Oct 17th, 2012 publishUpdated   Feb 23rd, 2015, 12:56 pm

I think we’ve all been there at some point. A random stranger in dire straights asks to borrow your $700 smartphone to make a quick call. But really — what do you do? Is it polite to decline? More than often, you help out your fellow man and hope for the best. But what if… What if things turn sour, and that person supposedly looking for help turns out to be nothing more than a thief, taking off with your now unlocked smartphone, and all the vital contents held within?

Some brave dudes on YouTube set to find out exactly how people would react in just such a situation, filming their hijinks with hilarious results. You’ll notice in the video, most people attempted to act nonchalant, but you could see by the expression on their face — and the way they always kept one eye on the borrower — what was going on in the back of their head. Thankfully, this was filmed on the BYU campus because lord knows if this was filmed in my hood, things would have gotten messy.

Phandroid staffers and friends also weighed in on this question. Here’s what they had to say:


“I wouldn’t let someone use my phone unless it’s for an urgent emergency, but I’m not naturally cynical — let’s just say I’ve had a bad experience letting someone loan my phone in the past.”


“Though I may seem like a cold-hearted person, I never let any stranger borrow my phone. I have had bad experiences and my phone contains too much private information for me to risk it. I usually say I have no money on my ‘prepaid phone,’ or give them a bit of money for a payphone call if I feel like it is a real emergency. I once lent a random girl my smartphone and she just ended up arguing with her man saying things like, ‘Quit that sh*t, it is just a random guy’s phone! I don’t know him. I’ve never met him!'”


“There was a string of similar crimes happening at UB. Really, don’t be an idiot and hand your phone to a stranger on the streets of Baltimore.”

Joe (From WinSource)

“Whenever someone asks to use my phone for it’s ultimate purpose I usually am glad to help. I just open up the dialer for them and I don’t have to worry about them rifling through all my stuff.”


“If I thought the person looked like a reasonable/friendly person and they legitimately needed my phone? Sure. I’ve been in similar situations and people have helped me out. Pay it back, pay it forward, etc… If they steal my phone? Karma isn’t fun.”

My thoughts? I will ultimately lend it out although I always find it an extremely uncomfortable situation. It’s like someone asking to borrow your car… or woman. I just make sure that I do several leg stretches beforehand, mentioning that I was at the top of my league in long distance track racing. That, or I ask for their ID in exchange.

So I guess the next question I have for you, our readers, is — if/when asked, do you lend out your beloved Android smartphone to random strangers in order to make a quick call? If so, are their certain criteria that need to be met? Only in broad daylight? Only in a busy public area? Only when around friends who can quickly dial 911 in the event things go south? For those that have no problem declining someone’s request — how do you go about doing so in a polite manner?

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