+/- [Ignores Apple.]
  • Android phone with stock OS, run Android apps.

  • Android phone with AOSP-compatible third-party OS (LineageOS, Replicant, Paranoid Android, Resurrection Remix, /e/, Calyx, GrapheneOS, DivestOS), run Android apps.

    Can be hard to install OS and update it.

  • Android phone with Linux, run Linux apps recompiled for ARM ? Can't make phone calls ?

  • Android phone with new OS such as Sailfish or Ubuntu Touch, run what apps ?

  • Custom phone such as PinePhone or Librem 5 with new OS such as Sailfish or Ubuntu Touch, run what apps ?

  • Custom phone such as PinePhone or Librem 5 with Linux, run what apps ? Can't make phone calls ?

Non-Android operating systems

+/- It's unclear to me: which of these give you a "smartphone", and which give you a "small computer with touchscreen" ?

KDE Plasma Mobile DE

It may be possible to run some stock Android apps on a Linux smartphone.
Bart Ribbers' "State of Linux on mobile and common misconceptions"
But from someone on reddit 7/2020:
> will normal Android apps such as WhatsApp and my bank's app and K-9 Mail work on these phones ?

No, most likely not. Android apps were specifically built to work for Android (even though Android is itself a fork/derivative of Linux). You will need to wait for a Linux-native app to realistically use any Android apps*. Banking apps will likely be the most annoying and last to show up, but communication apps like WhatsApp and K-9 would likely be ported if the platform gained any significant user base. Already, apps like Signal have perfectly fine (even if not tailored for mobile experience yet) apps for Linux.

* technically Android apps will probably run through an emulation or interpretation layer, though the experience would likely be not very good, especially on an under-powered phone.

Madaidan's Insecurities' "Linux Phones - Comparison with Other Phones"

From people on reddit 8/2020:
My prediction of a Linux phone: It will probably never be all that good. I had a Windows phone which I loved, but it was completely crap to own due to the lack of apps. A phone is only as good as the apps that you can get for it.

Android is Linux, so getting the most pure, de-Googled Android ROM is the easiest way to get a Linux phone without compromising too much.


I doubt they will ever be a proper daily driver in a world where almost all applications rely on stable closed-source friendly development environments, which desktop ecosystem Linux suite has never been. If you have a limited digital life (no banking, no chat applications, no transportation apps, limited mapping functionality), my guess is you'll get something that occasionally bugs out and can hold a charge half a day in a year or so. I would bet my money on Pinephone rather than Librem. However considering the funding the software projects receive I am not that hopeful.

Replacing Google services

+/- From Serge Wroclawski's "The Search for a FLOSS Mobile OS (Aug 2021)":
"... most modern Android applications rely on features that are not available through AOSP, including notifications, application debugging, and other features and applications. These are called the Google Mobile Services, or GMS. Without Google Mobile Services, many Android applications simply won't work."

  • Google Mobile Services (GMS).
  • Use apps from F-Droid that don't use GMS.
  • Replace GMS with microG.

Custom (non-Android-compatible) smartphones

+/- Dangers of a completely unrestricted-software phone: megi's "Let's talk about safety of Pinephone"


Mehedi Hasan's "Linux Secure Phones"

Fairphone (Android phone with emphasis on repairability)

Ariadna Vigo's "Me and Android"

Security and Privacy

Smartphones are horrible for security and privacy. They constantly broadcast your location (to all cell-towers, not just those of your provider), they constantly look for known Wi-Fi networks, the cell-service provider knows your location and calls and messages, they generally force you to provide an email address and connect to cloud accounts, they nag you to provide a payment method (always skip that), they're pre-loaded with apps you can't remove, all apps have a lot of access to your data, some apps have terrible security, you may get no software updates, etc.

Identifying numbers

  • Phone's IMEI: permanently built into the hardware of the phone.

  • SIM card's IMSI: permanently built into the hardware of the SIM card. And in many countries, you will have to show govt ID to get a SIM card.

  • Phone number: phone company associates phone number with the SIM card. If you change phone company, you will have them "port" the phone number from the old SIM card to a new SIM card.

  • Android build serial number: don't know.

  • Android ID number: don't know. Changes if you do a factory reset.

  • Wi-Fi MAC address: permanently built into the hardware of the phone.

  • Bluetooth MAC address: not sure if it's permanent or can be changed by OS.

A web page, JavaScript, or web server can not read any of these numbers, without special cooperation from a browser extension or some other unusual addition.

But an app (malicious or not) on your phone could read those numbers and send them to any web site. In Android, starting with version 10, there are additional protections of these numbers: article. In various Android versions, or in some states of the phone, an app trying to read one or more of those numbers may get a null value.

Some legitimate apps (e.g. financial) may use these numbers to confirm identity. For example, when you first install your bank's app and register, maybe those numbers are sent to their server. Then any time you log in, the app sends the nunmbers again and the server checks that you're still using same phone, it's really you.

A web page or JavaScript probably can read your phone model, Android OS version number, screen size, CPU type, maybe your phone service provider (owner of your IP address while on cell data), plus the usual info that a desktop browser reveals.
Try various browsers, with VPN off, with:
Device Info

Ludovic Rembert's "How to stay private when using Android"
Fieke Jansen and Helen Kilbey's "Cybersecurity Self-Defense: How to Make Your Smartphone More Secure"
Spread Privacy's "How to Set Up Your Devices for Privacy Protection"
DjiBestBuy's "Top 10 most dangerous things people do with their smartphone"
Attedz's "Android Privacy Guide"
Joseph Cox's "T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T are selling access to their customers' location data ..."
Jeffrey Paul's "Apple Has Begun Scanning Your Local Image Files Without Consent"'s "'Phone Link' relays your personal data through Microsoft servers"


Google Pixel 6a smartphone

See my Pixel 6a with GrapheneOS

Difference between "carrier unlocked" (AKA "factory unlocked") and "OEM unlocked" ?
Carrier/Factory Unlocked == without network/SIM lock, use any carrier.

OEM Unlocked == bootloader is unlocked, can root the device, can install new OS.

From XDA-Developers thread:
"All or most of the US versions of Pixel devices for the different US carriers (i.e. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, etc.) are bootloader-locked, buy directly from Google or buy an international version of Pixel with an international model number."

article about carrier-unlocked

From someone on reddit 4/2023:
"[Compared to 5a] 6a has a better processor. ... But 6a sacrifices the legendary a-series battery life. ... the 6a's fingerprint sensor is absolutely terrible."

Operating systems supported on Pixel 6a as of 3/2023:

Not /e/OS easy-installer.
Not /e/OS install from Gitlab.
Not Replicant.


Not SailfishOS.
Not Ubuntu Touch.
Not KaiOS.
Not postmarketOS.
Not PureOS.
Not Mobian.
Not Manjaro ARM.


What I need from a phone:

After the first day or two of a trip to another country, check your phone-service account to see if you're being charged for roaming.

Odd article, and ends up with smartphone that is not a phone, but:
HOEK's "Anonymous Tor Phone"
(Mentions Mobile phone security for activists and agitators)

Apple versus Android:
swyx's "Switching to Android after 13 years of iOS"

Edgar Cervantes' "Why is my phone's battery draining so fast ?"

Branch Education's "What's Inside a Smartphone?" (video)
Branch Education's "How Smartphones Operate || Inside the Primary Processor" (video)