Bad times – iPhone died

When you wake up in the morning and see that your iPhone is giving you a “No SIM detected” error, you know it is going to be a bad day.

My iPhone 5s is well aged, but it has performed quite well for almost 2.5 years. I was hoping to get another year out of it, but alas, it decided to give up the ghost.

It worked well, but the “No SIM” error was a harbinger of doom. It is not an uncommon problem in this version, and the last time, the “trick” of turning on and off Airplane mode worked to snap it out of its doldrums. Alas, this time, no such luck.

The next step was to head to the AT&T store and try a known good SIM card, so at 10:00 AM, I was off to the local retailer (about a 5 minute drive.)

No dice.

So, back at home, I hit Apple support. The guy on the chat was excellent, and we tried resetting the network services, and them running their remote diagnostics.

Alas, none of this bore fruit. The last advice was to do a factory restore, and if that worked, life would be good. Alas, no dice.

But, once I did that, I realized a horrifying scenario. I have most of my internet accounts setup to do 2 factor authentication, using the Google Authenticator app. Without my phone recognizing the SIM, I couldn’t get past the initial activation screen. And, since the back up if you can’t use the authenticator app was, you guessed it, getting an SMS text message sent to my phone, I was screwed.

I needed my phone.

Off to the Apple store, and an appointment with the Genius bar. Their prognosis was bad. If the SIM can’t be read, there wasn’t anything they could do to repair (unlike something as banal as a cracked screen, or broken home key) the phone. I had two options. I could exchange it for a refurbished 5s, for about $300 after tax, or I could upgrade to a 6s. Fortunately they gave me a $200 credit for recycling my 5s (I assume they harvest parts from it for repairs), so while I walked out a lot poorer, I at least got some knocked off.

I spent much of the afternoon restoring (which required me to activate and upgrade to 9.2.1) and then getting all my accounts re-authenticated. I think I finally got my Google Authenticator app all set up again.

Lesson learnt

4 years ago, I toyed with the idea of switching to a dumb phone to save money. At the time, it wasn’t saving that much money, but I felt that I could live without the smartphone.

Today, I realize that I absolutely depend upon my iPhone, and it is my master key. All my passwords are there (in 1Password app), my 2 factor authentication is there (Google Authenticator), and I get 6 email accounts there.

How the world has changed.