November 21, 2013, 12:37 PM — Recent TV ads have depicted distracted smartphone users driving their cars into ditches or trees (or worse), and dropping their expensive new devices into the toilet.
Real-life smartphone mini-disasters are apparently widespread. They can also be maddening, and often amusing.
One fly fisherman found out that even waterproof phones and cases aren't absolute insurance. He related his story to ProtectCELL, a company that provides protection plans for tablets and cell phones, as part of its recent "Share Your Mobile Mishaps" campaign.
The fly fisherman, identified only as Ran, said that the floating, waterproof case for his new iPhone 5 wasn't enough when the phone fell into the ice cold current of the Yakima River in Washington state.
"It hit the current and was out of my sight within seconds," he said.
ProtectCELL offers protection plans for cell phones, their data and a user's mobile identity. A spokeswoman said all the stories of mobile mishaps it received were vetted, at least with a phone call to confirm the person's identity and story. The company has collected the full names of each person, but is only authorized to release each first name.
Loss of an iPhone to an icy river might not be as final as this loss to a lawn mower. "I like to listen to my iPhone while mowing the grass," said Steve. "I had to duck for a branch and when I did, my iPhone fell out of my pocket and landed right beside the deck. Before I could grab it, it got sucked up in the spinning blades and shredded into a million pieces. I'm glad it was the iPhone and not my hand."
Another outdoor smartphone misadventure was from Candi: "It was my first time deer hunting. I was sitting in my tree stand and I decided to scroll through my [phone] messages, and wouldn't you know, there stands my trophy buck. I jump up quickly to take a shot and ... my phone flew to the ground and scared my trophy buck away. I missed my buck and ended up with an iPhone shattered into pieces."
The buck didn't stop there, apparently. The iPhone did.
Among its top 10 list of mobile mishaps, ProtectCELL had several stories of dropped or missing phones, one involving a dog, another a septic tank and the third, a gravesite.
A dogwalker named Rebecca thought she had lost her phone while on a walk. When she went to the back yard to retrace her steps, she heard the "faint sound of a phone ringing ...When I saw the fresh pile of dirt, I knew my retriever had buried my phone instead of his bone."
Tanked out: "While having my septic tank pumped the other day, I asked the technician what was the weirdest thing he ever found in one of the tanks," said Nanci. "Just as I asked him, I heard a splash. He simply answered: "Your iPhone."
This one sounds like it was conjured up during Halloween: "My husband was at work digging graves when he realized his cell phone was missing," wrote Margie. "The next day while lowering a casket into a gravesite, a phone started ringing in the hole. He proceeded to do his job and later returned to find himself jumping into the hole to retrieve his phone. Full of dirt, but still working."
Finally, you've heard of butt-dialing, but what about butt-ringing? "My daughter put my cell phone in her diaper. I couldn't find it until her butt started ringing," said Kelly.
ProtectCELL has posted other mobile mishaps on its Facebook page.
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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