I can often get a bit single minded about things. I can see it happening when I get an idea in my head and I start to go in on myself to follow the thought through. Recently it has been the idea of switching to more open source platforms and software. I recently got a hold of actual hardware to run Linux on which had been something I had wanted to do for a long time.
On the subject of phones, I traditionally never wanted a smart phone. One of my favourite phones I have ever owned was the Nokia 5140 on the basis that I could do what I wanted with it and it wouldn’t break. When the iPhone came along I was using a Blackberry Pearl. It was smart enough that you could check your email if you really wanted to but mostly the hardware keyboard meant that it was most pleasant to type on than the software keyboards we use today.
A bit of history
I succumbed to my first iPhone when I got married. My wife was using a phone she called “Bepe” which was a flip phone she had due to losing the newer one she got on contract. Really basic. I am not even sure it had a camera. We were getting married and I wanted us to be able to take photos and share them more easily. The iPhone 4 was cheap and readily available. I had this idea that because there were so many of them it would be cheap and easy to repair which would make them last longer.
These phones got slower and slower until we upgraded to the iPhone 5c when our first children were born. Again I wanted to be able to take and share photos of our new children more easily.
But I have not been happy with my phone since the Blackberry Pearl. A big part of me wishes that I never got into the smart phone game or if I did it was for fun instead of a lack of choice.
What about Android ?
I have never considered Android to be a viable option for several reasons (not necessarily good reasons).
- We have always used Apple as a family, I didn’t know anything else
- It didn’t seem as nice to look at. Widgets? nope.
- I do not want any Google.
Over the years I have been able to explore outside of Apple and have really enjoyed that experience. The look of Android is subjective and flexible. You don’t have to have the widgets and looks are not everything. Android Pie is actually a nice operating system to look at. Google is the trickiest of the lot.
A Googleless Android ?
The question I asked one day was, is it possible to have Android without Google? The answer I have come to terms with is, not really. Not really, but it might be enough where it counts. I found out that Android is built on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) which you can download and use. Google are the biggest contributor to this project but it is still Open Source. Not using Google is a hard task so I needed to make some rules. I am trying to not use Google in general but I draw the line when the project is free and open source. So Gmail is a no go. Google Analytics, nope. The Go programming language, fine. In theory AOSP should be OK as long as Google Service are not involved.
Enter LineageOs which describes itself as “A free and open-source operating system for various devices, based on the Android mobile platform”. This seems OK right? The most important aspect of using this custom ROM is that there is no Google search bar on the home screen.
What sort of phone ?
This was possibly the most tedious and boring experience. Picking a phone. The choice is limited with Lineage and I had made it even more so with a few extra rules. First I don’t want a massive phone. Five inches is big as far as I am concerned. Most phones in Android land seem to be 5.5 inches. Guh. The second was that I was hoping to get a decent amount of support for it. So ideally the phone would be eligible for the 16.0 version of Lineage. These two rules left me with a very short list. We had phones like the BQ Aquaris, a Motorola phone I can’t remember the model of and the Samsung Galaxy S5. I went for the Samsung because there was not much of a second hand market for the others. I bought one on eBay for £75 plus a new battery and some extra storage. Around £90 in the end, which I was happy about.
Job done right?
Well spoiler alert, the phone was working fine to start with and has recently been conking out. Everything works except the screen doesn’t come on. I have narrowed it down to happen only when the sim card is installed. I took it to the shop and they seem to think it is software. All I have managed to try so far is to installed a more recent nightly, but after using it for a week without the sim in it, and then plugging in the sim, it dies again.
If I am honest, at first I was a little upset that I spent this money on a phone which is now not very useful. But as time has gone on I have got over it. It turns out I like my iPhone 5c more than I thought. It gets two days battery, can run open source software to a point and is the sort of phone I can forget about and pretend I have no phone.
I would still like to write up my thoughts on Lineage 16.0 on the Samsung as I learnt a lot from using Android full time for a short while. Right now I am glad not to be over analysing battery consumption and OS configuration. It is a shame that leaving Apple completely and going Open Source has hit a bump but the journey has been a valuable one all things considered.