The iPhone Graveyard

Ten years ago, I wrote a blog post called The Computer Graveyard in which I describe the phenomenon of getting a new computer but not being ready to get rid of the old one. So the old one sits on the floor until you get another new computer, and then the one you’ve been using goes on the floor next to the older one, and . . . well, you get the idea.

Now that smart phones have become so prevalent in our lives, I’ve discovered a new phenomenon: the iPhone graveyard. And I was shocked to discover it in my very own home.

I have a couple of drawers in my home office designated for small tech. One is for chargers (cables, plugs, power banks, etc.) and another one is for headphones. This kind of stuff comes into our homes relentlessly, so it’s handy to have a specific place for them. It keeps down the clutter and helps me find one when I need it.

I was cleaning these drawers out to get rid of anything too old or non-functional. That’s when I discovered my very own iPhone graveyard, which had accumulated in the headphones drawer. Apparently each member of my family got a new iPhone in the last few years, and I stashed the old ones in that drawer. I had a few other items to take to electronic recycling, so I decided it was time for these old iPhones to go. I wanted to clear all of the data off of them first, but I encountered three hurdles.

Hurdle No. 1: they had all lost their charge and I couldn’t even turn them on. Luckily, I had already cleaned out the chargers drawer, so I was able to pull out three functional iPhone charger cables and USB plugs and get these phones plugged into various electrical outlets in my apartment.

Once the phones were charged enough to be able to turn them on, I encountered Hurdle No. 2: I needed to enter the passcode for each phone. I knew mine and my husband’s, but not my daughter’s. I texted her, and luckily she remembered the passcode for that old phone, which was two phones ago.

I went into Settings and found the option “Erase All Content and Settings”. That’s when I encountered Hurdle No. 3: I couldn’t erase all content and settings without providing the Apple ID and password on each phone. Again, I knew mine and could look up my husband’s, but I had to reach out to my daughter to find out hers. Now I was ready to reset all three phones and take them to Best Buy for recycling.

In the rush of our daily lives, it’s easier to just stick an old phone in a drawer when we get a new one. But the amount of trouble I went through to get these items ready for recycling reminded me that everything is easier if you do it when it’s current, rather than putting it off.

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