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Think it's time for a new phone, want something that won't spy on me, recommendations?

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Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
61,146
9,196
126
www.uovalor.com
I use it all the time. I can't imagine having below 4G LTE. What they really need to do is wire smaller nodes to utility poles and be able to move around freely. Not just the big towers. Increasing infrastructure. 5G, is beautiful when it has the bandwidth. The problem is too many are on it. That's why they need to build out the small cells. Less dead zones.
How do you not go over your cap? I feel data is practically pointless because of the low caps unless you want to pay $60+ for something that gives you over 1GB which is still low. I only really use it for very light duty stuff as anything serious like trying to stream something is going to go over the cap in minutes. I would actually go without data but it's needed for sending/receiving pics via text which I do often enough. Thankfully that does not count towards the cap though.
 

bigboxes

Lifer
Apr 6, 2002
33,312
11,433
146
How do you not go over your cap? I feel data is practically pointless because of the low caps unless you want to pay $60+ for something that gives you over 1GB which is still low. I only really use it for very light duty stuff as anything serious like trying to stream something is going to go over the cap in minutes. I would actually go without data but it's needed for sending/receiving pics via text which I do often enough. Thankfully that does not count towards the cap though.
Well, I pay probably double what you pay for my plan. It's an unlimited plan that probably caps at 25 GB before they throttle to 3G speeds.
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
61,146
9,196
126
www.uovalor.com
Well, I pay probably double what you pay for my plan. It's an unlimited plan that probably caps at 25 GB before they throttle to 3G speeds.
Oh damn, yeah that's super good. We don't have unlimited here. You pay like $60+ and get a couple GB. We used to have unlimited back in the CDMA days, so lot of people were holding on to their old phones before they shut down CDMA because if they switched they would lose that plan and not be able to get it back.

My current plan is 3G speeds over LTE and then will throttle down to like dialup speeds. Which I'm ok with as I really don't have to worry about getting a nasty surprise even if I do go over. I might actually get another similar plan for my off grid property just to setup a telemetry system once I start adding solar etc.

The bigger plans through Bell etc will over charge you if you go over. My mom used to be in CSR and she'd have people calling in practically crying because they just racked up a 50,000 bill because they accidentally left Youtube streaming overnight or something. Worse is when you're near the border and hit US towers then get hit with roaming fees.
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
61,146
9,196
126
www.uovalor.com
All installed, imported contacts, and got lucky and SIM card is same size (seems every time I upgrade my phone the sizes change lol).

Now I just need to get used to not having a back button... I used that all the time to get out of apps. That and I need to figure out how to actually install apps without google play, as it's kind of the point of this, to get away from Google.
 

Commodus

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 2004
8,529
5,717
136
All installed, imported contacts, and got lucky and SIM card is same size (seems every time I upgrade my phone the sizes change lol).

Now I just need to get used to not having a back button... I used that all the time to get out of apps. That and I need to figure out how to actually install apps without google play, as it's kind of the point of this, to get away from Google.
You can change back to 'old school' navigation on your Pixel if you like, although it might be worth trying the current approach to see if you'll get used to it.

There are sites like APKMirror if you want to grab apps outside of the Play Store. Not sure how GrapheneOS handles apps that might need Google Play Services, but I suspect that won't be a problem too often.
 

MrSquished

Lifer
Jan 14, 2013
12,729
9,547
136
You should get used to the gesture navigation quickly. I was hesitant at first but it became second nature quickly and is superior
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
61,146
9,196
126
www.uovalor.com
Yeah been playing around with settings, found the 3 button mode so think I'll stick to that for now. Read it's considered legacy and may not always be available though.

Figured out the app store (fdroid) and more or less got things setup the way I want now. Probably going to think of other stuff as needed. It helps I don't really rely on my phone for much so there's really not too much to setup at this point.

Only thing I'm trying to figure out now is how to disable the URL bar search in the browser. Even desktop browsers keep doing that by default now and it's super annoying. I have several local web resources I access regularly that don't start with www and it's annoying because it tries to search for it instead if I don't put the full http part. I may look at creating a custom search engine that basically just goes to whatever url is typed. I ended up having to do that on a Raspberry Pi.

I do like that this OS is very open source and privacy oriented though, I already feel safer.

I'll have to get the play store going though as I'll need it for the vaccine app unfortunately, and maybe other apps in the future that will be mandatory. I read it has a sandbox mode for that though so it's still better than stock android.
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
61,146
9,196
126
www.uovalor.com
So I just discovered something odd, in the photo gallery there is a "make available offline" option. Does it mean that every pic I take is going to the cloud? Is there a way to disable that completely? I ONLY want my pictures to be offline. When I click on settings I just get a black screen.

There is probably a bunch of ugly selfies of me on a server somewhere right now from me playing around with the camera lol.
 

Commodus

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 2004
8,529
5,717
136
So I just discovered something odd, in the photo gallery there is a "make available offline" option. Does it mean that every pic I take is going to the cloud? Is there a way to disable that completely? I ONLY want my pictures to be offline. When I click on settings I just get a black screen.

There is probably a bunch of ugly selfies of me on a server somewhere right now from me playing around with the camera lol.
If it's Google Photos, they might be sitting in the cloud... otherwise, no idea where they went. But you'd also have settings to turn that off, in theory.
 

MrSquished

Lifer
Jan 14, 2013
12,729
9,547
136
So I just discovered something odd, in the photo gallery there is a "make available offline" option. Does it mean that every pic I take is going to the cloud? Is there a way to disable that completely? I ONLY want my pictures to be offline. When I click on settings I just get a black screen.

There is probably a bunch of ugly selfies of me on a server somewhere right now from me playing around with the camera lol.
Google photos is the default photo gallery on Android. It's a very cloud driven app, though it is easy to keep photos on the device as well. Use a different gallery app would be my advice.
 

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
14,945
5,129
136
I've never had any trouble keeping photos out of the cloud (I think Google Photos asks the first time you start it), whereas the default for stuff like contacts is to sync and you have to hunt down the options yourself.

I switched off gesture navigation too after I accidentally discovered the options (under accessibility, what the hell?). I had got used to gestures so I missed it for a bit, but I miss the accidental gestures a heck of a lot less.
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
61,146
9,196
126
www.uovalor.com
Yeah maybe I'll just find another app for photos as it does not sit well with me not knowing where they are going. It's weird though, because there is no real indication that they are going to the cloud or where they are going but that setting to make them available offline must be there for a reason.

Actually one thing I just realized now that is very nice is the fact that I did not have to make an account or tie the phone to any kind of ID. It just works as is.
 

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
14,945
5,129
136
Looking at my phone, it's as plain as day: 'Google photos' at the top of the screen, then in grey text immediately beneath, 'backup is off' (though the text disappears after a few seconds). Also, my account logo/avatar in the top-right corner has a cloud symbol on it that's crossed out.
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
61,146
9,196
126
www.uovalor.com
Looking at my phone, it's as plain as day: 'Google photos' at the top of the screen, then in grey text immediately beneath, 'backup is off' (though the text disappears after a few seconds). Also, my account logo/avatar in the top-right corner has a cloud symbol on it that's crossed out.
Yeah don't think this is the same program, it does not have any of that. I did deny network access to it though, so it should stop it from uploading pictures anywhere right?



If I click settings I just get a black screen, so not much there.
 

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
14,945
5,129
136
The icon for the Google Photos app should look like the logo shown at the top of the wikipedia page:

What you've screenshotted looks nothing like GP.

You might need to install Google Photos?
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
61,146
9,196
126
www.uovalor.com
This is the one that came with the phone. They purposely removed all the google stuff for privacy reasons. But I just am wondering what that "make available offline" option is about, since it's hinting that it relies on the cloud or something.
 

lxskllr

No Lifer
Nov 30, 2004
55,081
5,073
126
A quick search says it's the old ASOP gallery app. You could probably confirm it by looking at the exact name in the app manager. If I had to guess, I'd say it had functionality to upload to google that was stripped out, but the option remained in the menu. Kinda sloppy though. I use Simple Gallery from fdroid.

If you want a couple apps from google play, you can use the Aurora app from fdroid. You can access the free apps available using an anonymous account. Since you don't have play services, apps may or may not work. Aurora tells you if an app requires gsf. What happens if you install a gsf app anyway? I don't know. Perhaps the part you want will work anyway, but it won't be feature complete :shrugs:
 
Feb 4, 2009
31,496
11,883
136
Noob question here.
I generally don’t like android because I feel it is too creepy how it spies on you. Personal opinion so don’t get upset.
My iPhone which I know spies on but it is less creepy about how it spies is on its last days. I wanted to get another year before phone replacement due to 5G and the inevitable 4G turn down to free bandwidth.
5G devices are typically more than I want to pay even refurb iPhones are more than I want to pay.
Does loading a custom rom completely disable the google play store? Ideally I would like to install and use a few apps such as the ecobee app, Shark vacuum app and a few others. Will this be possible with a custom rom?
My goal isn’t 100% privacy. My goal is restrict location services and minimize app spying. Plus not have google continually show me ridiculous ads because I searched to see what a squatty potty looks like.
*yes the above thing happened to me a 12 years ago. Heard an ad on the stern show for a squatty potty and I didn’t understand what it looked like. Did a search on an android phone I briefly had said “Oh it is like a mini bench”. Nothing else done regarding a squatty potty.
Get home from work and I see squatty potty ads all over my PC screen, I get email from whatever vendor “squatty potty sale here!”. That is creepy persistent ads imo.
 

Commodus

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 2004
8,529
5,717
136
Noob question here.
I generally don’t like android because I feel it is too creepy how it spies on you. Personal opinion so don’t get upset.
My iPhone which I know spies on but it is less creepy about how it spies is on its last days. I wanted to get another year before phone replacement due to 5G and the inevitable 4G turn down to free bandwidth.
5G devices are typically more than I want to pay even refurb iPhones are more than I want to pay.
Does loading a custom rom completely disable the google play store? Ideally I would like to install and use a few apps such as the ecobee app, Shark vacuum app and a few others. Will this be possible with a custom rom?
My goal isn’t 100% privacy. My goal is restrict location services and minimize app spying. Plus not have google continually show me ridiculous ads because I searched to see what a squatty potty looks like.
*yes the above thing happened to me a 12 years ago. Heard an ad on the stern show for a squatty potty and I didn’t understand what it looked like. Did a search on an android phone I briefly had said “Oh it is like a mini bench”. Nothing else done regarding a squatty potty.
Get home from work and I see squatty potty ads all over my PC screen, I get email from whatever vendor “squatty potty sale here!”. That is creepy persistent ads imo.
My understanding is that there are ways to preserve the Play Store with custom ROMs, but that you shouldn't assume you'll have access forever. With that said, I wouldn't expect Play Store access on a hardened platform like GrapheneOS.

I'm in the iPhone camp. Google is getting better about privacy controls and isn't the mustache-twirling villain some make it out to be, but the truth is that Apple is more respectful of privacy as a whole, and has far less incentive to watch what you do. If I were in your boat, I'd buy an iPhone 11 (not the SE, it's a bit too old) and be done with it.
 
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Feb 4, 2009
31,496
11,883
136
My understanding is that there are ways to preserve the Play Store with custom ROMs, but that you shouldn't assume you'll have access forever. With that said, I wouldn't expect Play Store access on a hardened platform like GrapheneOS.

I'm in the iPhone camp. Google is getting better about privacy controls and isn't the mustache-twirling villain some make it out to be, but the truth is that Apple is more respectful of privacy as a whole, and has far less incentive to watch what you do. If I were in your boat, I'd buy an iPhone 11 (not the SE, it's a bit too old) and be done with it.
Good apple summary and I agree with it.
iPhone 11 is a bit more than I want to spend and it doesn’t have proper 5G support so I fear what coverage will look like in two plus years.
I am going with the assumption that 5G will be the network all carriers promote and spend money on, LTE will slowly be turned down to convert to 5G. If I buy an LTE device it needs to be sub $200. I have traditionally bought refurb devices. I have no fear changing screens or batteries.
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
61,146
9,196
126
www.uovalor.com
I'm starting to lean towards iphone now. Just bricked my $700 Pixel 4a 5G while trying to load a custom rom and ready to give up trying to fix it. Most of the online guides are incomplete or don't go in enough details or don't actually tell you what to download and it's just a mish mash of info trying to piece together what I'm actually suppose to do and most of it is a guessing game. Think I'm going to cut my losses as I need to move on from this given I'm not getting anywhere. I hate the fact that at the end of all this I will have spent over 2 grand just on a freaking phone though. Freaking insane. Could build a nice PC for that kind of money or build a small cabin on my new acreage property.
 

Commodus

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 2004
8,529
5,717
136
I'm starting to lean towards iphone now. Just bricked my $700 Pixel 4a 5G while trying to load a custom rom and ready to give up trying to fix it. Most of the online guides are incomplete or don't go in enough details or don't actually tell you what to download and it's just a mish mash of info trying to piece together what I'm actually suppose to do and most of it is a guessing game. Think I'm going to cut my losses as I need to move on from this given I'm not getting anywhere. I hate the fact that at the end of all this I will have spent over 2 grand just on a freaking phone though. Freaking insane. Could build a nice PC for that kind of money or build a small cabin on my new acreage property.
Sorry to hear that. I hope you can fix that Pixel, but if not you could look at it as a learning experience. Many people don't even know these options exist.

Modern smartphones are wildly expensive... you don't want to know how much I've spent on my iPhone 13 Pro after all is said and done. But I look at it this way: it's probably one of the most important devices in your life, and if you think you'll capture important moments with it, it's worth the investment. I'm recently married and likely to start a family soon; it's worth spending a lot on the phone that will capture our early marriage and, hopefully, a child's first steps.
 

Stiff Clamp

Senior member
Feb 3, 2021
252
63
61
$700 sounds like a lot for a Pixel 4a, considering this 5a model here . . .
googlePixel5.jpg

or is that a special finance-inducement price?
or Canadian dollars?
(Never checked out the direct-sold phones before.)
 

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