's not the same type of excitement that I used to get when I was younger. To try and put what I mean into words, I was more excited for my Instinct than I was for my awesome HTC One.

Sometimes I think about digging up those old phones that are likely laying around somewhere and activating them for old times' sake, but at the same time I know that if I did that it would ruin everything good about them. Instead of appreciating what I used to see them for, I would see them through the eyes of somebody who has seen so many improvements in these devices that I would just nitpick at all the things that it couldn't do and wonder, "How could I ever have loved a phone like this?" In fact, I know this is exactly how I would see it because I've done it before - my attempt at switching to a flip phone for 30 days only lasted a week because I've been spoiled. Flip phones were great when they were the only option I had, and likewise with the Instinct, the Treo Pro, the Palm Pixi and a slew of other phones I didn't mention. But we've moved on to bigger and better things since those phones were using the latest tech. Even if I do find my old phones at some point, I'll likely give them away to somebody who needs them, because for me those memories are better left in the past. I had good times when I used them, and I would hate to ruin my fondness for the technology by trying to make it happen again.

But what about you, readers? Just because I don't want to risk tainting the memory of my favorite old phones doesn't mean everybody feels that way or has the same experience - do you ever rekindle with old devices by reactivating them, or wish that you could? Do you still feel that "spark" when getting a new phone? Leave your thoughts with me in the comments below!

Images via SkatterTech, Apple