Future of mobile devices

Can we be more free and happy in the mobile devices world ?

Written by ajz December 10, 2018

In the post Snowden revelations era more and more people have become aware of privacy and security issues on the Internet. Now we often seem to be more willing to look at our computer and Internet behavior regarding privacy and security. But are we also willing to have a closer look at our favorite toy the mobile phone ? Take a train or bus, and likely you will see that the majority of people are busy ... with their most favorite killing time toy, the Android or iOS mobile phone. Can we trust Google Android and Apple iOS when it comes to privacy and security ? Google has a bad record when it comes to privacy, and that record is not getting any better. The "Do no evil" promise was broken time after time. Apart from that there is several Android phone manufacturers who give their customers no OS updates at all, or very few. And that is on top of the included bloatware that pretty often comes with the Android phones. Apple makes some effort to play "The good guy" regarding privacy but their product prices are almost sky rocketing, year by year, and by choosing Apple devices you are choosing for things like a DRM iTunes life, less choice for applications. So for the moment the quick choice is that IF you can afford to buy Apple devices you will likely have a more secure and more privacy friendly phone than buying an Android phone. If you cannot afford to buy Apple devices, then there are Android phones with not so much bloatware, and with regular OS updates, and not too expensive. Also with new Apple phones you will likely get OS updates for a longer time than with new Android phones.


What else is there ? You can also go for an Android phone, and live without the default Google OS which does track every little thing you do -as a matter of speaking-. Installing another OS on an Android phone is not for the faint of heart, and for sure a jump in the dark, but if you are in for a risky adventure, then you can have a privacy friendly Android phone. Of those custom OS-es (ROMs) the most popular with almost two million users currently is LineageOS LineageOS Installing a custom ROM brings however some new security issues, as the boot-loader needs to be unlocked in order to flash the new OS. It is up to you to find a new balance there between privacy and security.


What else is arriving new at the horizon ? There has been a privacy-friendly phone in the making, the Purism Librem5 Purism Librem 5 Expecting to be shipping in 2019. Besides the Librem5 there's a new kid on the block, Necunos company in Finland also wants to ship a privacy-friendly phone. This Necunos mobile phone will ship with a processor that is much older than the processor in the Librem5 phone but the phone will probably be a fair bit cheaper : Necunos mobile


Now, if you are not shying away from tinkering with hardware, there is also several options to build your own phone. There's for example MAKERphone, a phone which you can also program yourself. MAKERphone


And then there is the ultimate choice for the moment you had enough of the mobile devices privacy and security nightmare : The NoPhone NoPhone Zero


Appendix.

Problems with mobile devices :

Tor blog about mobile devices problems

EFF blog about mobile devices privacy and security problems


Some promising phone OS-es :

PostmarketOS

Plasma Mobile

OmniROM

UBports

Buy Replicant ROM phones


DIY phones :

PiPhone

Tytelli

Zerophone


Note - Header image taken from Wikimedia commons

This article is under the CC-BY-SA license.

ajz

Linux sysadmin for work and hobby. https://mastodon.host/@Ajz

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Comments

cambridgeport90 cambridgeport90@plume.mastodon.host

I have never heard of some of the OS's mentioned here ... the only problem for me, is, of course, the accessibility factor. Being blind all my life, I've needed to either have speech and/or Brialle to function at all.

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ajz ajz@plume.mastodon.host

@@cambridgeport90 Thanks for your comment. Regarding Speech or Braille options I am not sure what is possible on these mobile devices and operating systems. When searching in a search engine for "mobile devices braille" it gives me the impression that not much is possible for blind people in that field. For my article I actually also wanted to include some text about SailfishOS and UBports but I decided to keep the posting a bit brief. UBports is interesting as it is not Android, but Ubuntu Linux based. UBports is still in development by a vivid community based group of coders and enthusiasts. https://ubports.com/

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