Smartphone follies

In 2011 I thought it was time to upgrade my flip phone to a feature phone. We had a spare Nokia e71 lying around the house so I thought I’d give it a go. At first I didn’t like it but once I got used to it, it became very useful for things like web browsing, checking train times and GPS.

This phone lasted til 2015 to the point that using it became a chore. By this point it had virtually disintegrated. The menu button had vanished and I had to take the battery out to switch it off, partly my fault for dropping it on concrete, but hey they don’t make Nokias like they used to.

So I thought it was time to bite the bullet and buy a proper smartphone. I wasn’t going to get an iPhone on principle. Namely they’re overpriced and locked down. The problem with Android is the so called Google botnet™, which is a lazy euphemistic term for the fact that Google will log your browsing habits, build profiles on you and sell this data on or target you with ads.  So I was left in quandary. Privacy Vs. Expense. Which is quite a reductive argument since Apple are no angels with your data either.  I was naive enough to think there was a third way.

Enter my purchasing of the Firefox phone. This phone may have respected my freedom but was the biggest pile of garbage I have ever used. I could do a whole article listing it’s various faults, so I’ll leave that for another time.  Rest assured, I cut my losses and sold it. So again we are left with my quandary.

In the end I went with Android but decided to respect my privacy by putting CyanogenMod (CM) onto it. This is where things get complicated. Although the moto g is supported there’s various different generations and then there’s still different models within generations. I should have given up when the CM app said my phone wasn’t supported. I’m quite a resilient person so I wasn’t going to stop there.

I unlocked the bootloader, installed SuperUser, installed TWRP. Then put a build of CM onto the SD card tried to flash it but it didn’t work. Desperate for it to work, I’d try anything. I only got this phone so I could control what I sent to google. I searched for a solution to the error. Unfortunately it was for the OnePlus, but in my haste I didn’t bother to check and flashed it anyway. Guess what happened?

Hard brick. This is where your phone becomes a genuine paperweight. You cannot fix this. Oh boy did I try though, I found potential solutions but none of them worked. After getting berated in a few chatrooms for my catastrophic boob,  a friend gave me an idea. My phone was one day old, who would believe I managed to break it in that time? I could simply tell the company it was shipped this way. As it’s hardbricked they couldn’t prove I did it either. It was either this or lose $150 USD. So I got away with it, thankfully. Now I just use stock android and disable as much of the Google shit I can.

However, it seems my quest for privacy always fucks me over. I refuse to use apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp but I do want their functionality. So I learned about an app called Xposed which has a module called Xprivacy; it lets you precisely control app permissions. This was the perfect thing for me. It worked! (sort of).  That is of course until I tried to install any other apps and they wouldn’t install. Initially I thought it was because they detected Xposed and automatically blocked themselves. Later I realized that my phone now doesn’t let me install anything at all. I’m convinced it’s because of Xposed so I’ll have to get rid of it. But as my phone is sort of functional at the moment, should I really risk bricking it? This smartphone has caused me no end of problems…

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