Around a year ago I finally got a new mobile phone, my first one since I bought the iPhone 6 generations back. Together with social media fatigue kicking in around 2013/14 for me, somehow I lost interest in most new phones being released year after year. Ever since the awesomely designed iPhone 5, most phones had something evolutionary for me. I am not an instagrammer or snapshooter, so the always better cameras on phones didn’t really interest.
Even the fullscreen iPhone X didn’t interest me, while I think it was a pretty nifty phone and FaceID was a great innovation improvement. Phones just didn’t really interest me anymore as they had become fully secondary devices and my relationship with them changed from a device grabbed in reflex, an instinctive extension, to mostly a reader device. Thus when I had the chance to downgrade my iPhone 6 for an iPhone 5S, with the same speed but in a smaller and better designed casing I didn’t hesitate.
Until last year, when the dreaded news came that I wouldn’t be able to update to iOS 13 with the iPhone 5S. I would have to upgrade to at least the iPhone 6S, preferably a more recent model even with extended upgrade longevity for future iOS releases.
Everyone knows what that means: the Apple Premium Price Hammer and somehow budget didn’t really allocate for a recent iPhone model. Not that I liked any but the the iPhone X(S) either. Thus i decided to expand my horizons, becoming a product again and browsing the extensive range of mid-range budget high-end killer phones based on Android.
This led me to the Samsung Swhatnots killer iPhone
copy lookalike Mi9.
Except with smaller camera bump, without fugly notch, and at a vastly reduced price. The phone had pretty much anything one could wish for and it’s official website reads like an accumulation of 2019 phone buzzwords fresh from the oven. Gazillion of pixels to take care of your makeup - if that’s what you use your phone for - ample of memory and a nice design. Slim, small lip, and only a small teardrop camera intrusion in the screen.
What mattered mostly to me was the fast charging speed, especially the 20Watt wireless charging, as well as the fact that the Xiaomi community was active in the LineageOS community. Given how fast they were releasing a LineageOS build for the Mi8, here was hope that within few of release I could install LineageOS on my Mi9 and ditch Android, ditch being the product that Google thinks we all are.
I don’t know about you but I’m not too big a fan of Google’s economic practices and care about about my data, my privacy. No Google Maps for me, no Google Fit for me. No, thanks.
Whenever possible I try to exclude most data sellers from my life and thus one of the first things I did when I received my phone was installing the Brave browser for Android, which is an amazingly good and FAST browser.
But that wasn’t enough yet, Xiaomi’s Android skin, MIUI, is quite the horrible call-home operator and, of course, Google ads are embedded in many apps and games.
Now I don’t do much with my phone, and my browsing is mostly limited to some loved sites, few curated newsletter which I tend to Pocket or Instapaper ASAP, and mostly a British progressive wannabe Millenium rag with international fame and appeal. And I tend to have a slight addiction to idle clickers.
While if not for my newspaper app and the odd idle clicker, Brave would do a solid job of blocking ads and trackers, there were still plenty of Google Ads and it’s compulsory trackers opportunities and, not to forget, MIUI’s horrible habit.
Thus I installed the popular open-source Blokada blocker to take care of everything. Configuring the ad blocker was rather easy and I could go with one of the recommended lists. Finding a solid DNS which didn’t slow down my browsing too much took some weeks longer.
Today, around a year later after I started to use the Mi9, sadly enough there is still no LineageOS build and it is likely there never will be as the in-screen fingerprint
is awesome seems a hurdle for devs. But at all isn’t lost and while I may not have found that ultra-slick build in a super-powered phone that was the Samsung Galaxy S2 with CyanogenMod, my phone is fast and doesn’t have any habit of sending data home or to the Big G.
Today, Blokada blocked more than 1 million of ads, trackers, and call+home attempts.
Note: Obviously the full Blokada app isn’t approved by Google Play and needs to be installed via the open-source F-Droid store or sideloaded. A small extra hurdle for a big data protection and privacy improvement.
If you use an android phone, I highly recommend you to install the Blokada app and flip the bird to all data aggregators and sellers. If you are on an iOS device, you can achieve almost the small results with the free LockdownHQ firewall/ad blocker.