Why You Will Break Your iPhone Abroad And What You Can Do To Prevent It

I arrived to Medellin a few weeks ago and parked myself in a hostel.

Now, up to this point, I had had minimal experience staying in hostels, but one tip I garnered before I came on this trip was that you should bring a small flashlight in order to see when it is pitch black in the dorm room. This is a really good tip. After all, you don’t want to wake up the other folks who are sleeping by turning on the light in the whole room.

A Good Idea At First

Anyways, being the prepared traveler that I was, I decided to use my iphone as my flashlight instead of having to carry an entire extra flashlight. For one, it is too much of a hassle to carry too many things to the bathroom and back… You don’t want to drop things in the toilet or get them all steamed up from you shower. Second, I didn’t want my iphone to be left unattended. (Have heard stories of people getting their stuff stolen in hostels.) So, naturally I thought to carry my iphone wherever I go.

If this weren’t enough, I did a little app search and found a handy-dandy flashlight app for iphone. Truth be told, I don’t like using it because it takes too long to select the options. And if your iphone is idle for awhile, you have to unlock the phone, scroll to the app, and widdle your way through the options again in order to turn the thing on. I wanted a quick and easy solution for my flashlight.

Thus, I settled on the simple “waking” function of my iphone. In pitch black, I would just press the main button and the phone would emit enough light for me to see in front of myself. This worked great for me, and also was not disturbing the folks already asleep.

Of course, the bad part about this is that you are carrying your iphone around in the pitch black and very frequently late at night after you’ve been out to Parque Lleras, which brings us to the climax of this story…

The Good Idea Breaks

Last week I got back really late to the hostel. Somewhere in the wee hours of the morning, I had to use the bathroom. I picked up my iphone, walked out the door of the dorm, and suddenly without warning the iphone slipped out of my hand and hit the hard concrete floor.

Dismayed, I picked it up to find a slight crack in the touchscreen… and worse… the bottom half of the touchscreen didn’t work. This meant that couldn’t unlock my iphone to access anything.

Now, you also need to know that I was utilizing my iphone like a madman to learn Spanish. I was taking notes on my phone as I went through the day, I had the SpanishDict app (really useful app by the way), I had names, numbers, directions, and miscellaneous things to remember on my phone.

Now, they were ALL inaceessible.

Smart Guy… Not.

Had I made a backup of my notes? Nope.

A backup of my music? Nope.

A backup of anything on the whole freakin’ phone? Nope.

Worse yet, I didn’t even have a protective cover for my phone. So, logically when it would fall out of my hand to hit a concrete floor, there was little chance of it NOT getting broken.

This Einstein had set himself up for a big headache.

I mean, think of it– What are the chances I would NOT drop my iphone during my entire trip abroad?? I have had experience with cell phones in the past, and I have dropped them all– not frequently, but I would drop them everynow and then. What makes me think this would be any different?


What about getting it fixed?

A little tip regarding tech devices in Colombia: everything “Apple” is overpriced.

So the price to get my iphone fix turned out to be MORE than what I payed for the phone originally. I went to several places in Medellin trying to fix it, but all of them said either the same thing… either “We don’t fix iphones.”  or “It will cost $250.000 COP” (about $130 dollars).

The only saving grace I give myself is that my iphone was a 1st generation used iphone from ebay. Thus, I am not completely attached to it like my Macbook. Still, it is just one big stupid mistake not to have bought a protector for my phone.

The Message You Need To Remember

So, if you are out there carrying your iphone or ipad around without a protector, consider this your lesson of the day:


Thank you. This concludes your public service announcement. 🙂

  • More importantly… Don’t create a single point of failure. Those notes should have been in the cloud, like on a Google Docs app. The music should be synched to iTunes.

    Oh, and one other tip I’ll bet you never thought of: if you had the earphones in, the phone may not have fallen at all. Or, when it did fall, it would have been slowed by reaching the bottom of the cord. If it’s so important and so valuable, leave those phones plugged in, even if you’re not wearing/using them. I’ve seen this work many times.

    • Ryan

      Good points, Randy. I have another story about syncing, but basically the fact is, I just did not act wisely in this.

  • Hey Ryan! On the bright side you made it almost 3 months without dropping it. I could feel my heart sink as I was reading this. I know how much I use my own iPhone so I feel for your loss of a nice every day tool. So did you end up paying to get it fixed?

    • Ryan

      Matt- Actually I have not paid to get it fixed– too expensive. Right now it is just sitting in my backpack and I am trying to make do without it. I bought some el cheapo cell to use… Not the best option, but that’s where I’m at right now!

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