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    1. Phone automation - Share your workflows!

      I recently switched operating systems on my phone and lost some of the automated workflows I had during the transition. While I've rebuilt some of it, but it sometimes feels like I'm missing...

      I recently switched operating systems on my phone and lost some of the automated workflows I had during the transition. While I've rebuilt some of it, but it sometimes feels like I'm missing something or that I could do more, I just don't know what exactly. I'd like to hear from others here and see if they can inspire me to implement what works for them. I'm using an android phone with automate and here's the workflows that I got:

      • When plugging in the phone, set it to do not disturb and enable Bluetooth. This is for when I go to sleep so that I don't get woken up by notifications and I can listen to podcasts on my headband.
      • If at work (Based on cell towers, not GPS) set phone to vibrate, when leaving it set it to ring. I actually lost this one but haven't rebuilt it since I've not been to the office in a while.
      • Learn location. For a set time, grabs the cell towers around and stores them in a JSON file.

      What kind of automation have you implemented on your phone?

      18 votes
    2. Recommend me a new phone

      Hi all -- I have had a Moto G5+ for the last two years, and have been largely happy with it. However, it's recently developed some serious issues w/ charging -- it tends to not ever get past ~45%,...

      Hi all -- I have had a Moto G5+ for the last two years, and have been largely happy with it. However, it's recently developed some serious issues w/ charging -- it tends to not ever get past ~45%, and the battery indicator seems to be ... disconnected from how long the phone actually lasts. I have attempted cleaning out the charging port (there was a lot of caked-in dust), changing the charging cable and port, to no avail. It works ok-ish for the moment, but I have largely been limiting it to emergency usage and I suspect it's on it's way out.

      So, I find myself in the market for a new phone. In the past I have typically gone with whatever the cheapest reasonable Android phone has been (hence, the G5+ which I really do like quite a bit besides the poor camera). I am not a heavy phone user, and I really don't care about having the latest and greatest, my priorities are:

      • long battery life (my Moto G5 lasts two days fully charged)
      • cheap (say 200-300$, the SE on this thread is probably the upper bound of what I'd want to spend)
      • reasonably performant
      • preferably reasonable privacy protections (probably a pipe-dream)

      The Moto G series have checked all boxes (apart from privacy) in the past, but I am considering whether I can take this opportunity to rid myself of another Google device in my life. I was thinking potentially going for a refurbished iPhone, but I really have no idea what to be looking for there. I haven't used an Apple device since my iPod (iTunes on Windows PTSD is real, and I don't even want to think about Linux support), and I am more than a bit hesitant to tie myself into their ecosystem, but it's hard to deny their superiority from a privacy standpoint.

      I had also considered a Librem 5 at one point, and would be willing to spend a bit more for something so privacy oriented. But the 6-month order window, and other things I read about Purisms' roll-out have left me a bit wary there.

      Any thoughts?

      Thanks!

      12 votes
    3. Phone recommendations: Pixel 2? 3a? Something else?

      My OG Pixel died last night and while I'm waiting for tech support to get back with me on how I can still use MFA to do my job, I figured I would ask you all how I should proceed with getting a...

      My OG Pixel died last night and while I'm waiting for tech support to get back with me on how I can still use MFA to do my job, I figured I would ask you all how I should proceed with getting a new device. My first impulse is to get a Referb Pixel 2 on Amazon for $99, as I liked my original Pixel, I like having the latest Android version and I like only paying $99 for an older flagship phone. Additionally, I was considering a Pixel 3a as it would presumably last a bit longer and has had good reviews but is three times as much and hasn't devalued nearly as much when used, which is good and bad.

      I'm open to anything that's relatively stock Android and still updated, and am curious about iOS, Kaios or other options. Landlines are a hard pass.

      13 votes
    4. Cellphone review: Umidigi F2

      I was recently in the market for a cheap used phone. I was looking for an Android device, preferably less than 3 years old, preferably with an unlockable bootloader and rootable, for $200 or less....

      I was recently in the market for a cheap used phone. I was looking for an Android device, preferably less than 3 years old, preferably with an unlockable bootloader and rootable, for $200 or less. I was looking at used Pixel 2's when I came across this weird Chinese manufacturer I'd never heard of.

      The Umidigi F2 is a bizarre device. I was blown away by the specs, and the seller was only asking $200CAD for it, so I took a chance. I've got to say, so far I'm pretty impressed.

      Quick Specs:

      • 6.5" IPS LCD, 2340x1080px, bezelless, w/ hole-punch camera, no notch
      • 6GB Dual-channel LPDDR4 RAM, 128GB Storage
      • Mediatek P70 - ARM Cortex A73/A53 Octo-core 2.0/2.1GHz CPU
      • 5 cameras, 32MP front-facing, 48MP rear, 13MP wide-angle, 5MP depth, 5MP macro
      • Dual SIM, MicroSD
      • 5150mAh battery
      • ~40 frequency bands
      • 3.5mm headphone jack
      • Stock Android 10

      At this price I was initially skeptical. There must be something wrong with it, some glaring flaw I wasn't seeing, and/or those specs must be fake. I'm happy to say though, they're real, and the device seems much more solid than I expected.

      I've had the thing a little over a week so far, and have only charged it once. On the first charge it lasted 4 days before I charged it, and still had 30% battery remaining after I'd spent a couple hours surfing the web and two hours watching youtube (total screen-on time was ~4.5hrs). After charging it I haven't been using it as much, but it's currently been running 3 days and it has 70% battery remaining. I've used it to listen to the radio for 3 hours this morning. Oh yeah, did I mention? Bizarrely, it has a FM radio tuner for some reason.

      So far everything has been smooth, the device performs really well, which is not something I expected from a Mediatek CPU. Rooting it went smoothly, and I've been able to tweak a bunch of settings via the EdXposed framework, as much as you can in Android 10 anyway. I did remove some background bloat, but otherwise the default ROM is very close to vanilla AOSP.

      The build quality of the thing is honestly not bad. I've used mid-range Samsung devices that have felt cheaper and more plastic-y than this. I have read some reports of bad touchscreens, but so far I haven't had any problems. There's also a DIY solution to solve that. Unfortunately, if it dies, this is pretty much my only option, since the warranty and support is pretty much nonexistent. At a quarter the price of a brand-name phone with similar specs though, I'm willing to roll those dice.

      So, other than warranty, what are the downsides? Well, so far the biggest gripe I have is there is no notification LED on it. So if I go to the washroom and come back I can't just tell at a glance if I've missed a call or text, I actually need to unlock it. Luckily the fingerprint reader and face unlock are both pretty reliable. There is no wireless charging, which I'm more or less okay with. The main reason I'd want that is if the USB port died, but again, this is the sort of phone that if anything is wrong with it you're pretty much meant to throw it out. The speaker is a bit tinny, and unfortunately it's mono. The cameras are bad. The 48MP camera does take 8000x6000 pictures, but they're grainy to the point where even if you resize them down they still look worse than something taken with a good 6MP camera. This seems to be a software problem though. The camera module is apparently made by Samsung, and people have said it's gotten better with every OTA update. As for that, there's been an update this month, but a lot of people are expecting it might be the last update they put out. Umidigi apparently has a bad track record of only providing updates for a few months.

      In conclusion, this is objectively a decent phone, and for it's price, it's exceptional. You sacrifice warranty, updates, any kind of support really, but you get some very decent hardware for $200.

      Official site: https://www.umidigi.com/page-umidigi_f2_specification.html
      Purchasable on amazon for fast shipping, purchase on aliexpress to save $50.

      9 votes
    5. Hidden 3rd party telemetry found in Nokia 6.2, 7.2 smartphones

      Update 12/03/2020: this is not a telemetry, but a kill switch from Colombian carrier - confirmed by HMD. Kill switch will be removed from most devices soon. I updated an article and posted it...

      Update 12/03/2020: this is not a telemetry, but a kill switch from Colombian carrier - confirmed by HMD. Kill switch will be removed from most devices soon. I updated an article and posted it here.

      Original article below:

      I have recently purchased Nokia 6.2 and wanted to check if it sends any data somewhere, considering what happened with previous models

      First, I noticed approx. daily connection to dapi.hmdglobal.net
      This is a Google Cloud that could belong to a company behind Nokia - HMD Global.
      But the Privacy policy in my phone only speaks of "activation" process, not of daily diagnostics data.
      So I used developer tools to remove the following packages (warning: this may break your device, I am not responsible for any consequences)

          com.hmdglobal.enterprise.api
          com.qualcomm.qti.qms.service.telemetry
          com.qualcomm.qti.qmmi
          com.qualcomm.qti.qdma
      

      Before removing them, I used APK Extractor to save APK files just in case it breaks my phone and I may be able to attempt reinstall. This part comes into play later.
      The first was my blind guess about what exactly connects to dapi.hmdglobal.net
      The next 3 I found mentioned in various forums for other devices as "safe to remove", however, I have not seen any telemetry sent to Qualcomm or anywhere else, except what I mention next.

      After removing these packages, I noticed that there are some remaining unknown connections my device attempts several times per day.
      They are all done in same order, one right after the other:

          www.pppefa.com
          www.ppmxfa.com
          www.forcis.claro.com.co
      

      After some investigation, I found that the first two domains point to some Microsoft Cloud servers rented in US.
      The last one most probably belongs to Colombian telecom company, and this is where it becomes interesting.
      After many hours of fruitless removing of different apps in my attempt so stop it, I suddenly remembered something.
      When I used APK Extractor previously, there was an empty first line with some generic icon where an app icon should have been.
      I went there again and indeed, this is a hidden system app, that you can not see in the list of all apps in Settings, normally. But it turns out, you can see it in Data usage (after it successfully sends some data using your mobile connection).
      The name of the app is deliberately left empty to hide it, but if you click it in Data usage, you can see that this app is co.sitic.pp , which can receive SMS, can make calls, and has access to internet.
      As with all Android apps, you can reverse read the name to guess what it is.
      Turns out, http://sitic.com.co is a Colombian company, who "are leaders in innovation and create mobile and WEB applications for new products and services." (credit goes to Google Translate)

      screenshot of the app with permissions

      In other words, this app is a 3rd party telemetry, hidden from user, not mentioned in the Privacy policy, that has access to SMS.
      This looks very bad and I really hope this is a malware injected by factory and not something knowingly distributed by Nokia, HMD Global, the EU company.

      After removing the co.sitic.pp app, requests to Microsoft Cloud and Columbia stopped.
      I was later pointed to a German forum, where (I believe) it was first found in a Nokia 7.2 device.
      So, we have it confirmed in 2 devices in 2 different countries.

      On German forum they contacted Nokia (I assume support) but got tired exchanging emails for weeks without any result.
      On 02/03/2020 I have requested an official reply from Nokia and HMD Global via press.services@nokia.com and press@hmdglobal.com and waiting for reply.
      Since I am not a journalist, I may never get one.

      TLDR: 3rd party telemetry is found in Nokia 6.2 and 7.2 devices, is hidden from user, has access to SMS, and sends data to Microsoft Cloud in US and a server in Columbia.
      It is probably supplied by SITIC S.A.S., a Colombian company, and looks more like a malware than a telemetry.

      28 votes
    6. Smartphones that make good use of physical buttons

      I miss buttons on devices. They are durable, reliable, repairable and nice to press. I can find their position without looking, and they work more consistently in different apps. I probably don't...

      I miss buttons on devices. They are durable, reliable, repairable and nice to press. I can find their position without looking, and they work more consistently in different apps.

      I probably don't need something with a physical QWERTY keyboard, since screen real state might be an issue. And it would have to be an actually viable smartphone, not something from a bygone era (I don't care about camera). But I want (a lot!) more buttons, preferably configurable, with support for custom keybindings, macros, etc.

      What are some good options?

      15 votes
    7. Anyone have any experience with eSIMs?

      I have ordered a phone with an eSim this week and I have been reading a bit into it. As far as I know so far, you just have to download an app and you can just book some extra data as needed - it...

      I have ordered a phone with an eSim this week and I have been reading a bit into it.
      As far as I know so far, you just have to download an app and you can just book some extra data as needed - it seems especially cool because you can just book a local plan when you're abroad instead of getting a local sim card. Which can be more or less a hassle - 2019 I went to South Africa where it was pretty easy to get a sim card at the airport, 2018 I went to India, where it was a hassle.
      I guess for people in the US this is not a problem? Some of my friends have global contracts, and I had that too when I was there via googles project fi. We don't really have an equivalent in Germany

      I found the following pages in case anyone also wants to look into it
      https://esimdb.com/ - this is an overview page about different esims
      https://www.airalo.com/ - this is one specific offer that seems to be the cheapest for Germany, which is where I would try it, since I live here haha

      6 votes
    8. The PinePhone ($150 Linux smartphone) is now available for pre-order

      Some more info about the PinePhone Pre-order page on the Pine Store The early adopter edition of the PinePhone is now available for pre-order. This batch is 3000 units, from what I know ~1000 are...

      Some more info about the PinePhone

      Pre-order page on the Pine Store

      The early adopter edition of the PinePhone is now available for pre-order. This batch is 3000 units, from what I know ~1000 are already sold. These units are currently being produced, and are planned to ship in December/January. Mass production of the consumer edition of the phone is planned to begin in March 2020.

      I just pre-ordered mine, is anyone else getting one? Any thoughts on the state of Linux smartphones, whether it's the PinePhone, Librem 5, or something else?

      27 votes