Cheap Smartphones

Buyer beware.

[Wednesday-morning update]

Related: A law to require disclosure of microphones and cameras in devices. Yes. I consider selling a device with a mic and camera, that the seller doesn’t tell you about, to be an invasion of privacy. I keep a shutter over the camera on my laptop, but I don’t have an easy way to disable its mic. Fortunately, since I run Linux on it, it’s unlikely that it’s spying on me.


13 thoughts on “Cheap Smartphones”

  1. For years I have been wondering when someone will offer a “free” smartphone or tablet funded entirely by advertising. There may not really be enough potential users to turn a profit.

  2. They raise good points in the article, but the real issue is that smartphones in general are downright Orwellian in their invasiveness.

    I use a plain old dumb fliphone, it’s just a phone. I cut its GPS antenna when I got it (the idea of being tracked is reprehensible, and it boggles my mind how many people are stupid enough to be okay with this, yet would be upset about someone peeking in their home’s windows at night), also to save battery (The phone having GPS is no use to me, at all, as it’s just a phone) plus I usually carry the phone shut off. Can I do apps? No, but except when I’m traveling, I rarely want to while out.

    Battery life? I charge my phone about once a month, whether it needs it or not.

    One more reason I won’t use a smartphone; size. The things are freaking huge, which is not something I’d be okay with for my pocket.

    BTW, my “service plan” is pay-as-you-go, and costs me $7 a month.

  3. The most I’ve ever paid for a smartphone is $150. I always buy used phones at least 2 generations older than current models. Typing this on my Galaxy S6.

  4. Heh, I just bought the Galaxy Fold – it’s crazy expensive, and very likely to break. Handle like eggs! For me, the benefits outweigh the costs/risk. Different strokes for different folks.

    The real story here is that people that couldn’t afford a phone previously can now afford a phone. As long as the privacy issue is communicated, this is a good thing. I wouldn’t buy one, of course. But someone that just immigrated and is just starting out that needs a phone to get a job? For them, it is a life safer.

    1. Hope your Fold stays together better than that one guy who says the embossed SAMSUNG letters on the spine are falling off.

  5. I use a Nokia vintage 1995, not even a flip phone. It has no text capability, and I don’t use it for voice calls. Instead, I send messages via Morse code. My phone has 15 pounds of copper screen wrapped around it to avoid location sensing. It’s also wrapped in Radar Absorption Material, and the outside is painted with universal camouflage. The telephone company has it registered to “Lucy, Mother of Man” and the bills go to an address in Ethiopia where no one by that name has lived for 3.2 million years (last Friday). I have it carried by a Sherpa named Angtharkay who stays 100 yards away from me. Even when I’m using it, Angtharkay and I shout questions and answers to each other without any intervening electromagnetic signaling. And we speech Cherokee, so that almost no one can figure out what we’re saying.

    It costs me about $150,000.00 a year to maintain this arrangement, but I feel that my privacy and security are well worth the expenditure.

    It does, however, make it a bitch to play Clash of Clans..

    1. You speak Navajo. Navajo is the linguistically isolated language used by the WW-II Code Talkers.

        1. I think you have this backwards.

          A large number of people except for the Senator from Massachusetts are able to listen in on your communications.

  6. ” I don’t have an easy way to disable its mic.”

    You know how to take computers apart. It shouldn’t be too hard to find and disconnect the wire. (I realize that 1, that may not be easy and B, you may actually want to use it sometimes.)

    1. Yeah, I went ahead and did that to prevent eavesdropping by my Amazon Echo.

      So now I call out “Alexa!”, “Alexa!” and the fine thing just sets there and doesn’t do anything.


      1. Yeah, but then you’d have something sticking out of the port, although I guess you could trim it down.

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