I got my first real cell phone in March of 2003, at age 22. It was a silvery-gray clamshell, with a monochrome LCD screen that glowed a futuristic lime green in the dark. It had a tiny antenna that had to be raised manually, and a beeping ringtone.
And I loved that thing. I loved being able to place or answer calls anywhere. I loved snapping it smartly into its plastic holster, which I wore constantly on my belt. I loved how taking a phone call felt like flipping open a “Star Trek” communicator.
Eventually, years of wear and technological creep took their toll. The thing wore out and was replaced with a flashier clamshell model. Color LCD screen. Fancier ringtones. A camera, which eventually took the very first pictures of my infant sons.
But by then, my cell phone was just a phone. I never learned to love it.
I got my first smartphone in April of 2010: A first-generation Motorola Droid that I chose specifically for its slide-out keyboard.
I used it to discover podcasts; I used it to show videos to my kids; I used it for e-mail and Twitter; I used it as a flashlight and a compass and a level. I used it to document family vacations and preschool graduations and grappling matches. I used it to find a restaurant in the middle of Chinatown in Washington, D.C. I especially loved using it in the car, sliding it snugly into its dashboard mount so it could give me directions and pipe my playlists directly into the stereo.
It, too, has fallen — victim to years of wear and accumulated application sludge in its flash memory. Its corners are battered from too many encounters with pavement. It limps to play songs or show a map or even send a text message; it groans and protests whenever I merely try to turn it on. I’ve long since given up on trying to update any apps on its ancient operating system.
The final blow came when its power button was damaged a few weeks back, leaving it permanently depressed. It was time.
But I’m not sure I’ll ever love it the way I loved my first.