A minimalist dumb phone you should actually use

published 2022-12-05 · updated 2023-01-23 #grapheneos #android #dumb_phone
There is no discussion about the security and privacy of a dumb phone.


Please excuse any grammatical errors. I used a tool to generate the transcript and haven't had a chance to read through it yet. ✔️

I'll be the first to admit, whenever I see some slick looking minimalistic dumb phone, video thumbnail or a title with "I use the flip phone for 30 days," I click it. And why you may ask? Because I'm tempted to try one. From a design aspect, the minimalist phone gets a nine out of 10. The Flip Phone usually doesn't look as great, but they are minimal.

But for both of those options, it's downhill pretty quick from their functionality, usability, and hardware. They are all lacking. But the biggest downside for me as someone who has a tech background is the lack of security and privacy on these phones. These devices all have some random custom OS specifically designed for aesthetics. From an OS perspective, they're insecure. From an app perspective, it's no surprise that it's also minimal. And usually the only form of communication you have is standard phone call and SMS, which are both unencrypted and not secure.

So what are you really getting for your money? Once you dig a little bit deeper and get past the good looks, you end up with a device that in all honesty, nobody should be using. So what options are you left with? Do you use an iPhone with the color turned off, so you're less tempted to use it, or maybe a stock android phone with all the apps uninstalled? Both of those are not great from a privacy perspective. And they both take quite a bit of customization to actually get what you're looking for. And so for me, neither of those are great options.

That brings us to something called a Graphene OS. It's a private and secure mobile operating system with Android app compatibility. And this is what it looks like. Minimal, clean, simplistic, and most importantly, private and secure.

This in and of itself as a minimal phone, you can see the apps that it comes with just the basics to get you started and have a functioning device. You can make phone calls, receive text messages, you have a browser, calculator, alarm, nothing extra unless you choose to add it. And so I'm a fan of the default interface.

If you want that aesthetically pleasing, minimalistic phone looking interface, there's something called On Launcher. On Launcher is a free launcher you can install on your Android device. In this case, my Google Pixel six a running Graphene OS. So once you install it and set it as your default launcher, this is the interface that you are now presented with. At the bottom left, we have access to our phone. At the bottom right, we have access to the camera. In the center, we have settings. And if you swipe up, no colors or fanciness, drawing you in, just a simple list of your apps in a functional interface.

So now that we have our secure and private device with our simple interface configured, there is one last app we want to install. And since this is an Android device, it is compatible with Android apps. And that last step is Signal. What that's going to provide us with is a secure and private means of communication. If you've never used it before, it has text, audio, and video chat available. I have a friend using a setup very similar to this.

He's been using it for over six months and at this point, he said there's no going back. So, if you're interested in getting a similar setup for yourself, graphene OS supports the Google Pixel. So, if you have one of those, install on launcher and signal, all of which will be linked down below. And at that point, you will then have a secure, private, and minimalistic phone that will make you not hate your life.