Degoogling Android

Degoogling Android

Update (2019.Aug.30): I don't recommend OnePlus for anything other than bricklaying anymore.

The phone is very brittle and impossible to repair — or at least was a year ago, when I gave up on the company. It fell once and the screen shattered, and every professional repair left a layer of glue between the screen and the casing, like an ice cream sandwich. This left many vulnerable areas which caused further cracking, including a light drop onto the screen face from a height of ~20cm which completely shattered the screen and rendered it unusable five minutes later… right after a repair, and after buying a case for it. I tried repairing it in professional shops over 2017-18 through Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, and no one had any idea what to do with it. I finally sent it in for repairs with the official repair provider, and they returned my device  bricked. I sent it back politely asking wtf, and the had the gall to completely deny any complicity, saying I had done it, returning me the same, broken device. That was the last straw. I submitted a complaint to the BBB but they said they could not do anything as this was a contractor hired by a Chinese company, and so out of their jurisdiction. So I promptly decided to not waste anymore time on this problem, cutting my losses at around $600 for the phone, $30 for a case, and 2 × ~$300 for not one but two broken screens. I went and bought a Pixel 2 for $1,000 shortly after and it’s been by far the best phone I’ve ever had.

This taught me a simple lesson: when you 110% need something to work, it makes most sense to go with the big guys with the good warranties, and with repair methods that are solidly understood globally. The OnePlus was my second foray into this mistake. The first was with Jolla, a company with a great mission statement but one that produced a phone that could not use the eduroam WiFi network. You know, the network that most universities use. Were I to take another gamble it would be with Fairphone, but not until being very certain of their product. And were I to tinker with rooting an Android device again, I’d probably go with LineageOS, what CyanogenMod turned into upon discontinuation… again researching the heck out of it before gambling with any experimentation. Personal communication is one area where the road needs to be paved with more than just good intentions.

A talk explaining some theory and then the practical elements behind regaining control over your Android device at DCTRL in Vancouver last December. The key topic was how to remove as much Google and manufacturer bloatware from Android phones as possible while still maintaining a fully functioning device, based on my experiences tinkering with my Nexus 4 and OnePlus 3 over the past few years. Here’s the slide deck, event page (PDF), and the talk itself:

And here are the three videos mentioned in the talk, in order of appearance:

What is Rooting? Advantages of Rooting, Custom ROMS, Warranty – Everything You Need to Know (C4ETech: April 18, 2013)

What is MD5 and How to Check it-Cursed4Eva (C4ETech: April 28, 2012)

OnePlus 3 – How to Root (C4ETech: June 17, 2016)

How to Install Paranoid Android ROM on OnePlus 3 (OnePlus Exclusive: June 27, 2016)

And of course, bitcoin donations to DCTRL so a space continues existing for this type of work are very much appreciated: 38S5DBigqpNoVgLGh74555josX9vR5Kaxm

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