Good morning naggerinos, today is the story all about how a series of unfortunate events rekindled my interest in the PinePhone. Early last year, I bought and tried out a PinePhone with the Plasma Mobile UI running atop Manjaro OS. As it turns out, I was quite excited by the prospects Linux mobile open. However, the performance underwhelmed me which I kinda expected. When you think about it, it makes sense. The PinePhone is a device in beta where you run free software developed by volunteers with little to nonexistent corporate backup. Still today, a series of not so happy accidents led to me bringing back PinePhone for a few days. Let’s jump into it!
It all started about a month ago when I accidentally broke the screen of my iPhone X. Generally, when this happens I file a claim with my phone insurer which issues a replacement within a couple of days. Indeed, I’ve had a phone insurer through my bank for the past almost ten years and am generally happy with it. If anything happens, they send a replacement device within a few days. The same model, make and specs. The same phone with a different body. Unbeknownst to me, my bank decided to change phone insurer sometime early 2021 and this would change everything.
Why did they change? Don’t know, don’t care. The excess was cheaper than usual, £49.99 instead of £70. The new insurer went through a contractor that picked up my phone home to fix it. While this first visit resolved my aesthetic problem, it seemingly introduced a functional one. The WiFi stopped working and when it does it keeps disconnecting. The same goes for Bluetooth, Apple Pay NFC is gone and now the phone has ghost taps. Ghost taps prevent me from unlocking the phone at best and start calling random people at worst. As useful as a brick. The funniest part about it? You can contact the insurer or my bank one of two ways. By sending a letter or calling them.
A few days ago I had enough. I dug out my old pal PinePhone, found one of my old SIM adapters and called them. At least I tried, the call functionality doesn’t work on Ubuntu touch so I installed a bunch of different systems. Eventually, I managed to call with the Phosh edition of Manjaro OS. The quality of the sound was very poor but still managed to get my message across.
From there, I figured I could try and add some more apps to see if this could be a viable option. Unfortunately, most apps look terrible on mobile since the original developers made them for desktops. At that point, I decided to install Postmarket OS with the Phosh interface since I heard good stuff about it.
Later that day, I called my fiancée with it and the sound quality was almost as good as with my now useless iPhone. Unfortunately, most people I am in touch with use Whatsapp and I didn’t feel like trying to install that there. Gonna need to figure that one out but so far this works better than I pictured.
Even when I sort out that insurance nonsense I may get a PinePhone Pro as a daily driver. I am still exploring app replacements to use which is tricky since Postmarket OS only allows for command-line installations but I’m ready to play. Maybe bringing back the PinePhone is what I needed all along for fun after-hours.
Thank you for reading this, I’ll see you next time. In the meantime, feel free to check out my last PinePhone post where I got a .NET core app running under Manjaro OS.
Cover stolen from Pine64.org but they definitely won’t mind.