second impressions

I was honestly not expecting to like the silicone case. It’s what was available for the low before I left on my trip: soft to the touch, sort of like how the back of the Moto X was supposed to be. The “midnight” color really is the most navy blue, and you can always see that edge of blue beneath the black. On that Southern sojourn, it was easy to toss it onto the charge mat of the rental car and top it up at any time, but more importantly, there was never a point on the trip where it dropped below 20% before bedtime. To be fair, it doesn’t get hit as hard when you’re out with your favorite family, but then, it does get hit pretty hard when you’re out with your least favorite family, so it’s a wash.

I don’t make the Moto X comparison lightly. That phone – the only Android phone I ever bought, the last American-assembled phone I ever bought – has for the last nine years been the touchstone for what I wanted most out of a mobile device. And to be honest, it’s not just me – when the founder of Pebble starts a website to agitate for a one-handed Android phone the equivalent of the 13 mini, what’s he’s arguing for is the original Moto X. Size, hand feel, battery life, bells and whistles – and sure enough, this black (sorry, midnight) iPhone 13 mini is as close as will ever be to my Moto X.

Including its eventual fate. Apple is apparently dumping the 5.4″ model in favor of four phones: a regular and a pro, in both 6.1″ and 6.7″ sizes. But on current form, I should be able to carry this iPhone 13 mini with updates through at least Christmas 2026, at which point who knows, maybe we’ll be down to watch and smart glasses. Or the pendulum will have swung and I’ll be back to one device the size of the old iPhone X doing for everything, reluctantly (I never carried the X abroad, as it happens, and for good reason).

It feels good. I expected that within a week I would be indifferent, having replaced one device with a nearly identical version. But I still feel like it’s a new and better phone. That’s not nothing. It genuinely feels like the end of the road: the last phone I’ll ever want, barring some actual game changing technology or the lack of updates becoming fatal. For now, though, it is my lightsaber, my sidearm, my sgian dubh if you will. And it is indispensable.

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