Do phones really need speakers?

Late October 2016, the charging port on my out of warranty ASUS Zenfone 2 crapped out.

Being the genius that I am, upon discovering my phone could not charge, I did not think to immediately shut it off to conserve power, or transfer all my files to my SD card and obtain the various codes needed for moving my whatsapp etc accounts, or write down any of the important notes and tasks I had in the todo app. To nobody’s surprise, in a few hours the phone could not be turned on, and I had lost access to important data.

Not really in the mood to try anything myself and destroy what was left of the phone, I decided to try a repair shop at a nearby mall. A week later, they had the part and I went over again. Being the genius that I am, I did not think to verify the condition of the phone with the repair shop before handing it over, nor did I think to test any function with the repair shop other than the charging port after the repair was done.

I’m not one to make allegations, but as you can probably tell from the title, when I finally got around to truly using my phone, I discovered it mysteriously had no speaker output.

For a brief period, I switched over to an unlocked AT&T Lumia 640 I had which I was using primarily for the excellent HERE Drive GPS navigation with toll avoidance, speed limit display and reliable offline performance (despite the removal of a previously available ability to store maps on the SD card limiting me to only ~6gb of internal storage of offline maps, the regressive beta cucks, microsoft are not known for being pro-consumer), and for a while it worked great. I loved the 5″ form factor which was more sleek and comfy than the 5.5″ of the zenfone, and Nokia/Microsoft really worked hard to make it elegant, even if the appspace was a bit spartan due to it being a windows phone. But then I cracked the screen two weeks later.

It wasn’t my fault – ever since the screen on my first android phone cracked from a drop, I’ve become a firm believer in the phone case, and I’ve formed a habit of buying one for every phone I’ve ever owned since. You expect a phone case to cushion a fall sufficiently and you laugh at the plebs who carry around beautiful, bare pieces with cracks on their windshield to the world for choosing aesthetics over safety, but then it happens to you anyway because some twat didn’t know how to build a proper phone case.

The biggest problem isn’t the web of unwanted lines criss-crossing the screen – I don’t play games or watch movies on phones anyway. The problem was that broken glass has edges and modern phones are designed for swiping and pinching, which stung my finger because I touch broken glass because I’m a genius. Out of a vain sense of hope, I picked up my zenfone and made a test call and to my surprise – sound came through. Yes, the phone had lost its main speaker but the earpiece still worked! And you know what else worked on this phone? The phone cover, which protected the phone from more drops than I care to count in the 1.5 years since I bought it. The Lumia 640 went back to satnav duty, the cracked screen making me feel like the commander of a battle-tested spaceship while cruising down the freeway at warp 10 (aka the speed limit).

Flash forward to now, late January 2017. Trump is president, and I bought a replacement speaker after seeing the replacement video on youtube and figuring this was easy enough I could probably do it without destroying my phone. The good news is I performed the replacement multiple times without damaging the phone. The bad news is that the replacement didn’t work, and now I have to return the speaker. Plans for a social media post about having nerd cred ruined.

But, I have been using this phone without a functioning speaker for 2 months now, and I honestly can say that it hasn’t affected me much. If anything, it has virtually eliminated the chance of an awkward notification, alarm or call during class, and I can still receive calls via vibrate and listen from the earpiece. I have an earphone in my pocket and bluetooth in my car, and I can count on one hand where I’ve felt that it would be nice to have a working speaker, and zero hands when I’ve absolutely needed the speaker.

It’s not perfect – I need a second device for alarms, and I might miss an important call every now and then, so yea phones really do need speakers, the end.

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