Without the big 5 tech titans. Utilizing FOSS software.

Andrew Guan on Unsplash

Here’s what’s different from your average expectation from a phone

It runs Android, but without pinging Google or the big 5. No ads, spyware, lag or battery draining apps.

No locked Google apps, none of the ad infested Facebook apps or random Chinese CM apps, Tencent, WeChat or TikTok. They are tuned to make you feel addicted and blind you into not even looking at any of the better alternatives. It’s called the Network Effect

I do not make normal calls

I am not a fan of giving my phone number for everything. Non encrypted old school calls that suck in voice quality and frequently get connected to a different person because of call connecting issues between ISPs. Calls are based on personal and traceable phone numbers and not cross device and bar your freedom from authoritative ISPs especially ISD calls. They cost so much when data charges are dirt cheap.

Solution?

I Make VOIP calls

For an in depth article I blogged on this click here

Never give your mobile number you could always give a landline or virtual number. I also hate when call logs and other meta data are sold without consent because call logs and their meta data is available to all the apps on your phone and if you used Signal or most Messengers — meta data stays in the app and not with the phone. Note : if you’d use Messengers like ones from Facebook, WhatsApp then you’re better off using normal calls because they sell your meta-data to bidding ad companies.

We are heading into a future of VOIP calls with the Facebook monopoly; WhatsApp calls, Discord, Skype, Google Duo, Signal and Telegram and Matrix. Plus you get group / Video Calls too.


Before you ask me what phone I have. Let me tell you that it’s different.

I have a vince 32/3 GB — Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 India. A mid range Xiaomi phone with a Snapdragon 625 it works for communication, entertainment, photography and utility.

I use FLOSS apps and strengthen my privacy online without much dependence on the big 5 tech titans. Here’s how I do it ~

  • First up unlock your boot loader, they make you wait 360 hours as a buffer period. (Xiaomi doesn’t want you to get rid of their MIUI)
  • Flash the latest Orange Fox recovery.
  • I switched my ROM or firmware from Xiaomi’s MIUI (Oreo) to CrDroid 6.12 based off LineageOS(Q) and flashed Magisk for root.
  • This MicroG installer for MicroG support which some apps need.
  • Reboot and setup your device.

Read this XDA thread for flashing ROMs if you don’t know the a b c of switching your OS.


Utilize apps without the 5 big tech giants

That means no Google, Facebook- WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger, (Skype) Microsoft, Apple (iMessage) and Amazon apps on my phone.

If you really really need them for example — Amazon to buy some exclusive goodie use their website on your laptop or your phone, compartmentalized. Follow this practice with Instagram, Facebook. Use apps from F-Droid.

List of Suggested Apps

  • Aurora Droid to get apps from F-Droid and various other repository
  • Telegram FOSS My go to messaging app
  • Signal ~ Another messaging app but heavily based on phone numbers like WhatsApp
  • AppManager
  • UntrackMe Lite To unshorten links and open them in invido.us and nitter.
  • Element a federated messaging app
  • NewPipe for YouTube and SoundCloud
  • Tusky for Mastodon/Pixelfed and the Fediverse
  • Nextcloud to sync my cloud files
  • DAVx to sync my cloud calendar and contacts
  • Lawnchair as my Launcher / Home screen
  • Magisk Manager to manage Magisk modules and SU access
  • Wikipedia for offline viewing and contributing to articles
  • Open Camera to take videos
  • VLC to play videos
  • Bitwarden as my password manager
  • Infinity for Reddit
  • MiXplorer as my File manager
  • F-Droid Fenix as my browser
  • OSMand+ to navigate and map new places
  • Aurora Store is an alternative to the Google Play store it fetches apps and installs them if you can not find the app as an apk or on F-Droid like proprietary apps.
  • ! mean proprietary apps

All these apps can be found by searching on F-Droid or https://polarhive.ml/r/

I hide/disable most apps on my home screen

So this means I keep the apps I use on a daily basis and disable or hide them from my home screen to prevent wasting time on my phone. I actively use Signal, Telegram, Camera, NewPipe, Brave and Tusky

Here is how that looks ->

my homescreen

The rest are used once a week or in 2 weeks I never keep stale apps enabled if I don’t use them.

I also encrypt my phone with a strong lock screen password with monthly house keeping cleaning unwanted apps. Backing up photos and updating apps from F-Droid. But Rooting is a security risk.