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Gravity is all around, pulling us down. Without it we’d fly off the earth into space — cell reception isn’t very good in space. In the meantime, we’ve got to guard against gravity and the dramatic influence it can have over our smartphones. I felt that influence first-hand last night when I dropped my Nexus 4 onto the floor.

After getting home from work I parked in the garage. Loaded up my hands with all the papers and miscellanea from my day at the office, and tucked my smartphone under all of that. Bad idea.

Some papers slipped and my Nexus 4 flopped onto the hard cement, face first. I could have prevented that incident from happening, and I could have protected my phone better than I had.

An Ounce of Prevention

The Nexus 4 is a very slippery phone to begin with. To help combat against the slipperiness I purchased a Zagg screen protector to add a little “grip” to the back. Unfortunately I hadn’t installed it yet. If I had, I suspect I’d have had a better grip on the phone, perhaps saving it from the fall. Even if it had still dropped, the damage may have been reduced. Screen protectors also keep shattered glass together and can prevent severe cuts to fingers.

I’ve seen people who have dropped their phones and over-zealously picked them up, slicing a finger wide open in the process. Don’t let that be you! Remember that those screens are made of glass, and when broken that glass is very sharp! Your fingers don’t stand a chance against shards of Gorilla Glass.

Although they add bulk, phone cases also provide an additional shield against drops. In my case, my Nexus 4 Bumper was sitting on my desk in my home office. I’d taken it off earlier that day for a video. That extra little bit of protection probably wouldn’t have saved my phone in this instance, but it couldn’t have hurt.

Ultimately, I had my phone in my hand. I should have been in my shirt pocket or in some kind of holster. I got lazy.

A Pound of Cure

I’m probably very lucky in that I’ve never dropped and broken a phone before. With as many phones has I’ve had over the years, I’ll consider myself lucky. I’ve learned from my mistakes and will be more attentive next time.

Now, however, I find myself without a phone. Since I really like the Nexus 4, the first thing I did was head over to the Google Play Store and purchased a replacement. It cost me just shy of US$400 and will take 3-5 weeks to get here.

Next I had to deal with the issue of a device that contains all my personal information — that wouldn’t accept screen taps. I rebooted into recovery mode and used the option to “factory reset” and “wipe data” to clear off everything personal.

The last thing I had to do was figure out a replacement that I could use until my new Nexus 4 arrives. For that I popped out the SIM from my now very broken smartphone and set it aside, then went searching for a suitable temporary device. I decided to go “old school” and grabbed my T-Mobile G2 (HTC Vision). It takes a different sized SIM, but I had an adapter, otherwise I’d have had to arrange a SIM-swap with my local T-Mobile store. After I powered up the G2 I flashed the latest CyanogenMod build (7.2.0 for that device), and started setting everything up again.

My G2 isn’t as fast or as good looking as my Nexus 4, and the screen is much smaller. It makes and receives phone calls, lets me surf the web and play Ingress, and will get me by until  my new Nexus 4 arrives.

All told, I feel lucky that this is the first time I’ve destroyed one of my phones (and even luckier that I didn’t slice myself open in the process). I also have a new-found empathy for those of you who’ve dropped their phone and had to go through the inconvenience of downgrading while waiting on a replacement.

If you’ve never shattered the screen on your phone, hopefully you’ll be able to learn from my experience and keep your device safe from falls. If you have destroyed a phone in the past, I want to know about it! Share your horror stories of broken phones in the comments below!

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