One of my trips to Montpellier was so that the Mercedes (and Smart) garage could replace my faulty boot hinges. It turned out to be a more momentous day than this.
The faulty boot has been a growing problem for months: the boot would suddenly pop open or I would not be able to lock the car because the computer said there was a door not properly shut. At last the garage had the spare parts (they had been stuck in the north of Germany) and the boot is now fully functional, thank goodness. I was impressed by the way the garage rang two days later to check that I was happy with the repair (done under guarantee, thankfully).
Then I went on to the Apple Centre, where I had an appointment to replace the battery in my ageing Apple iPhone 6 at a reduced cost – part of Apple’s effort to counter the bad publicity about slowing down old phones.
Two hours later a technician came out of the back offices to confess to me that in the process of removing the old battery my phone had been broken. They would, they said, offer me a free replacement – of the same generation.
I was first taken aback, then thought, no, I don’t want to continue with an old model if I could use this as a negotiating tool to cut the price of the latest model. I did this, with some success: I have got an iPhone X for less than it would have cost me if I had accepted the Orange offer two weeks ago.
It still cost me so much that I am totally embarassed and will not confess how much. And I have broken the pledge I made to my daughters two weeks ago that I would resist this temptation. But boy, is it a beauty.
For those who think a phone is just – well, a phone, this was a ridiculous, foolhardy act. But for those who love high performance computers (which is what, after all, smartphones are) and, above all, high quality cameras that fit in your pocket, this is more understandable.
The first two photos I took – of Poppy licking her lips after finding some juicy crumbs, and of the flowers on Margaret’s table – impressed me instantly the high quality of the lenses and the new ability to blur the background (something that until now one has needed a zoom or telephoto lens to do).
Navigating round the phone is much zippier than in previous models. But the feature I particularly like is face recognition. The phone is, as always, locked when inactive. But instead of having to punch in a code or try (often without success) to open the phone with one’s finger or thumb print, all I have to do is simply look at the phone and flick my finger up the screen. It can recognise my face – even at night!