22 votes

Looking for a phone that doesn't follow recent trends

I am generally dissatisfied with my phone options today. I want a phone that meets these requirements:

  • microSD card slot
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Unlockable bootloader without having to ask the manufacturer (i.e. fastboot oem unlock)
  • Either LineageOS support or Android 8+
  • Screen smaller than 6" (preferably smaller than 5.5")

I'd also prefer not to have a notch but it's not a dealbreaker. I don't really care much about having the thinnest phone, or the biggest screen, etc. I'd much prefer having more control over my device and the way I use it.

Does such a phone exist, or do I have my standards too high? I haven't seen a phone like this that came out 2017 or later.

26 comments

  1. [16]
    tesseractcat (edited ) Link
    The Xiaomi Mi A1 fits all those criteria I believe. It runs stock android (via the Android One program), it's unlockable via the developer settings menu. It's 5.5" (no notch, 1080p screen), and...

    The Xiaomi Mi A1 fits all those criteria I believe. It runs stock android (via the Android One program), it's unlockable via the developer settings menu. It's 5.5" (no notch, 1080p screen), and has a headphone jack + MicroSD (or dual sim if you want it) slot. LineageOS 16.0 was recently released for it (it's unofficial though).

    It has the SD 625, which is a great budget chip, and 4 GB of ram. It's really cheap, only costing around 200 dollars. But I don't think there's a version that's compatible with all US LTE bands, so if you want to have 4G/LTE in the US, you'll have to check with your provider and see if they have the required bands, otherwise you'll have to use 3G (which isn't actually that bad, but depends on your location). Uses USB C type C, so you'll have to update your cables.

    Also has an IR blaster if that's your kind of thing.

    21 votes
    1. Silbern Link Parent
      3G's not just about speed, but availability too. AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile have all said they plan to phase out 3G during or before 2020, so you only have 3G support for another two years at most.

      3G's not just about speed, but availability too. AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile have all said they plan to phase out 3G during or before 2020, so you only have 3G support for another two years at most.

      11 votes
    2. [13]
      Kiloku Link Parent
      Worth mentioning that Xiaomi devices are high quality, in case the stereotype of Chinese electronics being bad bothers you

      Worth mentioning that Xiaomi devices are high quality, in case the stereotype of Chinese electronics being bad bothers you

      6 votes
      1. [12]
        Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
        I have a different stereotype of Chinese electronics: they're made by Chinese companies which are required by law to assist the Chinese government obtain any data it feels necessary. And,...

        in case the stereotype of Chinese electronics being bad

        I have a different stereotype of Chinese electronics: they're made by Chinese companies which are required by law to assist the Chinese government obtain any data it feels necessary. And, sometimes the Chinese government works directly on the hardware to include bonus features you didn't request.

        24 votes
        1. [9]
          cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
          [citation needed] The general consensus seems to be that the Bloomberg report is implausible on a technical level and one of the named sources in the article has accused Bloomberg of...

          I have a different stereotype of Chinese electronics: they're made by Chinese companies which are required by law to assist the Chinese government obtain any data it feels necessary.

          [citation needed]

          And, sometimes the Chinese government works directly on the hardware to include bonus features you didn't request.

          The general consensus seems to be that the Bloomberg report is implausible on a technical level and one of the named sources in the article has accused Bloomberg of misrepresenting what he told them. Now that doesn't mean the hack didn't happen, since Bloomberg could have just messed up the details and it also doesn't mean the Chinese government is innocent nor does it absolve them of their other recent spying attempts (e.g. internet traffic rerouting) but I would take the Bloomberg report with healthy dose of salt until we see how things shake out.

          9 votes
          1. [7]
            Neverland Link Parent
            Citations, which may address your concerns: https://www.theverge.com/2018/2/14/17011246/huawei-phones-safe-us-intelligence-chief-feature...
            6 votes
            1. [3]
              Akir Link Parent
              The second link is just an oppinion piece. And in regards to the first one, I have been extremely skeptical of the claims of the US government. They seem to be more motivated by politics than...

              The second link is just an oppinion piece. And in regards to the first one, I have been extremely skeptical of the claims of the US government. They seem to be more motivated by politics than actual security. Note there have been no actual claims of any specific security breach. As far as I have heard, the only spyware scandle on Chinese phones ended up being caused by an American company adding it to the firmware.

              5 votes
              1. [2]
                Neverland Link Parent
                Let me ask your opinion, do you believe Snowden’s info on the NSA getting into US companies’ systems? If so, why wouldn’t the CCP do the same thing where ever they can?

                Let me ask your opinion, do you believe Snowden’s info on the NSA getting into US companies’ systems? If so, why wouldn’t the CCP do the same thing where ever they can?

                1 vote
                1. Akir Link Parent
                  There is a huge difference between these two stories. The difference is that one has real evidence. The US government doesn't only fight wars with bombs and guns, they also fight them with...

                  There is a huge difference between these two stories. The difference is that one has real evidence. The US government doesn't only fight wars with bombs and guns, they also fight them with economic and diplomatic leverage. That is what we are seeing right now. If this propaganda campaign were actually true, the US government shouldn't have a problem with releasing some evidence. The fact that they haven't is a huge red flag.

                  2 votes
            2. [3]
              cfabbro Link Parent
              Neither of those links have any evidence whatsoever that "Chinese companies are required by law to assist the Chinese government obtain any data it feels necessary". I am not denying that the...

              Neither of those links have any evidence whatsoever that "Chinese companies are required by law to assist the Chinese government obtain any data it feels necessary". I am not denying that the Chinese government spies... every government does... but AFAIK the claim made by Algernon is completely unsubstantiated.

              1. [2]
                Neverland Link Parent
                Fair enough, does this go any further? I do realize that this is referring to domestic users, but it seems to set a precedent....

                Fair enough, does this go any further? I do realize that this is referring to domestic users, but it seems to set a precedent.

                https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinas-tech-giants-have-a-second-job-helping-the-government-see-everything-1512056284

                3 votes
                1. cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
                  Not really, since once again it fails to provide any evidence of what Algernon claimed and implied... that Chinese electronics cannot be trusted by anyone because the Chinese government can force,...

                  Not really, since once again it fails to provide any evidence of what Algernon claimed and implied... that Chinese electronics cannot be trusted by anyone because the Chinese government can force, by law, manufacturers to compromise the devices for the sake of surreptitious data collection. But I do appreciate you linking so many interesting articles even if they don't necessarily back up what Algernon claimed.

                  1 vote
          2. Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
            I did say it was a stereotype! Stereotypes don't have to be based in fact - they're notoriously fictional, such as the stereotype that all gay men are effeminate, or the stereotype that all Asians...

            I did say it was a stereotype! Stereotypes don't have to be based in fact - they're notoriously fictional, such as the stereotype that all gay men are effeminate, or the stereotype that all Asians are good at maths, or the stereotype that all women are bad at reading maps.

            However... seeing as you asked... ;)

            The Chinese National Intelligence Law of 2017 empowers China's national intelligence agencies to request citizens and organisations to assist them in their work.

            It is surprisingly difficult to find a copy of this law as promulgated (and I don't read Chinese), so I can only provide English-language sources which quote the law. There's a draft, but the final law went "into effect [...] without giving details of what was in the law or how its contents had changed since a draft was circulated".

            This blog provides the best summary of the relevant articles of the final law:

            The Intelligence Law, by contrast, repeatedly obliges individuals, organizations, and institutions to assist Public Security and State Security officials in carrying out a wide array of “intelligence” work. Article Seven stipulates that “any organization or citizen shall support, assist, and cooperate with state intelligence work according to law.” Article 14, in turn, grants intelligence agencies authority to insist on this support: “state intelligence work organs, when legally carrying forth intelligence work, may demand that concerned organs, organizations, or citizens provide needed support, assistance, and cooperation.” Organizations and citizens must also protect the secrecy of “any state intelligence work secrets of which they are aware.” These clauses appear to limit the obligations on individuals to Chinese citizens, but they do not stipulate that only Chinese “organizations” are subject to these requirements.

            This news story also quotes a few articles from the law.

            This law is quite ambiguous. As those analyses say, it's not clear who or what falls under its ambit - which means that it's possible to interpret this law as meaning all organisations operating in China are covered by it. However, quite a few western governments and security agencies are concerned about this:

            (It's this last news story about my government banning Huawei and ZTE from working on our telecommunications infrastructure which is how I found out about these concerns.)

            As for the issue with the Supermicro servers, I'll have to concede that I don't have the technical expertise to analyse the hardware involved. I only know what I read.

            5 votes
        2. [2]
          Kiloku Link Parent
          Funny, I avoid American products because I don't want the CIA snooping around my stuff. Maybe it's a "pick your poison" situation

          Funny, I avoid American products because I don't want the CIA snooping around my stuff. Maybe it's a "pick your poison" situation

          3 votes
          1. KapteinB Link Parent
            Same, I try to avoid both US and Chinese tech products. Well, there's always the "neither" option. My current phone is a Japanese device (Sony Xperia X) running a Finnish operating system (Sailfish).

            Same, I try to avoid both US and Chinese tech products.

            Maybe it's a "pick your poison" situation

            Well, there's always the "neither" option. My current phone is a Japanese device (Sony Xperia X) running a Finnish operating system (Sailfish).

            2 votes
    3. MacDolanFarms Link Parent
      That seems like a near-perfect option, but I live in the US and as @Silbern points out, it may not be a good choice.

      That seems like a near-perfect option, but I live in the US and as @Silbern points out, it may not be a good choice.

  2. DyslexicStoner240 (edited ) Link
    You mentioned you'd want a phone with Oreo running on it, if you're willing to install an unofficial ROM on your next device keep reading, otherwhise just rely on the other comments. Others have...

    You mentioned you'd want a phone with Oreo running on it, if you're willing to install an unofficial ROM on your next device keep reading, otherwhise just rely on the other comments.

    Others have given you some nice answers already, but since my phone has yet to let me down after 4 years of intense use I've decided to add my experience as well.

    • It does have an SD card slot. I'll add that you can open the back of the phone super quickly, and the only reason it has lasted me this long is that you can just remove its battery and put in a replacement in less than 5 minutes.
    • Hell yeah, 3.5 jack. I wouldn't buy anything that hasn't got it either.
    • I've been using my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 since its release about 4 years ago. Right now i'm using it with a rooted Marshmellow version. Having checked online there are xda guides on how to put Oreo in it which would make it viable to you, notice though that thy unofficial as this device isn't officially being worked on anymore.
    • Of course what the above statements also mean is that you can mod it as you please.
    • At the time of its release it was considered goddamn huge, but for how it is now its 5.7 inch screen makes it just slightly above average i think. Never had any problems myself and it seems to fit into your requirements.

    That's it with your requirements, I'll add some points myself; of course it is an older model, meaning it's got some flaws.

    • For the most part it still works great with your average app, but i wouldn't use it to play any recent games (if that's your cup of tea).
    • It's sorta bulky, especially if you put a protective case on it. Honestly I'm kinda clumsy so I went with the biggest, tankiest case i could get my hands on. It fell several times from my hands and various tables, and once even down the stairs and still the screen hasn't even cracked.
    • It's neither splash and waterproof. Never cared about it but these days it might be worth mentioning.
    • The camera is adequate, nothing more and nothing less.
    • At an intense use a battery in good conditions will last you between 5 and 6 hours if i recall correcty, though even bulkier protector cases with additional battery packs are availible if necessary.

    I realise this comment may sound like I'm a Samsung employee or something, but honestly after having used and abused this thing for 4 years I felt like it needed some well deserved praise.

    That's it i guess, if you have any questions fire them up my way, I don't comment much but I'll keep an eye on this account.

    Edit: links formatting

    4 votes
  3. Greg Link
    My requirements were very similar to yours, and I ended up going for a Moto G6. I've had it a few weeks and I'm very happy so far, although if I were to nitpick I would still prefer if it were a...

    My requirements were very similar to yours, and I ended up going for a Moto G6. I've had it a few weeks and I'm very happy so far, although if I were to nitpick I would still prefer if it were a cm or two smaller. It's also remarkably cheap without feeling in any way compromised.

    The only point we differ on is unlocking: I wanted stock Android for practical reasons, and Motorola's provided version is close enough for me. It does look as though it's unlockable, but with a code request from the manufacturer needed. Not sure if that's a deal-breaker for you.

    4 votes
  4. [2]
    Gecko Link
    It's nearing its 3rd anniversary but I still highly recommend the Fairphone 2. It should meet all your requirements (don't know about the unlockable bootloader but there is a LineageOS image for...

    It's nearing its 3rd anniversary but I still highly recommend the Fairphone 2.

    It should meet all your requirements (don't know about the unlockable bootloader but there is a LineageOS image for it), is easily repairable and it's hardware is ethically source.

    3 votes
    1. Octofox Link Parent
      Doesn't it only work/ship to Europe?

      Doesn't it only work/ship to Europe?

      2 votes
  5. Nitta Link
    Galaxy S8 or S9 with Exynos CPU should fit these all. S9 has stereo speakers.

    Galaxy S8 or S9 with Exynos CPU should fit these all. S9 has stereo speakers.

    2 votes
  6. [4]
    Jedi Link
    You're not really looking for a phone that doesn't follow trends, you're looking for a phone that isn't cutting away the features you like. Having an up-to-date version of Android isn't a trend....

    You're not really looking for a phone that doesn't follow trends, you're looking for a phone that isn't cutting away the features you like. Having an up-to-date version of Android isn't a trend.

    Samsung's S series has kept at your requirements. Though it looks even Samsung is about to chop the headphone jack. You could also look at the Nokia 6.1, it's (exactly) 5.5", has an SD card slot (u.t. 128GB), headphone jack, and it's running Android One (already on Pie), meaning you get updates pushed by Google, so you'll always be up to date. You'll even be able to test Android DP's if that's your kind of thing.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
      Isn't that the same thing for some of these features, though? A current trend in phone design is to exclude headphone jacks from phones. Another current trend is to exclude SD cards. Yet another...

      You're not really looking for a phone that doesn't follow trends, you're looking for a phone that isn't cutting away the features you like.

      Isn't that the same thing for some of these features, though? A current trend in phone design is to exclude headphone jacks from phones. Another current trend is to exclude SD cards. Yet another trend is to have larger screen sizes. These are trends in phone design. To want a headphone jack or an SD card slot or a smaller sized phone is to go against those trends.

      11 votes
      1. Jedi Link Parent
        I don't really consider it a trend if the omission was of something that wasn't a "standard" feature to begin with. It was never necessarily a given that a phone would definitely have an SD card....

        I don't really consider it a trend if the omission was of something that wasn't a "standard" feature to begin with. It was never necessarily a given that a phone would definitely have an SD card. The only real trend there is the removal of the headphone jack, and I guess larger screens.

        Honestly I'm just being semantic. I didn't mean for that to be the main point of my comment, and explaining it further makes me like I'm just arguing to be argumentative.

        1 vote
    2. MacDolanFarms Link Parent
      Very little thought went into the title of this post. I couldn't come up with any good way to convey what I was talking about concisely and that is the closest I could come up with.

      Very little thought went into the title of this post. I couldn't come up with any good way to convey what I was talking about concisely and that is the closest I could come up with.

      1 vote
  7. beowulfey Link
    As someone else said, I generally have a similar opinion as you in terms of what I'm looking for and bought the unlocked version of the Samsung Galaxy S8. You can unlock the bootloader to install...

    As someone else said, I generally have a similar opinion as you in terms of what I'm looking for and bought the unlocked version of the Samsung Galaxy S8. You can unlock the bootloader to install custom ROMs or root if you're inclined to do that, and has all the features you requested. Plus, it's a damn good phone -- great battery life, gorgeous screen, yadda yadda yadda.

    Doesn't have an official LineageOS unfortunately, although somebody ported an unofficial build. Also I'm sad that it won't get the new One UI, but what can you do :/