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Ask Slashdot: Are There Any Alternatives To Android Or iOS? 304

An anonymous Slashdot reader is asking whether or not there are any alternatives to Android or iOS smartphones: Like most of us, I've owned a few smartphones over time, ranging from a Nokia E71 to a Samsung Android phone and now, an Apple iPhone. It is close to phone upgrade time, and I've been reviewing the features that I use on my phone. When I think honestly about it, the only features I really need are:

1. Phone calls (loads of conference calls, for which I use a wired headset with a microphone)
2. SMS Messaging (unlimited on my plan)
3. Navigation (very important, and is probably the most-used app on my phone)
4. Occasional internet browsing

All of this could be done by the Nokia E71, when Nokia Maps was a thing. If I want to move away from Apple, Google and the like, do I have any options now? Are there any trustable (and by trustable, I mean avoiding unknown Chinese manufacturers) phones in the market today that could do all four and (ideally) have better battery life than one day?
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Ask Slashdot: Are There Any Alternatives To Android Or iOS?

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  • First Post? (Score:5, Informative)

    by 14erCleaner ( 745600 ) <FourteenerCleaner@yahoo.com> on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @09:26PM (#55772705) Homepage Journal
    No, there are no good alternatives.
    • Not anymore, anyway (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Happy owner of a WinPhone here. Dated, sure. Fewer apps, sure. But compared to the iOS and Android phones I'm helping other people with on a daily basis, I find it easier to use. But I may be biased... by my better phone.

      • by BronsCon ( 927697 ) <social@bronstrup.com> on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @09:44PM (#55772815) Journal
        So much better that Microsoft has dropped the platform altogether. Bravo.

        It had potential, don't get me wrong; and if Microsoft hadn't screwed every single pooch they encountered on their journey with Windows Phone, I'm sure it would be a real winner, but...

        Its dead, Jim.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by DogDude ( 805747 )
          Windows Phone 10 is supported until sometime in 2020. There's no reason not to continue to use Windows Phones for another years, at least.
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by BronsCon ( 927697 )
            Because the smartest and most successful people in history have all tied their hopes and dreams to a dead horse to achieve greatness, right?
            • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2017 @12:08AM (#55773525)
              What in the fuck are you talking about? "Hopes and dreams?" I'm talking about a phone.
              • What in the fuck are you talking about? "Hopes and dreams?" I'm talking about a phone.

                I'm talking about behavior patterns of intelligent and successful individuals, and adopting a dead platform is not one of those patterns.

                You're going to have to switch platforms in 2 years, one way or the other. End of life is when you start moving off of a platform, not when you adopt it; the 2.5 years of "support" Microsoft has pledged Windows phone is intended to allow current users enough time to migrate to another solution.

        • Good comment, though I think you deserve funny mods for your closing joke more than insightful for stating the obvious. To really show insight, you needed to say more about why Microsoft can't do small.

          My theory is that the fundamental problem is that Microsoft had their head wrapped around the BIG OS model, and never recovered. Small is not their thing, but for phones smaller is just better and the ridiculously over-capable OS was a bad thought pattern.

          However, in accord with my other comment, I would also

          • by doom ( 14564 )

            Our only choice will be the winner or nothing. Not a real choice

            I went with "nothing" a long time ago. My life is okay. Really.

      • Happy owner of a WinPhone here. Dated, sure. Fewer apps, sure. But compared to the iOS and Android phones I'm helping other people with on a daily basis, I find it easier to use. But I may be biased... by my better phone.

        Windows phone is a brick without a Microsoft account. You literally can't do anything on it without an account and with one everything is online with no recourse. It's impossible to do something as simple as configure a local address book or simple calendar that is not forcibly uploaded to Microsoft.

        Neither can you use wifi or devices local GPS without being forced to contribute to crowdsourced location bullshit and tell Microsoft where you are. It is literally impossible.

        Windows Phone is probably worse

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          This is not true, Windows 10 Mobile allows you to do everything local to the phone without an account. Heck even apps update without an account in the store, and you can install "free" apps from the store without the account. If anything its the only mobile OS that DOESN'T require you to have an account to use fully.

          Google still requires you to have an account to even use the play store...

          Either way, this might have been true in 8.0/8.1 days but with Windows 10 Mobile (probably just going to be Windows 10 S

    • But my wife just got a new unlocked Android Moto E for $120, and is using it on Republic Wireless for $20/month, unlimited calling and texts but no data other than wi-fi.
      • They say it's "unlocked" but just try using a Republic Wireless phone on another network.
        • The phone is unlocked, meaning it takes a SIM. She also had to buy a Republic SIM for $5, but could switch if she wants to. So far the quality and service are both fine, and it's hard to knock the cost.
          • Moto e4 for Verizon Prepaid at Walmart for $40 and a $4 unlock code from ebay. I just turned on one with AT&T. Search on youtube for how to. The other network prepaid versions of the e4 do not have the fingerprint scanner. Amazon sells a lock screen ad version for $99 and $130 clean unlocked one.

    • Re:First Post? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @09:53PM (#55772883)

      iOS and Android dominate the market today, but there are a few alternatives with potential to escape from the app/spyware hell. Silent Circle make the Blackphone, which is Android-based but with a heavy emphasis on security and privacy compared to most of the major off-the-shelf brands. Perhaps more interesting, Purism are working on the Librem 5 and recently beat their funding target by a comfortable margin, which potentially means a privacy and security focussed phone that runs a different platform entirely could be available in the not too distant future.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by countach ( 534280 )

        As an iPhone user, what is this app/spyware hell of which you speak?

        • by Xenx ( 2211586 )
          If we're talking about the apps that get around the permissions system, iPhone users aren't immune to it. It's not as rampant, but it's there. If we're talking about the fact that it's more and more common for apps to track the user and record info, then they're just as vulnerable as any other smartphone.
        • by Sebby ( 238625 )
          How about the "We're Apple and we'll dictate how you use your own device that you paid us for" hell
    • by leonbev ( 111395 )

      Seriously, the answer really is no. BlackBerry OS, Windows Phone, and Palm OS all died a long time ago.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Pretty much not at this time but Google have proven to be such deceitful political manipulators and control freaks, I expect Linux smart phones to start appearing under most brands in the next bunch of years. The can simply skip the Android Java layer and tell Google to go fuck itself, it is bound to happen, as the manufacturers seek more control over their market and that means excluding Google, they deserve to be excluded. It is inevitable, just a matter of time, some hints but likely at least a some year

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      ASOP or Lineage OS, delete the stuff you don't want, build. It's the best and only option.

    • by doom ( 14564 )

      No, there are no good alternatives.

      Except not using a "smart" phone.

      A fate worse than death.

  • by rogoshen1 ( 2922505 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @09:31PM (#55772729)

    You could probably snag a Nokia Lumia from target or amazon or something and save several hundred dollars; provided those are actual needs.

    • My $50 Lumia 640 with WP8.1 could do all of that beautifully, and works with band 12 on Tmobile...except the web browser was falling too far behind for my needs. So I updated to WP10. It has more features and the browser works much better, though the UI was a bit of step backwards in usability, mostly around things getting smaller and more complicated. I have no issue with missing apps. I may pick up a used Idol4s when they get under $100.

      • by DogDude ( 805747 )
        In what way was the UI "a step backward"? It's largely the same, but with some new features from 8.whatever.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @09:32PM (#55772733)
    Windows phone... ho you asked for a good alternative !
  • Tizen (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Tizen. Samsung Z2/Z3 you can get one on Amazon. They don't have a large amount of apps, but they have all of the things you really need.

  • Blackberry! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Blackberries still work. And during the SONY hack, Blackberries were the fallback!
  • Custom Android ROM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RickRussellTX ( 755670 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @09:36PM (#55772769)

    Ubuntu Touch/Mobile failed, Microsoft is closing shop on Windows 10 Mobile.

    Honestly your best bet would be a phone that you can root, and put a stripped-down custom Android ROM on it. You don't need to connect to any Google Play services to get all the basics. At least that way you get to pick your configuration and keep it minimal.

    • Ubuntu Touch/Mobile failed, Microsoft is closing shop on Windows 10 Mobile.

      Honestly your best bet would be a phone that you can root, and put a stripped-down custom Android ROM on it. You don't need to connect to any Google Play services to get all the basics. At least that way you get to pick your configuration and keep it minimal.

      There is LineageOS, it's a replacement (?) for cyanogenmod https://forum.xda-developers.c... [xda-developers.com]

    • by nnull ( 1148259 )
      I still don't understand how Ubuntu Mobile failed. It was an opensource project with a lot of interested developers and interest in the system. I quite enjoyed it. They just shut down the whole thing and told everyone to basically "fuck off". It's failure was the lack of production phones and seriously bad business decisions (Seriously, no one could buy the phone), not that it wasn't a good platform. This is what happens when you have a single entity control of a platform.
  • 99% good enough (Score:5, Interesting)

    by supernova87a ( 532540 ) <.kepler1. .at. .hotmail.com.> on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @09:37PM (#55772773)
    First, ask yourself why you really need to go to a phone that will be less supported, less well-debugged, less secure. Do you really need that special use case that rarely if ever comes up? Do you have the energy / time to maintain a phone like that to the same standards (and if not, are you just implicitly deciding not to)?

    Sometimes, don't you just want a phone that may not do absolutely everything, but otherwise generally just works? Aren't you old enough to not need to put up with half-assed shit any more?
    • by olau ( 314197 )

      What are those standard you speak of?

      I can understand if you just don't want to think about it at all, but then... why are you here? Please hand in your geek card.

      Perhaps you can get a new card from the I've-seen-the-world crowd down the main stream.

  • ... a book.

  • by chill ( 34294 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @09:40PM (#55772793) Journal

    Sailfish by Jolla [jolla.com], on either the Sony Xperia or any of a number [jolla.com] of other phones as aftermarket.

    • I've wanted to try Sailfish just for the BTRFS support, but it's not supported on any phone that I actually want to use.

      • Jolla tried BTRFS as main storage on their first phone, but they soon switched to ext3. Their experience was not too great. I think they still support BTRFS on the SD card, if that's your cup of tea. (OTOH, Wayland works great on it, the animations are smooth and you don't even notice it's there.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rolandw ( 1105017 )

      I've had a number of Jolla devices. My wife has a Jolla phone. If I were on the market today for a new phone, I'd be running Sailfish. The guys at Jolla are building genuine independence and, by being relatively obscure, I think manage to keep things secure yet flexible. Much of my work is in Linux admin and to be able to do that work, natively, straight off my phone is a joy.

      Word of warning: it's like Linux on the desktop - it works really well but you need to engage your brain. There is no easy way of syn

    • Yep, Sailfish is great, posting here from a Sailfish phone at the moment. It's much better than the malware that iOS amd Android have become. Otherwise I'd probably use LineageOS but very happy with Sailfish on Xperia X.
    • I so wanted Sailfish OS to work and ran it on a Nexus 5 for about six months before I threw in the towel. The problem is that sometimes I really NEED my phone to work and, in a couple of cases, the Nexus 5 adaptation of Sailfish OS let me down.

      Also, even though I got my money back, I don't trust Jolla after the Tablet crowdfunding disaster.

  • Cheap Windows phone (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @09:43PM (#55772811)

    Any cheapo windows phone will do all that just fine. The built-in map app is great for navigation, even without internet.

    • by beuges ( 613130 )

      Not sure why you got a funny mod here. Windows Phone allows you to download maps for your region onto the device so you can navigate in areas with poor/no coverage.

  • by williamyf ( 227051 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @09:44PM (#55772817)

    Provided you load up The Garmin APP, and get the maps from OpenStreetMaps, and OperaMini

    More seriously though, the market has spoken, and there are only three platforms:
    iOS 18% Installed base.
    Google's Android with PlayStore/Services 55%
    AOSP (Android Open Source Ports) 27%

    the rest of the platforms (WindowsPhone10, BlackBerry's BB10, WebOS, Bada) are pretty much roundng errors.

    WP10 will be supported (including security patches) until 2020. BB10 will be "zombie supported" (no mention of security patches) until 2020 as well. The other two, I do not know.

    So, pick your poison wisely; for there is pretty much no escape.

    But, if you are hellbent on not being on neither iOS, nor any flavour of Android, then, for your specific use case, I'd bet either on Bada (Samsung has big pockets to keep the platform going for a while), or a "Smarther than a featurephone, but dumber thn a smartphone" asha-type phone from HMD (the owners of the Nokia brand).

    PS: My last four phones were a Nokia E71 like you (which I still keep around as my Garmin), then a Nokia N9, then a Blackberry Q10, then a Blackberry keyONE (android, current one), but I had a mobile phone in some capacity since 1996 (Motorola AMPS, then ericsson AMPS, then Sony AMPS, then nokia 6119, then nokia 7110, then Ericsson-Symbian-but-I-forget-cause-I-was-mugged, then Nokia 7250i, then some no-name huawei). So I kinda speak from experience.

    • by rcs1000 ( 462363 )

      The Nokia N9 was a staggeringly good phone. I still wonder what would have happened if Nokia had thrown its weight behind it rather than behind the (at the time) pretty poor Windows Phone.

  • Today, we either get the malware infested chaos of Android, or the closed garden of Apple. We used to have choices...

    Before I picked up my current phone, I looked at a (slightly used) Nokia 808 Pureview. I wanted decent sized screen, a phone, messaging, and a great camera with flash, and with the ability to get info from/to my computer. A decent browser would be nice to use in place of some apps (in the case of the 808). That was pretty much it.

    In the end, even the Carl Zeiss lens with a 41 megapi
  • Here's a comparison: (Score:5, Informative)

    by John.Banister ( 1291556 ) * on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @09:48PM (#55772851) Homepage
  • by ChunderDownunder ( 709234 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @09:51PM (#55772863)

    ubports and Sailfish are probably your best bets if you want to flash a custom firmware to a small base of supported handsets.

  • Windows Phone is dead (arguable whether it is a good alternative). Samsung was working on a clean-sheet mobile OS, but hasn't launched anything with it as far as I know.

    Mobile devices have become virtually indistinguishable from each other within the phone and tablet categories other than OS and screen size. I gave up on getting a new smartphone because nothing has a hardware keyboard anymore... everything is a super-thin slab of touchscreen-only monotony packed with inevitably over-spec'd hardware drivin

  • Come on... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by countach ( 534280 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @09:54PM (#55772891)

    From what you're telling us, you have very modest requirements, albeit not quite modest enough to use a plain old candy bar phone.

    Now as a non-tech geek, which is what this profile is screaming, why would you not want to go mainstream? iOS and Android is mainstream. They are readily available. There are tons of resources on how to use them. They have apps available should the need arise. Going out of mainstream is for early adopters, for tech geeks, for people with non-mainstream needs. There's a reason why Android and iOS dominate. THEY WORK FOR MOST PEOPLE.

  • by gavron ( 1300111 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @09:56PM (#55772895)

    You're a rare breed, using your smartphone primarily as a phone (!!!) and secondarily for other things.
    [quote]1. Phone calls (loads of conference calls, for which I use a wired headset with a microphone)
    2. SMS Messaging (unlimited on my plan)
    3. Navigation (very important, and is probably the most-used app on my phone)
    4. Occasional internet browsing[/quote]

    GIven you're not using Signal, #1 and #2 can be handled by any cheap handset.
    Navigation is a function of whose data you want to use. The most accurate data is provided by the companies that have spent the money to build the data and now want you in their ecosystem consuming it. That's Goole, Apple, and Microsoft. As an avid supporter of open source I would also bring up OpenStreetMap, but alas, it cannot compete with big money and complete datasets.
    Internet browsing can be done on cheap handsets as well.

    You say you work in the car with a wired headset. Use your car's nav system and get a cheap (aka Nokia) handset. It will remind you of how you used to do things back in the 1960s, and you won't be disappointed with all the modern features that scare you about IOS and Android.

    Ehud

  • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @10:00PM (#55772919) Journal
    1. Phone calls (loads of conference calls, for which I use a wired headset with a microphone)
    2. SMS Messaging (unlimited on my plan)
    Something like a better Nokia 3310 that can support calls, tethering.
    3. Navigation (very important, and is probably the most-used app on my phone)
    A portable GPS unit with free new map support.
    4. Occasional internet browsing
    A quality laptop using any OS you like.
    No android or apple OS needed.

    Buy real devices that support what is needed as part of their design.
  • The internet is a cesspool, the big tech corps are vampires, and no, there is no anything that you can trust. The internet is over. Net neutrality is over. Sorry, but there it is.

    • by doom ( 14564 )

      The internet is a cesspool,

      What's under discussion isn't "the internet", but rather a particular type of client. One can use the internet without using a mobile device.

      Which is not to make the claim that the internet is not a cesspool, but just staying away from mobile phones will help you dodge some of the turds.

      If you're first thought is "Oh my god, how will I upload photos of my lunch to facenorth?" you have bigger problems than the state of the internet.

    • The internet is a cesspool

      I don't agree. Internet is not a cesspool, yet ; but it dangerously moves in that direction.

  • by pngwen ( 72492 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @10:16PM (#55772995) Journal

    Probably the most viable phone OS is Legacy OS, which is just an open source version of Android. You can install it, and provided you don't instal gapps, it is pretty secure. It also gives you complete control over your phone. Legacy OS + Fdroid gives you a FOSS solution that protects your privacy about as well as any OS for a tracking device can.

    There is also the openmoko stack from a few years ago. If you can get your hands on a Neo FreeRunner, they are an acceptable phone. You'll be on your own for software though, as that project is effectively dead.

    No matter what you do, you can't really trust a phone completely. The nature of the cell network means that any cellphone is a defacto tracking device. Your whereabouts are logged, and because you have shared them with a third party you have no expectation of privacy. They don't even require a warrant for law enforcement. Also, private citizens can simply purchase the location data from most providers. So keep that in mind. I carry a phone, but I am ready to stick it in a microwave and run from it at a moment's notice.

    • Probably the most viable phone OS is Legacy OS

      Legacy OS is a lightweight linux distro for very old computers. I think you mean LineageOS.

      which is just an open source version of Android.

      Android is also an open source version of android.

    • by doom ( 14564 )

      The nature of the cell network means that any cellphone is a defacto tracking device. Your whereabouts are logged, and because you have shared them with a third party you have no expectation of privacy. They don't even require a warrant for law enforcement. Also, private citizens can simply purchase the location data from most providers.

      See, they call it a "smart phone", because it's the phone that's smart.

      • by pngwen ( 72492 )

        Doesn't even have to be a smart phone. If you are wandering around with a StarTac folder in your pocket you still log in to cell towers as you go about your business.

  • Librem 5 from purism is a linux phone in development. [1]

    Sure, it's not shipping for another year, but the company has shipped plenty of (well-regarded) linux laptops, and even gone so far as to figure out how to shut off intel's AMT in their newer machines. [2]

    [1] https://puri.sm/shop/librem-5/ [puri.sm]
    [2] https://puri.sm/learn/avoiding... [puri.sm]

  • 1) iOS/Android both have roboblockers. If you really value calls so much don't you want to avoid false ones?

    1) If you do conference calls a lot, you WILL want the full range of possible conferencing apps - I have to do audio calls along with three (sometimes four) different types of video conference through a week.

    1) Just get a real phone.

    I left all the numbers the same as they all relate to calling.

    2) Why not also be able to use any other messaging option that may become popular, like WhatsApp?

    2) Get a re

  • by StormReaver ( 59959 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @10:57PM (#55773197)

    Not yet, but there will be in 2019.

    The Librem [puri.sm] phone hits all of my requirements, and will be my next phone in 2019. It's not cheap, but its feature set is awesome. Some highlights (in no particular order):

    1) Runs pure Linux, which allows for installing many standard Linux distributions.
    2) Has hardware kill switches for the radio and microphone.
    3) Encrypted calls between Librem phones.
    4) No tracking.

    There are other great features, too. It's the phone I've been waiting for since I first discovered smartphones.

  • Windows Phone 10 works great. I got one of the $200 Alcatel somethings from a Microsoft Store and it's really awesome. Great UI. I like that you can use it without a Windows ID at all. Mail is much better than the other two. Calendaring is good. Maps and GPS aren't bad, but I don't use them much. It has all of the basic "apps" you might need (Lyft and Uber for me).
  • by XSportSeeker ( 4641865 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2017 @11:19PM (#55773281)

    If you are looking for something modern, with latest specs, short answer - nope.

    If it can be an older device, for known chinese manufacturers (because all phones are manufactured in China to a degree), your only bet is probably a Windows Phone... which has been discontinued and is currently in a limbo.

    Other than that, Ubuntu Touch is dead, there are some few privacy minded mobile distros still out there, but most options will require you to: install the OS yourself, pre-order something that is still not out, have a hard time actually buying a phone, and/or perhaps trust a company that will probably be making their phone with an unknown chinese manufacturer anyways.
    It's also worth noting that lots of companies tried to come up with either a hardened Android version for privacy, or a Linux distro that would run on a mobile device. It didn't work out too well, either because of technical limitations and speed smartphones are evolving, or for lack of costumers and support.
    I wouldn't recommend going for any small company alternatives right now because long term support is definitely not guaranteed.

    Since you have so little requirements, might as well delegate navigation and browsing to another device, and just buy a dumbphone.

  • In particular, I find your explicit description of your needs and implicit philosophy are highly simpatico. Alas, I think the answer is no, for religious reasons, as just proven by the tax "reform" legislation we [Americans] are in the process of receiving.

    In a capitalist economy, there would be a number of competing options and we would have meaningful choice and freedom. The side effect of that competition might even drive meaningful improvements rather than the current insane defense of profit maximizati

  • a) being able to tell everyone who doesn't care that you're sticking it to the corporations by not having an Android or iOS device
    b) having the best tool for the job.

    You can do everything you ask on other devices sure, but it won't be as good.
    Specifically mapping and navigation which you list as your most important requirement, you simply can not beat google maps for that, and you won't get that on some random non-android and non-ios device. Sure there are various other mapping options, but for most up to d

  • 1. Build your own. Check out RePhone from seeed. https://www.seeedstudio.com/Re... [seeedstudio.com]
    2. Use a portable WiFi hotspot with Google Voice and an iPod Touch. I have a data plan with a Straight Talk device and use Google Voice for texts. I don't get many calls, and that's the way, uh huh uh huh, I like it.
  • Removable battery.
    Removable SD card.
    Easily bootloader-unlocked.

    The G4 Play and G5 rock socks, and are some of the best phones for the price -- $100-200 -- out there.

  • Would love to see a Linux phone running normal Linux + Wayland rather than Android yet without all the Google spyware (Google Play Services) Android by itself is really not that bad. It is for the most part just Linux. You can cross compile whatever you want without much trouble.

    Currently best bet is to find a phone supported by Lineage OS (formerly Cyanogenmod) where you don't have to go through hoops to crack locked boot loaders and extraneous BS. Google play is not included by default with Lineage OS

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