Just how much do I trust my phone?

Posted by on May 28, 2011 at 9:57 pm.

When my alarm went off Friday morning, I made the mistake of believing that my phone wouldn’t lie to me.

I turned the alarm off, scrolled through the emails on the different phone. (Yes, I have two phones, one Android Incredible and one BlackBerry. Guess which one is my work phone.) I rolled back over and tried to gather the energy to get up. When I rolled over and looked at my clock, I was a little confused. 9:10 a.m.? But my alarm went off at 9:15. I look back at my Android: 9:20. I look back at my clock, an Atomic clock, which supposedly is linked to some official clock, and am super confused how it managed to go 10 minutes slow, and wonder if it’s been like that for days or if this is a new development. I reset the clock to match my phone.

But then I go back to scroll through more work emails and I see it again: 9:12. But my alarm went off at 9:15, what’s going on? Still a little hazy from just waking up, I hear my roommate hauling her suitcases out the front door on her way to work. I leap (let’s use this word instead of stumble) down the stairs to catch her before she goes.

Me: “Hey, before you go, since you have the same phone as me, what time is it?”

Her: “9:25”

Me: “Except it’s not. Our phones are lying. It’s 9:15 now.”

Her: “Oh! That explains why everyone looked at me funny when I left the bike ride” (She does a group ride every morning to stay in shape for her weekly triathlons)

Her: “And I wondered who had changed the clock in my car to be right” (She always has her car clock set 10 minutes ahead so she’s less likely to be late to things)

Me: “Yeah, so it’s ten minutes earlier than your phone says.”

And then I roll back up the stairs and crawl back into bed.

The remarkable thing about this story isn’t that our phones were wrong. It’s not that Android/HTC/Verizon/whoever had some fuckup that resulted in the network-provided time being off by an obscure 10 minutes. It’s that we both believed everything else was wrong and our phones were right. It’s that things we’d had longer than our phones (a clock and car) were assumed guilty and our phones assumed innocent.

What makes us believe our phones are so infallible?

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