Hacking your salads since 2018

Pinephone As A Daily Device Late 2020

14 Dec 2020 - Garrett Brown

I've been excited about the idea of a smartphone running Linux ever since I found out it was a thing. After seeing platforms like Ubuntu Touch and Sailfish OS, I was intrigued by the thought of a smartphone running something other than iOS, Android or Windows Phone (you know, back when that existed.) Now, about 5 or 6 years later, I finally got to try one! Back in August, I decided to drop some of the money I earned from detasseling to get the PinePhone, and I got it in the mail in September. I was excited to see if it could replace my Pixel 3a as my main phone, even though I could tell it couldn't since it was a development device. And of course, it didn't. But after a few months, I'm surprised at how much closer it's gotten to being a usable device! However, without much of a surprise, its still not there. But with a few workarounds, I've been able to use it as more of an extension device! First, lets look at what works. And that's actually a lot of things! Most of the operating systems, especially the ones running Phosh, are pretty stable! Yes, there are bugs, but everything works pretty well! As for apps, Firefox is amazing as a mobile browser, Megapixels is a simple and useful camera app, and the software store has a good amount of useful apps to install! As for communication, the phone works for making and receiving calls, Fractal is a great Matrix client, and the Chatty messages app sends and receives SMS withoug issue. MMS, however, doesn't work. There's no option to send pictures or group messages, and it won't show any MMS messages that are sent to me. Since I use it quite a bit with friends and family, I couldn't use it on the daily. Battery life is also an issue. Again, this is probably because the software is still in development, but for now, it's still a problem. However, I am able to use it as a kind of "extension device" to my Pixel. Since most of the things I do on my phone involve the internet and texting, I've been able to use the PinePhone to see information sent to my Pixel. For example, I use the Google Messages for Web feature to send and receive messages with my PinePhone. And for the times I'm not at home, I can use my Pixel's mobile hotspot to connect to the internet when I'm out in about. So while this isn't something I could use as my main smartphone, I could use it when I want to save a bit of battery on my Pixel, or when I want to do a bit of a social media detox. I'm super excited to see where the state of the PinePhone will be in a couple months from now! This is post 10 of the #100daystooffload challenge.