Wow, okay. Thank you, now I understand why you asked that. Yes, “a few” means something different to me (3 to 4). Thank you for providing their definition of a few. I’m still excited for the Librem 5, but it sounds like I’m going to need a better interim solution since it sounds like I’ll be waiting longer than I thought. I really appreciate you letting me know, because if I thought it was going to be a 3 month wait, I’d bare through using a stupid flip phone for the time being. If its more likely to be a 6+ month wait, I’m not going to torture myself for that long. I would have been very frustrated to end up using a flip phone that long while waiting - thank you for saving me from that frustration!!
I’m not sure what that note “using 3G” is referring to…some other user’s personal
phone SIM card, maybe… (that wiki was created by a forum member, @amosbatto, so maybe he can clarify). In any case, the L5 does use 4G frequencies (as the modem page states), and yes, will use 4G for data (web browsing) whenever there is a 4G tower within range. When there is no 4G signal present, the data speed will drop to 3G (or even 2G if that’s all that is available).
However, the L5’s modem is not capable yet of handling your phone calls over the 4G data stream (i.e. VoLTE). It will drop to 3G to make and receive phone calls…which will be a problem once the 3G network sunsets happen.
As I said, we hope Purism will get the modem updated at some point to enable VoLTE, or a different modem will be found for the North America market.
Edit: Note that the L5’s modem is user-swappable, a unique feature, and although that’s a delicate operation, it enables you to add a better modem in the future if one comes along.
@Rae To address some of your other questions:
The L5 does calls, texts, and data, but not yet MMS (it’s coming soon, though).
Data is at 4G speed wherever there is a 4G signal.
Once 3G for a given network doesn’t exist anymore, the current modem for North America will not be able to make or receive phone calls, unless the modem’s firmware gets updated to enable VoLTE (Voice over LTE 4G datastream).
I’m not sure what will happen with 911 capability with this modem, based on the above.
The L5 has an alarm clock function, and many other useful applications and utilities.
The L5 can be used while it’s charging. You can even buy an extra battery from Purism and swap the battery out while the phone is plugged in and running.
You don’t have to use AT&T itself. You can use the AT&T network by getting your service from a reseller/wholesaler that operates on AT&T’s network…usually cheaper, too. I cited Truphone international prepaid SIM simply because I already had their SIM (for travel purposes). You could equally use, say, Red Pocket Mobile (currently $10/month for unlimited talk/text and 1GB of 4G data), or any other reseller/wholesaler (MVNO - Mobile Virtual Network Operator).
It will be difficult to find a phone with a physical QWERTY keyboard these days. You may have to settle for virtual QWERTY, ie. on-screen…but they’re both in QWERTY layout.
Some MVNOs sell phones and some don’t, but they all allow you to bring your own device to activate. That device usually has to be an “unlocked” device, i.e. not carrier-branded or carrier-locked. You can find many unlocked phones for sale on Amazon or Ebay, or in Best Buy, etc. Remember it must be VoLTE-capable on the network you choose to use, or else it will soon be useless in the US.
When you change network providers, you never have to give up your phone number. You can “port” it to the new carrier. It takes a few minutes, hours, or up to a day or two to complete.
Some MVNOs also have family plans, but if they don’t, you may find that the cost for each individual line still adds up to less than AT&T charges.
The US networks are shutting down 3G nationwide (apparently area by area). Once that is complete, no connection over 3G will be possible at all (because 3G will cease to exist). That’s why they’ve started to disallow phones that are not at least 4G-capable. Also, a 4G (for data) phone will eventually be unable to make or receive phone calls if it is not also VoLTE-capable. (Nearly all new-ish phones are VoLTE-capable now.)
If you buy a cheap unlocked Android phone (i.e. not carrier-branded), in its settings you can disable many of the pre-installed apps that are known to abuse your privacy, like Facebook, and even the Google suite of apps. You can also use an Android without even creating an account with Google. This isn’t perfect privacy, but it’s a good start. There are other safe places to get apps you might want to use, besides Google’s store.
Actually you should be able to use any bluetooth keyboard with your Librem 5.
True! Or with any smartphone, I would imagine. Probably not convenient for texting while out and about, though.
Rob Braxman is a well-known privacy advocate, and his public reputation and business would be ruined if he did something evil like that. Braxman isn’t doing anything special. He is just taking the LineageOS image that you can find on the xda-developers forum or LineageOS web site for the Google Pixel and installing it. I have been doing the same thing on my phones for the last 6 years. I just recommended using Braxman’s service, because you said that you don’t have much technical knowledge, so you may not want to install LineageOS yourself, but it honestly isn’t that hard if you are using one of the phones that is officially supported by LineageOS, because the web site has very clear instructions. However, if you buy a used phone to install LineageOS, make sure to buy a model that allows you to unlock the bootloader, which generally means avoiding any model that was originally sold by Verizon or AT&T.
If you select LineageOS or Ubuntu Touch when you order the Pro1-X, then you are getting a privacy phone. LineageOS can’t legally include the Google Play Store or any of Google’s proprietary software. Just install the F-Droid repository and use that to install your apps. Read the description provided by F-Droid for each app, because it will tell you if the app does any data collection. If you select Ubuntu Touch when ordering, then your app store will be https://open-store.io/, which is also pretty safe.
Some people have reported with other carriers (like T-Mobile) that they were able to activate their SIM card using an “approved” phone, and then they put the activated SIM card into the Librem 5 and it worked.
Yes, the Librem 5 can work on 4G. However, the BM818-A1 modem currently lacks the VoLTE configuration for many carriers (it sounds like Purism is working on software to fix this). If you get a phone call with the BM818-A1, you can answer the call, but your internet connection (i.e. data) will switch to 3G or 2G. If the BM818-A1 can’t find find any available 3G or 2G networks for data, then you won’t have an internet connection while making a phone call, which isn’t that big of a deal in my opinion.
Thank you for helping me understand all these options! This is helping me make sense of all of this!! It does sound like MVNO would be really helpful. In fact…I’m wondering if my current 3G phone would work on an MVNO that uses AT&T’s network, since I can clearly see that I still get 3G signal (despite AT&T trying to convince me otherwise)…at least until 3G is actually gone from my area. Then again, my phone is carrier-locked. At this point, I’m just trying to find something to tie me over until Librem or Pro1-X can actually ship, and those MVNOs sound pretty affordable, especially if I can port my phone number to take it with me.
Thanks, that makes sense!
Awesome! I will keep an eye out for Pro1-X, then. They mentioned on that page something about a previous version being very successful, but I can’t find a previous version anywhere. Is there an older one available for shipping now?
If you get impatient, I recently purchased an unlocked pixel 4a and put CalyxOS on it. Easiest install I’ve ever done, the program holds your hand the entire time. I’ve been very pleased with the result. Being able to deny network access to any app is pretty awesome. Additionally, it comes with F-Droid (FOSS software) and Aurora (google play store substitute, it sets you up with a throwaway account so you can still download stuff) if there are apps you need but can’t find on F-Droid (like a good camera). All in all, pretty outstanding experience, especially for the price (<$350 for a 128GB phone).
No, I’m not a calyx dev, just a happy user.
Thanks for the suggestion and explanation! Would CalyxOS work on another phone? I really dont trust Google anything. To be honest, I’m not confident in my ability to install any OS but I’m running out of options. Every privacy-oriented phone I see is either still in production/out-of-stock or wont work in the US, and service to my current 3G phone is going to be cut in a couple days.
The F(x)tec Pro1, based on the Snapdragon 835, is no longer in stock, and you will have to manually install LineageOS or Ubuntu Touch on it.
LineageOS and CalyxOS are derivatives of the Android Open Source Project, which is basically the open source code in normal Android with all the proprietary spyware stripped out.
I can understand wanting to boycott Google, but if the OS is replaced, I highly doubt that Google has spyware built into the hardware. If they did, someone would have detected it by now in the network traffic. If you want to avoid the Pixel, you can buy a used OnePlus or any of the other phones on the LineageOS web site.
However, I recommend buying a SIM card from an MVNO that uses the T-Mobile or AT&T network and seeing if it works on your existing phone. If it works, then transfer your existing cell number to that MVNO.
One Xiaomi phone, but I would trust that even less. I totally understand your trepidation with using a google-branded phone, but as @amosbatto said, the software is being replaced and aside from the word “google” there’s no reason to believe the hardware is doing its own reconnaissance, much less is there evidence of it.
But see which you like best, and if you decide to give it a go and someone here has done it before, I’m sure they’d be happy to assist you. Flashing a ROM is a bit scary, but if you don’t rush and follow the steps carefully you’ll be fine.
It’s really encouraging to see people from non-technical backgrounds voting with their wallets over online privacy. I guess that if you use your phone for work, in your field that involves dealing with some highly sensitive, personal information. Just the kind of thing that you don’t want getting sucked into online profiling by big tech companies that are always pushing the envelope when it comes to privacy. (Google isn’t the only one of course, there are plenty of others who aren’t household names.)
I hope that you find a solution that works well for you, and that you keep posting here about how easy or hard you find it. Feedback from non-specialist early-adopters like you is always of interest.
A further clarification: if the modem can’t find a 3G or 2G network, then it will not even be able to have a phone call.
@Rae, if you’re confident that you have a good 3G signal at home and in the places you mostly find yourself, then a SIM from an MVNO will very likely work just fine in your phone, and I doubt an MVNO would try to force you to change phones. If your phone is paid off, you can probably ask AT&T to unlock it for you so that you can port out. In fact, even locked, it may still work with an AT&T MVNO.
Here is a site that I like to refer to for reviews and opinions…I’ve selected AT&T MVNOs for you, but you can check out the other major carriers up in the menu if you think their MVNOs would provide better coverage for you:
The reviewer typically sticks to plans that provide at least 2 gigabytes of data, but keep in mind that each MVNO may have even cheaper, low-usage, talk/text-only plans. You’ll just have to check the linked websites.
Would you mind sharing the brand and model number of the phone you’re using? Some of us may be able to make a recommendation for a specific MVNO plan.
@ Everybody: I read that /e/ Solutions is now offering a couple of Samsung models in the US with /e/ pre-installed, so that’s another option.
This is generally enough to keep me from buying something. Lol!
Don’t even want the word on a product I own.
Oh sorry, what I wrote was not what I meant to say.
LTE is data only, so it only allows calls over VoLTE. If you get a phone call on a non-VoLTE phone, it will switch from 4G down to 3G or 2G, so your internet access will get much slower while taking a phone call, which is what I meant when I said that isn’t a big deal in my opinion. However, as @amarok says, if it doesn’t find either a 3G or 2G network available, then you can’t take the phone call, which is a big problem in my opinion.
I believe he also provides installation service for (certain) Androids that users send to him, doesn’t he?
True, but given 4G data (pretty much ubiquitous now) a nice, turn-key VOIP solution (Hint Hint! @Librem One ) would pretty much make the VoLTE problem go away. I haven’t played with the existing VOIP options yet, but they seem to be teasing me, and a man can only hold off so long.
I know, I’m trying to think of doing something to the G on the back of my phone that doesn’t involve a razor blade and ugly scratch marks.