10 votes

What are your thoughts on the Blloc phone?

44 comments

  1. [13]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. [3]
      frostycakes
      Link Parent
      It's practically useless in the US; its LTE band support misses every single band except 41 (and it's Sprint, so it won't work on them anyways). It's got B1/3/7/8/38/39/40/41 LTE support, and it's...

      It's practically useless in the US; its LTE band support misses every single band except 41 (and it's Sprint, so it won't work on them anyways). It's got B1/3/7/8/38/39/40/41 LTE support, and it's even missing Band 4 3G, so even that will not work well here.

      Apple, Samsung, and Google have figured out near-universal LTE band support, it's time that becomes standard across the board.

      8 votes
      1. [2]
        Artrax
        Link Parent
        Well, akschually it's the US not supporting international standards

        Well, akschually it's the US not supporting international standards

        7 votes
        1. Akir
          Link Parent
          The whole point of all of these bands being options for LTE implementations is because different countries have different parts of the radio spectrum dedicated to different services. The US...

          The whole point of all of these bands being options for LTE implementations is because different countries have different parts of the radio spectrum dedicated to different services.

          The US telecom industry does a lot of shitty things, but this one isn't their fault.

          7 votes
    2. [5]
      Kraetos
      Link Parent
      Exactly. The idea that anyone looking for a "minimalist, privacy-focused phone" would consider Android over iOS is bonkers. Android is good at some things, but minimalism and privacy are about as...

      It turns out, the minimalist, privacy-focused phone was the one I already have. The iPhone 7.

      Exactly.

      The idea that anyone looking for a "minimalist, privacy-focused phone" would consider Android over iOS is bonkers. Android is good at some things, but minimalism and privacy are about as far from Android's core competencies as you can get.

      This thing is going to flop hard. The sole market for this phone is "I want the things Apple is best at but I hate Apple."

      5 votes
      1. Crespyl
        Link Parent
        I think the Android folk who care about those issues are mostly the people who already run customized forks like LineageOS or use microG, which gives you a much greater degree of control over the...

        I think the Android folk who care about those issues are mostly the people who already run customized forks like LineageOS or use microG, which gives you a much greater degree of control over the system (and your privacy) than Apple will deign to allow.

        Packaged versions like Blloc look nice, but if I got one I'd still just wipe it and install my own preferred software. It's a very difficult market to monetize, IMO, and the most viable projects are those focused on open hardware, rather than trying to come up with software solutions that your most passionate users will just replace.

        13 votes
      2. welly
        Link Parent
        I would love to swap my Google Pixel for an iPhone but annoyingly ios has too many restrictions and I'm not looking for much. I want to be able to pick what email client is default and what...

        I would love to swap my Google Pixel for an iPhone but annoyingly ios has too many restrictions and I'm not looking for much. I want to be able to pick what email client is default and what browser is default. And on top of that, I want Firefox to use their browser engine. I don't think I'm asking for much but Apple will clearly never offer this.

        11 votes
      3. apoctr
        Link Parent
        Some users concerned with privacy prefer specific variants of Android (Lineage or Copperhead before it died) alongside certain frameworks (Xprivacy) over iOS on the basis of...

        Android is good at some things, but minimalism and privacy are about as far from Android's core competencies as you can get.

        Some users concerned with privacy prefer specific variants of Android (Lineage or Copperhead before it died) alongside certain frameworks (Xprivacy) over iOS on the basis of accountability/control, and the result is equal or better privacy than iOS, but I'll agree Android generally is terrible for privacy.

        With regards to minimalism, I'm confused whether this is about aesthetic minimalism or functional minimalism. But the prior is definitely easily achievable on Android, to a greater extent than iOS allows.

        2 votes
      4. babypuncher
        Link Parent
        iOS is the only viable option right now if you want both a meaningful amount of privacy control and a comprehensive App Store. Blloc isn't the first AOSP-based phone to focus on privacy and it...

        iOS is the only viable option right now if you want both a meaningful amount of privacy control and a comprehensive App Store. Blloc isn't the first AOSP-based phone to focus on privacy and it won't be the last, and I suspect they will all run into this same problem. Without that app ecosystem your device only appeals to a very niche audience.

        1 vote
    3. [3]
      JXM
      Link Parent
      Do you have any other suggestions? I'm in the market and I was looking at the Punkt MP02.

      Do you have any other suggestions? I'm in the market and I was looking at the Punkt MP02.

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        Comment deleted by author
        Link Parent
        1. moocow1452
          Link Parent
          Yeah, the banana seems pretty ideal, can even hack it to get some old Firefox OS apps for RSS and Podcasts, and it's a portable Google Assistant without the baggage of the rest of Android. Half...

          Yeah, the banana seems pretty ideal, can even hack it to get some old Firefox OS apps for RSS and Podcasts, and it's a portable Google Assistant without the baggage of the rest of Android. Half considered using a Raspberry Pi and kitbashing something together, but that seems like it would be just wasting time but in another direction.

          1 vote
      2. Diff
        Link Parent
        Check out the Light Phone 2. I'm waiting to see if it has a hot spot so I can still selectively re-engage with social media with a deactivated companion smartphone but if it does, the Light Phone...

        Check out the Light Phone 2. I'm waiting to see if it has a hot spot so I can still selectively re-engage with social media with a deactivated companion smartphone but if it does, the Light Phone 2 will be everything I personally wanted out of the Punkt MP02. It does calls, texts, just a few basic phone features (directions? music? alarms?), and nothing else.

        1 vote
    4. babypuncher
      Link Parent
      Rumor has it Apple's flagship iPhone model will shrink slightly in 2020 (while the Max or Plus variant will get slightly bigger), so there is hope for those of use who miss the smaller form factors.

      Rumor has it Apple's flagship iPhone model will shrink slightly in 2020 (while the Max or Plus variant will get slightly bigger), so there is hope for those of use who miss the smaller form factors.

      1 vote
  2. [15]
    mftrhu
    Link
    "Oh, this website looks nicely minimalistic, but where's the rest of the text?" Sigh. Very prolonged sigh. It doesn't even look like they are offering anything special - the specs are nice, but...

    Blloc is a plain, minimalistic and effective smartphone. Combining affordable hardware with a productivity and focus based software and an easy to use messaging platform. It’s built to be the perfect communication and productivity tool you can rely on every day. Time to regain control over your life.

    "Oh, this website looks nicely minimalistic, but where's the rest of the text?"

    Please enable Javascript to view the website

    Sigh.

    website won't render until I enable stripe.com

    Very prolonged sigh.

    It doesn't even look like they are offering anything special - the specs are nice, but not exceptional, they have an icon pack, they probably wrote their own apps, and... the phone can be switched in and out of monochrome mode easily?

    I'd be more interested if it used an eInk display instead of just toggling monochrome mode - stock Android can already do that - but, as it stands... meh. Except maybe for the tiles, but there's not much info on them on that page.

    12 votes
    1. [8]
      babypuncher
      Link Parent
      Is it still realistic to expect sites to function without Javascript? I gave up on NoScript years ago and just use ublock to keep the trackers at bay.

      Is it still realistic to expect sites to function without Javascript? I gave up on NoScript years ago and just use ublock to keep the trackers at bay.

      4 votes
      1. [7]
        mftrhu
        Link Parent
        If you are asking "how is your experience with NoScript" then I'll say that it's utterly infuriating, because some websites - like this one - require it to render text, images, and the occasional...

        If you are asking "how is your experience with NoScript" then I'll say that it's utterly infuriating, because some websites - like this one - require it to render text, images, and the occasional static video, but that I can usually browse without much issue.

        Sometimes, a website will take me more than a minute to get to work - or not work at all, for whatever reason. When that happens I give up on it on principle.

        If you are asking "is it realistic for you to expect designers to build websites without JS" then I'll say yes. 99% of the time they don't need it - not when their website is text and images - and they certainly don't need to render everything via JS.

        9 votes
        1. [6]
          babypuncher
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          As a web developer, JavaScript is available to 99.999% of my users, and makes my job much easier than trying to make a page that works without it. Even when a page is just "text and images", it's...

          As a web developer, JavaScript is available to 99.999% of my users, and makes my job much easier than trying to make a page that works without it. Even when a page is just "text and images", it's usually more complicated than that. Usually, I'm doing something in a way that is easier, faster, or re-using technologies I built for functionality that does require JavaScript. So yeah, it might be "possible" to do some pages purely with HTML and CSS, but I have little incentive to spend my time doing so.

          3 votes
          1. [3]
            mftrhu
            Link Parent
            Not "possible", flat-out possible, and for probably the vast majority of pages on the Internet. Unless you are developing a literal application, if your page doesn't work at all without JS - if...

            So yeah, it might be "possible" to do some pages purely with HTML and CSS, but I have little incentive to spend my time doing so.

            Not "possible", flat-out possible, and for probably the vast majority of pages on the Internet. Unless you are developing a literal application, if your page doesn't work at all without JS - if you won't even render text without it - you are doing it wrong.

            11 votes
            1. babypuncher
              Link Parent
              It's easy for you to say I'm doing it wrong when you don't have to work with my constraints. The apps I build for work have interactive and non-interactive pages. I decided to template all of them...

              It's easy for you to say I'm doing it wrong when you don't have to work with my constraints.

              The apps I build for work have interactive and non-interactive pages. I decided to template all of them in Vue.js so I could build small components that can get re-used everywhere. If a user tries to load a page and an area is templated with Vue, they will only see a message saying they need to turn on JavaScript.

              Sure, JavaScript isn't necessary for a static page that just shows a customer what products they currently have and what products they could buy to go with it, but building it with stuff I already built for the rest of the app makes it faster to make and more maintainable long-term, both things that make my employer happy.

              4 votes
            2. Wes
              Link Parent
              There's plenty of legitimate uses for JS that exist outside of full applications. I used it on a "simple" grid-based page the other day to optimize image loading and prevent wasted bandwidth....

              There's plenty of legitimate uses for JS that exist outside of full applications. I used it on a "simple" grid-based page the other day to optimize image loading and prevent wasted bandwidth.

              Besides, browser support is across the board today. There's no longer need for noscript.

              1 vote
          2. [2]
            Bauke
            Link Parent
            Showing nothing but a blank page is unacceptable, no matter how you slice it. There's several, trivial ways of detecting whether JavaScript is enabled or not that could be utilized: First-party:...

            Showing nothing but a blank page is unacceptable, no matter how you slice it. There's several, trivial ways of detecting whether JavaScript is enabled or not that could be utilized:

            First-party: <noscript>JavaScript is required to view this page, please enable it.</noscript>

            Simple, well-supported and actually shows something. Then, if first party is available, a little extra vanilla JS and HTML can be used to detect any third party library you'd want:

            <script src="js/detect.js"></script>
            <script src="https://code.jquery.com/jquery-3.4.1.min.js"
              onload="setLibrary('jQuery', true)"
              onerror="setLibrary('jQuery', false)"></script>
            <script src="js/index.js"></script>
            
            // detect.js
            const loadedLibraries = {};
            function setLibrary(key, status) {
              loadedLibraries[key] = {name: key, status};
            }
            

            And the rest where you require jQuery (or anything else):

            // index.js
            window.addEventListener('load', () => {
              for (const key in loadedLibraries) {
                const library = loadedLibraries[key];
                console.log(`${library.name}: ${library.status}`);
              }
            });
            

            Rendering a little text explaining something didn't load is the least you could do, even if it's only for the 0.001% of your users.

            4 votes
            1. babypuncher
              Link Parent
              I don't think I ever suggested my apps only show a blank page without JavaScript. They show a message saying that this website needs JavaScript to function. My only point was that I feel no need...

              I don't think I ever suggested my apps only show a blank page without JavaScript. They show a message saying that this website needs JavaScript to function.

              My only point was that I feel no need to make sure non-interactive pages in my apps work without JavaScript.

              2 votes
    2. [2]
      Grzmot
      Link Parent
      That's a Helio P23 running in there... Those aren't nice specs by any means, and we don't even know the price.

      the specs are nice

      That's a Helio P23 running in there... Those aren't nice specs by any means, and we don't even know the price.

      3 votes
      1. ChuckS
        Link Parent
        It's right there on the website. Scroll to the bottom: 359 Eur.

        and we don't even know the price.

        It's right there on the website. Scroll to the bottom: 359 Eur.

    3. unknown user
      Link Parent
      Sometimes the reader mode of firefox helps with this.

      Sometimes the reader mode of firefox helps with this.

      2 votes
    4. [3]
      cwagner
      Link Parent
      I only had to enable cdn.contentful.net (which is apparently where they ajax all the content from), renders perfectly fine without stripe

      website won't render until I enable stripe.com

      Very prolonged sigh.

      I only had to enable cdn.contentful.net (which is apparently where they ajax all the content from), renders perfectly fine without stripe

      1 vote
      1. apoctr
        Link Parent
        You're right stripe.com isn't needed to properly render the site, but not that only cdn.contentful.net needs to be allowed - for the videos you also need to enable videos.ctfassets.com. If it...

        You're right stripe.com isn't needed to properly render the site, but not that only cdn.contentful.net needs to be allowed - for the videos you also need to enable videos.ctfassets.com. If it weren't for the invite-only system for purchase, then you would need to enable stripe.com but I prefer that to having blloc themselves handle the transaction details.

        3 votes
      2. mftrhu
        Link Parent
        Yeah, you are right. I just checked again, and I only needed contentful.com. Apparently, though, NoScript didn't reload the page when I enabled that. It did when I enabled blloc.com and, last time...

        Yeah, you are right. I just checked again, and I only needed contentful.com. Apparently, though, NoScript didn't reload the page when I enabled that. It did when I enabled blloc.com and, last time stripe.net, but reloading the page manually did the trick.

        1 vote
  3. [3]
    heady
    Link
    They don't provide enough information on that site to really comment on if it is truly a privacy centered phone. Not shipping with the privacy invasive usual suspects (google, facebook) is better...

    They don't provide enough information on that site to really comment on if it is truly a privacy centered phone.

    Not shipping with the privacy invasive usual suspects (google, facebook) is better than most but what are they replaced with?

    The only specifically named alternative is duckduckgo browser which is fine but something you could install on any android phone in a minute.

    As for other common apps like facebook, messenger, googlemaps etc, some kind of replacement needs to be provided or else users will inevitably compromise their privacy by manually installing the typical android bloatwares.

    Not mentioned anywhere I can see is if google play services is installed. This is a source of telemetry to google and would be a bold move to remove it due to the vast majority of apps requiring it.

    All I can see through the slick presentation is the line "your privacy, your choice" where the choice may very well privacy or basic functionality.

    9 votes
    1. [2]
      bilbodwyer
      Link Parent
      A very fair point. I'm operating on the assumption that there's no Google Play Services, but then in the FAQ they mention that you can download everything from the Play Store as normal, so maybe...

      A very fair point. I'm operating on the assumption that there's no Google Play Services, but then in the FAQ they mention that you can download everything from the Play Store as normal, so maybe there are.
      Again, it's assumption, but the screenshot of the app list shows a very minimal selection, so I'm expecting that it's devoid of Google default apps, and just uses the AOSP versions.

      1. fandegw
        Link Parent
        Without Google Play Services, you cannot use these main Google apps: Youtube GMail Google Calendar Google Duo Google Pay Google Photos All Google Drive associated apps (Sheets, Docs, etc...)...

        Without Google Play Services, you cannot use these main Google apps:

        • Youtube
        • GMail
        • Google Calendar
        • Google Duo
        • Google Pay
        • Google Photos
        • All Google Drive associated apps (Sheets, Docs, etc...)
        • Google Assistant
        • Google Play Music
        • Google Play Store, Games, Movies, etc...

        And in this youtube video https://youtu.be/31FrND2oqys?t=10 we can see at least 6 of them being used on the phone.

        So we can be pretty sure that the main privacy problem with Android is not solved by this phone

        9 votes
  4. Eva
    Link
    They claim to be using DuckDuckGo as their search engine, yet the marketing screenshots show the Google logotype; wonder if that's just a problem with how Android displays the system's default...

    They claim to be using DuckDuckGo as their search engine, yet the marketing screenshots show the Google logotype; wonder if that's just a problem with how Android displays the system's default search engine without putting conscious effort into fixing it, or that they didn't set the value all throughout the phone.

    4 votes
  5. [2]
    imperialismus
    Link
    Ugh, this sort of marketing is so obnoxious. A phone with preinstalled apps isn't breaking your human rights, and you can choose to uninstall them. And if I were to actually use this phone I'd...

    Freedom of choice is a basic human right. So why do today's smartphones come packed with apps, services, and presets that you never chose?

    Ugh, this sort of marketing is so obnoxious. A phone with preinstalled apps isn't breaking your human rights, and you can choose to uninstall them. And if I were to actually use this phone I'd probably have to install at least half of those apps anyway.

    I'm not a fan of the all black and white UI either. It looks really elegant in marketing materials, but I think it would really hamper usability. I remember when a banking app I use a lot changed its logo to a different color, and I spent five minutes looking for it. Color simply helps make visual distinction and navigation easier and quicker.

    3 votes
    1. Crespyl
      Link Parent
      While I agree that it's a bit over the top, it is not always the case that users can uninstall the bloatware apps. It's actually pretty common for FB or other random junk that's essentially...

      While I agree that it's a bit over the top, it is not always the case that users can uninstall the bloatware apps. It's actually pretty common for FB or other random junk that's essentially advertising to be pre-installed and unremovable. My mothers last phone had some kind of sport/racing app (that she has no interest in) baked into the system partition, eating up gobs of space for no good purpose.

      I think it's definitely a "first world problem" kind of thing, but having spyware/adware getting pushed into every corner of my life definitely feels invasive, and I'm more willing to respect manufacturers who are prepared to turn down the ad dollars in favor of creating a better product.

      That said, this group makes a big deal about freedom of choice, but it's not clear if I have the freedom to, for example, choose to run a custom ROM instead of their own Android version. I think the right to repair/replace all the software on my devices is a much bigger and more important issue than just having a de-bloated factory image.

      5 votes
  6. Grzmot
    Link
    The phone is mainly sold in Europe, designed in Germany and yet only offers 12 months warranty, even though by EU law you have to offer 24 months warranty on electronics... The phone is most...

    The phone is mainly sold in Europe, designed in Germany and yet only offers 12 months warranty, even though by EU law you have to offer 24 months warranty on electronics...

    The phone is most likely going to be overpriced (I can't tell, cause they don't even reveal the price) and I don't know how I feel about the updates from a small company. They promise 2 years, but we'll see about that.

    All in all, interesting concept, let's wait for the execution.

    3 votes
  7. clone1
    Link
    Honestly, it looks awful. It's a phone that defaults to black and white for a bullshit reason, has an icon pack built in that looks neat but obviously can't support every app, so some will stick...

    Honestly, it looks awful. It's a phone that defaults to black and white for a bullshit reason, has an icon pack built in that looks neat but obviously can't support every app, so some will stick out way too much. The "tree" and "grid" look like they'll have the same problem, not supporting all necessary apps. Plus they look a bit poorly designed and not practical. It just feels limiting and pretentious.

    3 votes
  8. [4]
    bilbodwyer
    Link
    This phone was mentioned on a YouTube channel I follow, and I was quite interested to check it out. As it is, I don't have the money to get one now that it's back in stock, but I still find the...

    This phone was mentioned on a YouTube channel I follow, and I was quite interested to check it out. As it is, I don't have the money to get one now that it's back in stock, but I still find the concept very interesting. It's a minimalist, privacy-focused phone, that is black and white by default. It doesn't seem to come with Google apps preinstalled, and it has a very different take on the operating system.
    I find boutique phones like this quite interesting, I was really into the Nextbit Robin when it came out (and owned one for some time). I doubt that it will last, or even see a second model released, but the concept alone is worthy of discussion I think.

    As an aside, I have an invite code if anybody is so tempted as to buy one.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      rmgr
      Link Parent
      I can't see a price.. How much are they?

      I can't see a price.. How much are they?

      3 votes
      1. bilbodwyer
        Link Parent
        Ah, sorry - didn't realise! €299 (+shipping depending where you live) or €349 if you want the protect package which offers a one-time phone replacement within a year for water damage, drops, or...

        Ah, sorry - didn't realise! €299 (+shipping depending where you live) or €349 if you want the protect package which offers a one-time phone replacement within a year for water damage, drops, or malfunction.

        2 votes
    2. bRxF1
      Link Parent
      Well I'm not going to lie, the website's aesthetic and marketing worked on me, I'm interested. The looks are great and the stated goals admirable, but the immediate questions it elicits in me are:...

      Well I'm not going to lie, the website's aesthetic and marketing worked on me, I'm interested.

      The looks are great and the stated goals admirable, but the immediate questions it elicits in me are:

      • Which apps can it run and which can't it? What will I have to sacrifice?
      • How tested and reliable is their OS?
      • Do we have any other proof of their privacy claims besides trusting the developer?

      I couldn't find this information on the website or the linked review articles.

      Other than that I must say it's the first phone that made me say "oh hey, nice, I'd like to have one" and I'm generally not someone too bothered with smartphones.

      At the risk of rambling, I just googled for reviews and one of them made a pretty good point

      That, unfortunately, might be the problem with the Blloc Zero 18. Why does this need to be an entire smartphone? Why not just make an Android launcher which does all these things and then sell that on the Google Play Store? it seems a bit overkill to make an entire phone."

      Which leads me to wonder what exactly made it so appealing as a physical product to me. Have I been swayed by a slick website and good marketing?

      3 votes
  9. NaraVara
    Link
    About the only thing I can really tell from the page is that this UI looks like a nightmare for anyone over the age of 50. Such small icons that are indistinct from each other making you reliant...

    About the only thing I can really tell from the page is that this UI looks like a nightmare for anyone over the age of 50. Such small icons that are indistinct from each other making you reliant on reading very small text with what seem to be pretty tiny touch targets.

    2 votes
  10. Autoxidation
    Link
    It doesn't look nearly as privacy focused as it claims, compared to the Librem 5.

    It doesn't look nearly as privacy focused as it claims, compared to the Librem 5.

    2 votes
  11. nachodorito
    Link
    The OS isn't minimalist, it's just plain.

    The OS isn't minimalist, it's just plain.

    2 votes
  12. Anwyl
    Link
    like 90% of what goes into my rating of a phone is how easy it is to make a phone call. I have other devices for the other stuff. Looks like this one has a tiny button you need to hit, and no...

    like 90% of what goes into my rating of a phone is how easy it is to make a phone call. I have other devices for the other stuff. Looks like this one has a tiny button you need to hit, and no indication of what the UI is once you do that.

    1 vote
  13. Akir
    (edited )
    Link
    Honestly, it looks like a terrible failure at it's goal of minimalism. It looks more accurate to describe the design language as brutalist. The only things it actually innovates in any meaningful...

    Honestly, it looks like a terrible failure at it's goal of minimalism. It looks more accurate to describe the design language as brutalist.

    The only things it actually innovates in any meaningful way are their tiles and their universal timelines. Both of which defy the supposed goal of minimalism. That's before you get to the apps screen which gives you a massive 45 icons on screen at once.

    This is just personal, but the name is also extremely aggravating.

    (Edited for grammar.)

    1 vote