In another thread, I outlined how I intended to set up a smart watch to increase personal privacy and how to greatly extend the battery life on your phone at the same time. Today I did it, and thought to explain here why and how anyone else can and might want to do the same. But with the smart watch, the paradigm needs to totally change. You don’t want nor need Bluetooth, or even wifi on the watch. There is no sync-ing the watch to your phone. There is no need for phone apps except for making and receiving calls and text messages. A thirty dollar watch is working just fine, the way I am using it now so far.
To begin with, I have Google Voice. I plan to replace GV with a paid service (that doesn’t sell my information), sometime soon now that everything works using GV. I ported my phone number that everyone knows for me to GV. Then I forwarded that GV number to both my cell phone and also to a thirty dollar smart watch that has its own SIM card. But that thirty dollar watch is actually pretty dumb (perfect). I didn’t sync the phone to the watch, nor use any apps on it anyway. The watch doesn’t have GPS. The lack of GPS is a big benefit too. The only way anyone can track you is via triangulation and you have no app data they can steal from you on the watch.
You want the cheapest watch you can find that is capable of making and receiving phone calls and text messages. The one I bought has a 500mAh battery and looks like a well constructed watch of normal watch size. I synced it to my phone just as an experiment before wiping it clean and not re-syncing again. You don’t want a sync. The sync-ing feature and associated Play Store app really sucks on this watch. This is perfect. All of the bad reviews for the phone and software were accurate because they all complained about the syncing and cheesy apps which you don’t want anyway. That’s why you can get a well constructed phone that does phone calls and text and that only costs thirty dollars. It has a nice watch face screen too.
In this configuration, there is no reason to leave the phone powered-up when you are not actively using it. On a Librem 5, this should make a big difference. So you use the watch as a phone and texting device only. There is no need to be un-reachable while your GPS and data reside safely on your powered-off phone which draws no current when it is off. Anyone who calls you or sends you a text message still reaches you via the watch. You can turn your phone on at any time you need it.
Limitations: The watch I bought has a few significant limitations. It is advertised being able to make and receive calls from your wrist. It works great for making calls and talking to people from your wrist. The software seems to freeze in phone mode when a call is in progress. After I hit the SEND button to make a call, I can hang-up at the end of the call, using the same physical button that turns on the screen. But when someone calls me, the software remains frozen and nothing happens when I hit the on-screen SEND button in unsuccessful attempts to answer. So I see their number and have to call them back. You can send and receive texts. But there is another catch. Reading the incoming texts works pretty well. But using a one-inch by two-inch QWERTY keyboard with a extremely small buttons and a triple-shift button to access all characters just isn’t practical. But seeing incoming texts and phone numbers, and making outgoing calls is good enough for me. The phone dialer is very adequate. I am still looking for ways to answer calls and may see if having the Amazon seller replace it helps. But after someone texts or calls me, I’ll know to call them back or text them back using my regular phone instead of using the watch. Since both devices receive calls made to the same phone number, I can use up all of my data on the phone up and then swap SIMs between the phone and watch to get another data refill to the phone. With two fifteen-dollar-per-month plans (for the two SIMs), both the watch and phone each get unlimited phone calls and a total of 6GB of data, between them. The watch will use almost none of its own data, if any. So there is always 3GB of reserve data available on the watch.
The result is a great mix of high security, high privacy, and low cost, and long battery life. With a Librem 5 in such a case, your daily communications driver (watch) will last up to three consecutive days, and will be invisible to surveilance capitalism. When you need more computing power, you turn on your Librem 5 with the hardware kill switches set to meet you own needs. So from time to time your cell connection and GPS location will show up briefly and then disappear when you are done using it. Still, no one can get a profile of what you do or where you go most of the time. Surveilance capitalism gets nothing of value from you. But your friends and family will always be able to reach you and maybe your L5 will last for a long day this way.
Update: this watch does receive calls correctly after all. Initially, I was trying to answer calls with the screen up while testing incoming calls. Somehow, the incoming call toggles the screen inputs to an off or disabled state if the screen was active to begin with. When Amazon support called me back, the screen was off to begin with (the default not in use state). When the screen turned on to display the call, the display input toggled to the on position or Enabled state, thus allowing me to answer the call. So under normal circumstances, answering calls does work. So now when my L5 shows arrives, I can make it my daily driver after getting it set up, except not for banking.