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Considering my options after a stolen device

dreas
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Hi my S21 Ultra was stolen and not insured for loss/theft.

I'm currently using my slightly damaged S9 which is fine except for photography. Using my older S9 is not ideal because I upgraded so I can use multiple lenses/cameras for photography and videography.

 

I initially reported my phone stolen with O2 and the police, but then asked O2 to unblock the device so I could track it's location. Using offline tracking provided by Samsung the phone appeared in Romania shortly after it was stolen.

 

My options now with the existing refresh contract seem to be:

 

- Upgrade and pay the remainder of the contract for the device which is over £700 in order to buy a new device from O2 with a single line.

 

- Take up a second line with O2 and pay off both the stolen and new devices and contracts simultaneously

 

- Take up a contract for a new device with a different provider, request a PAC code and disconnect my o2 account leaving me with a debt of over £700 and then see if the payment management team will set up a payment plan for that debt.

 

- Keep using my S9 and not be able to enjoy my passion of mobile photography and videography as much due to the single camera not performing very well when a telephoto lens is more suited (as digital zoom is not really the way I want to go with my photography)

 

- Buy a replacement device outright (or on finance) that has adequate photography and video capabilities and use my existing O2 contract and SIM with a new device.

 

All of these options are somewhat disheartening as I'm trying to reduce my spending, but still enjoy the features that newer phones bring.

I will make sure I'm insured against theft in future that's for sure!

 

I don't necessarily need to do photography and video and the damage to the S9 is workable (I just can't use the volume buttons as they are damaged) but I'd have to wait a long time (until Dec 2024) for my current contract (device plan) to be fully paid off.

 

I've spoken to customer services, sales and payment management now for many hours to see if there's anything they can do to soften the blow, and the answer was no, hence the current options available to me.

 

I'm more than happy to consider a more affordable handset such as a Google Pixel, Xiaomi Redmi Note, OnePlus Nord, Realme, and other Samsung Galaxy models. Basically anything with good rear cameras that isn't made by Apple and isn't a knock-off product (ie. it's from a reputable manufacturer).

 


Is there anything I've missed, or perhaps any suggestions that you can bring? What would you do in this situation or what have others done when in the same boat as me? Thank you!

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Enlli
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Daughter has a Pixel 6 Pro. Have to say I'm impressed by the photos 

This is not O2 and we are all customers here similar to yourself and cannot answer account type queries.
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MI5
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@dreas 

Have you checked your house contents insurance to see if you're covered?

I have no affiliation whatsoever with O2 or any subsidiary companies. Comments posted are entirely of my own opinion. This is not Customer Service so we are unable to help with account specific issues.
Please select the post that helped you best and mark as the solution. This helps other members in resolving their issues faster. Thank you.
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dreas
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Hey Enlli, yes the Pixel 6 Pro looks excellent for photography and has that all important telephoto lens, or third eye you could say - as it has three lenses unlike the Pixel 6 or Pixel 6a. I'm just not sure I'll be able to save those pennies if I buy it outright or get another contract which is why I'm potentially thinking about the Redmi Note which has ridiculous camera functionality for considerably less cost.

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dreas
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Hey MI5,

 

That is a steller suggestion, however my home insurance is not for contents (there wasn't much to insure at home which isn't covered by my specialist equipment insurance, and that insurance excludes mobiles so I had just about everything covered except for mobile phone theft, sod's law eh? A lesson learnt. Now to figure out what to do, but there is no major rush so I'll reflect and ponder and see what suggestions I can crowdsource to inspire me to make some wise next steps slight_smile

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dreas
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I thought it was time to update this thread, especially now it's been kindly moved over into the 'discussions & feedback' section of the community.

I think my absolute no1. choice for phone replace is looking like it will be the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro. It's an absolute steal, has considerable advantages over the Redmi Note 11 Pro (the latest model).

I'm currently looking at used handsets as I'm counting the pennies and I've models in new or good condition for £170 or £180 (delivered) which I believe include warranty. I'd be looking at around double or more of the cost to be able to get a camera system that performs anywhere near as well, although the proof is in the pudding. To help me get back on track there are 0% interest finance options available using Klarna (which I've not used before) which is looking good to me as I can spread the payment over 3 months.

I have kept the tracking of my stolen phone possible by means of leaving it unblocked on the basis that the data is secured (encrypted) and the phone is locked.

My next steps might be to look into some queries:
- Is it possible for someone handling my stolen handset to use it in any way shape or form?

- Is my encrypted data safe?

- For any data which isn't encrypted or is able to be gathered (ie. on the home screen) what are the security considerations for how that data may be used?

- If there is a way for others to use the phone (ie. factory reset) should I ask the Romanian authorities if it is possible to notify me if the IMEI linked to the physical hardware (the phone) is ever used to make calls/texts? This alert is in place only in the UK at the moment, and via a global IMEI tracking service/website. Individual countries and authorities will have more scope for tracking IMEI's than 3rd party services as they are able to utilise the live data from major networks as opposed to relying on historic databases. The last known location of my phone was in a specific part of a town/city in Romania so I could make some guesses as to where it may have gone from there or how it may have been used (or left in a pile somewhere if deemed unusable due to the protections I had set up).

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dreas
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Update: It's now possible to buy the Redmi Note 10 Pro brand new in box for £155 (delivered, UK) which sounds like a better deal than a used model for £170 to me!

The Redmi Note 12 is expected for release on 14th Sept (in 4 days time) but I don't think it will immediately bring the price of the Note 10 Pro down much as it is already so cheap.

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Bambino
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@dreas I'm not quite sure why you still think you need to keep tracking your stolen phone? You're not going to get it back, and you're leaving the possibility of any personal data you had on the phone open to being compromised. Nothing is 100% secure, so why leave the chance of anyone getting access to the phone? You really should block the phone completely, make it unusable to whoever has it now and move on.

I DO NOT WORK FOR O2



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jonsie
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dreas
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You and @jonsie make a very good point, the chances of getting it back are slim.

I think the chances of being able to remotely wipe the data are also slim though, and that may have been the case since the phone was stolen and immediately turned off. I couldn't say which is more likely to happen, but I think that if there is a 2% chance of getting the phone back, then there is probably less than 1% chance of being able to remotely wipe the data at this (or any) stage, maybe even 0.01%.

 

If I had wiped the data immediately after loss, I would never have known it was stolen (it could have been dropped and found) and I wouldn't have received the notification of it's location through offline tracking. I don't think remotely wiping the data would have worked as the phone was only ever tracked through offline tracking once, and the way that offline tracking works is that another Samsung device has detected my phone through a wireless or other network. I'm not sure that the connection from another Samsung device detecting my phone would have been able to be used to send the command back to the phone to wipe it.

From Samsung: "After using the Factory Data Reset option you will no longer be able to use the Find My Mobile service."

 

The chances of someone being able to access my encrypted data are also slim, and they are so slim that I think it's considerably more likely that they would find a way to wipe the data as opposed to decrypting it.

Whilst nothing is 100% secure, if we were to assume the encryption methods are 99.99% secure then that would certainly be secure enough for my peace of mind in this instance.

 

As reusing the device requires a considerable amount of work, and as it was stolen along with a large volume of other phones and taken 1000 miles away, my best guess is that it's been discarded and the phones without high levels of encryption used first.

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