I Want a Linux Dumbphone!
I, like many people around the world, have an addiction to my smartphone. Many nights, the glare of my smartphone from watching YouTube videos(through NewPipe) keeps me from sleep. A quick web search equals minutes of productivity lost. This electronic rectangle with a screen interrupts my daily conversations, and we all just accept it. How can I overcome this addiction? One way I've been able to ground myself, is with a dumbphone.
The concept of moving to a simpler phone is nothing new, just look at these products: Mudita Pure, the Light Phone 2 and the Punkt MP02. They're here to solve a very real problem, smartphone addiction! The issue with these phones? None of them run Linux.
First off, I know what some of you will say. “Just dumb down your smartphone”. Or, “buy a used dumb phone”. All very good suggestions, but each has their own issues.
I've done the dumbing down of my smartphone. My Pixel 3a XL currently runs Calyx OS(a very nice OS btw, we'll talk about it in another blog post) and I mainly use (with the exception of my banking apps) applications from F-Droid. Even just moving to this custom ROM helped bring down my smartphone usage considerably(goodbye Google Newsfeed). I've already cut social media out of my life(with the exception of my Mastodon page feel free to follow). None of that has tamed my bad tendencies, however.
Buying a used dumbphone has generally been the better option for me, but even that comes with it's own problems. I was using a Blackberry Passport, but had to get away from it. While the browser was slow, it still allowed me to easily browse the web(enabling my addiction). It was still too smart for me, even with it's lack of apps.
So, I moved on to a variety of different candy bar and flip style phones. The issue with these are that, most have terrible keypads for texting. They have poor or none existent predictive text(tap T9 is murder on my thumbs). A lot of these phones don't even work on modern networks being stuck on 2G technology(which has been phased out by all major cell carriers in the USA). These phones either run a clunky custom proprietary operating system or a dumbed down version of Android(that still tracks you of course!). Oh, and the displays tend to suck and can't diplay emojis, gifs, or stickers, etc.
What I would love to see is a dumbphone with a good screen(decent size and a good resolution), a good keypad, good predictive text, good speakers, good battery life, usb c charging, and an assortment of your basic apps(calculator, calendar, notepad, email client(for those with data), etc.) I would love for it to run on the Linux Kernel so you know your data is not being sent to the four corners of Silicon Valley. Give the option for chat over Matrix so your cell company can't see your text messages and pictures. That would be my dream phone!
Will that dream phone ever come to market? Doubtful! However, if there was enough demand, it could happen(those other phones did). If you share my pipe dream, let others know(Pine64 might be good chaps to discuss that with). In the meantime, my hunt for a dumb phone with modern specs(4G LTE, predictive text, good display, speakers, USB C charging) continues.
I'll more than likely get that Mudita Pure phone, let me know if you'd like me to review it.