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Essential Phone, available now (essential.com)
818 points by Garbage on Aug 17, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 672 comments



Since no one else has, I'll take the piss out of this "hollier than thou" bullshit.

> Devices are your personal property. We won’t force you to have anything you don’t want.

Devices are your personal property. The SoC is still a proprietary trade secret, the baseband is still spying on you for the NSA, the GPU is still a closed blob piece of shit. No mainline driver support, bootloader is closed source, firmware is closed source. We own this phone, you don't.

> We will always play well with others. Closed ecosystems are divisive and outdated.

....

> Devices shouldn’t become outdated every year. They should evolve with you.

Devices become outdated because shitty vendors refuse to open source and mainline drivers for their components.

> Technology should assist you so that you can get on with enjoying life.

Technology should be trustable, and a device where you cannot tell if or when the microphone and/or camera are recording and being remotely accessed is anything but.

Not wanting to single Essential out too much here - every vendor goes on and on about how great this phone is for you, while holding as much of a vice grip over the operation of the device as possible to make sure you need to buy another one as soon as possible through planned obsolescence. It is just the stick up the ass language announcements like these use is really infuriating when the people making them know full well how much they are screwing you over.

The first actually open platform phone is the one that will have longevity. The rest are snake oil about how good they will take of you because you can't take care of yourself with your own software that you can trust.


Also don't forget:

> Premium materials and true craftsmanship shouldn’t just be for the few.

Then maybe they should not have priced it in line with the iPhone?


Maybe when you live in the Valley you get a very skewed idea of who 'the few' are :P Maybe they think anyone who doesn't buy a new flagship smartphone every 6 months is living in destitution :)


Exactly. The many can't afford to drop €699 on the "base" model phone, especially an unproven one.


> Devices become outdated because shitty vendors refuse to open source and mainline drivers for their components.

YES. This one of the major reasons of the Android versions fragmentation.

However, most of them don't even have mainline-able drivers. See Amlogic which got rejected because of "shitty code".


https://www.cvedetails.com/vulnerability-list/vendor_id-33/p...

For some fun reading, 357 CVEs in the linux kernel in 2017, 191 of them remote root, 95%+ of the total in closed source ARM drivers. (basicly everying labeled broadcomm and qualcomm).

For those keeping score, 2017 ALONE has produced 1/3rd of the linux kernel vulnerabilities ever observed.

We need to demand vendors do better.


Amlogic is being supported in the mainline kernel, see the work going on for the Odroid C2 for example, which uses an Amlogic S905. See this[1] site for more information and the incoming patches page[2] for a more up-to-date view on what's being worked on.

[1]: http://linux-meson.com/doku.php [2]: https://patchwork.kernel.org/project/linux-amlogic/list/


Yes, and this is awesome, but this still ongoing and was not always the case [1] [2]. Following the "shitty code" debacle, Amlogic announced a two year effort to mainline their drivers.

[1] https://github.com/steeve/linux-amlogic

[2] http://www.cnx-software.com/2016/08/19/amlogic-releases-linu...


> Devices shouldn’t become outdated every year. They should evolve with you.

Doesn't have a removable battery...so, how exactly is this going to last me any longer than anything else?


Don't know about this phone (we'll have to wait for the teardown), but iPhone batteries are pretty easily replaceable, and you don't need to go to an Apple Store to have them replaced. I run a chain of independent repair shops and we replace iPhone batteries all day long.

A press push for environmental reasons has made sure most smartphone batteries aren't glued in.

Now MacBooks and Surface Books, on the other hand, do tend to have glued-in batteries on newer models, so more pressure is needed there. We can still replace them, but they're a pain, and glue is not environmentally friendly at all.


Extracting them with a torx driver, heat gun, and an hour's labor is not the same as a swappable battery.


You forgot the step of desperately trying to not crack anything while doing so for said hour.


Very true, but we are discussing phones, and without glue on my few year old Mac book air, it was less than 10 minutes as there was no glue. Again you're right, it ain't swappable, but it was surprisingly easier than I thought when it isn't glued.


Good to know! I'll probably go that route in a couple years then rather than buying a new device.


Yes, it isn't as innovative as the marketing dept would have you believe.

The Xiaomi Mi Mix from 2016 contained more innovative features.

The Essential phone is just another large, high end Android very similar to the Samsung S7/S8 or Xiaomi Mi6 or new LG - Very nice, but not a major innovation.


>> Devices shouldn’t become outdated every year. They should evolve with you.

I really don't understand this sentiment.

I've still got my iPhone 6 Plus. I haven't seen the need to upgrade yet. It does absolutely everything I want.

At this rate, the only reason I'm going to upgrade is if I destroy my phone somehow (I've yet to even put a major scratch on any of my smartphones over the years) or if a vendor comes out with some feature where I'm like "yeah, I could really see myself getting use out of that"

>> Technology should assist you so that you can get on with enjoying life.

It's a smartphone for crying out loud. It's a platform designed for communication. Bonus points for having a camera in my pocket and some apps which help me for various tasks.

> The first actually open platform phone is the one that will have longevity.

Exactly, I feel that we're kind of getting there with all of the recent phones that have come out in the last couple of years. There's no real killer feature anyone's come out with, just nice things to have.


>>I've still got my iPhone 6 Plus.

Not the parent, but that's pretty new. I used a 4s earlier this year and there were several apps that couldn't be upgraded and/or stopped working.


I got my pair of Nexus 6 dev phones a month after my iPhone 6 Plus.

The Nexus 6 reached it final OS update with N but the 6+ is about to get iOS 11.

The iPhone 5s is about to get iOS 11. If it weren't for the 64-bit transition I wouldn't be surprised if it had gotten on the iPhone 5 as well.

Apple gives about 5 years of iOS updates, which makes keeping the same phone a lot more feasible. Meanwhile my Google sourced Nexus barely makes it two without landing on security patches-only.


I got my iPhone 5S (The 5S replaced my 3GS) when it was released and I'm still using it. The only problems I have are a little bit of yellow tint on the screen and the battery not having full capacity.

Maybe I got really lucky with both of my iPhones but even though I hate to pay this ridiculous premium price for iPhones it kinda evens out in the end considering I use the phone for 4-5 years.


The device does not stop working after that period


That's still an 6 year old phone, do you consider this long or short? Generally Apple are extremely good at keeping their devices usable.

I used an iPhone 4 up until late last year, my dad is still using it. Now I upgraded to an iPhone 5s.

The annoying part is generally apps that require a higher OS, which is the app developers fault. But even then you don't always necessarily /need/ the absolute newest version of an app.


Up until November last year my youngest daughter was using my old 3GS. She loved that phone and could even still download apps from the App Store. I know this because I installed Lemonade Stand for her last summer. You can't get that now because it only worked on the older OS versions, but there it was in the App Store for her 6 years after I bought it. I'd try and boot it now to check it, but I'm not sure where it is.

Planned obsolescence by big fat arse.


The 6 Plus will be 3 years old in a month. The fact that its still a powerful phone, and will receive OS updates for another couple years speaks volumes about iPhone longevity vs. Android.


That doesn't seem to be a manufacturer issue though is it?

In case of tablets, my partner is still using her iPad 2 and Netflix has a version of their app that still runs on that.

The core software on her tablet, like the core software on my older phones that were given to family members still work fine.

Its the 3rd party apps that seem to be abandoned by software developers. That's going to happen regardless of what phone manufacturer's want.


I have an original ipad and netflix is pretty much the only thing that still works fine on that. You can't use it to browse the web anymore because web pages have gotten so heavy it runs out of memory trying to render them. The app store is also broken to the degree of being unusable, even if you could find apps. If it wasn't so locked down it would still make an excellent linux device, but as it stands it's basically a dedicated netflix viewer.

So in my view it's a bit of both. These devices could have a longer life with manufacturer support, but the app developers are the ones driving the obsolescence.


App developer here. It is impossible to build an app for the original iPad. Apple tools will not allow you to compile backwards compatibility to iOS 6 (or is it 5?).


App developers are only a piece of this equation, though.

From (solo) developing an sms based app in 2017 there was little incentive to target an API level lower than 19 (KitKat), which provided a standard API for SMS.

The majority of devices support it so what's the incentive to support legacy software?

Now if there are breaking changes introduced to telephony in the future I'll probably maintain 4.4 support and add a check for API level. That isn't feasible for every app, though...


> I've still got my iPhone 6 Plus. I haven't seen the need to upgrade yet. It does absolutely everything I want.

That's hardly an old phone. Do you see yourself still using it in 3 years time?


I've got a Galaxy S3, an S4 couple first generation Moto Gs, a 2012 and a 2013 Nexus 7, a Note 2, I think? 2 Note 3s, and a One Plus One in various states of: loaned to cousins, used as house phones, backups in a drawer, backups in cars, or lying on my desk.

They were all either broken, at yard sales, given to me my clients / contacts that don't want them, or were <$20 on ebay.

In general four things kill these devices:

* Touchscreen breakage. It is almost never worth trying to replace if the screen cracks.

* Flash burnout. Shitty flash chips don't last forever. I've binned almost every older phone than this crop because the flash memory dies.

* Charger port wear. Microusb sucks, replacement parts vary wildly depending on model - I can get an S series charger for <$5 most of the time, but trying to replace a Droid phone charger once was impossible because the charger harness was soldered to the pcb.

* Software. I generally outright ignore devices without a ROM scene and an unlocked bootloader, but even then it is entirely volunteer how long Cyanogen/Lineage/Paranoid/etc are willing to keep supporting these fossil kernels. The S3, Note 2-3, and original Nexus 7 are all on their deathbeds because of lagging community support for these devices. It is worth mentioning, however, for the Samsung devices they have gone community supported far longer at this point than their official support periods lasted. Great job Samsung.

Batteries are usually a non-issue. You can buy shitty Chinese knockoff batteries (or if you are lucky Anker) that don't hold a charge and don't last long, but you can keep these devices running on bootleg parts for a while.

The software is the ultimate killer. What should be the easiest to maintain is the hardest, because corporate greed and hunger for control trumps customer respect. All my mobile devices are cheap, used, or broken when I get them because none of these exploitative abusers are worth giving a direct cent to.


> * Flash burnout. Shitty flash chips don't last forever. I've binned almost every older phone than this crop because the flash memory dies.

I have never experienced this before, what are the signs that the flash chip is going sour? Slow to load? Losing information? Is there anything you can do about it ?


Sadly mobile flash doesn't support smart monitoring. There are three indicators, but your flash can randomly fail without any of them being observable:

* Sector reallocations. As flash stops writing or reading the package will reallocate data. This process is intensive and usually lags out the phone. If when moving large amounts of data into / off the flash the whole phone is freezing, it can be due to this.

* Stunted read / write speeds. As the flash degrades and more sectors go bad, your read and write performance suffer. Fragmentation gets worse as working sectors dry up. If your phone was benching ~80MB/s read or write speeds the day you got it and is down to ~20 5 years later, it is likely nearing a failure point. This is usually a gradual aging thing, but you do often see a steep slope of sudden performance crash before the whole chip becomes unusable.

* Crippled access times. The former was data rate, this is data latency. The latency should always be consistent and not age much throughout the life of the chip - the ability to access flash almost always stays near-constant over the lifetime of the chip. If this starts going, for very small data sizes, the chips controller can be dying. Which happens, because in phones a lot of corners are cut, and flash mmus are often really, really cheap.

There is also the really rare chance you find a corrupted file you cannot open that used to work, which can in extremely rare circumstances mean that your phone has ran out of unallocated sectors and is now losing capacity including written data, but that is highly unlikely - flash almost always becomes unwritable way before becoming unreadable, and your phone will fail before unreadability starts manifesting en masse.

It would be useful if we could get A. lifetime write averages for the flash chips in popular phones and B. trace such a number throughout the lifetime of the device, but we don't have those, so you are almost always flying in the dark on when your phones memory will die.


A year or so ago my iPhone 6 was constantly freezing up and was practically unusable. I tried changing literally every setting available in an attempt to resolve it. Wiping it clean and restoring from a backup solved it.

I was almost convinced it was a problem with the flash chip as symptoms were exactly what you describe here.


Same as on a desktop: mysterious slowdowns everywhere.

My wife has a four-year-old Windows phone, the Nokia 1020, which is completely fine in all aspects other than suffering from this.


Yes.

My vision isn't great, so I upgraded from my iPhone 4 to the 5 because of the larger screen, and the 5 to the 6+ due to a larger screen.

Really, the screen size has been the main driving factor in my phone purchase decisions.

My 4 & 5 have been passed down to my mother, so they're still in use. Hell, I was still using my 1st gen iPad until just over a year ago when the screen just failed.


> That's hardly an old phone.

In the smartphone business, it's practically an antique.


Besides, they don't give any more software update guarantee then Google's flagships are giving (previously Nexus phones, and now Pixel) - i.e. 2 years.


> The first actually open platform phone is the one that will have longevity

FairPhone is trying to do that, in software, hardware and way beyond: https://shop.fairphone.com/en/


A colleague of mine showed me her FairPhone. She then proceeded to disassemble it, right in front of my eyes. She's a biologist and told me that she broke the screen during fieldwork. Just ordered a new screen on the FairPhone site and replaced it herself. Amazing tech.


Fairphone has been pushing into the predictable headwinds, without much help from economy of scale or supportive tech partners:

https://forum.fairphone.com/t/is-it-worth-to-buy-a-fairphone...


"recent upgrade to Android 6.0 Marshmallow"

when was that written?


And this:

> we’re working around the clock

Why are they working around the clock? It sounds like they are running late and/or don't know what they are doing.


And without running proprietary javascript, their page displays no text. So, ya.


Proprietary means privately owned.

Who owns Javascript? ECMA is a public standard.


I think he means the unobfuscated code is proprietary.


Could be. It's not obfuscated

> // Polyfill for creating CustomEvents on IE9/10/11

> function EmailInput(e,t,i,n){function r()

but it does contain some proprietary code from GreenSock.


But is js really needed on such a page? Wouldn't css-grid do the job just fine?


Because 1/100000 of their customers might have JS turned of?


The global average it's 0.2% or 1:500, however Taiwan averages 2.3% though Android tablets hit 9.6%. And, some websites see significantly higher rates.

https://blockmetry.com/blog/javascript-disabled

LTDR; Supporting non JS users tends to be very cheap, so it's often well worth the investment.


>The global average it's 0.2% or 1:500, however Taiwan averages 2.3% though Android tablets hit 9.6%. And, some websites see significantly higher rates.

Even at 1/20 I don't think people who turn of JS would make the best kind of customers. I'd expect them to be cranky and demanding...

>LTDR; Supporting non JS users tends to be very cheap, so it's often well worth the investment.

Spending opportunity cost time because there might be some users missing out in Taiwan or some Android tablets? Bah...


id imagine the company has web apps (internal and external). why support multiple stacks for what is not even remotely close to their core competency? isomorphism, for example, is a big advantage for both maintainability, community support, and rapid delivery


"the first actually open phone will have longevity"

you mean like openmoko?


Open ASIC IP cores and firmwares are a must-have. Without independently-verifiable silicon, there's no telling was is or isn't there.


Financing this is the real problem. Open source software relies on volunteer labour and the small costs of donated hosting, hardware etc. Open source hardware does not have nearly enough demand to fund it and cannot protect its revenue stream from competitors.


Totally agree. My question is, how do you verify the fabs are trustworthy?

Genuinely curious - I'm actually trying to answer this myself at the moment. The best I've come up with is, go to >2 fabs, have them deliver wafers but not saw them, scan and compare the wafers using trusted equipment, then take the wafers back to the fab for sawing.

The last step is the biggest issue; you could be bait-and-switched. Sawing doesn't sound as expensive as actual photolithography/etching kit, but I suspect it would still be prohibitive for most.

Thing is, you could tamper with a small number of chips on the wafer image in such a way that a quick but unlikely interaction with the end device would easily spot the tampered units. Then it would be a simple matter to insert a "picker" into somewhere in the manufacturing/shipping logistics to find the tampered device(s) and reroute them.


It's much harder for the fab to backdoor things than any other stage, and it also takes time for them to prepare such an attack once they have your GDSII files. So it would show up as a manufacturing delay. For anything other than milspec this probably isn't worth worrying about at this time.

Also, I'm not 100% sure that two fabs would actually produce optically identical chips; would there be process differences?


Arg. I'm actually considering the problem of a secure design that's secure both through being transparently open source, and by using a super-simple architecture. And unfortunately these two properties mean that a) well, everyone has the GDSII, and b) the architecture is super-easy to hack. It makes perfect sense that a fab would need time to mount an attack on a closed and complex design though.

Very good point about process differences. That totally makes sense, and would likely require human verification to handle, which for big chips would be, at the very least, hilariously expensive.


http://sharps.org/wp-content/uploads/BECKER-CHES.pdf is probably the state of the art here. It's basically undetectable.

"Instead of adding additional cir- cuitry to the target design, we insert our hardware Trojans by changing the dopant polarity of existing transistors. Since the modified circuit ap- pears legitimate on all wiring layers (including all metal and polysilicon), our family of Trojans is resistant to most detection techniques, includ- ing fine-grain optical inspection and checking against “golden chips”. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach by inserting Trojans into two designs — a digital post-processing derived from Intel’s cryp- tographically secure RNG design used in the Ivy Bridge processors and a side-channel resistant SBox implementation — and by exploring their detectability and their effects on security"


* Sound of groaning *

Thanks. But ugh. That is both absolutely amazing and... well, what did I expect. Of course there are going to be process attacks :)

Hmmm. I guess the only defenses against this are

- trying to design the layout to get good "route coverage" via test routines (sounds hard)

- aiming for super-simple designs that make it difficult to constructively alter the design (pathological simplicity is one part of my idea; yet to determine viability)

- trusting the fab (ha!)

I wonder if using a huge process like ~30nm (or even bigger) would mitigate at all.

Edit: Small work fixes, added sentence


It's much easier to just trust the fab. TSMC do not care about backdooring your hobby project.

If you really want to carry on down this route, I would say the most effective approach would be to regard fab interference as a strange form of "single event upset", and borrow high-availability techniques such as lock-step mode across duplicated processors or subsystems.


Interesting. I'm curious, what sort of cost level would someone need to be looking at to mount an attack like the BECKER-CHES one? It would be really cool to be able to say "this would be secure until an attacker starts spending $(X?)XXX,XXX." Everything's vulnerable, step 1 is to have a good idea of how vulnerable.

Lock-step sounds interesting but really really hard - the basis of my idea is security through simplicity, and packing everything onto the one chip so only signed encrypted data comes out. Breaking the design down so that lock-stepped processors would reveal tampering would probably violate integrity and likely have blind spots too.


Trustworthy in what sense? That they are delivering on spec, or that they aren't stealing your IP?

For the prior, I imagine going there and observing QC procedures is the only hope. For the latter, I imagine it involves keeping discrete critical components isolated -- firmware from silicon (and beyond), using different factories so that neither independently has a functional device.


Trustworthy in the context of a "secure as possible" open-source design. Knowing that the layout I shipped is what I got back with no modifications.

Unfortunately my idea would have both the layout and the (OTP-fused) firmware fully open. I'm learning a lot about the challenges of "transparent security" as opposed to security by obscurity...


>The first actually open platform phone is the one that will have longevity.

I hear that a lot, but rarely see it work out that way in practice.


> Technology should be trustable, and a device where you cannot tell if or when the microphone and/or camera are recording and being remotely accessed is anything but.

Yes. This means no Google services.


It doesn't. You can have hardware indicators.


They won't matter if you voluntarily send your data to Google services...


> Devices become outdated because shitty vendors refuse to open source and mainline drivers for their components.

To play the devil's advocate here, you could also blame Linux for not providing a stable driver ABI and instead tries to force all vendors to adapt their coding practices if they want to play along.

Many companies don't want to take the burden to rewrite their code if the Kernel maintainers have a different opinion on how things should be done.


You don't really have to mainline your drivers. You just have to open source them. I guarantee if the chipset drivers and GPU drivers for most Samsung S phones were open sourced the phones would see community merged drivers or a popular third party repo supporting their continued maintenance.

Of course, it would be preferable that companies support their hardware in (open) software themselves (like Intel and AMD do for their GPUs / wifi / ethernet / ASM extensions), but we don't have anything close to that right now in mobile.


As someone who worked in a large OEM company releasing tons of smartphones, I'm actually impressed it only took 100 people to getting this out. I presume there was an incredible amount of sleepless nights, as this is no easy task.

To be fair though, Sprint is one of the easier carriers to work with after T-Mobile. I can't imagine them releasing a phone on AT&T or Verizon, as their process is grueling. I guess since they're selling an unlockcked version of their phone, it doesn't really matter to power users. However, most sales for smartphones are from contracts sold directly from carriers so it'll be interesting to see how they'll do in the market with their current strategy (similar to One Plus One).

Props to them though. It's not just about carrier certification. Releasing a smartphone is a long complex process. Some engineers at Sprint were briefly talking about how great the phone was, so I have high hopes.


Pretty sure they used Sharp as a partner, so it isn't like they started from scratch. That guess is based on this Sharp phone looking mighty familiar (http://www.gsmarena.com/sharp_aquos_s2_taken_apart_a_bezelle...) and Rubin having worked with Sharp extensively during the Danger days. (most of the Sidekicks were made by Sharp)

I'm kinda sort interested in this device, but honestly I'm in the sit and wait given that Sharp isn't exactly a name brand anymore.


Sharp for some reason refuses to sell their smartphones outside of Japan. When I lived there I had a Sharp phone - and it was amazing. Smoothest non-stock android experience I've had. Recently they were selling [did this finally happen?] off their phone business to foxconn because it was falling behind.

Man, if you actually tried to sell your phones, Sharp, they might have sold? Funny concept.

If this phone is indeed a Sharp creation, I'm all over it.


> Man, if you actually tried to sell your phones, Sharp, they might have sold? Funny concept.

Smartphones are a brutal business to be in, especially in North America, where Apple and Samsung have basically locked up the high end of the market and everyone else is fighting for the scraps (and usually losing tons of money in the process). Probably Sharp just realized there was really no way to break in, especially considering they'd have to start from scratch with channels like carrier partnerships, retail presence, and advertising.


> considering they'd have to start from scratch with channels like carrier partnerships, retail presence, and advertising

OnePlus has none of these and seems very successful.


Meh, I bought my first OnePlus phone a few months ago and while the phone itself is great, I've been thoroughly unimpressed with their support and unavailability of most accessories, both from OnePlus and 3rd parties. It's a huge turn off and I won't buy another one.


What kind of support do you need for a smartphone? I've literally never even thought "maybe I should contact support" for a phone problem.


Some of the bloatware (minimal as it may be) is very intrusive, including ads sent as notifications through system apps that can not be blocked or silenced. Their support gaslights you about topics like that.


Huh, what are those apps then? Also, what accessories? There's just a charger right?

Supposedly Lineage runs well on them btw.


That's another annoying thing. OnePlus uses a specific type of charger, the Dash(tm) charger, so you can't just buy any random USB charging unit, or else it will take all day to charge. And the chargers are expensive. The other problem is that the screen is not flat, so you need to buy a curved screen protector. For the OnePlus 3, they've been sold out for months, and have no plans to restock them. Furthermore, there are no good 3rd party screen protectors. So if you have a OnePlus 3, you just have to use it without a screen protector.

These problems are not acceptable for a modern phone company.


I can only agree with the dash charger, I've had no problems getting what turned out to be better screen protectors than the official from Amazon for my one plus three.

On the plus side I plug my dash charger in and forty minutes later I've got a charge that will last the day.

But agreed that if I forget to bring it on overnight trips it's annoying.

And the phone has worked flawlessly for my needs.


If you don't mind me asking, which screen protector did you buy?


Hmm I charge it overnight with a slow charger, that feels like it's better for battery life time, on the other hand, when I need it quickly recharged, it's over half full in 30 min. That really changes they way you deal with charging and is worth some annoyances (which I personally don't experience) to me.

Also, the phone came with a screen protector which is still on after 1 year of use.


> The other problem is that the screen is not flat, so you need to buy a curved screen protector.

Huh? The phone ships with the screen protector already applied.


It's a low quality plastic on that loses its adhesiveness and starts peeling off in less than a month.

I was referring to tempered glass protectors. I didn't realize that people still use plastic ones.


> It's a low quality plastic on that loses its adhesiveness and starts peeling off in less than a month.

Again, I can assure you from personal experience that this isn't true.


Well I can assure you from personal experience, which is the oneplus three without a screen protector that I'm typing on right now, that the plastic protector that came with the phone started peeling off and getting dirt trapped between it and the screen in less than a month after purchase.


That's on you, not the screen protector.


I've had several phones with various types of screen protectors that did not fall apart after a month.


Mine is still on after 1 year but I have it in a case.


Tons of things, like "my phone is two weeks old and the battery life has halved"


1. Uninstall crap apps installed during these 2 weeks. 2. Disable or throttle background network sync.


I'd complain about the battery in that case, not support.


What? If you can't get support to fix the battery for you, that's also a problem with support too.


Well, if you want your complaining to achieve anything, you should do it to support.


I recently contacted OnePlus support for the first time last month after I dropped my phone and shattered the screen. The whole process was extremely fast and smooth. Quick reply from OnePlus, they organized shipping to my nearest repair center and even the actual repair was quick.


- A software bug with notifications

- Asking when accessories would be available on their site (car chargers and screen protectors were out of stock)


I bought a OnePlus 3 this year to replace my Nexus 5 after catastrophic hardware failure. :(

The phone is great in every way except ergonomics. It's so fat that holding it hurts my hand. Apparently they had a smaller model for the generation before the 3, but the OnePlus 5 is absurdly fat only; I'm not going to be able to keep buying their phones.


I replaced my Nexus 5 with a OnePlus 2, great phone, but apart from some speed boosts and camera upgrade I kinda really miss my Nexus 5. The NFC, it being super light, small, wireless charging, great design, fast updates. No idea what phone to get next. Nothing I've seen really matches the Nexus 5. :(


There's a huge difference between "successful" enough to keep the company going and "successful" in the Apple/Samsung way of sales dominance in the market.


Yeah, Foxconn bought Sharp last year. One interesting thing I heard (from words of mouth) was Gou decided to follow through with the purchase after Sharp reduced the price by 35%. Gou was mighty proud of the acquisition for awhile until the Japanese Yen devalued considerably, leading him to speculate foul play from the Japanese in the original deal.


So could this be Sharp / Foxconn testing the waters to start selling phones to american consumers?


They already sell the Aquos Crystal phones on Sprint, which are really nice phones for the price point. When I borrowed my buddy's on Sprint, I was able to pull over 100mbps down when we were out boating on Lake Washington. AT&T could only hit 15mbps and T-Mobile was sitting around 40Mbps comparatively.


One of the things that made me mad was that they only brought the aquos crystal over, which is a gimmick phone. It's a pretty good mid-range phone, but I saw reviews slam it on specs, implying that Sharp couldn't compete. Sharp had much more powerful phones available at the time, but not in the US.

The problem with the US market is that reviewers look for any superficial reason to slam you.


Not sure about that. The move only seemed to reinforce Foxconn's status as an even bigger supplier.


Exactly! Sharp was the one who started this thin-bezel trend with Sharp Aquos Crystal in 2014.


They also have great screen tech from their tv business. So if that's been transferred to their phone business it's gotta be great.


Can confirm, the Sharp phone I owned in Japan had an absolutely fabulous screen, 1080p in 4.5" (I long for compact flagships), vivid colour with customisable profiles, including an electronically switchable privacy filter (using the toggle buttons in the notification shade) with 3 designs! The OS had been optimised to run smooth as butter, even with crapware. Too bad it also had to have all the docomo apps.


What do you mean by switchable privacy filter? Something that reduced the viewing angle, perhaps by adjusting the color profile?


There's a physical layer of the screen between the touch glass and the LCD that can be turned on, reducing the viewing angle. Anyone looking from the side will instead see a floral pattern, butterfly pattern, or something else I forget (stars?), depending on your setting. (You can't pick beyond these three because each pattern is physically its own layer it looks like)

This is classic Japanese market electronics. Rather than increase bottom line, add loads of niceties to compete.

My phone was a smartphone, a mobile wallet (osaifu-keitai, tap-to-pay), my train pass (osaifu-keitai is different hardware to android pay, as it works on turnstiles, even when the phone is dead/off, and has been a thing since 2004), a television (over the air!), an answering machine (no messages stored by carrier; the phone picks up if you don't answer and records it to the SD card), had those privacy filter things, and a really responsive camera.

Sadly, it has a non-replaceable battery and refuses to update android unless it can connect to a docomo tower (I think docomo hosts it's phone's system updates on internal network only, not internet). I had to retire the phone long before the hardware gave out.

I'm pretty much stuck with the phone's stock android because A) It's sharp, so the android hacking community hasn't heard of it. and B) I don't think any ROM would have drivers for any of the galapagos features. (especially I need osaifu-keitai, which as well as being a wallet and my train pass, has all of my arcade top scores associated with it (whenever I go, I just tap the phone and the arcade machine looks me up - unlocks all the bonuses I've achieved and my prefs))


> There's a physical layer of the screen between the touch glass and the LCD that can be turned on, reducing the viewing angle.

Oh, wow.

> Anyone looking from the side will instead see a floral pattern, butterfly pattern, or something else I forget (stars?), depending on your setting.

Wow.

> (You can't pick beyond these three because each pattern is physically its own layer it looks like)

I see.

> This is classic Japanese market electronics. Rather than increase bottom line, add loads of niceties to compete.

TIL the Japanese are still ahead of us with stuff that's really nice, and the rest of the world succumbed to being flooded out with high-fructose corn syrup laden toy electronics that hack our attention spans.

> My phone was a smartphone, a mobile wallet (osaifu-keitai, tap-to-pay), my train pass (osaifu-keitai is different hardware to android pay, as it works on turnstiles, even when the phone is dead/off, and has been a thing since 2004), a television (over the air!), an answering machine (no messages stored by carrier; the phone picks up if you don't answer and records it to the SD card), had those privacy filter things, and a really responsive camera.

Wow.

I can't find it now but I remember seeing a Japanese phone that had OTA TV, a GPS, and even a fingerprint reader on the back. I checked the date, and the thing was made in 2008. Shakes head

> Sadly, it has a non-replaceable battery and refuses to update android unless it can connect to a docomo tower (I think docomo hosts it's phone's system updates on internal network only, not internet). I had to retire the phone long before the hardware gave out.

Hah.

> I'm pretty much stuck with the phone's stock android because A) It's sharp, so the android hacking community hasn't heard of it. and B) I don't think any ROM would have drivers for any of the galapagos features.

Mmmm...

> (especially I need osaifu-keitai, which as well as being a wallet and my train pass, has all of my arcade top scores associated with it (whenever I go, I just tap the phone and the arcade machine looks me up - unlocks all the bonuses I've achieved and my prefs))

_wow_ that is absolutely awesome.

What's really sad is that if this sort of integration ever came to the US I know it'd be used in the most invasive ways possible :(

I wonder if there are any videos documenting any of this out there. I wouldn't mind seeing this stuff in action, especially the game console bit. That's awesome.


> Sharp for some reason refuses to sell their smartphones outside of Japan.

Patents and different cellular bands (meaning radical antennae design).


Sharp was at one point selling their Aquos phone on Sprint, I'm not sure if they still do though


Sharp may be a supplier to them, as they are to Xiaomi, but I highly doubt they're a partner.


Sharp is selling a new phone in China, Sharp Aquos S2 (https://item.jd.com/4611415.html)


Any idea if they are planning to get this work with Project Fi service? I've always wondered what changes in hardware are required to get it compatible with Google's Fi service. Anyone knows?


I ordered Project Fi service recently, got my SIM card over 2 weeks ago and to this still still am unable to activate it and use the service. Their support has gone back and forth with me, and even escalated it to engineerse but nothing has been done to resolve the issue. Moreover they typically respond days later and ask me vague questions like whether or not I enabled Project Fi within Google Apps policy settings (I did that long before calling support). The whole thing has been a clusterfuck to be honest and I'm waiting one final response before I just cancel the whole effort outright and keep on keepin' on with AT&T. The sad part is that I purchased a 5X just for this.


^ Same question! I love Google Fi, but am considering rolling off if I can't get a decent phone on-network (without doing the iPhone hack).


(Reached maxdepth) the pixel 2 is likely coming out in a few months. From https://fi.google.com/about/faq/#supported-devices : """ Why is Project Fi only available on the Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X and Nexus 6, and Pixel devices? These devices are the first smartphones that support our network of networks. They work with the Project Fi SIM card, which supports multiple cellular networks, and have a state-of-the-art cellular radio tuned to work across network types. """

The first part about SIM support seems much more relevant than the second part about their state-of-the-art radios. The Nexus 6 came out in November 2014. Carrier oligopolies are the reason for this as far as I can tell.


What do you find problematic with the Pixel?


I currently use a Nexus 6, and I run into issues with the battery as well as general performance when the battery is low (despite turning off battery saver). Otherwise the phone is fine (if a bit too large and less sexy than an iPhone). I'm also becoming more concerned about privacy, and in that respect I think Apple will probably always care more than Google.


Just one man's opinion, but if you're looking for a quality phone for Project Fi, the Pixel is all-around very good, especially relative to the Nexus 6. I can't speak directly to the Pixel XL, but I've been more satisfied with my Pixel than any iPhone or Android device to date, and the general sentiment from tech reviewers seems to echo my opinion on it.


I switched from N6 to Pixel XL, and difference is very significant: no lags at all, I now don't know what more I would want from the phone. For N6, I think they had some hardware bug in memory card controller, which degradated performance because of some data fragmentation.


1 - a lack of waterproofing from an iphone priced device. I bring my phone skiing; I kind of think that's table stakes for a $750 base price phone.

2 - I used a friend's phone; I didn't like the fingerprint scanner on the back. ymmv.

These are obviously nitpicks, but the Pixel is $900 out the door (128g, tax, case, etc.)


>I'm actually impressed it only took 100 people to getting this out. I presume there was an incredible amount of sleepless nights, as this is no easy task.

There are 10 man companies in China making custom phones from reference designs. On my own memory, there was a company that managed to make a phone in under 3 month in 2011


> However, most sales for smartphones are from contracts sold directly from carriers so it'll be interesting to see how they'll do in the market with their current strategy

Is this still true? I just bought a new phone (on Verizon) and they didn't even have a contract subsidy option anymore. I know T-Mobile also dropped this a couple years ago.


Give me software updates for 7+ years, then we'll talk about buying your $700 phone. Lasting hardware means nothing without lasting software.

In the meanwhile, I'll keep buying $120 phones (Moto G4 with Amazon Ads FTW) and keeping them for ~2 years until they break or software updates stop. Even though as a Catholic (Laudato Si, Rerum Novarum) it kills me to waste all those materials every couple of years and be part of the environmental degradation of our planet.


>Lasting hardware means nothing without lasting software.

The Nexus 6P is a perfect example of this:

https://m.theregister.co.uk/2017/05/01/google_eol_for_nexus_...

I've had mine a year and a half, and it doesn't even feel close to struggling with things. Performance is great.

Yet, it's going to be artificially deprived of the latest Android releases starting one month from now, and won't even receive security updates after September 2018. It's absurd.


Note that it's a "guaranteed" date. Considering Android O works with Nexus 6P devices, I don't see them arbitrarily pulling the rug out from under us quite yet. I also don't imagine that any O point release will stop support either, so we'll likely see the 6P updated through the life of O.

That being said, three years seems like a ridiculously short "guaranteed support" lifetime... especially considering the iPhone 5 (released nearly 5 years ago) is losing support this year.


Well at least the 6P will get Android 8 and another year of security updates. Which is more than I can say for the rest of the Android phones not made by Google.


Lineage OS works very well with the 6P, incidentally.


Lineage OS isn't a substitute for vendor support. Lineage is dependent on vendors for updated drivers and firmware blobs. So if there's a bug in the firmware, like the recent BCM43xx vulnerability, you are still SOL if the particular chip in your device is no longer supported by the vendor.


True, but I could imagine a situation where Lineage could work arond a bug in firmware and protect from it.


I have a Nexus 6P, and have to disagree on the hardware. I had to replace my battery to not have shutdown problems at about 25%. Also I also regularly see the need for 4gb or 6gb of memory instead of just 3gb.


> Even though as a Catholic (Laudato Si, Rerum Novarum) it kills me to waste all those materials every couple of years and be part of the environmental degradation of our planet

It's not your Catholicism that makes you feel bad for polluting, it's your humanity. If Pope Francis turned around and said there's no climate change and we should all have tyre bonfires for christmas, would you be on-board with that?


Though you wouldn't know it from observing many Christians, environmental stewardship is a Biblical mandate. Of course, it is possible to have the same conclusion through non-faith means, but that doesn't preclude the ability of a person to derive their view—at least in part—from their religious faith.

Also, despite the Catholic church's hierarchical structure, a large portion of the church does not blindly follow the Pope's every decree. 86 percent of catholics find birth control to be "morally acceptable", according to one survey ( https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/25/opinion/sunday/frank-brun... ).


I was raised Catholic, in a Catholic country and I don't every recall being taught environment stewardship as being a biblical mandate. All that came from my parents, from common sense, from a love of nature and from 80s kids TV.

I don't want to get caught up in a religious argument, but I think its far more likely that people attribute a particular view to their religious beliefs as a way of validating them than they believe the environment is precious solely because the bible told them.


This. I'm not a Catholic (or follower of any religion) but I also try not to be wasteful with anything from food packaging to technology recycling.


Well Pope Francis is not a denier, and in some sense the Church scientists are the least biased in the world, since they are beholden to no one but God. They don't need to be published or get tenure. They can go with or against both academic and political orthodoxy as they choose.

So if Francis came out and said climate change is not a concern I would actually pay pretty serious attention to that. And I'm not even Catholic.


how weird is it that we came here to read about a new phone and ended up discussing climate change and religion.


> So if Francis came out and said climate change is not a concern I would actually pay pretty serious attention to that. And I'm not even Catholic.

Are you paying pretty serious attention when they claim that dinosaurs bones were sprinkled around the world by their god to test our faith?


Has the Catholic church actually said that, or are you perhaps confusing them with another group?


I grew up in a Catholic family, that's what they teach you in catechism. They also teach you that the universe was created in literally seven days. But if you keep your chain of asking "how?" long enough before they yell at you, they'll also tell you that such statement is not to take "literally".


YMMV - I was raised a Catholic and never got any literalist stuff about creation, or nonsense about dinosaur bones being planted to confuse us. Nor is it in the catechism as such - there is quite enough unbelievable stuff in there as it is...


Hah, catholic guilt and environmentalism work together so well.

yeah, I feel bad for taking a similar lifetime on my phones - I wish there was a company with the kind of reputation for craftsmanship and long-term support that Apple has that would offer stock Google Android devices.


Wanting long term support and Google software are contradictory requests.


I wish that Google could start supporting that.

I am not that convinced that it is in their best interest though .. Last time I got saw numbers on this, non-geeks did not care at all about updates.


I know, but from an environmental perspective it would be nice to be confident that I could get a reasonable 4-year-life out of a new flagship phone, rather than going through rare earths and energy to make disposable 2-year phones.


It would. On the plus side Google has invested a ton of effort this year into making this possible.

Project treble is a major platform change.

OEMs need to get onboard though.

I would love to see Google ship the Pixel 2 with a ten years support warranty.. that would show the way but I will believe it when it happens


I'm 90% sure this is because Qualcomm won't give out the source to various drivers. Instead you get a binary blob to deal with which makes the interface with other parts of the system untenable over time.


Google fixed that in Android O with Project Treble, but the Essential Phone won't ship with O unfortunately.


You are (mostly) correct. Either qcom doesn't give you blob updates (sometimes) or they don't update vendor/qcom/proprietary for new releases (most of the time). Partially on qcom, partially on OEMs.


I've had my current iPhone for three years and think it'll go for at least one or two more


I used an iPhone 5 for three years, but just replaced it this spring because the battery was worn down and the port was unreliable, and, mostly, I got tired of the newer OSes not performing very well :S. So I got a refurbished iPhone SE (300$) to replace it.


I'm on Android 4 as I'm typing this and the only reason I'm even considering a new phone is that apps have gotten a bit more demanding of the CPU, i.e. my hardware is too slow for a handful of apps now. What do you find so critical about OS/OEM software updates that you find a need to buy a new phone every 1-2 years?


Security update for one. Idk about 1-2 years, but if it doesn't get security updates I'm not getting email/sms/etc on it


But your email app will still get updates right? (I guess I'm using Gmail and assuming you are using something like it that gets updates too, but maybe I'm wrong.) Same with SMS - lots of apps that get updates. What's the exact issue?


Most will, some will drop support after its X major release behind. But that's not really the issue, the underlying system has a lot of security issues (as all complex systems do).

So just for 2017 there are:

- 326 code execution vulnerabilities

- 221 memory overflow bugs

- 114 memory corruption issues

- 309 privilege escalation bugs

http://www.cvedetails.com/product/19997/Google-Android.html?...

Granted, I'm sure a lot of these CVE are very low risk, and some are duplicates (because CVE). But there were a couple of notable really bad security issues. But this is just the Android, not all the of dependencies Android has.

StageFright was already mentions, and there has been a couple of iterations of this already, stemming from different bugs in a parsing library used with MMS. Included in this is a remote code execution and an privilege escalation.

Another fun one is Broadpwn, which is rather new one and was disclosed as BlackHat US this year. Its effects both iOS and Android and can be wormed trivially. It targets a widely used Broadcomm wifi chipset, and does not require _any_ user interaction. A malformed SSID broadcast allows for remote code execution. And when I say any user interaction, you can walk by something broadcasting this and you're infected.


Regarding Broadpwn: I wasn't aware of it, but at the same time -- has it actually been exploited, and has it been patched in more recent hardware or OSes? If the upgrade doesn't help mitigate an actual, existing threat then upgrading doesn't solve anything.

To put it another way: if you learn of a very serious exploit like this in the wild and an upgrade is the only way to solve it -- by all means, go ahead and upgrade. I'm not saying you should never upgrade, nor am I saying serious security vulnerabilities cannot pop up. But neither in any way implies you need a periodic 1-2-year hardware/OS refresh. A refresh could be justified in 1 day or in 10 years; it just depends on what the actual threats and mitigations are. Remember what the original discussion was about: it was about whether the periodic refresh is justified.

As for the rest of those (StageFright and other attacks) -- I've addressed them in other comments. See here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15040745


There is no way I'm going to be continually looking for new incoming CVE that affect my old phone and making sure I have solid workarounds. The risk is too high that I'd miss one, mess up a fix, and then be vulnerable. And even if the risk wasn't that high, we're talking about a lot of time sunk into looking through security postings and verifying my own fixes/workarounds. It doesn't have to take too many minutes per year before it's worth me buying a new $130 moto E or whatever. As in like, 1 hour per three years or something.

This is the same reason why I don't run a computer OS at home that isn't patched to the latest security updates. I am not going to run windows XP at home and just disable / find workarounds for every single one of the probably-thousands of risks. That's insane.


That's a total straw man. You don't need to keep up with CVE. You really think I learned about e.g. StageFright through reading CVE or expected you to do that? If there's a serious vulnerability that actually needs your attention, you will read about it in the news (certainly on HN, most likely also the general news if it affects a sizable population). You will become aware of it somehow, most likely before a patch is even released. You won't need to put any time into it until it happens, and even then the mitigation (like e.g. disabling automatic MMS download here) will usually be far faster than the time to buy a new phone, set up your apps again, and move everything over. Not to mention that the phone you buy won't be updated to that very day anyway, so you'll have more upgrading to do soon after. Seriously, you're way blowing it out of proportion.


> If there's a serious vulnerability that actually needs your attention, you will read about it in the news

The ol' security through tech press approach. Seriously though, you can't have the security of your devices dependent on whether or not someone has come up with a catchy name for their exploit. The exploits with names like broadpwn and stagefright are the exceptions, not the rules, there are plenty of critical CVE's that have never had cool names or tech articles written about them. Even if an exploit has a cool name and some press, what if people don't upvote it when it gets posted here (or reddit/wherever)?


You seem to think that a security hole being "critical" implies you need to care about it. You do not. You only need to care about actual threats, not mere security holes. A "critical" CVE that nobody exploits is pretty darn pointless to worry about, just like how the fact that cellular communication is plaintext isn't really tickling too many people because the average criminal isn't using a Stingray. And an expoit that becomes widespread will get the press attention, precisely because people will want to know about it. (Unless you're the kind of person who's always one of the first few to catch a virus, in which case either you're a security researcher, or you're looking for trouble, or you're hanging out on the wrong networks...)


>And an expoit that becomes widespread will get the press attention, precisely because people will want to know about it.

As you're clearly entirely clueless about security, how do you know this?

If you primarily get your security news via the press, how do you know that they aren't simply missing most things?


>If there's a serious vulnerability that actually needs your attention, you will read about it in the news

No, this is fucking stupid. Most security related bugs get zero visibility, Linux for example still has a policy to quietly patch them.


> No, this is fucking stupid.

Well, now I'm definitely convinced...

> Most security related bugs get zero visibility, Linux for example still has a policy to quietly patch them.

Most security bugs don't need your attention either, because they don't have widespread exploits.

Read the prior comments; don't just curse in reply to a single sentence while ignoring all the prior context.


>Most security bugs don't need your attention either, because they don't have widespread exploits.

But if you do anything interesting with your life this simply isn't an useful argument.


With Broadpwn; Largely yes. Android and iOS both published security fixed before this was presented at Blackhat. But:

1. Android is kind of tricky though, as firmware updates generally come from the carrier not the manufacturers, and even if its from the manufacturers its still down stream of the actual patches. But the factor is kind of moot if a phone isn't getting security upgrades.

2. Google has been trying to decouple security and firmware updates, but this is only on more recent phones.

As for how much of an issue this is. Its kind of impossible to tell. It been out for less than a month at this point. And of course there are all the devices that are now unsupported and will not receive updates.

Ok for StageFright. Do you have those enabled? How many users do you think will?


re: Broadpwn: okay, so again: having upgraded every 1 year now wouldn't have helped you regarding Broadpwn as far as we're aware now, so I'm not sure what this example is supposed to show.

For StageFright: I assume by "enabled" you mean "disabled"? Yes, I've already mitigated; it took me like 30 seconds. See this comment [1]. I'm not claiming laymen would or should do this, but I wasn't making that claim originally either. I was responding to someone on HN who presumably understands something about technology and who felt guilty about buying phones and polluting the planet periodically just for the security updates. I'm saying he's most likely already more than capable enough to solve that problem without any tangible negative effects to himself. I'm doing that myself and it's working fine for me, I'm not losing any time to this at all, and I don't think I'm any better with phones than he is. It's completely possible and won't really cost you anything at all (it'll save you money and save the planet garbage); you just need to find the willpower. For a non-techy person the story might be different.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15040700


"Stagefright" is an Android vulnerability that allows attackers to exploit a device by sending a specially crafted MMS message. No user intervention is required, no dodgy apps need to be installed.

You're on Android 4, so your phone is vulnerable. If you use your phone for anything important, I'd suggest getting that new phone ASAP.


Actually I've already mitigated this by disabling automatic MMS download, and from what I read [1] it can be mitigated in other ways as well. It can't be done in every app, but then you can just use an app that lets you do this. So this is a non-issue. Any others you can think of?

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stagefright_(bug)#Mitigation


Just make sure not to open any videos from the internet. Hardly an issue!


> Just make sure not to open any videos from the internet. Hardly an issue!

What? Chrome and Firefox protect against it [1]... do you not use either?

[1] https://www.howtogeek.com/225834/stagefright-what-you-need-t...


The app-level "mitigation" is that media isn't automatically loaded. You are still just as vulnerable after you decide to play that innocuous-looking MP4 file.


I wasn't aware, thanks for mentioning that. However, the videos I watch are on YouTube and news sites and such... not sketchy sites. And I never play MP4s on my phone directly (unless they're videos I've recorded). I'm not sure many others do either, frankly. So how much do I need to worry and how much of a justification is this to upgrade the phone every 1-2 years?


Right this is sort of the point. You were not aware, if you had based your defense against unlatched vulnerabilities based on your knowledge 24 hours ago, you could quite easily have gotten pwned. Knowing about all vulnerabilities that could affect you and how they work is incredibly difficult. I don't want that risk (nevermind that even if I was ok with that risk, my company would throw a fit if they found out I was using an unpatched OS).


> I never play MP4s on my phone directly

A good chunk of he video on the internet is mp4, so how would you know if you were playing an mp4 or not?


Just go through the monthly Android security bulletins [1]. Without fail there are a bunch of critical RCE issues every single month.

[1] https://source.android.com/security/bulletin/2017-08-01


That's not how things work! If the OS is not secure then app updates are rendered useless.


I think to a large extent (i.e. enough to eliminate the worry in practice) it is how things work, actually. See my reply to the sister comment here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15040745


Apps do get updates, but they aren't the issue. The system/kernel/system libraries don't get updates and if they are compromised all your apps are compromised too. If someone know a vulnerability only in a normal app he can't do anything but look at only this one app, with system access well he can do way more.

(Also Android got some additional security/privacy features after Android 4)


But the thing is, even if 100% of your apps are vulnerable, it doesn't mean anything unless the attacker can reach your phone somehow. That can only happen in 5 different ways: (1) Low-level Wi-Fi bug exploit, (2) SMS exploit, (3) Cellular exploit (like a Stingray), (4) Cellular internet connection (open ports, etc.), (5) App-level exploits.

I don't know of any critical examples of #1 that I would need to protect against where upgrading is my only solution (maybe I'll upgrade if I find one). #2 can be mitigated at the app level (see my reply to the other comment here) and probably faster so than the update you'd receive. #3 can't really be mitigated by phone updates. #4 is impractical since cells are behind carrier-grade NATs and don't have dedicated IP addresses to be reachable via the internet. And #5 just involves updating the app, not the OS or hardware.

If you can give me an example of an actual attack that cannot be prevented without upgrading the hardware or the OS, I would find that far more convincing than a hypothetical.



Has this (a) been exploited in the wild, and more importantly, (b) even actually patched in more recent phones?

Otherwise, how is this a justification for upgrading your phone? It seems like you may have forgotten what the argument even was. I was arguing against routine 1-2-year upgrades, not against the entire concept of upgrading for something wiht a serious security vulnerability. If a serious exploit appears in the wild and your only solution is to upgrade -- by all means, go for it. But is that the case here? And this happened periodically every 1-2 years for you to justify upgrading equally often?


A) I don't know. How would you ever know? RCE can be silent.

B) Yes, in Android patch level July 2017 and iOS 10.3.3.


Mostly, access to new apps and security updates.

But you've got a point about newer apps becoming more demanding of the CPU. Ideally, this trend continues to slow down (Moore's law is essentially over) and software engineers start to find ways to do more with less. There's plenty of room to optimize most software out there, but historically very little incentive to do so. That's changing, or it should.

In the meanwhile, an expensive long-lasting phone should make it possible to upgrade the CPU and/or GPU in a phone for a fraction of the price of the whole phone, so that the phone can be used at its full potential for its complete lifetime. A similar provision applies to batteries, which usually die after a couple of years and would need to be replaced once or twice during the lifetime.

Frankly, I haven't been able to keep a phone long enough for the software to become obsolete because the hardware breaks after 1-2 years. So I want Essential to succeed. A long-lasting phone made with durable materials and with many years of guaranteed software updates is the product we need, if someone dares to make it.


security ones...


What kind of security updates actually worry you though? Not trying to sound snarky, but do you install sketchy apps regularly? What are examples of actual threats are you trying to protect against? If you install untrusted apps regularly I could see why, but if not then what attack vector are you worried about? Are you worried about a WiFi attack in a coffee shop for example?


Not the person who you are replying to, but in my case, yes, connecting to a hostile WiFi and someone physically stealing my phone and having access to my entire life is exactly my fear.

Also, being able to fine-tweak app permissions is a huge plus for getting Android 6+ phone.

I've switched to Nexus 5x at the beginning of this month. Current price is around 250€, and I basically gained all the features of flagship models (fast charging, good camera, up to date software, security updates for a year from now etc).

But, up until that point, I refused to install apps that I would be scared of what would happen if they were compromised (so, nothing business-related) and apps that are asking me permissions that I don't want to allow them (as an example, no Facebook app what so ever).

Been that way ever since I became a smartphone user, which, because of my privacy fears and dissatisfaction with current market options didn't happen until like two years ago.


Regarding hostile Wi-Fi: okay, so that means when such an exploit comes out, you can then decide to buy a new phone if your phone is still not receiving updates and if your phone is vulnerable. And I would expect most such exploits to be specific to the phone brand, not the Android/Linux kernel in general. Out of curiosity, do you know of any actual such exploits that remain unpatched in (say) late versions of Android 4?

Regarding someone stealing your phone: I don't understand what this has to do with OS or hardware updates. You can put a PIN on your phone and encrypt it. Perfectly possible on older versions of Android.

Regarding fine-tweaking app permissions: Privacy Guard and XPrivacy do the same thing. Why necessarily update the OS? And in any case, why constantly keep updating the OS past Android 6 where this feature was introduced?


An update of trusted certificate parties would be nice once in a while.

Or fixes that close doors left open.


What do you think about cheap chinese phones, with good hardware specs? eg http://www.elephonestore.com/elephone-p8-mini-octa-core-mobi...


You want fixable and well designed, long software updates, and a good price?

Buy an (old) iPhone.

I've got a 5S -- still perfectly fast for what I use it for (email, youtube, brokerage account, general internet, some small games), and is getting OS updates and security patches until IOS11. It's $120 on eBay; a new screen can be had for $13, a new battery for $11. it's solidly designed and there's a gigantic field of accessories and apps.

Maybe titanium and no bezels are worth a price premium, but there's no way it's worth a 5x increase in price.


Plus you have a great piece of industrial design.

I love the look of the 5S/SE. It looks premium, it feels nice in your hand, it's solid, and those chamfered edges are so nice.

It's a shame they went from that to the iPhone 6 design and stuck with it all this time. It might make bigger phones easier to hold but man it just doesn't look as nice IMO. It looks like a generic round phone. Nothing stands out about it at all.


Having sold hundreds of iPhone 5s's when I was selling B2B, I have to say I was fairly unimpressed. Not great battery life over time, if an employee left with iCloud enabled it was a whole affair with Apple to get them to reset the device and allow it to be reused, and the brick style design is not very comfortable overall.

My favorite is the curved back, as is on most Motorola's and some LGs. Personally, I stick with cheap LG phones ($100 or so) that are rootable/rommable. If the phone gets damaged or I want a newer phone, no skin off my back, biggest concern is just moving Signal Private Messenger over to the new phone I get :P


>if an employee left with iCloud enabled it was a whole affair with Apple

We would just send the phone number to our Verizon account manager and he'd send us proof of purchase for that device and we'd forward it to Apple. Wasn't a terribly difficult process, at least in my experience.


If iCloud was your problem, it's because you weren't using an MDM.

That's an OS-independent problem ;)


We use MDM (Air-Watch) and it's still a problem. If the employee uses their personal iCloud account you cannot remove it. You can unlock the device remotely via MDM but you have to have their password for their iCloud account to remove the iCloud account.

You have to contact Apple and provide proof of purchase for the device to have them remove the iCloud account.


I'm aware of what happens when Activation Lock happens when personal iCloud accounts are allowed to be installed.

The issue is allowing that to happen in the first place, instead of locking it centrally. That's either a limitation in your MDM's capabilities, or its setup. ;-)

https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT202804


Off topic but do you have recommendations for cheap rootable phones? (LG or otherwise)


I'm not bothered about my phone standing out. The 6 and later models are actually big enough for me to hold properly and read text on, without holding them up to my face. I first bought an iPhone when the 6(s) came out.


Just be careful about older phones when it comes to radios and antennae... iPhones prior to the 6s did not have the 700 MHz "Band 12" capability, rendering a lot of new spectrum (particularly from T-Mobile) unusable. The latest spectrum auction winners are already deploying 600 MHz as well, which is also unsupported.

The iPhone SE can do 700 MHz, FWIW...


If you want to travel internationally though (and you're not on Verizon), get the Sprint SE, which has better international LTE bands.


The se, if you're lucky, can even be found for less than $200 USD. Amazing battery and performance, enough that I can forgive the smaller display and 1st generation touch ID.


Those screens are so cheap, its really amazing. I fixed an old iPhone 4 and the screen cost me about €15 with shipping. I couldn't believe it.

One caveat to this though: If you do buy an old iPhone, make it at least a 5. The iPhone 4 was cut off at iOS7 and can't run most of the apps in the store as they require iOS8 or higher.


Better make it a 5s for 64bit support. The 5 won’t be getting iOS 11 next month.


And no SD card support, which is a deal breaker for many people.


Is it fast? I have a 6. In addition to the bulkier size, apps are often slow and the battery life is atrocious. I'm considering updating when the new iPhone releases in the fall.


I have none of these problems with a 6 plus. Maybe backup, factory wipe + restore, or go to an apple store and ask for help?

Also, what do you mean by "atrocious"? I get 1-2 days with heavy use.

Finally, the 5 phones I've seen this week seem snappy enough, and so does my 6 plus. It really sounds like your phone is screwed up.


I usually do a backup, wipe, and restore every couple of months which temporarily resolves the issues. I'll definitely go to an Apple store soon. Checking Instagram and Snapchat (No Facebook) every few hours, playing music, and using 30-60 minutes of Google maps each day will kill the battery in about 4-8 hours. It has gotten to a point where when I go to an event, I'll make sure to turn off my phone to save enough battery life so I can use maps later.


I just went from a 5 to a SE and the SE handles the newer OSes much better. It's too bad, because if it wasn't for performance-hog-OSes the 5 would have been great for years to come (though after a battery swap)


This is a great view to take. I might consider this for my wife who refuses to use an iPhone (that old chestnut, "Apple suck!") yet sees the missed opportunities almost daily when we want to share stuff between each other.


Couldn't live with a 16GB phone(assuming based on price) but otherwise yes this does work. Also tend to get slower the more you update them which is annoying.


iPhone SE is available for as little as $150 from best buy depending on your carrier and it's guaranteed updates until at least 2020 (assuming a 3 year update schedule).


I admire the gumption of making a new phone.

But controlled obsolescence kills me. The real feature that improves in phones the past few years for me is the software and apps, not the hardware.

My wishlist:

- Give me a lighter, snappier OS. Not something clunkier and slower and uses more ram, gpu/cpu (aka battery life).

- Actually support updates to the things for longer than 2-3 years.

- (Not related to this phone) Use stock android, unless you're removing bloat. Why? Because inevitably there's going to be apps. What I want is a nice flat surface that includes wifi, bluetooth, and nice API's and permissions for those apps to plug into.

- The biggest feature you can give me on a phone? Battery life, Replaceable battery, Data/Cell reception, Speaker/Microphone quality.

- SIM card that's easy to get out.

- Actually, Dual SIM's.

- Support for carriers globally.

- And physical keyboards. Something for SSH'ing with.


> - And physical keyboards. Something for SSH'ing with.

There is no market for this product. Nobody wants it except a tiny fraction of the market who work in IT.


Not really. Manufacturers just stopped making phones with PKB because since Apple wasn't making them, they weren't worth it. It hard to estimate the demand for PKB phones when no one is making them. I'd buy one in heartbeat if one launched with low-mid end specs and less than $400.

We've constantly chosen form over functionality. Larger sized phones, fragile build materials(glass over plastic), lesser battery just so the phone can be thinner. The keyboard was given up to make room for a bigger screen and thinner body, and now writing anything more a few sentences on a phone is a pain in the ass.

Atleast in the era of dumb phones, for all the weird shit (Nokia's taco phone) that came out that time, at least the phones were distinct, you could tell them apart just by looking at them. Now they are all the same generic rectangular glass slabs that cater's to single demographic who want large screens for media consumption. What if you are not in that demographic? Well, tough luck.

I know am in the minority and it's not really Apple's fault that everyone decided to ape them, but a part of me wishes we hadn't given up the variety just to pander to the largest common denominator, even a little variation among phones would be a welcome change.


Physical keyboards died because manufacturers want to save money by selling a single device worldwide. With a physical keyboard they would need a different SKU for every language region. Plus physical keyboards have terrible UX for non-alphabetic languages like Chinese (where much of the market growth is happening now). It sucks for users like us who type a lot exclusively in English because even the best on-screen keyboards are so much shower and less accurate. But we're no longer driving the market.


What is the draw of a tiny physical keyboard? I can type much faster on an iPhone than with any similarly-sized physical keyboard. The only advantage I can think of is the ability to touch type without paying attention to the screen as closely, but for a phone that doesn't seem like a very big deal.


I could type faster (and without looking) on the old Nokia style keypads than I can on a touchscreen.


So could I. No looking at the keyboard and almost never making a typo. I had to backspace and correct 3 typos writing this on my iPhone with autocorrect fixing several more.


Maybe this will change with tactile screens. Touch screen keyboards are the result of a severe underestimation of the importance of the human element in hardware design.


That's surprising to me. The physical phone keyboards I have used have require far too much activation pressure for me to type anywhere near as quickly as I do on an iPhone. I do think my error rate would be lower with a physical keyboard, and I could obviously type better without looking at my keyboard, but the former isn't enough of a difference and the latter isn't something I would need to do anyway except perhaps in very unusual circumstances.


I think that lower error rate is the key. I've been using an iPhone since 2010 and I still can't type on it. The amount of time I spend pressing, holding, dragging the cursor back to make a correction, or backspacing, to fix errors more than offsets any difference in typing speed because of the pressure required on a physical keyboard.

Just speaking for myself, obviously, I'm sure other people may have different experiences.


also: much more screen-space as the keyboard doesn't have to take over.


I can still type faster on physical keyboards. But the two other noteworthy advantages were

1. Ability to use the phone as a emulator machine. I had a Xperia X10 Mini Pro few years back. I used for playing Snes, Genesis, GBA/C, NES games. Playing the same games with a touch keyboard is almost impossible. Not to mention native Android/iPhone games are just gimmicks at this point due to being crippled by having only touch based input.

2. It's easier to enter arcane commands and text with the physical keyboard. Useful for things like SSH, fiddling with the terminal etc.


Decent specs, niche audience, cheap. Pick two.


That applies for niche audience laptops-- for example the gluglug laptop serves a small free-software fanbase but doesn't have decent specs.

But for cellphones, lots of values of "niche audience" end up with, "pick zero." Here are some examples:

1. Hook up a keyboard to ssh into the device. 2. Hardware switch to turn off the baseband OS. 3. Software toggle to turn off the baseband OS. 4. Sandboxed baseband OS that isn't proof-of-concept or impossible to buy and use in the U.S. 5. Free software baseband OS. 6. Open source "tivo-ized" baseband OS. I.e., user can read the source but cannot run modified version. 7. Just glue together a damned RPI with a baseband OS and ship it to me in working order.

Those are just the niches that interest me. Only #8 looks feasible in the near future and its apparently still in the planning stage:

https://www.crowdsupply.com/arsenijs/zerophone

So I think your "niche audience" needs an asterisk that says, "most niches not yet supported."


Check out postmarketOS. It's porting mobile linux to a whole host of old smart phones. It's a relatively new (open-source) project, but has already progressed considerably. A lot of people (myself included) are excited about the possibilities of having a fully hackable linux phone.

I am not active in the porting side right now, but am prototyping a mobile computing device that runs pmOS. It's kind of a neuromancer style ono-sendai portable deck: A rectangular box (approx 11x29x3cm) that you can opem up and velcro your linux phone into and have a full-sized, stainless steel, porclean, or plastic mechanical keyboard and foldable mouse with slots for extra memory and battery life. It is designed to be as compact and as durable as possible, while staying true to the postmarket name by sourcing from reused materials whenever possible.

My hypothetical market is mainly highly mobile autonomous individuals residing in developing world megacities, but I'm interested to know what someone from the US or Europe thinks about the idea.

Oh ya, one more thing, the profits go to pmOS, to scale up a re-wilding project, and to getting these hackable linux devices into the hands of children forced to work in the supply/waste chain of electronics manufacturing.

How's that sound?


It's not an analysis of what's available on the market. It is a statement about constraints in manufacturing/production.

Also, you're missing #8.


Considering I mentioned low end specs in the parent comment, I think I'll go with 'niche audience' and 'cheap' :)


I mostly agree with your comment, but "fragile build materials(glass over plastic)" is weird to me, glass is much more pleasant to touch than plastic, and while it may shatter (which isn't an issue with plastic), plastic is easier to scratch, which used to be an issue before almost all phones got a glass screen.


I want an email client, talk, text, gps, music streaming app, dual sim, wifi, 4G Bluetooth, eBook/PDF, voice to text on an e-ink screen. Would settle for email client talk text and wifi on e-ink.

Edit: forgot tracking cookies, telemetry, and an animated paperclip assistant thing


Err...have you tried Yotaphone? They are coming up with a second iteration. Someone will probably hack it to use the secondary e-ink display to show whatever you want.


Looked into it previously and it seemed a little clunky... Android 2.x-side out keyboard-2009 era design. I assumed that would be a PITA to text/type and read on with the limited screen real estate. Will check out v 2.0 thought, Thanks!

Over the last few years I've been trying to limit my smartphone usage to exclude everything but productivity and communication apps that are pretty much required for my employment, friends, family, sustainance etc. I think an e-ink only device would be a huge benefit in that regard.

Wonder if there's a market for a device that is essentially designed to be all work and no play?

As I try to avoid becoming anymore of a smartphone zombie('living in the matrix') all of you connivingly clever SF/SV tech bastards just come up with sneaky new ways to increase Session Engagement, Duration/CTR/Time on Page... I'm stuck in a never ending attention war;-)

I haven't gone to any nuclear options yet: flip phone, massager pigeons.

It's like I'm craving some parental authority, take all of my toys, no TV, no video games, no comic books, no desert.

Sure would like some type of: [You can either read quietly in my room, or you can go to bed!]-type of smartphone!


And a big piece of that market doesn't even want it.


I just can't type on screens. I have tried so many times. My current phone is a Blackberry Passport, previous one was an HTC Desire Z, and my next one (fingers crossed) will be this: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gemini-pda-android-linux-...

I'd like to ssh sometimes, but mostly I want to send text and emails like everyone else.

Shame that few companies have the guts to break the monoculture. It is vaguely ridiculous that most phones look identical.


Have you tried swiping keyboards ? I don't think it's for everyone, there's only a few that do it well, and afaik none open-source which does it all (though I believe the functionality is in development for ASK); however I find that the GBoard with swiping and multiple languages is a very decent way to type text for most usage.

If you have a heavy use of the symbols we find on common keyboards, sure a physical keyboard might be better... But then once again good luck if it's not the layout of your heart.

I don't there's an easy solution for these glass slabs but I think that software keyboards have gone quite a decent way from what they were 4 or 5 years ago.


In my experience swiping keyboards don't really work for unix command strings. Which reminds me, I should buy a Passport. They're probably cheapish now...


> Shame that few companies have the guts to break the monoculture. It is vaguely ridiculous that most phones look identical.

You are describing cars. There is no market for cars which are driven with more complex mechanisms than steering wheels. The world has percolated around the optimal solution, and it is a touch screen.


It's not either or. The optimal solution is a phone that has a touchscreen and a keyboard. I had a HP Veer, and that one was way better for typing than all smartphones I ever had.

Touchscreens suck for typing. A smooth glass surface without haptic feedback can never be an optimal solution for that. It is only better for pure media consumption, if having only a touchscreen means having a bigger display.


Have you ever considered that maybe you're just bad at typing on a touchscreen, and some practice could help? I can type on my iPhone without looking at it, quite quickly, the OS's autocorrect fills in for my slight inaccuracies with pretty damn good accuracy.

The size a device must be to have both a keyboard and usable touchscreen puts it squarely out of the optimal solution category.


Not parent, but in the comment ancestry.

Yes, as I said, I find typing on a screen difficult and I've put plenty of effort into trying.

To draw a close parallel, dyslexic people have been forced for years to use conventional mass market writing equipment and told that they were stupid for finding that difficult. Mercifully people have stopped doing this. Same applies to left-handers if you want a broad example.

I find this dogmatic "everyone must be the same" and "there's only one way to make a phone / writing tool" quite bizarre and a bit paternalistic. We're not all clones. We don't all have exactly the same needs, or requirements for 'optimum solutions'.

I'm happily typing this on my BlackBerry Passport, which wider than some other people's phones, and sometimes draws comment. But it does the job I need it to so I'm happy.


> The size a device must be to have both a keyboard and usable touchscreen puts it squarely out of the optimal solution category.

The Motorola Droid managed to do it, and fit in my pocket. Scale it up a little to keep pace with modern phones, and you get screenspace and an even roomier keyboard.


Respectfully, I've been using iPhones exclusively for ~7 years and I can still type faster on a Blackberry after using it for five minutes. I type WELL over 100 wpm on a computer keyboard, up into the 140wpm for short periods of time. I really don't think the problem is more practice.


I don't have 7 years of practice, but a few, and it is similar for me. It's not even close. For me that's absolute intuitive: Of course one types faster when having haptical feedback. Very intelligent auto-completion and typing by swipe gestures maybe could come close some day, but doing that blindly will take an enormous amount of practice time. I'm not even sure humans can learn that at all, despite what parent said.


I'm not so sure about optimal. Touch screen input devices always come with software that tries (and often fails, to humorous effect) to correct your typing because typing on a slick surface with no tactile feedback, to coin a phrase, fucking blows.

I think it's got more to do with negative perception. Keyboards found their way onto cheap (read: awful) Android phones and better (but app-less) Blackberry phones and the mindset carries the perception home.

If Apple were to come out with a keyboard phone, the rest of the industry would be doing it overnight before the sales numbers were in.


If this has to be a car metaphor, surely it's automatic vs manual transmission.

And there have been no mass market cars with joysticks but there have been a number of phones with keyboards.


And the manual transmission is also almost dead, at least in the US. And soon self driving cars and electrics will make the whole question moot, just like voice and gestures and mental control will make keyboard preference obsolete.


> at least in the US

They are alive and kicking everywhere else.


Not for long :)


Have you considered the Blackberry KeyOne?


For the few times I've needed it, I've found an iPhone + Prompt SSH Client + Bluetooth Keyboard to be pretty effective. I do have a Chromebook these days as a "travel device", but in a pinch an iPhone will work. iPads also work great for emergency access to Windows desktops.


Blind, partially sighted, and arthritic folks can all benefit from physical keyboards. Blind and partially sighted might be a smaller niche, but older folks with arthritic hands are a huge population. It's hard to be exact on a virtual keyboard when your eyes and fingers don't work the same as younger, able-bodied person.


Does "they can all benefit" mean "I think they would benefit" or does it mean "they have actually been demanding this due to the benefit"?


No, they benefit from the the magnifying glass feature, VoiceOver, and the ability to do voice to text input


but one could also make the argument that a tiny, cramped, physical QWERTY keyboard is not going to be of benefit to elderly users with arthritis?


I think there are still quite a few business professionals who miss their Blackberrys. But I agree, still a very small market. Personally I'd love to have a physical keyboard. Phones are big enough know that we could have a full size keyboard and still have more display than we had on an iPhone 4.


My wife preferred physical keyboards, but like many, accepted the iPhone despite it's lack thereof.


Blackberry make a couple of Android handsets with physical keyboards.


KeyOne seems to be selling well, I hope they release some cheap PKB phones in the future. Even if it has low-end specs, if it is less than $300, I'd buy one in a heartbeat.


Which is the people who make software for the rest of the users, so they'll buy this phone and write software for it, making it desirable for others.


As someone who has numerous Palm/HP devices running webOS and BB10 based Blackberry Passport and is a complete sucker for hardware keyboards, let me say that this assumption is false. People don't care about physical keyboards, it is not worthy the factory/design/maintenance costs. I still love them but I understand why vendors are not investing them anymore.

If "people who make software" could really influence the market, Linux dominance would have happened between the 90s and 00s.


Not to mention, why take the reliability gains we've made with these devices, likely because of the massive reduction in moving parts, and erase all that with a keyboard. An accessory seems like the right way to do this for those that really need it, and those accessories exist.


>If "people who make software" could really influence the market, Linux dominance would have happened between the 90s and 00s.

Er, the vast majority of computers run linux


Apparently you should give that advice to Google Chrome, which spends hundreds of thousands of money into making their developer tools better, a feature only a tiny fraction of their users want.


Repeat after me: "Hardware is not software".

Software is far, far, cheaper than hardware. Building bespoke hardware for a tiny fraction of your customer base is insanely expensive, because the larger players have sewn up all the component orders. Once you build your hardware you are stuck with it forever. There is no "Day 1" patch for hardware.

If you needed further evidence you only have to look at the number of hardware Kickstarter projects that fail miserably because they grossly underestimated the cost and complexity of actually making a physical thing.


This is not a good analogy.

1) Google is an advertising company. They're not good at making products. If they were, they'd have a lot more profit come from places other than AdSense. They have literally dozens of products, and very few of them impact the bottom line. Clearly they do need to figure out what people want.

2) Dev Tools in Chrome is a way to get developers to target Chrome. This means Chrome is going to work better when browsing than other browsers.

3) Google has so much engineering bandwidth that Dev Tools is a tiny investment. It was useful enough (at the time it was released) to keep it entirely internal, honestly. Letting the public use it was just gravy.

4) Web developers are far, far more common than people who need to use SSH from a phone. Not all developers use SSH and not all developers have a reason to use it from a phone.


Google has a vested experience in improving the internet for all, because the more man-hours that are spent online, the more people are interacting with Google marketing and products.

To that end, they've always been very vested in improving web development for everyone.


Chrome developer tools are pay-for-play. Aside from download size, users are not impacted by the existence of the developer tools. Users who don't want a physical keyboard can't exactly remove it.


> - Give me a lighter, snappier OS. Not something clunkier and slower and uses more ram, gpu/cpu (aka battery life).

Well, Moto Z Play easily survives a day with 70%+ battery left. Of course Lenovo decided that that's untenable, and had to make Moto Z2 Play thinner and reduced battery capacity to be the same crappy one that we know from iPhones and other Android phones.

(It also has/had dual sim tray, SD card tray and the ability to add an additional battery package if three days weren't enough for you).

The current mobile phone "market" is downright terrible. Calling a market is perhaps an overstatement - you have a choice of marginally different 5,5" slabs with pretty much the same capability, battery life, screen. Want smaller display? Nope. Want more battery? Nooope. Want keyboard? Naaah.


The Moto Z Play has amazing battery life, and the Z2 play reduced the battery less than 20%.

While not as good, the Z2 play still has amazing battery life.


Agree, I have a Z Play and it is an amazing device. Not having to worry about charging your phone makes it a totally different experience. And it supports QC3 so when you do need to charge it takes <1hr.


I'm not trying to be snarky, I swear, but iOS checks all your boxes except "be android" along with dual sim and removable battery. And iOS hardware is still top of the pack when it comes to raw power in the majority of real use cases.


Yes, but that box is oh so hard to check. ;)


Is it? I need my phone to do three things: 1) Make and receive calls & texts. 2) Run a small number of ubiquitous apps (maps, ride hailing) 3) Not get hacked at DEFCON.

Phones with the Apple logo on the back do this job best. Their security posture is just so much better and you don't have carrier-enforced forced obsolescence from the software side. You literally can always run the latest iOS until the hardware _just can't_.

I'm an open source guy only as much as it makes sense.


>I'm an open source guy only as much as it makes sense.

That means you're not really an open source guy. You're just using whatever is best on the market at the time.


So you don't use any closed source software? What exactly is the bar for "open source guy" ? Sounds kind of like a No True Scottsman situation to me.


When the open source option is significantly less secure, I'm not going to use it, sorry. I'll take the fundamentalist approach where I can...for example, Purism laptops or Raptor Talos hardware running BSD.

That kind of option doesn't really exist with phones because of market forces. This idea that Android is some better moral choice is a delusion.


Then that would mean no one except for Richard Stallman are open source guys


And even he used to begrudgingly use non-free blobs while he didn't have an alternative.


Is this a No True Open Source Guy argument?


I have been having difficulty finding a good android phone that could replace the iPhone 5SE.

If I go apple again, I no longer have the ability to sync my phone, since my Mac died under a glass of wine and I "replaced" it with a Dell Precision 5520 running Arch because the MacBook Pro lineup was untenable.

I'd go apple again if I could actually backup,sync,etc my phone. It's a good device in isolation. But don't dare step out of the apple ecosystem.


Why not to use iCloud? It handles backups and sync.


Windows & iTunes in a VM?


Don't forget about Blackberry! :P


New Blackberries are Android though.


I used a iPhone 5 for 3+ years and I found that every OS update performed worse and worse. I found that frustrating. So I'm not sure it checks the box of "lighter, snappier".

I now upgraded to a refurbished SE and it's really nice so far.


And you pay at least thrice as much, get far worse app support outside of the US (for example, in Germany > 85% of users are on Android, so that’s where the apps are), and you basically can’t develop at all for iOS (who’s gonna pay 3000$ to get a Mac and stuff AND 99$ a year just to build apps in their free time? Yeah, me neither).


> who’s gonna pay 3000$ to get a Mac and stuff AND 99$ a year just to build apps in their free time? Yeah, me neither

The Mac complaint is fair, but you can build and run your own apps outside of the store with a free developer account as of a couple years ago.

Edit: Also, a capable Mac development machine is closer to $1500 than $3k.


> but you can build and run your own apps outside of the store with a free developer account as of a couple years ago.

That doesn’t really help when you want to use the apps with a few friends. Honestly, Apple and Google can have whatever they requirements they want for their stores, but they should be forced by law to allow alternative stores.

And you’re right, the cheapest MacBook at 1499 EUR is around 1800 USD. That’s not nearly 3000 bucks, but an entirely different story than the 600€ I paid for my thinkpad or the 700€ I paid for my desktop. And I don’t want it anyway, I’d only use it for Apple development. And I’d already have to pay extra for the iPhone.


I bought a used 2012 Mac Mini for $450 and added some RAM and an SSD for $100. It probably wouldn't work great for large projects, but has been good enough for something a single developer can create on the side.


Maybe the friends could get developer accounts too?


> Edit: Also, a capable Mac development machine is closer to $1500 than $3k.

More like $700ish. The Mac Mini is perfectly capable of doing iOS app development.


you are no longer required to have a developer account in order to test your apps on your Mac and/or iOS device. to publish apps you still need the account.


Wait, you are saying you can now install arbitrary software on an IOS device, you don't need to use the app store?


Correct. The iOS 9 and 10 jailbreaks used this method to utilize app based exploit vectors. Unfortunately the app are limited to 7 days before signing again.


you basically can’t develop at all for iOS (who’s gonna pay 3000$ to get a Mac

That's assuming that you don't already own a Mac but a lot of people do.


At this point I would buy any phone that shipped their OS as a buildroot or openwrt fork with a mainline Linux kernel. At that point you /know/ it's going to be updated.

I wouldn't even mind using FBterm for everything and not having a "modern" webbrowser, I don't think I've ever gotten anything usefull done on a mobile browser anyway.


Not a physical keyboard, but Hacker's Keyboard on Android is my favorite for SSH'ing

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.pocketwork...


Agreed, I don't really feel a pressing need for a hardware keyboard with Hacker's Keyboard available.


This sounds like a terrible business with a minuscule market. The cost of designing, manufacturing and shipping something as complex as a phone is huge. By making the battery user-serviceable, and the software updates free and indefinite, you would eliminate any possibility for recurring revenue.


Make the batteries degrade really quickly and just charge $300 for a new one


> And physical keyboards. Something for SSH'ing with.

Biggest thing I want is no aux port but __two__ (or more) usb-c ports instead. That way you can do stuff like plug in a keyboard/monitor or other standalone usb devices. I don't want to be forced to use weird all in one hubs for specific use cases. I want the UNIX philosophy with my hardware.


Bluetooth keyboards work great with Android devices. No cables required.


I'm sure they are fine, but I don't see why I have to deal with bluetooth pairing and managing another device's battery. Plugging things in works great and is an overall more efficient protocol.


Heavily disagree. Especially when using ssh. I always have alt/ctrl issues, and I've tried a handful of them.


The lenovo thinkpad bluetooth keyboard w/built-in trackpoint has been working very very well for me, originally with the thinkpad tablet 2 it was designed for and these days with my second gen nexus 7.


Thanks. Ill give that a shot


Just buy a usb hub instead?


That's kind of clunky and may cause issues with multiplexing high bandwidth protocols like monitors.


Clunky in the face of connecting monitors and many peripherals?

If anything it would make it way easier.


If I'm holding a phone I don't want a usb hub flapping around to plug in >1 device. More ports fit strictly more use cases. The only reason to limit phones to one port is so the manufacturer can save a few bucks.

Sure I can work around just about any problem, but I'm gonna say fuck you for making me.

EDIT: someone should fund me to make the ~11mm no speaker, no aux port, 2-4 usb-c port, dual sim, large/fast storage, beefy battery, rooted, juicy ass laptop killer that nobody knew they needed.


You happily accept many peripherals flapping around but won't accept a usb-hub that allows you to group them together?

This comes to mind: https://xkcd.com/1172/

Now if we are going to talk about manufacturers saving a few bucks for the only reason of trying to be the bigger idiot we should take about the headphone jack.


> many peripherals flapping around

headphones and charger

A usb hub also doesn't fit into my pocket. What if I'm walking around and want to plug two things in? Well fuck.

EDIT: Also that is not a relevant xkcd. I'm not suggesting to break other peoples usecase in favor of mine. I just want two ports.


You should be able to do that with an adapter. And if you use usb for headphones (which by the way is just ludicrous) you already live the dongle-life.

Though the motorola Z phones has what you want. Add the turbopower mod and you get the powerpack and an additional usb connection that can be used for charging (not sure if that mod allows that usb-port for anything else), leaving the original unused.

The Z-line is also the closest you can get to a replaceable battery so that is pretty neat as well.


Agree on the battery life.

Also - give me the new iPhone 7 camera without having to get the "PLUS" size.

Also - for international carriers. Take a good look at t-mobile. International data+texting on their plans means I don't tough SIM cards ever anymore.


On top of that, I would add "make it 4.7 inches". When it comes to Android that is. The only current line of phones with specs I like is Xperia Z5/X Compact. First one is great, but overheats and is no longer available, the second one has a weirder design.


All I want is to get google fi on an iphone. Ok battery, reasonable lifetime (I can usually get 3.5 years out of an iphone) and cheap international data.


You can insert a Fi sim into an iPhone. Officially this isn't supported, but you'll get reasonable service. What you won't get: auto switching between us cellular, TMobile, and Sprint; support; wifi calling via fi; and the Fi app. What you will get: TMobile service; International roaming at Fi rates; voice, data, and text.


I have a Fi data SIM in an iPhone, and it works great. Not certain if you can sneak a voice SIM in.


You can, but it first has to be activated on a supported device, and can only connect to T-Mo.


Related to the last one: there's a keyboard mod for the Moto Z Play, which Motorola has officially approved, which is coming out next month.


115% funded, too! For a phone addon. Take that, "there's no market for it" doomsayers!


Very cool! I wasn't aware it was Moto approved. I look forward to 3rd party reviews:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/keyboard-mod-a-physical-k...


> - And physical keyboards. Something for SSH'ing with.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/keyboard-mod-a-physical-k...


You might be interested in the Pyra, though it's rather chunky for a phone - it nails every feature of your wishlist except dual SIM. It won't come with Android (that's the "lighter, snappier OS" part) but porting should not be a problem.

Worth noting that global carrier support is an extremely difficult feature if you include all the wacky US carriers that don't use GSM. In the Pyra's case, there are actually two versions - the "US" version and the "everywhere else" version.


> Give me a lighter, snappier OS. Not something clunkier and slower and uses more ram, gpu/cpu (aka battery life).

The apps you[1] install are what use up all your RAM & battery. The OS itself is light, fast, and efficient.

[1] Well, that either you installed yourself or that your carrier/oem "helpfully" bundled for you.


There are apps in aosp that are needlessly bloated too. Not that you can see much of source nowadays.


That phone already exists and I'm using it right now: the Gionee M6 Lite. Everything in your wishlist except the physical keyboard, for $130. Since it's a Chinese phone it doesn't get much hype.


I understand physical keyboards aren't really a thing for most folks. What I wish though is that someone would make sliding keyboard cases for either more models (only one I saw was for iphone) or something generic that I could clip onto a existing case.

There are some small pocket sized keyboards but with no way to attach to my phone they are not very useful.

----

For battery life I have been pretty impressed with my phone (xiaomi redmi note 3 pro) I only plug it in at night and can easily go 2 days without charging. It also charges extremely fast.

First phone I have owned since my nokia flip phone that I almost never think about battery life.


Have you seen the Nokia 6? Pure android with dual SIMs


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