anders tonfeldt

What must my next phone have?
2014-06-09 14:59

For some reason (brand loyalty) my decision to leave the android sphere wasn't that popular with some of my friends. I get it, we've all been using it since its inception and making a wide variety of private apps together. Some agree with me but aren't going to switch. Some have already switched. Some are rabidly telling us we're making a mistake. In order to get this out of the way I figured why not another list? One where the actual essentials are listed.

I need my next phone to do the following;

  1. Run TOR for individual applications.
  2. Run Python (2.x is acceptable, 3.x much preferable).
  3. The phone must run linux.
  4. The bulk of the phone must be open-source or at least have its bits replaceable by open source.
  5. A superuser setting must be enabled, I will never be forced to "root" my phone again.

Those are the essentials. There's a ton of other things that I require, as evidenced by my last post about must have android apps. But the above solves the vast majority of those, the rest I can code myself or just port. Here's some examples of apps that the above solve.

  1. todo.txt
  2. rss-reader
  3. pdf/document readers
  4. foldersync
  5. tasker
  6. twilight

Some you just need a browser for, apps tend to be smoother but they're just not required.

  1. reddit
  2. spotify

Finally we're left with a handful that will affect me to some degree. The worst likely being the status of a KeePassX port. The chromecasting of netflix won't matter since I've got a nexus tablet around but I'll still mention it since it is inconvenient. I'm sure there'll be a podcast manager of some variety, but it won't be beyondpod.

  1. Keepass2android - Works perfectly with KeePassX.
  2. Beyondpod - Podcast perfection.
  3. Whitepapers link - Scanning of specially marked papers.
  4. Bankdroid - Not sure about internationally, but fantastic bank widget.
  5. Chromecast - For, well, our chromecast.
  6. Netflix - For now, there's finally cropping up alternatives.
  7. Skånetrafiken - Swedish public transport system.

Since the Ubuntu phone isn't out yet let's have a look at the Jolla. Does it meet my criteria? Yes, mostly.

  1. Yes, TOR is available via something called the package warehouse(?). Reports tell me it works, and the basic version of TOR we all know and love is being ported.
  2. Yes, "Starting with Sailfish OS, Python 3.3.3 and PyOtherSide are shipped in the official repositories". Perfect.
  3. Yes, it runs linux. Actual linux.
  4. Yes, Sailfish OS is built upon the Mer project. So parts will be interchangeable. Jolla also said their entire OS would be open-source, but even if it isn't I can always replace the bits that aren't.
  5. Enabling root is as simple as switching on developer's mode and setting a password. Perfect.

In other words, I could switch right now. The Jolla is being sold a few kilometres from me if I remember correctly. So, what's my lame excuse for not doing so right now? It's a mundane one, I'm a bit strapped for cash and my note 2 does function decently now that I've got cyanogenmod on it. I'm also interested in seeing just what the live Ubuntu phone will and won't do once it's released.

I've got a bad track record of jumping on the latest hotness and getting burned, badly. I think I'll wait just a bit this time, once the Ubuntu phone is out I'll do an in-depth comparison to the Jolla one and then pick the one I prefer. And, to be honest, the cheapest. Amusingly the cheapest will likely still end up in the premium range when compared to android/ios, but them's the breaks when living in a niché market.


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