Gizmodo reader Ryan Davis made a mindless mistake we could all make: he left his iPhone 4 on the roof of his car, and drove off. This is his story of how a normal day turned into, well, panic.
My story begins one Tuesday morning (June 29th 2010 - exactly 4 days after I had received my brand new iPhone 4 from my local THE SHACK) I woke up around the usual time to start my usual morning routine before I make my usual morning journey to work but, this morning was different.
I finished my morning routine, which I'll spare you the details of, kissed my favorite person (lets call her Julie) goodbye and with both hands tied, began walking out the door. Today was in fact different because today was garbage today. Luckily Julie had already put the garbage bin outside near the street, unluckily for me after feeding the dogs their last remaining bit of food, I had an XL empty bag of dog-food to toss into the garbage bin.
As I began to venture outside to my car I felt like a juggler with laptop bag and the day's lunch in one hand, and wallet, personal iPhone, work Blackberry and one XL empty dog-food bag in the other; I managed to successfully wrangle my keys out of my pocket to lock the front door behind me. I then proceeded to unlock my car. It is at this point where my routine was altered and possibly where this whole story could have been avoided - I opened my car door, dropped my laptop bag/day's lunch in the drivers seat, set iPhone 4 (screen up), wallet, and blackberry in that order on top of one another ON THE ROOF directly above the drivers seat.
It is important to note at this point that on the previous Saturday I purchased the BELKIN Clear Grip Vue case for my iPhone from my local Best Buy, not because I wanted to but because it was the only case left! I decided to make the purchase of the case, not because of Apple's flawed design, but because I spent TWO HUNDERED DOLLARS on this device and I want a little extra piece of mind in the event it does get dropped. The case is a modest one; very simple, covers the back (and sides) sufficiently enough without being too tacky or gaudy; It even slips into my pocket wonderfully unlike other rubberized or silicone based cases!
OK, back to the story. After stacking my 3 pocket-dwelling devices atop my car, I moved along my altered morning routine to toss the XL empty dog-food bag in the garbage can and made my way back to my car.
I'm willing to bet you can guess what happens next.
Yes, you guessed right, I hopped in the car and drove off.
I reached the second traffic light along my route before I realized what I had done. The distance at this point from my house is 1.5 miles. I immediately panicked, pulled into the turning lane, rolled down my window, stuck out my hand to feel the roof, nothing.
My heart sank.
I opened the sun roof and popped my head out thinking I just didn't feel any of the pocket-devices on my roof with my hand. My fears were confirmed.
I made a fast as possible U-turn at that light and drove back to my house where I was greeted by my neighbor who had my blackberry in hand. (Thank you work for the corporate privacy disclaimer-overlay with my name on it!) He informed me he found it at the second stop-sign which exits our neighborhood. I frantically ran inside to inform Julie what I'd done. She quickly put on some shoes and we drove off to the second stop sign to look for my other pocket-devices. Nothing.
"It must have slipped off the roof at the first light onto the highway" I said.
"Lets go look!" she says.
Appropriately she was wearing a road-worker like bright-yellow polo shirt. UN-appropriately I was wearing dress-shoes, slacks, polo shirt, and work badge. We proceeded to run up and down the route between the first light any my house looking for any hint of a smashed iphone or cards from my wallet, nothing. We drove the rest of the 1.5 mile route about 3 mph with our flashers on, heads poking out the windows looking for clues. Nothing. I can only imagine what the hundreds of people driving by were thinking.
Already 2 hours late for work, I decided to call it quits.
On my way, I canceled my credit cards, and began the wonderful conversation with AT&T to see what I could do about my iPhone. The results in a word? useless. The AT&T rep had no idea what I was trying to accomplish and at one point began to tell me to "Tap settings, general, reset...." UM, you realize I LOST my phone right? Anyway, the rep then just killed the SIM card so no one could make calls in the event it was found.
I then called Apple, who informed me that there is nothing I can do unless I had PREVIOUSLY setup MobileMe to geo-locate my iPhone.
"So, you're telling me that I have to pay ONE HUNDRED dollars for a service that allows me to find my phone IF it were to become lost while simultaneously bundling that feature with other services that I already get for free?"
(that is unless you somehow manage to lose your phone within the 30-day MobileMe trial period and had also managed to set it up on your iphone beforehand)
"Yes sir, thats correct. To get a new phone, you'll have to pay 199." Okay, so 199 for a replacement phone; contract price, not too bad but still out of the realm of "no big deal." I wasn't satisfied. It was then that a co-worker suggested AT&Ts family locate feature. This GLORIOUS little feature works with practically any phone, including the iPhone, lets you use it for free for the first 30 days and is 9.99 every month after that! That is if you havent deactivated your SIM... DOH! If only the ATT rep had told me that nifty little bit of info...So for you MobileMe users out there who shell out 100 bucks every year only to use it for insurance purposes, look out, there's a new sheriff in town!
While the FamilyMap feature does work eventually, it seems that it only works upon reboot of the device, or when the device moves (after a deactivation and a re-activation)
When I got home from work, Julie and I went for a really slow bike ride down the median of the highway portion of the 1.5 mile "fallout". We were determined to find something, even if it were pieces of the phone I might be able to convince Sqaure Trade (which I had purchased only 2 days prior!!) to repair my new iPhone. After about half an hour, I see Julie raise her hand like a runner crossing a finish line,
"YOUR WALLET" she proclaimed, trying to yell over all the traffic staring at us as they passed by.
There it was lying just on the part where grass turns to asphalt, my smiling face staring up at me... I felt overwhelmingly happy, but not satisfied. After all, everything in my wallet I can replace, but the iPhone was only 4 days old and it might be another MONTH or so before the next lot comes off the production line to get a new one!! We continued onward. It only made sense that the iPhone would be next because that's what was stacked first on the roof of my car.
About half a mile down from my wallet, I'd say 1.4 miles into the "fallout route" Julie came across my iPhone, screen-down. I love her. Right there on the asphault inches into the shoulder...THE SHOULDER...the part where people texting or looking for something in their car gradually and carelessly drive into before jerking the car back into the lane.
After a thorough inspection we discovered the case itself and the plastic rim around the screen had some minor blemishes and it was pretty dusty. Now for the part you've all been waiting for. Drum roll please,
Yes, it turned on.
NO, the Helicopter Windshield glass DID NOT CRACK. I repeat, DID NOT CRACK. The backside was completely unscathed and the front? ONE tiny scratch towards the bottom left portion of the screen - barely visible when the screen is on.
We were shocked. The iPhone 4 survived a (5FT?) fall from the top of a car moving 60+ mph to an asphault highway wearing the BELKIN Clear Grip Vue case.
(iPhone 4 + Case) +1
(Road + Car) 0
We then proceeded on an unknown route into the sunset (back home) on our bikes using the iPhone 4's GPS! (stopping to check directions of course!)
So there you have it, a usual morning with a usual routine turned out to have a HIGHLY unusual beginning with a very usual happy ending!