As I wait.. Advice on a 'free as possible' phone?

Am wondering if anyone(s) can point me to a phone that exists that I could buy next month and start exploring some extent of freedom… Even Verizon compatible… CDMA /LTE. I don’t care about wifi calling. My cellular data usage is minimal <2 GB/month. I want to see what is possible outside the android bubble. (my Samsung is so locked down I can’t do a thing with it).
I know there is not one right answer, and I welcome any leads toward a phone that is proper for someone with nearly a decade of Ubuntu experience.

Cheers Happy New Year to Y’all.

PS. My current phone has a locked bootloader (Vzw galaxy S5) so I have used Odin, bricked my device, but brought it back to life. Still… I know there is better out there… How is a Sony Experia?

There are some free Android (Google free) versions:

  • Replicant - works only on quite old devices, not all features may be available
  • Fairphone

Otherwise you may go for Sailfish, probably on Xperia X. Although it has some components closed (mostly UI). This is the option I’ve chosen - there are some issues, few features are missing/incomplete, but most important things (LTE, WiFi, GPS) works. Also it’s stable (currently 23 days of uptime) and battery life is impressive.

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Those are awesome and impressive performance specs for the Xperia with Sailfish OS. So exciting… I would jump all over it but it isn’t made available for sale in the USofA.
GRRRR :anger:

Thank you for the other 2 links. Maybe I will be able to find an older device and run Replicant.

My hat is off to you for the good leads… and I say thank you. Also, I am very very jealous of your phone. :pouting_cat:

They’re planning to expand to new markets, but they haven’t stated yet to which countries. Anyway you can always build Sailfish and flash Xperia. The drawback is that you’ll miss some features (Android app support, MS Exchange support, predictive text input and OTA updates) but other features including connectivity should work. I haven’t done it yet, but I’m planning to. Also some people buy it through VPN.

No matter which option you choose (Replicant or Sailfish) - good luck and have fun!

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Potentially one more option: Gemini PDA (version with LTE). It dual-boots Google Android and Linux. Although is seems that Linux UI isn’t suited to the small screen yet. Also I don’t know it there’s phone app on Linux.

Thanks @maciej. I will wait and hope that Sailfish X somehow overcomes any hurdles that the US has in place… Is an exciting prospect. Then I’d get me an Xperia and be one happy man.

PS. I looked at some older phones to run Replicant but they are all small (16GB), expensive, and even pink. :wink:

Appreciate your feedback.

Maybe that is something to have a look at.
It is a fork of ubuntu touch:

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Better late than never, I suppose.

I bought a used Huawei Nexus 6p and immediately flashed the Copperhead OS about a year ago. It’s Android-based but is security oriented, completely open-source, and utilizes the phone’s TPM. It uses Silence for default SMS/MMS and a custom, hardened Chrome app for browsing. They harden the Android kernal, strip Google Play Services from the device, and improve sandboxing of apps. The strictly open-source F-Droid repository is the default repository. The Copperhead devs rightly limit the amount of devices Copperhead can be flashed to.

I believe this is the most wallet-friendly, close to completely open-source, and secure option available until the Librem 5 appears at the doorstep. Maybe even a better one. We’ll see. Google may end support for the 6p within a year regarding Android security updates meaning Copperhead will do so as well. But if you have the cash, you can buy a Google Pixel direct from Copperhead with the OS pre-flashed. This option ensures longevity, provides better support, and has a few better perks like built-in MAC address randomization and more efficient handling of updates.

The vast majority of my time is spent working a high threat job in high threat environments. A few people running around these places, some of whom in some form or fashion are employed by feisty Nation States with a budget a lot bigger than my paycheck, would love to have a go with my electronic devices. I take a lot of precautions to be sure I don’t compromise myself or the client. So far, between good ol’ fashioned infosec, a Purism laptop running Qubes, and a smart phone with Copperhead OS, I’ve been reasonably secure… knock on wood.

This post is kinda old so you’ve probably made up your mind already. Hopefully, this helps the random forum-wanderer who stumbles in later down the road.

Thank you. Cash is something I don’t have a ton of. So a purchase isn’t feasible for me unless a phone has long term support. Am very disappointed but not surprised that it is so difficult for me to find a non android/ non iOS highly functioning phone that has long term support, here in the US of A.

Is ridiculous… I have to use Verizon because of where I live, and my S5 has the Verizon locked bootloader. They pretend it is Samsung’s fault when I get tier 3 tech support on the line. Enough already. Is ridiculous, and I keep my phone crippled in terms of bloatware and Google voice commands/assistant etc.

Am ready for a Librem… And I pray to God that it is released come early 2019. We should be able to have phones that offer LTS with privacy from data mining… and even decent battery life.

If the 3 letter agencies were to prevent a truly unlocked phone from being offered in this country… We AT LEAST need a phone with battery life that is not designed to harvest our every action. Even for the good of future generations. Is a sick sad direction we are headed enough masse… And a Linux phone that doesn’t sell my profile is a must have. Even IF complete privacy is not a realistic option (I said IF)… We need progress and a reversal of the pendulum.

This is our chance to pave the way… To make something better for future generations. It is important. Even if or tho my cell carrier and the gov can access my data, we must have the ability to not belong to one of the big companies. Is about human rights at this point.

I am preaching to the choir, showing little restraint… But if not here, then where?


@MrFriday You do realize that Verizon is unlikely to allow a Librem on the network, right? I switch from Boost, which uses CDMA(like Verizon) because they aren’t compelled to accept CDMA capable phones but GSM telecoms-in order to be GSM certified- must accept any GSM capable phones that works on their bands

T-Mobile, AT&T, MetroPCS, and Cricket are all GSM but Verizon, Sprint, Virgin Mobile, and Boost Mobile are CDMA

I would check with verizon and get it in writing they will accept the phone before dropping cash on a Librem 5…just my advice

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Thank you. That is a great list you put together too… is very helpful to know which providers I can start looking into for service.