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a cellphone, a dog, and walk in the neighborhood.

March 22, 2017

I don’t usually write this much in a photo post.. the text below is about the cell phone I bought, and cell phone carriers.. if you don’t want to read that stuff, just scroll down to see the pictures. You might want to read what I’ve written if you’ve been a Verizon customer for a long time, or if you are shopping for an inexpensive phone. I’m writing about cell phones because..

Two weeks ago, I finally bought a smartphone. Took me awhile. Our family switched phone carriers because Verizon recently did something really sneaky.. and just plain wrong.

We learned that the oldest of the unlimited Verizon data plans were phased out, without customers on these plans being notified. Verizon put these customers on a limited data plan, and sent out messages saying, “you have almost reached your data limit.” Very mysterious message to receive if you’d earlier signed up for an unlimited plan.

While we were with Verizon, for many years, I used (or rather mostly didn’t) a very primitive phone. No touch screen, no efficient internet service. I got a new phone because we left Verizon and signed up with another carrier.

After a family meeting, we switched to Cricket.. a second tier cheapie phone service carrier owned by AT&T. Cricket service is on a secondary AT&T network, which equals less coverage area, possibly slower service, and one’s cell phone battery running down a little quicker because the phone has to strain to communicate with the weaker Cricket signal. Here at home in Northwest Boise, in the middle of an urban area, I’m only getting 2 out of 5 bars, and sometimes only one. This means the phone has to try harder to pick up the service, and that wears down the battery life a little. Bummer. I just learned this today.

On the positive side, the Cricket phone plan is a lot cheaper than some other services, so that’s something. I hope the affordable price will be worth a lesser quality of cell phone service. I won’t know how much lesser quality service for awhile, since I’ve only been on the Cricket plan for two weeks. I hope things go well.

I received a cheapie Samsung phone for free when signing up, but decided to pay $150 for a new iPhone 5s (which came out in 2013)… perhaps the oldest model that is still possible to purchase new. I just missed by three days the Cricket sale during which this phone was $100. Oh well. According to people on youtube and the apple store guy I talked with, $150 is a good price for this phone, and it won’t be obsolete for at least two years.

If you want to know if it is a good idea to buy an iPhone 5s for $150, here is a video for you..


The phone is a lot smaller than most Android phones, and somewhat more difficult, at least at first, to type on. Also, since the screen is so small, gameplay isn’t exactly great.I think I’ll mostly stick to my iPad when wanting to pay Plants Vs. Zombies 2, or Skyforce Reloaded. It’s really hard to see all the details on this phone.

The main reason I wanted a smart phone was not to have yet another device on which to play games. No, I wanted a tiny but decent camera I could fit in my pocket, and have the bonus of being able to make calls, send texts, listen to music and surf the internet on the same device. But the camera is most important to me.

Here’s my phone with a Thule Atmos 3x case. These cases are getting harder to find now, since this model of phone is old and debuted in 2013, and not as many cases are made for it (you can still find a huge variety of cases for this phone online, but almost none in stores).

I found a good deal ($14.99 and free shipping) on ebay. I bought this case because of some impressive reviews and drop test videos on youtube.

It is REALLY hard to get the phone in and out of this case!

Nice thing about the case is it is very slim. One not so nice thing is it can be difficult or even impossible to plug in non-apple headphones/earbuds into the phone, because of the case.

I haven’t dropped the phone yet (and certainly don’t plan to) so I can’t comment on how effective this case is at preventing damage to the phone, but just below the two photos of the phone with case is a drop test video made by one of those super-techno geeks on youtube (not me. I am NOT a techie).

iphone 5s, thule atmos x3 case, picture 1, 2017

Thule Atmos X3 Iphone 5s case, photo II, 2017

Gosh I hope these drop test videos are legitimate. The guy I spoke with at the Apple store today said these are rather good cases.. and Apple doesn’t sell these at the store as far as I know.. so that’s something.

I previously tried a Tech 21 EVO tactical case. It is more rubbery, and easier to put the phone in and remove, but the back of the case had a texture similar to sandpaper, and I didn’t like that. I will be returning that case to Amazon.  The Thule case is slimmer, and feels more comfortable. You’ll have better luck plugging in non-Apple headphones using the Tech 21 case though.

Should I use a tempered glass screen protector?

I asked the Apple store guy if he recommended using one of these screen protectors. He said some people use them, but he doesn’t. He says they do help prevent scratches, but do not protect the screen from impact damage. He says if you carry nuts and bolts or other metal objects, even keys, in your pocket, then a screen protector is a good idea.

I read a LOT about screen protectors in the past hour or so since I first published this post. Much debate over whether or not they help, but it seems more people believe in them than do not. I’ve put one on mine. At first it seemed the touch sensitivity was more than a bit diminished, but now, working well enough.

And, I don’t have to worry about putting my phone in the same little satchel in which I put my keys and lock for my gym locker. Ok then, a little added security.. that’s worth $8.


Something important worth mentioning regarding screen protectors.. all those videos that show a phone being dropped and the screen protector being shattered are pretty much useless videos. Why? The videos don’t show what happens when phones without screen protectors are dropped in the same way. All these videos show is that screen protectors shatter.. and then the person making the video claims the screen would have also shattered.. but shows no proof of this.

Ah well.. going to keep mine on.. see how I like it.


I thought I had a battery problem with my phone so I barely used it for two weeks. Took it into the Apple Store here in Boise, waited an interminably long time, but finally got help from a nice knowledgeable guy, who ran a thorough diagnostic test on the phone, and found it not to be faulty.

He then gave me tips on certain things to do to keep the battery lasting longer, like always making sure to fully charge the phone over night, and keep the brightness setting fairly low, except when necessary to crank it up such as when taking pictures while dealing with certain conditions such as bright sunlight.

A few days ago, I took the phone with me to test it out, and took some nice pictures of the neighborhood I live in and walk through with my dog most evenings and some afternoons.

Here is my dog, Tucker. He is a perpetually scruffy-looking Miniature Schnauzer.

Tucker Meninga

Today is Wednesday the 22nd of March. I went on the walk with Tucker this past Friday.

The neighborhood we live in has a very nice green area of various widths winding in between the houses for at least a block, and ending up at a park and school. It’s nice here in Boise. Here are the photos.

Tucker Meninga


Northwest Boise - Shenendoah West/Belmont Stakes neighborhood

Jullion Park, Boise

The pictures are not as clear as those I take with my Panasonic Lumix which I bought over 4 years ago, but the images still look nice. In the future, a lot of the photos I’ll be posting here will be taken with my phone.

I don’t know how to use Instagram yet, but I’ll figure that out soon and post photos there.

Thanks for coming along on the walk with me. And, if, like me, you don’t have much money, but still want an iPhone, the 5s  (the “s” is for “sensor” as far as I know.. there is a touch-sensor that reads your thumb print), is likely a good choice, as long as you don’t mind the small size. You can get one of these for as low as $100 if you are signing up with a carrier and find one on sale. Off plan, these, with 16GB, tend to go for around $200 new, $150 refurbished.  The second cheapest iPhone is one of the iPhone 6 models, and that one is selling for $399 off plan. Too much money for me to spend on a phone.

I really do hope I like the phone I bought. Since I’ve been a mac guy since 1995, I think I will.

Please stop by in the future for more photos. I won’t have nearly as much text on most of the upcoming posts.

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