My old iPhone – keep or recycle?

Over the years we have accumulated several old iPhones and iPods in our household. Today I was collecting those to sell and recycle them at Gazelle, a great service I had once used in the past. One of the old iPhones is my trusted iPhone 3G which I brought with me on the Panamerican Peaks journey.

As I opened the tight protective plastic cover to clean the phone I noticed some dust falling out. It may have just been some dirt from Bolivia or elsewhere in South-America. All of a sudden I have decidedly mixed feelings about parting with this old phone. I think back to all the times I had been using it.

iPhone 3G that had accompanied me along the entire Panamerican Peaks journey

All the places this phone has seen. More than 20.000 km on the bike, a multiple of that distance by bus and airplane. All the mountains it has been on, all the places it has stayed overnight. To me, it has quite a unique and personal story to tell.

Hundreds of phone calls to friends and loved ones, although I had also often used the little Dell Netbook with built-in camera to Skype (iPhone 3G didn’t have a front-facing camera for FaceTime yet).

Thousands of times used the web browser and other apps to look up important information. One example where all of the iPhone capabilities came in particularly handy was after arriving in Santa Cruz, where I needed to find a hotel room and a bike store near to one another, call the bike store for office hours, and use the built-in GPS and map app to guide me there.

Hundreds of hours of listening to music while cycling. I even listened to the songs I had played most often on this device while writing my book to get myself in the same mood as when cycling across thousands of km of Pampa in Argentina.

Hundreds of daily notes typed sitting in my tent after long, eventful days. Most of the peaks and rides pages on this blog contain those daily notes more or less in their original form. And those notes have been invaluable while writing the book to reconstruct the sequence of events and remind me of specific details.

Hundreds of photos taken with it. Of course my main photo camera was the waterproof Olympus and later Panasonic Lumix. But it was good to have a backup or just take a quick fun shot and email it to friends without having to transfer it to the laptop first. I still remember taking photos from the summit of Mt. Logan, just in case I would somehow lose the photos of the other camera. My wife received so many emails with food photos that she could tell how under-nourished I was from the frequency of food photos. (Of course, when you’re always hungry then a full dinner plate becomes one of the highlights of your day.)

One other particularly memorable evening was in British Columbia where I stayed at a family’s home near MacKenzie Junction North of Prince George. As we were sitting outside their gas-station / convenience store in the evening, I showed off the iPhone to their three kids. They took turns listening to songs, taking pictures and playing games on the smartphone they had never touched before. Before I went to sleep that night I purchased a particular song I had in my head courtesy to the family’s WiFi connection. I fell asleep happy after hearing that newly bought song a few times.

So now I find myself thinking twice about whether to part with this device. On the one hand, all the songs, photos, notes, apps, etc. are saved and available on my newer iPhone 4 and elsewhere. But on the other hand, there is something nostalgic about this particular device which makes me wonder whether I should send it back to recycle for a few dollars.

What would you do? Do you have any gadget or item which is essentially useless but you can’t part with because of all the things it reminds you of?

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