Out of nowhere, earlier in the week, my Note 4’s camera went on the fritz. Basically, holding the camera reasonably steady, photos started looking like this:


And videos like this:

It was doing this across different camera apps (“A Better Camera” is a good app, if you’re curious), suggesting that it wasn’t a minor software glitch.

Now, there are some features on my smartphone I can do without. For at least a little while. The camera, at this time in my life, is not one of them. The ability to take pictures in a matter of seconds is very important when you’re the father to a two-and-a-half year old girl who happens to be the cutest and most amazing in the universe.

So I found myself wishing that if some core functionality had to go, why couldn’t it just be the ability to make and receive calls?! That I could do without for a while as I try to figure out what the problem is. But camera? I might as well switch to the S5 I use as a backup. That would also allow me to do a factory reset of the Note 4. Which I did, and the problem persisted.

The Quality Assurance dude in me appreciated that the error was so reproducible. Reliable errors are the best errors. But what to do? This was evidently a hardware problem.

My childhood best friend words at Problem Resolution at Verizon, my provider. So I asked him what to do and he recommended I call Verizon. Which I did. And let me tell you a thing or two about their customer service…

It was friendly, sometimes exceedingly so. The woman acted like a dead phone was the Worst Thing In The Universe, even though I was pretty nonchalant about it by the time I called them. This is what I keep the S5 around for.
It was helpful. While we were waiting, she took the opportunity to look over my account. I feared having to fend off some upselling, but she actually tried to downsell me, informing me that we are on a much higher plan than we need to be. I appreciated it, but our use is erratic and I never want to be in the situation of scrambling to upgrade again, even if it costs a bit extra per month. I like not having to worry about it, but it was great that she asked me about it while we were killing time.
It was helpful. I had a problem, with a minimum of fuss and didyatrys. I was kicked up once, but it was pretty quickly established that they would have to send out a new phone.

This could all go to pot if – after I send them my present phone – they say something like “the warranty isn’t valid because you damaged the phone” (I didn’t). It’s also, by a stroke of luck (and Verizon’s stiff measures) not rooted, which kept the warranty valid through no choice of my own.

So the phone is going to be arriving this weekend. I want to be excited about it, because I always love getting new stuff, but this is going to be the exact same phone I currently have (albeit with a working camera).

In the meantime, I am reminded why I upgraded from the S5. If you’d have told me five years ago that I would be upgrading from a phone with a 5″ screen because the screen was too small, I’d have thought you were crazy. I can’t wait to know what kind of phone I will have five years from now. (Though, alas, it probably will not have a removable battery. Sigh.)

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