So I broke my phone…

It’s maybe been a long time coming, but I broke my phone for the first time last week. At first, when I picked it up and saw the shattered glass I was pretty disappointed, but it wasn’t until I saw that I had also broken the digitiser that I was really upset. I had only minutes before turned off the data to save battery, and lowered the brightness right down. I thought to myself, with a combination of my Pebble smartwatch and DeskSMS on my laptop I should be able to use my phone for most things. I quickly got to work on trying to enable data again…

Having just recently flashed my phone at my parents over the Christmas break it was the first time that I had plugged it in to my own laptop. A recent change to ADB in Android 4.2 requires all users to first accept a request for any new PC to be able to ADB into the phone. That was my first problem. I can’t touch the screen to accept the permission. Not to worry I though, I can get into recovery mode since the volume and power buttons still work. I quickly found myself in Clockwork Mod Recovery 6.0.4.3 and with ADB active, I checked for a list of devices. And then, I realised that the ADB drivers for my Nexus 4 don’t work on Windows 8.1, so I had to disable driver signature verification (if you do have to do this, remember to turn them back on!), and then finally got the drivers to install, only to see that CWM requires ADB authorisation as well. *sigh* It was quickly looking like my phone didn’t want it’s data turned back on, or that I’d be looking to get myself a powered USB OTG cable to use a mouse to turn on data… Those are not the easiest to find in London (which I was surprised about) and a 1-2 week wait on eBay was looking likely. A helpful person on the XDA forums suggested I gave Team Win Recovery Project recovery a go and see if I can get ADB working with that. So back to fastboot and I flashed TWRP and success, I have an ADB shell into my phone. Time to start playing… Always make a Nandroid backup before you do anything on your phone! Back to fastboot and I reflashed CWM, made a nandroid backup and flashed TWRP back on to it. The first thing I did with my new shell was to pull my backup from the SD card which on a Nexus 4 is at /data/media/0/.

I quickly found out where the CyanogenMod settings database is, and proceeded to change the db file that had my mobile data set to ‘off’, and turned that back on. With my data active again I pushed the DB file via adb back to my phone and rebooted. Success, I had data again.

It looked like it was going to cost ~£150 to get the screen replaced, or about £90 for me to buy the part myself and attempt to do it at home. Neither of those seemed like attractive options, so I thought, with a combination of DeskSMS and my Pebble smart watch I wanted to see how long I could go without actually needing a touch screen (or any screen)! The vast majority of my phone use is text messaging, Google Hangouts and news reading. Between my Surface, Pebble and DeskSMS I surely wouldn’t even need a phone…

This was going to be a bit of an experiment, so I let my frequently contacted people know that I probably wouldn’t be able to speak on the phone (although I can call people from DeskSMS, I just can’t answer phone calls). For the most part, it was entirely possible to live without being able to ‘use’ my phone. My Pebble let me know who emailed me, who’s calling me (so I can call back later), who’s texting me. My Calender appointments. Having it on my wrist was great. It at least made it possible for me to see what was happening, even if I couldn’t reply until I could get to my laptop. I’ve said before how much I liked DeskSMS, and once again it proved to be a really great service. With so many mobile services now available through a browser (and vice versa), going 4 weeks without a useable phone didn’t prove to be too much of an issue. By the end of it though, I caved and bought a Nexus 5 (although, slightly regretting not getting the Moto X).

I was really happy to see that with the support of other services, that while the phone was central, having a broken one didn’t have to result in my being contactless for a month!

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