485: Tech Adventures: Joining The 1%

I have a phone, you have a phone, she’s got a phone, we’ve all got phones and they’re all Androids. Together, Apple and Google phones account for 99% of the smartphone market in the U.S.

I had a flip phone for several years. I loved it, and there’s certainly a part of me that wants to go back to those simpler times. But times do change. There are certain opportunities that you pass by if you don’t keep up with technology, and my job at the moment pretty much dictates that I have a smartphone.

The phone that I have is an Android. Android is run by Google. As discussed previously, Google’s business model is based on selling data which they collect from their users. Android phones are the perfect data collecting device, and they collect data on just about everything.

Apple is a little better on the data collection front, especially considering upcoming updates their operating system. However, Apple is not without its issue, like using slave labor and then lobbying congress to keep it legal.

Slightly problematic.

So if you don’t want Google tracking and selling your every move, and you don’t want to support slave labor by buying an iPhone, what are your options? What about that 1% of phones that don’t run on Android or iOS?

Hauwei phones run on their own operating system which shares its data with the Chinese Communist Party, so that’s one option. Or you can run Linux.

Sort of.

Linux phones have actually been around for quite a while, but they’ve never really taken off. Maybe that’s because a $32 million crowdfunding campaign back in 2013 failed to reach its goal, maybe it’s marketing, or maybe it’s because the apps kind of suck. There are some options for getting full App support on Linux, such as the somewhat experimental Anbox, but all of the research I have done indicates that it’s a struggle, and the finished product is far from perfect.

If you’re ok with the app issue, you can drop $2,000 on a Librem 5, a special edition of which is the only smartphone to be made in the United States. If that seems a little pricey, a more affordable linux phone from computer manufacturer Pine64 is reportedly dropping any day after a relatively successful test run.

If you’ve got computer hacking skills it’s also possible to load a Linux operating system onto your Android phone.

By all accounts, the most seamlessly functional alternative to Android is Android itself. The e/ foundation out of Germany has essentially taken the Android operating system, and removed all off the parts of it that report back to Google. You can buy a phone directly from them, or you can load the system onto your current phone. Once again, you will need some sweet computer hacking skills if you’re going to go that route.

If you want a smartphone that doesn’t run on iOS or Android you’re in for a bumpy ride. I haven’t pulled the trigger on any of these options yet, but I have been doing my research and I’m kind of excited to join the 1%.


Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Pexels.com

20 thoughts on “485: Tech Adventures: Joining The 1%

  1. I can understand why one needs a phone for some work. Other than that I can’t think of many reasons to have a phone. I had one for about ten years and when the phone company cut it off during a Covid lockdown because I hadn’t paid the $20 a year I did a Hillary and hit it with a hammer. I used it only the once in ten years and that was to play Candy Crush on while waiting to see the doctor. And, yes, I will admit to not having a great number of friends.

  2. Very cool! I laughed at Hauwei phones sharing data with Chinese communists. Look people, you’re going to be spied on and tracked anyway, so just cut out the middleman and hand it right over. Simplify your life! So, I actually made all my kids have burner phones, cheap androids with prepaid phone cards. It helps a little bit, as long as you chuck it out the window when the black helicopters start following you. They can track those things.

    I’m only partially joking. I’m a big fan of privacy and alternative tech.

  3. There are some settings in Android that limit them a little bit but you’re right. Windows did phones for a little while but I doubt that’s a whole lot better.

  4. Here is my boiler-plate disclaimer to all my Blogging Friends:
    I am in Texas.
    We have been snowed in.
    For a while…
    I have a slipped disk in my neck (not yet verified)
    But the pain is fukking me up.
    So, I have been remiss with my visits and comments to your posts.
    I will overcome all these ‘distractions’ and do better.
    Cheers,
    Lance

  5. I fought against getting a smartphone for a very long time. Ultimately, I think it was the navigation system combined with the ability to check bus times (because somehow no one things printed out schedules at stops would be a good idea) that pushed me over the edge. Plus, people would text me walls of texts and I would get them broken up into a million tiny messages. Or maybe that was just my provider… not sure. I use my phone for the basics and try to keep all the tracking to a minimum. But, I’m fully aware that even without that function on, info still is leaked out. I hate it that we’re pinned into a corner with no good choices. Keep us posted.

    • Goldie! Good to see you!

      Like you, I avoided the dumbphone trap for years, relying on a brick phone that did what it said on the tin (phone calls and text messages) — and it only cost me a fiver. My brother gave me his old dumbphone when he ‘upgraded’ his, and I’ve been using that for a year now. It’s kind of useful in some ways (like travel schedule information, as you point out), and it helps pass the time when waiting in queues.

      I am leery of this constant creepy tracking issue, though. We are indeed ‘backed into a corner’, when ‘the 99%’ adopt a sheep-like mentality and won’t rise up as one against the constant spying. (I find that especially ironic, given that ‘The American Dream’ promotes this vaunted thing called ‘individuality’).

      All I hear these days is, “It doesn’t bother me, I have nothing to hide.” Yeah… I think that will be the last free thought most (are allowed to) have as we are frogmarched into a totalitarian global corporate state….

      • Well, hello there!

        While I do use my phone to “pass the time” as you mention, I prefer taking a book with me or just observing my surroundings, depending on my mood and length of wait. I am absolutely annoyed at people being unable to spend 30 seconds without using their phone as they wait.

        Your final paragraph – wise words.

  6. Pingback: What price privacy? | Wibble

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