Why it’s time to divorce Apple iPhone after 10 years of common life

I’ve been lucky enough, back in July 2007, to be one of the earliest iPhone user. At this time I was looking for a device that could be convenient enough to read and write emails and occasionally browse the web. Eventually, someone suggested on my blog that I should have a look at the newly announced iPhone. So did I, and I must say it was kind of magic for me: I had been a fan of Steve Jobs since his “NeXT” period, and the fact that Jobs had been able to give birth to a new, so exciting, machine and operating system, was really fantastic and exciting. So I got in touch with an American friend who picked up an early iPhone at a local store in California and sent it to me by post mail.

In 2007, the iPhone was not able to do much. Actually, in Europe, it was even difficult to use it as a phone because of early restrictions on authorized SIM carriers (Ahh…pple…) (and we don’t have AT&T here!). Anyway, as soon as I got my hand on the device, it was absolutely fantastic: the touch screen was a revolutionary interface, and I got exactly what I need within a “pocket device”:

  • an email application
  • a web browser
  • something to play music, and shoot (quite bad) pictures
  • WiFi!
  • a promise to be able to use the device over a GSM carrier… soon
  • and even, I could eventually ssh into the iPhone from a PC, which was absolutely thrilling at the time
My first iPhone, in 2007.

Over the years, I got many iPhones:

  • iPhone 1
  • iPhone 3G
  • iPhone 4
  • iPhone 4S (which I consider to be the absolutely best iPhone ever)
  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 5S
  • iPhone SE.

(that’s a budget)

BUT I haven’t been that attracted by the iPhone 6/iPhone 7: too big, bad camera design in the back… nothing exciting.

Plus, I’m fed up with Apple. I mean, “we, at Apple, consider that there is Apple and nothing elsewhere”.

Want to share your iOS notes to a Linux device? Forget. Want to exchange iMessages with Android users? Forget.

WANT TO READ A .AVI MOVIE ON MACOS? Quicktime is going to try a conversion to a readable format…

Etc. etc.

In 2017, what’s worse than Microsoft in the 90s? Apple and Google.

As an early Linux enthusiast (and anecdotally the creator of the Mandrake-Linux system), I often gave an interested eye at the Android operating system(which is forked from the Linux kernel).

Anyway, each time I’ve been using Android, I found it boring and was quite crappy:

  • the internal of the system is a big mess
  • it’s often slow
  • java inside…
  • and the worst of it: the user interface is just utterly ugly and non-intuitive, compared to iOS.

NEVERTHELESS, I have to admit that Android did make some progress over the years. AND there are very interesting efforts such as LineageOS (formerly CyanogenMod), which is a community-supported build of the open source part of Android.

During the last summer, out of curiosity, and in order to test LineageOS, I purchased a smartphone from China to test LineageOS. I choose the LeEco Le2, which has a nice design, a nice screen (with 401 PPI pixel density), multi-core CPU, 4K video footage, 3GB RAM, 32GB storage… all that for $120! (100€)

LeEco “Le 2”, a €100/$120 smartphone

I got the device in only a few days from Hong-Kong. I’ve been positively impressed with the tuned version of Android provided by LeEco, which proved to me that we could approach the iOS experience without a huge effort.

Then, I could easily and quickly flash the device with LineageOS to get a Google-free system (OK, Google Play remains, and it’s a BIG issue —?last minute update, please read more about it at the end of the article).

Then, after a few days I could recompile the whole LineageOS and install new custom ROMs on the device. Which is quite exciting, since, if I want, I could put the pictures of my daughters in the bootsplash 🙂

What an exciting new world! It feels like the early days of Linux, and now I think we can work together to release great Open Source ROMs, with great user interface.

Ultimately, we can get rid of Apple and Google and retrieve our freedom, all that with nice 100$ devices. And possibly industrialize all that.

Do we still want to spend 500 to 1000$ to get the latest proprietary iPhone? Not for me anymore.

So I’m going to switch to LineageOS (custom ;)) for the smartphone, and be back to Linux on PCs (still looking for a decent x86 laptop hardware). Most bricks are available and we can use Qwant or DuckDuckGo as web search engines, for those, like me, who care about privacy.

If you want to be part of this “get rid of Apple and Google” project with me, join my “eelo project” and follow me: Gaël Duval on Twitter.

— Gaël Duval – Interested in open source, mobile operating systems, data privacy? Follow me on Twitter

Update September 13th, 2017:

  • F-droid is a a quality application-store that provides only Open Source applications
  • João Patrício suggested me to have a look at Aptoide. They have designed a full open source software to build Application Store, and they run Aptoide.com, where you can download thousand applications. I successfully installed Waze, Telegram, What’sApp, Spotify from here, and it works without the need of installed Google Services. So now I have a LineageOS device with all the common apps, without Google Play store.

LeEco Le2 running latest LineageOS and Aptoide (no Google Services)

One Reply to “Why it’s time to divorce Apple iPhone after 10 years of common life”

  1. Bonjour,

    Je suis étonné que tu puisses faire fonctionner des apps comme Waze pour ne citer que lui sans les GPS.
    Je pense notamment à Netflix et Snapchat qui effectue une vérification (il me semble) sur le fait que l’appareil soit root ou pas mais que l’on peut tromper grâce à Magisk, mais je ne serai pas étonné que sans les GPS, ceux-ci aient du mal à fonctionner.
    Je vais faire le test histoire de voir…
    Sinon, bien sûr, ta conversion est louable, je cherche à faire la même, visant à court ou moyen terme le moyen de supprimer mon compte Google sans passer pour un barbu (en gardant à minima des interactions sociales…)

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