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The Great iPhone Project…

So my son kindly gave me a brand-new iPhone for my birthday! Can you imagine!!??? <3

I never could learn how to operate the Android system. For the requisite cell phones we’re all pretty much required to drag around with us everywhere we go, I use a couple of cheapo flip phones powered by Tracfone minutes, one for the car and one to drop in a pocket when I walk the dog…if I remember. It’s been obvious for quite some time that I need to get a smartphone and learn to use it, but the truth is…I’m all learning-curved out.

True that: I just flat do not want to have to learn any new techno-tricks. But alas…I’m resigned.

That settled, this is really a cool little machine. It’s an iPhone SE, Apple’s attempt at making its phones more or less kinda affordable. And we’re told that the iPhone is a lot easier for the aging brain to grasp than are android devices.

We shall see. In the meantime… Apple does not provide a manual for its iPhone! I couldn’t even figure out how turn the damn thing on! My son demonstrated and…well…then what?

I have noooo idea.

So eventually it dawned on me that of course YouTube must have tutorials on how to work the thing, if I could figure out which video goes with this model. And yea verily: I found one that’s close enough. Thing is…well…it runs an hour and 46 minutes!

If these things are so damn complicated that it requires an hour and 46 minutes to explain how to operate one, why the HELL doesn’t Apple provide some instructions?

At any rate, yesterday I sat through about half of it. Pretty enlightening…at least I’ve got a fair idea of how to turn it on and what it’s supposed to do. Today I loafed, and lazily failed to glue myself to a computer. But did realize that probably Amazon sells manuals for the iPhone… and yea, again: there they are. Most of them self-published DIY affairs full of typos and bêtises, but at least they’re available. For…uh huh: 25 bucks!

So I ordered one from the “For Dummies” series, which usually are fairly clear and at least are edited by real editors.

These, I figure, will obviate my having to take endless notes on the YouTube guy’s video. I couldn’t write longhand fast enough to keep up with him and at the same time figure out what he was trying to say. Which tells you more about how long it’s been since I’ve written even a few words in longhand than about how fast he talks.

You can connect this phone to your wireless, which will provide enough functionality for me to try some of the tricks described in the video and the book. Once I’ve figured out how to turn it on and what to do with it, then I’ll buy it some minutes. There are several plans on various carriers, but I figure I might as well stay with Tracfone, since I have no complaints with them.

Tracfone has a one-year plan that provides 1500 minutes of yak-fest plus 1500 texts for $125, a far cry from Cox’s gouge for a VoIP “land line” (which it’s not, anymore). I doubt if I’m likely to spend 1500 minutes on the phone for the rest of my entire life! And since I’ve never texted anyone in my life nor do I feel any great need to, chances that I will indulge in 1500 of them are about nil. With this package, you also get “1.5 GB of Data at 4G LTE Speed,” whatever that means.

I like Tracfone because you’re not nailed into any kind of contract with them. You pay, and you’re done.

But not quite, exactly. These minutes they sell carry over. The little clamshell phones now have tens of thousands of minutes accumulated on them. If that occurs with the year-long plan, too, presumably over time I’ll have so much paid-for time I can gossip with everyone in the city.

Anyway, first things first. And the first thing is to connect it to the wireless (somehow…) and then figure out the basics of how to use it. THEN feed minutes into it.

18 thoughts on “The Great iPhone Project…”

  1. I’ve found the ‘Dummies’ books to be very helpful for apple devices – and if you go to and look for manuals, you should also be able to find one online for your particular model.

    The apple forums are useful if you have a specific question.

    Good luck & hope all goes well with the new phone!

    • I did go to Apple and could not find any manuals. Probably was looking in the wrong place.

      The devices do not even say, anywhere — on the box, in the box, or on the gadget — what model they are or what iOS they come with.

      Those online forums, where someone asks a question and every passer-by tries to provide some sort of answer, strike me as the blind leading the blind. Again I’m brought round to the question of “why can’t a big, sophisticated firm like Apple provide better customer service?”

      They do have excellent Apple Help over the phone, but to get it, you have to have the device’s serial number, and that also is not evident on the iPhone — I haven’t yet figured out how to find that!


    Should take you to an iphone user guide which may or may not answer all of your questions ; )

  3. Once you get educated about the phone, please tell us how, or if, you like it. I’ve got a TracFone clamshell, but have been thinking about getting some kind of smartphone. Thought I’d get an Android, but if you can’t master one, I’m pretty sure I can’t either! ;o)

    • Absolutely! I’m excited about learning it… After the Android experience, I developed a flinch reflex about these systems, so making myself get off my duff and address the challenge of learning the Apple device is…well…it’s a psychological barrier, I guess. Personally, I do not enjoy frustration, and so don’t look forward to taking on a task that I suspect will be laden with frustration.

  4. I also have a TracFone clamshell that I use for making calls and carry always for emergencies, but I do not receive calls on it. For my 85th birthday earlier this year, my children and grandchildren decreed that I MUST have a smart phone and they will happily pay for it. Since I feel about having to learn more technology somewhat as you do, I’m less than enthusiastic. However, the writing is on the wall. Like Catseye, I hope you will keep us posted as you learn.

    • Yup! In my dotage, I’ve reached the point where I feel like I’m on the downward leg of the learning curve. 😀 I don’t WANT to learn anything more, especially when it involves learning some whole new system that replaces something that WASN’T BROKE TO START WITH. Does this make me a cranky ole’ lady? Well…yeah, prob’ly so. But just you wait, brats! One of these days the same thought will occur to you, ya young whippersnappers….

      Seriously: they say the iPhone is the easiest phone for us Ole Buzzards to learn. This would be much facilitated if Apple were to include a brief set of instructions with each unit that it sells….but whatEVER. The Apple Store has canned lessons, but the gawdawful noise in those hard-edged places drowns out anything the instructor is trying to say. Also, I think that in some cities AARP has classes or lessons of some kind to help you learn the iPhone, and also some senior centers offer how-to classes on figuring out your smartphone. It would be worth checking around in your parts to see if you can find something like that. Getting the pups to teach us how to use this technology is always problematic. It’s sorta like asking them to teach us how to breathe….

  5. look to Mint Mobile, if you decide you need more minutes/texts/GB of data.

    I now pay $20/month for 12 months at one time, so around $250 each July with taxes for the year for unlimited talk and text and 8 GB of data each month (the data resets each month), which is more than you’d need.

    They sell a 3 gb plan (a month) with unlimited talk and text for around $190 with taxes (they do depend on what state you live in) for 12 months of service.

    for what you’re paying for TracPhone, that amount of text/calls/data would be good for a year and is probably a better deal for you. TracPhone is usually only a good plan for people who don’t use their phone at all.

    Keep in mind that your phone uses data for things like google maps, so it sucks to run out of data before you finished everything else on your plan. I used to be super cheap with my phone back when Virgin Mobile existed and I had the CHEAPEST prepaid plan and I ended up spending double because I had to upgrade my plan mid month after running out of talk/data. Better to under use data/talk time, than overspend and have to pay double!

    Also don’t be stingy with google maps!!! it is a lifesaver for me as it seems to be super accurate for recent traffic issues so it has saved me from sitting in unnecessary traffic on more than one occasion.

    • I’ll have to learn how to access that in Google Maps. One of the charms of Phoenix’s roads is that wherever you’re goin’, you can’t get there from here. Even though road maintenance within the city limits is very poor (when you get into the outlying suburbs, you find many fewer potholes and patches), it seems like every road in the Valley is dug up, no matter where you try to go. One time I ran into EIGHT roadblocks between north Phoenix and Scottsdale.

      Hmmmm…. When you go to Google Maps on an ordinary Apple, you see it’s saying traffic between of Thunderbird & Cactus on 35th Avenue is “Fast,” with only a couple of tiny red lines. I happen to know 35th is under construction all the way from Thunderbird to Cactus, although most of the way the blockage isn’t too bad. Last time I drove over to the credit union, the intersection of Dunlap and 43rd (fastest road to get north other than the freeway) was a war zone — I had to pull a Uie, backtrack to 35th, and make my way up to Thunderbird through the (much lighter) construction on that road. Google maps shows roadblocks at T’bird and 35th and in two places south of T’bird on 35th. In, fact construction stretches from just south of T’bird all the down to Cactus and below — though Google shows the traffic moving all right. Sort of…in the orange range. Last time I was over there, it was definitely red: stopped dead, long lines of cars.

      Trying to figure this out on a tiny screen while you’re behind the wheel of a moving vehicle would be difficult and dangerous. You’d be much safer to look it up on your desktop or laptop computer before getting into a car

      • lol, I don’t look at the map while driving. I listen to the turn by turn directions. but to each her own!

  6. Google Maps (and Apple Maps) give audible directions and if you make a wrong turn, they adjust and carry on. A couple of years ago I was visiting my son in NY and had to pick up the other son at LaGuardia and my daughter at JFK. If it wasn’t for Google Maps telling me where to go, I’d still be wandering around.

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