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My backup and emergency phone strategy for the car

Yesterday at about midday I’d just finished a conference call when I got a Whatsapp from my wife.

“Blown a tire,” it said.


She was apparently meant to be on the way to see some friends with both our young (3.5 & 2 years) boys. 

“Blown,” didn’t sound good at all. Not like a flat tyre. “Blown” suggests some serious action. 

The next message will strike fear into the heart of any mobile-fanatic-father/husband/partner:

“Battery low.”

Shit. Ultra shit. What the hell is she supposed to do with zero battery? Is your partner like mine? She’s that connected that despite charging her iPhone 5S overnight (so it’s 100% at 6am), it’s routinely heading towards red by about 3pm. Yesterday morning was a pretty heavy morning from a communications standpoint I suspect so by midday she was already heading toward the low 20 percents.

As any “wall hugger” [CEO of BlackBerry’s description for battery starved iPhone users — read more] knows, the moment you’re into the low 20s, you’re screwed. It won’t be low before you get your first battery low warning. And once you’re at 19, 18, 17% it’s basically game over if you get a phone call or get involved in an instant message discussion. 

I immediately replied telling her to switch off her bluetooth and wifi and to set her brightness to ultra low. First step. Then I phoned the breakdown people for her. She didn’t have the details. Arrrgh. And she was managing the two frustrated children wondering why the car had stopped. 

If you think our generation is intolerant to failure or poor service, you need to meet Archie and Freddie who are significantly unimpressed at being made to wait 10 seconds at a red light. Woe betide any corporation that fails to satisfy them instantly 10-15 years in the future. 

Anyway. I started kicking myself. We do have an emergency phone in the car. I bought one of those tenner Samsungs with, I think, a tenner credit from Virgin Mobile and stuck it in the glove box. Turns out the Virgin Mobile credit lapses pretty quickly — something my wife escalated to me a few weeks ago when she left the house without her iPhone. Imagine her utter annoyance at discovering ‘no signal’ on the device. 

And me apparently a mobile industry chap. How embarrassing.

Well, like a Gardener with a rubbish gardener, I haven’t taken the time to sort out my own patch. 

So I resolved to get the tyre-change-fixer chap out to my wife and then fix the emergency phone situation.

I’ve dumped the Samsung. That can go to charity thanks to envirofone. I think I’ll get £0.63 for the device. Or maybe they’ll just take it off my hands for free. 

And I’ve dusted off the Xperia T. It’s now upgraded to the latest Android version. I’ve setup a dedicated Google account for it. I’ve got all the critical family phone numbers added on the Google account, which have all synched automatically to the device. I’ve also added Evernote (with a PIN) and downloaded the offline notebooks that are likely to be required in a similar situation. 

Further, I’ve sorted out the connectivity issue with a new account. I walked into the Three store in Islington this evening and got a £6.90/month (12-month contract) sim that comes with 200 minutes, 5,000 texts and 500mb of data per month. Ideal. 

So the phone has got a sim that won’t expire. 

The mophie juice pack arrived this morning:

This is perhaps slightly over-egging things. But it’ll charge an iPad and an iPhone at the same time. I carry one in my bag all the time and regularly rely on it. 

There’s a micro-USB cable included with the Mophie and I’ve got an iPhone lightning cable ready too.

Tomorrow it’s all going into the glove compartment. I’ll keep the phone off, obviously. But I’ll set an appointment with Remember The Milk to take the phone out, charge it, switch it on, sync it, once a month. 

That’s my plan to make sure that neither my wife or I are caught short on-the-go. With the added advantage of being able to charge iPhones/iPads on-the-go if necessary thanks to the Mophie.

Wotcha reckon? 

What’s your emergency car phone strategy?

[And in case you were wondering, the AA arrived promptly, sorted the wheel temporarily, the local garage sorted both tyres, all is good, everyone is well.]

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