Without the big 5 tech titans. Utilizing FOSS/Libre software
Here’s what’s different from your average expectation from a phone
It runs Android, without pinging Google or other such servers without me telling to do so. No ads, spyware, lag or battery draining apps. No Google apps, none of the infested Facebook apps, Tencent, WeChat, TikTok whatever that mistreats me, the user. There are better alternatives to WhatsApp for example. You probably haven’t tried it because you’d have to migrate your entire social graph there - it’s called the Network Effect. Phone companies make it extremely hard to switch from the defaults.
I Make VoIP calls
I don’t like giving my phone number for everything. Old school calls suck - in voice quality and is pointless when you have internet 24/7 these days. Calls are based on personal, traceable phone numbers that bar your freedom from authoritative carriers. Take ISD calls as an example they cost so much when data charges are dirt cheap. There’s also cell tower triangulation, regular surveillance in popular public places.
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 by the ISP, OS + other 3rd parties. Note: if you’d use Messengers like ones from Facebook, WhatsApp then you’re better off using normal calls as they promote a closed network that encourages peers to install proprietary apps.
What’s my hardware anyways?
I use a 2018 - Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 ‘vince’
Packed with 3 gigabytes of RAM, 32 gigs of storage - A mid range Xiaomi phone chugging on a Snapdragon 625, still pretty good for day to day communication, entertainment & photography.
Just like my laptop - I can flash a different OS on my 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 (Android 7) to DotOS based on the latest AOSP build of Android 11 (R) plus 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.
Use libre apps that respect you
That probably means no Google, Facebook- WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger, (Skype) Microsoft, Apple (iMessage) and Amazon apps on my phone.
List of Suggested Apps
- F-Droid to get apps
- Element - a Matrix client
- Telegram FOSS
- Open Camera
- Infinity for Reddit
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 reduced my phone usage significantly.