We All Hate the Internet, but Sometimes It Saves Our Skin

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Or: how 50 cents’ worth of Post-it notes, and a brief bout of  searching, saved me hundreds of dollars just now.

Glamor shot of the Nexus 5, red model

I am a fan of my Nexus 5 Android phone, made by LG and branded by Google. Its neon-orangey-red color makes it harder to lose than some dignified black phone. Also it conforms to my platform philosophy: Apple for laptop and tablet, Android for phone.

This Nexus 5 has always worked great, until yesterday when it just stopped working as a phone. If people called, I could hear them, but they couldn’t hear anything back from my end. Trying to use the voice-command function made it clear: the Nexus’s built-in microphone had completely conked out.

After 30 seconds of searching (in Evernote) to see how long ago I bought the phone, I find that it’s beyond its one-year warranty. In the next minute of searching online, I see that LG’s “repair” policy involves weeks of turnaround time and high enough costs that you might as well just get a new phone. Which in the world of unrepairable modern tech may of course be the intended point.

But then, thank you Internet! The next 60 seconds of searching, and less than five total minutes of work, allowed me to get the phone back to working order. The answer is all here:

Executive summary: you open the phone, you cram in a wad of little Post-it notes, then you close the phone back up. The pressure from the notes tightens up a connection that has come loose. The phone now has a small midriff bulge but works fine again.

Apparently this is a prevalent enough design/structural problem for the Nexus 5 that the this video is part of a large selection dealing with the loose-microphone-connector issue. But it’s the one I’m highlighting, because it required no tools, had total material costs of about 50 cents, and was so quick from start to end.

No larger point, beyond offering a small positive note about the often-maddening online world. Specific thanks to “JBug1979,” creator of this phone-saving YouTube video.