In october, I went on 2 trips and after that several things became very clear: First, covid is still out there and you can still get it (as I did) and that my current trusty phone that I had been using for the last 7 years finally needed to be replaced.
The old phone is a one plus 3t and it’s been a great phone. I currently have been running /e/ on it (with no google) and it’s been fine. Unfortunately, the years have now taken their toll on the battery. When traveling I had to put it on super battery save just to have any battery left after a day away from a charger. On super battery save it’s slow slow slow, bordering on unusable. The sad thing is, if I could replace the battery I could probibly be fine with this phone for more years. It’s true it doesn’t take super great pictures, only has 64GB space, and has a bunch of scratches now. But alas, the battery is non replaceable, so I decided I needed to do something.
Of course the first thing I looked at was just using one of the 2 pinephones or 1 pinephone pro I already have. Sadly, they just aren’t good enough for a daily driver for me. They are slow, the battery life is also bad (on the pro at least), and… the biggest problem: The camera is just not good at all. I end up taking a lot of pictures and I really need them to be viewable. Finally, despite lots of work, there’s still a bunch of things non upstreamed, so I would have to run a custom kernel and a bunch of other non upstreamed parts.
Next, there are now some phones you can buy with /e/ pre-installed. There’s the Murena one and Teracube 2e. The one has more storage space, but otherwise they have less ram than my oneplus 3t. 🙂 This was a tempting option, but /e/ hadn’t been impressing me of late. Updates were few and far between, I had to do a bunch of tinkering to get on the latest stream (based on android 11).
The fairphone3/4 are interesting, but don’t seem to be available in the US at all. Of course I am sure I could get one, but likely it wouldn’t work with US telco’s.
I wanted to get something that would have a nice long life of updates also.
Finally I ended up deciding on just getting a unlocked pixel 7 and going with grapheneos on it. I deliberately choose the 7 over the 7 pro because it’s slightly smaller (but still big) and from all reviews I read had a better battery life. The pixel 7 gets 5 years of updates, which is about as good as you can do these days.
Why grapheneos? Well, I did not want to go back to being tied to google if I could help it and /e/ doesn’t really support any very modern phones. The free phone os’es (postmarketos, mobian, etc) also don’t support pretty new hardware either. However, I figure after a few years there’s a good chance something like a pixel will be supported by more of those and I can choose to jump to one of them if I want. grapheneos is basically ASOP (the “upstream” android) with a bunch of security enhancements added to it. The install process was pretty painless, but I did hit one problem where I tried to install with the web installer using firefox, then switched to chrome and got an error. I finally figured out that I forgot to close the firefox tab out and it was keeping the webusb locked so the other browser couldn’t install. 😉
Install went fine after that and I installed f-droid and got my applications and data moved over to the new phone. The biggest headache was of course signal. I had been using it for sms/mms after my last /e/ re-install, but they are dropping support now, so I had to export my sms’s back out of it to get them moved over. The export function doesn’t tell you that it doesn’t handle duplicates and you should wipe your sms db first, so I ended up with 2x my sms messages. Finally got that transfered over and signal deleted. signal could have been a great app, but they seem determined to made decisions that will drive them into irrelevance now. It’s sad.
Anyhow, I hope the pixel 7 will last me a few more years until I can get a modern phone and put Fedora on it. 🙂