Without the big 5 tech titans. Utilizing FOSS/Libre 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 carrier based phone calls

I don’t like giving my phone number for everything. Non encrypted old school calls suck in voice quality and is pointless when you have internet 24/7. Calls are based on personal and traceable phone numbers and not cross device and bar your freedom from authoritative carriers - especially ISD calls. They cost so much when data charges are dirt cheap. There’s also cell triangulation, regular surveillence in popular public places and is not convenient.

I Make VOIP calls

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 tracked on the other person’s phone and sold without your consent. Call logs and their meta data is available to all the apps on your phone (on Android and iOS) whereas if you used Signal — meta data stays in the app and is not logged on the phone. Note: if you’d use Messengers like ones from Facebook, WhatsApp then you’re better off using normal calls because it’s a non-free network and encourages peers to install proprietary apps.

We are heading into a future of VOIP calls with the Facebook monopoly; WhatsApp calls, Discord, Skype, Google Duo, Signal and Telegram and Matrix. For an in depth article click here

What’s your hardware anyways?

I use a 2018 “vince” 32/3 GB — Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Indian varient. A mid range Xiaomi phone running on a Snapdragon 625, pretty good for regular communication, entertainment & photography at the time I bought it.

> The first step is to degoogle your phone

  • Unlock your boot loader, they make you wait 360 hours (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 6.16 based off Lineage OS(Q) and flashed Magisk for root.
  • Reboot and setup your device.
  • Install F-Droid and some Magisk modules.

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

  • F-Droid to get apps
  • Element : a federated Matrix client
  • Telegram FOSS
  • AppManager
  • UntrackMe Lite
  • NewPipe
  • Tusky
  • Open Camera
  • VLC
  • Bitwarden
  • Infinity for Reddit
  • MiXplorer
  • Bromite

All these apps can be found by searching on F-Droid.

Here is what my homescreen looks like ->

my homescreen

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.

UPDATE: I’ve cut using my phone too! read more: https://polarhive.ml/blog/phones-make-me-counter-productive