So... I bought a bananaphone

A Genuine Nokia 8110 4G.

Matrix phone? Yes.

Goal: Have that which I care about in a phone without using Apple anymore. If it’s not clear from some other threads, I’m exceedingly annoyed about the state of Apple lately, and their rush to “Well, we get to go scan your device for stuff.” This isn’t a brand new thing, it’s been a long burn over a variety of issues the past year or two, but… let’s try something totally different.

After an hour or so of fiddling with it, I have my Google contacts synced down, it has gmail access, and… I remember some T9. Also, entering passwords on T9 sucks.

//EDIT: Hey, and I got my Google calendars synced. Yes. I’m aware Google is of questionable ethics too, but I do pay for my domain hosting, so I’m not as worried about it as I would be with a free tier consumer account.

I’m going to rock it as a primary device until it drives me nuts and then see where I want to go from there. I don’t ask much of a phone anymore.

I am, also, going to keep my iPhone around for now - there are things it does that I simply can’t easily replace. Google Authenticator (though there’s an app I can sideload to KaiOS that should do it once I figure that out), drone operations, etc.

Buuuuut… I can set this banana up as a cell hotspot. So I should be OK.

I’ll see. This is a weird step back, but… uh… hey, I get FM radio, at least!

I’ve been using various distributions of Linux since 2005. I use open-source router software. I prefer open-source hardware. My primary entertainment system is a Raspberry Pi running LibreElec. My desktop is custom built. My laptop is from System76. Whenever possible I opt for DRM-free epub books. I prefer to purchase DRM free music from bandcamp or buy CD’s (surprisingly still a thing). I prefer to purchase blue-ray’s over DRM’d alternatives or subscriptions.

Yet I still have a gaming laptop with Windows 10 because most games aren’t available or run well of Linux. I own an Xbox One which enjoy a lot. I still purchase Kindle books when it’s the only option, and I love the audio editions allowing me to switch between audio & text seamlessly (I’m not aware of a similar open-source alternative). I still use spotify for music discovery and easy syncing to my phone. I usually pay for a HBO Max or Netflix subscription depending on a series I want to watch.

My next phone will likely be an older Samsung phone w/ LineageOS, a Librem 5, or a PinePhone. Yet I’ll likely also have a new-ish android based phone. Particularly for the incredible cameras.

tl;dr The struggle between control and convenience is a difficult one for me. It’s made even harder when my friends don’t understand the trade-offs, and opt for popular modes of communication (Instagram, Snapchat, ect.) Looking forward to knowing your experience after extended use.

My friends are more likely to use Signal and Matrix. :slight_smile: But it’s going to come with some losses of “instant communication.” On the other hand, I’m already there in a lot of ways - I simply don’t respond to my phone for large parts of the day and evening (it’s already physically off often enough), and I’m happy enough to leave a lot of communication for a laptop/desktop (which can handle all those things).

I’m basically sliding back 10 years in terms of mobile communication - I still will have mobile phone/text/email, just less of the invasive “social” stuff that could only arise on smartphones. And I’m OK with that. If I really need to do something more modern, I can use the (likely to remain around, just used far less) iPhone in “iPod Touch” mode (tethered to the banana), which gets me most of what I’d need, but is no longer the default.

Remember, the modern smartphone only arrived in 2008 with the iPhone, and wasn’t until 2013 that ~50% of US adults owned anything that counted as a smartphone and those forms of communication started being the default. It was a very, very rapid change, and at this point, I’m happy to help with rolling it back.

I still need to verify that group texts work, I think that tends to fall back to MMS and such.

//EDIT: Yeah, group texting is just broken. Hm. We’ll see how that works out. That may annoy a few people greatly.

Out of curiosity, any reason for not going with one of the android phones you can unlock the boot loader for and flash with a custom OSS ROM based on aosp?

Would give you the newer features with a system your much more in control of? And on the ethics side of consumer electronics it’s probably made at the same factory as the banana phone.

Partly because the one I’m interested in (Graphene) only works on Pixels, and as far as I know, most of the old generations of Pixel have random hardware issues like all of Google’s hardware, and the new ones are $500 with, likely, as-yet-unknown hardware issues. They’re a pain to work on too, compared to the older Nexus devices - the 5 was wonderful. The new ones have glued on screens and such that are annoying to remove in one piece.

I could probably find something older that would work, but… eh. The flashing of random ROMs on a daily driver gets old in a hurry, even though I used to do it on things like my Nexus 7.

Part of this is an experiment in just how many of those newer features I can go without and not get kicked out of local gaming groups… I’ll see. I basically am back to a phone that can do phone/text/email, and nothing else.

As near as I can tell, this phone is a few years old, so I’m getting new-old-stock, which would be laying around anyway… I still haven’t worked through all the details of ethics. Unfortunately, older used devices talk to cell towers that no longer exist, so they aren’t an option.

However, there’s a 3D printed Pi handheld that might pair well with this: YARH.IO MKI Raspberry Pi 3B+ Hackable Linux Handheld Run that tethered for more advanced communication needs… I’d have most of the function of a smartphone if I wanted it, just in some alternate fork of reality where smartphones aren’t a thing.

I’m happy at this point to be a bit weird for the sake of being thorny, though. I’m just tired of the modern tech ecosystems.

The non-5G pixel 4a is $350 new, FWIW.

I just now learned there’s a desktop app for Signal?

I hadn’t noticed that. So it’s possible any PC or wifi-only device connected through a hotspot could work with it?

I also searched for a Matrix-Signal bridge, I just found one python module thing on github though, not sure if that’s useful at all.

What random hardware issues are the units having?

Yeah. Works fine, I use it extensively, though it still requires a phone for “root of identity” purposes. The desktop apps are slaves to the phone. Not sure if it builds on ARM though.

That was my original interest in Matrix, though… the bridges are a lot of moving parts and I’m somewhat unclear as to how they work with multiple users on a server. I should look into that again.

What sort of broken? Also, even some smart phones have weird group text settings like forking the conversation weirdly when replying.

If I send a message to multiple people, it seems to simply send an independent message to each person.

Receiving, I can auto-download the MMS, but I only see who sent it, not other members of the group.

Android messenger can be configured to do the first, and I think the first smart phone my wife had defaulted to that configuration… Not that I use Android messenger these days…

Huh, OK. I wasn’t aware that was a behavior anyone used.

Some interesting thoughts from someone else who went away from smartphones:

For me, it was information. I love learning new things so much that it can easily become “the end” instead of “the means” … learning something or other, but learning it in a very specific, very shallow way.

Well said. I can feel called out about that one. Not so much with a phone, I’ve never been much addicted to that one because a real keyboard and larger screen is always preferable, but that phenom is one of the internet, not phones I suppose. My work and hobbies requires research on a lot of things, but that’s more easily directed toward specific topics and details.

It can certainly be beguiling to read the abstract at the top of a dozen wikipedia articles and think I’ve learned how something works. Or having some kind of science/technology lecture from youtube open on one monitor, while sharing attention between that and whatever I’m supposed to be doing on the other one.

I’ve got notetaking apps on all my PCs, and I can type so much faster than I can write that it’s darn handy to copy/paste or type out whatever little reminders and such I need. but it’s still not the same. Especially trying to thumb-type notes into the phone when outside, it feels like having to forcibly disconnect from reality to focus on operating the phone more than focusing on whatever prompted me to make a note in the first place.

I’ve been working hard lately on building the habit of writing my notes, todo lists, ideas and such down on actual paper, and it’s been very good for me. I remember things better even without looking at the notes, and they get naturally more organized the more I do it. It takes more time than typing or using a phone yet I feel more in the present when I use the notepad than a silicon slab.

Something else interesting:

When you slide the slider open or hit the power button, it only updates the display to the current time once the screen is on.

So you can see that you checked your phone 5 minutes ago…

Does this make it useless as a clock, when closed?

When closed, the display does not show anything, no.

… interesting failure mode. Trying to call out to activate a new CC, I get routed to AT&T tech support because they don’t recognize the device, and don’t believe it will work when they turn down their 3G network. Except, it’s a 4G device…

On hold, for long past the “expected hold duration.” Woo. I literally can’t make a call until I talk to their tech support.

//EDIT: LMFAO. Because my phone isn’t “listed,” they’re sending me a free flip phone that’s guaranteed compatible, a Cingular Flip IV.

That was fun, the tech support guy knew his phones - I told him what I had, and he asked if it was the “Bananaphone.” ← KaiAuth - Google Authenticator client for KaiOS. Sideloaded and appears to work just fine!

I wasn’t able to export codes from my iPhone to the Banana, but setting up a new phone worked just fine.

… and I’m pretty sure I just figured out why my attempt to install the Matrix client and log in went nowhere. I didn’t exactly have a data connection of any form while trying. Huh.

Interesting alternative to the apple android spymachines. Only relevant to those in cell deadzones, but does this class of phone have wifi calling, and ability to receive texts thru wifi but with no cell signal?

I don’t believe it has that capability - pretty sure none of the KaiOS devices support it.