Why I won't buy a new phone when my Google Pixel Android phone runs out of support

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 26, 2022
Updated • Jan 27, 2022
Google Android

I bought a Google Pixel 3a Android phone shortly after it was released. Google pledged three years of support for the device, which will run out in May 2022.

The Android August Security Patch is Available for Pixel Phones

Previously, I bought a new phone whenever my old phone ran out of support, as I wanted to make sure that it received all the security updates for Android and also new versions of Android.

This time, I made the decision not to do that. I could buy a new phone, maybe the upcoming Google Pixel 6a when it comes out later this year, or another Android phone. Instead of doing that, I decided to keep the Google Pixel 3a phone and install another mobile operating system on the device instead.

I have to run some tests and see which works best, but will test custom Android ROMS such as GrapheneOS or Copperhead OS and install one of those on the device. These custom ROMs continue to support the Google Pixel 3a device (and others that ran out of support), and I plan to use these until support ends or core device functionality breaks. The latter includes fast deteriorating battery life among other things.

What is my motivation for keeping the old phone? I have a few reasons.

The phone works perfectly fine: it runs Android 12, the latest version of Android, has sufficient battery life, and serves me well throughout the day.

Why throw away a device that works well if there is no need to? Google changed the artificial support limited for security updates from three years to five years recently, but that is not helping me currently. Say what you want about Apple, but the company's support for its devices is better.

It is better for the environment: mobile phones and other electronic devices require lots of resources to manufacturer and only a fraction get recycled. Recycling does not work overly well either at the moment.

Buying new phones every three years, or even more often as many do, is not sustainable. I understand why companies do it, as they don't earn anything from their customers once a device has been purchased. The practice does not sit well with the image that many companies give themselves in regards to sustainability though.

I'm saving money: new phones require a purchase, or the renewal of a contract with monthly payments. I do buy my phones directly and without contracts, as I get a better deal usually and because it keeps me independent.

The next Google Pixel 6a costs around $400. While I could pick another manufacturer, I'd have to find one who gives at least three years of support (better 5 years) for the same price or less, and there are not many Android manufacturers who do. The manufacturer would need to supply security updates quickly after official release.

I do have to spend some time researching alternatives and installing them, but that is money well spend, especially since I may be able to write about my experience here on this site.

Privacy and security improves: custom Android ROMs such as Graphene promise improved privacy and security. You can check out GrapheneOS' features page, which lists lots of improvements when compared to AOSP 12. Improvements included security hardening and improvements, optimizations, improved networking defenses and more.

Closing Words

I'll start preparations to make the switch in the coming months. The Pixel device runs out of support in May, and I plan to make the switch by then at the latest. I don't expect the move to be overly problematic, as I don't use a lot of apps on the device and have used Google Play and other Google services or apps rarely only.

I still have to create backups and figure out how to get a few apps that I use regularly installed on the new OS.

Now You: how often do you buy new mobile devices?

Why I won't buy a new phone when my Google Pixel Android phone runs out of support
Article Name
Why I won't buy a new phone when my Google Pixel Android phone runs out of support
Here are my reasons for not buying a new Android phone when my Google Pixel device will run out of support later this year.
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  1. Doc Fuddled said on July 1, 2023 at 9:13 pm

    This thread is a couple years old now. Would you kindly give an update to your situation? Did you install another ROM? Which one? How is it working for you?
    Thank you!

  2. alex said on May 27, 2023 at 5:37 pm

    I’m not a techie but is custom ROM related to Android security updates? From what I understand ROM is just the way to change interface (don’t care about this), and you are still stuck with the same OS that you have now. If it refuses to install some apps because the OS is too old (happened to me more than once), or memory is too small, or microchip is not powerful enough to run the app – ROM won’t help.

  3. Haywood Yahulpmi said on September 3, 2022 at 11:01 am

    I have done just this on my RN8P and am running Pixel Experience Android 12. Banking, widevine L1 and full certified Playstore all work great ‘out of the box’. It definitely achieves your stated benefits, but there is one, maybe major, downside. This is the camera. PE12 includes a camera app, but the wide angle lens is not supported. GCAM APK can be found to overcome this, along with its associated XML file, but it is a pfaff to sayv the least to find the GCAM version that works and can take hours of pratting around. Even when found the speed of GCAM leaves something to be desired. If you are OK with this go for it. Me, I want a full integrated speedy camera experience with ‘proper’ wide angle support, so when my other phone( Poco X3 pro )expires in March 24, Poco F5 here I come!

  4. BradSF said on July 7, 2022 at 7:46 pm

    We bought a 3a and a 3a XL toward the end of 2019 – 2.5 years ago – when the 3a was still the latest Pixel. I feel Google is only supporting our 3as for 2.5 years and not even till 6a becomes available. I feel a bit lured into the 3a and 3a XL (good phones at a reasonable price) and feel that the reasons we got the 3as, our first Pixels, are no longer relevant. I was thankful for the larger size of the 3a XL which costed us $50 more than the 3a, but 6a has one size. The 6 Pro is the only larger size option and it’s more than $500 more. Our 3as were at least $450 less than the 3s, while the 6as are estimated to be just $150 less than the 6s.

    It’s surprising how similar a new Pixel 6 operates (even battery life) compared to our end of life 2.5 year old Pixel 3as. I did appreciate how easy and near complete the data upgrade process is.

  5. Eric said on May 17, 2022 at 11:15 am

    I wish the 3a will have the same 2 years support extension for security updates as the P6.

    I’ve been using the official ROM from Google until now, but consider updating to a 3rd party ROM for longer support.
    However, as other said, and better explained on the FAQ of Graphana: https://grapheneos.org/faq#legacy-devices , support on GraphanaOS ends shorly after the manufacturer end of life: it cannot provide a full secured system without that base support.
    Thus, GraphanaOS is NOT a good candidate for support extension.

    LineageOS,/e/OS (beta support single sim only), or which other ROM as best suited for a pixel 3a? I need a full functional phone with 2 SIM support, using both nanoSim and eSIM in my 3a.

  6. richo said on April 9, 2022 at 1:54 pm

    Don’t bother if you have the verizon version of Pixel 3a. The bootloader is unlockable unlike other versions of the 3a. This means you cannot install custom roms like LineageOS or grapheneOS.

  7. MdN said on March 15, 2022 at 3:03 am

    You can still get 99% of all apps up-to-date and working on Android 6, just not the system itself.
    Android 12?
    Just be a little careful about what you do and you won’t need to upgrade your phone for several more years.
    Why is this even an issue?

  8. Paul(us) said on February 17, 2022 at 5:12 pm

    Why not install another sort of Linux and get away from Android?
    That is what I am thinking for quite a while.
    I am still not quite sure what I am going to do I like the process that is going on with https://postmarketos.org/

  9. abel said on February 1, 2022 at 11:07 am

    Still using my Nexus 6 which came out in 2014.

    The only real issue is the camera doesn’t always work (this was a problem even when Google supported this phone). Some apps I can’t use because they require android higher than 7.1.1..

    Though I plan on buying a new phone this year.

  10. Anonymous said on February 1, 2022 at 7:37 am

    Location: USA

    I buy low cost prepaid smart phones.
    They are good enough for me, and usually last a year or two.

    The last phone I bought was $49.
    Prior phones were about $79.

    These phones get OS updates for a time, and appear to get at least one OS upgrade.

  11. Paul said on January 30, 2022 at 10:37 pm

    You can unlock the bootloaders on these phones??! Every Pixel I’ve ever owned has had a locked bootloader.

  12. SAS said on January 30, 2022 at 2:56 pm

    Good for you. I am still using my Google Pixel 2 XL as my primary phone since it is the best phone ever (other than not supporting Miracast and not having a headset jack), and allows me still unlimited uploads to Google Photos.

  13. Robert said on January 30, 2022 at 1:31 pm

    I’ve had all 6 generations of pixels. Absolutely adore them. I have tried Samsung phones and iPhones, which are garbage.

    One thing I do miss in the 6pro is the fingerprint button on the back.

  14. Herman Schmendrick said on January 30, 2022 at 6:21 am

    Setting a sunset for products is just a sensible business strategy. Maintaining old models beyond the time they are kept by most consumers wastes resources that could be better spent supporting newer, better hardware.

  15. Eric G said on January 29, 2022 at 6:10 pm

    Check this out. I am still using a 2014 Nexus 6 (by Motorola) with a Custom ROM. I just can’t fathom spending more than $1000 on a device that practically does the same thing.

    I’m not a gaming or photography freak. For what I use it for, it always for me. I only had to replace the degrading battery once; and it’s like brand new.

    If you are accustomed to installing custom ROMs, why not? Save the money. Save the environment.

    The Nexus 6 was the latest and greatest back in 2014, and I think I got it for $469 USD (which at the time was a lot for a cell phone). The low-tier iPhones were selling for almost the same price.

    Everyone was laughing as I rock it’s big AMOLED screen, dual front-facing speakers, wireless charging and stock Android software.

    Well, I was holding the future!

    Most devices manufacturers are more concerned of how expensive their phone should be, instead of how they would perform throughout the years.

  16. Jim Volstad said on January 29, 2022 at 12:29 am

    I’m using an old OnePlus 6T, running on its last major update:. Android 11. Verizon Advanced LTE is plenty fast. I don’t care to spend $1,000+ for the latest and greatest 5G phone.

  17. Miguel Silva said on January 28, 2022 at 5:22 pm

    I have been replacing my pixel phone every 2 years since the first nexus, but now running a pixel 2 it’s still ok and camera didn’t. Improve that much, what I really value is camera and ability to replace the battery, that is something we lost and I’m angry because most of my phone’s have been replaced mainly because battery was not good enough any more. So now I’m interested in the fairphone that can easily replace battery and camera, just wish more brands would follow that path.

  18. Sparky said on January 28, 2022 at 4:38 pm

    I’ve rooted and used custom roms on every device that I have owned with the exception of my pixel 4a5g and my now pixel 6 as they have worked well right out the box .. but I’m sure when my warranty is up and a custom recovery is available I’ll be doing the same to the pixel 6 ..

  19. NotRed said on January 28, 2022 at 5:12 am

    Pixel 3a owner here. It’s still a capable phone with a great camera.

    I was thinking of holding on to it until end of year but my dad knows that support for the 3a ends in May and bought me (without my knowledge) a Samsung Galaxy A52.

    The 3a is gonna be my backup phone and as my main camera phone.

  20. John said on January 28, 2022 at 2:57 am

    I have another VERY valid reason of why I may not buy a new phone after my current Pixel 3XL phone, at least not the Pixel 6 Pro that, I must confess I truly wanted to buy.

    My Pixel 3XL is starting to show its age, in the battery aspect…but besides that it all works perfectly. What I don’t really like (but those are the rules of the game) is that it no longer has updates from Google…and installing a 3rd party firmware albeit it may be great, breaks some of my useful apps, mainly the banking related apps….SO, it’s going to stay in Android 12, with its last December 2021 update.

    Now, Why not buy the newer Pixel 6 Pro? The one I was planning to get after my current device and as an upgrade: EASY: The Pixel 6 Pro overall quality leaves a LOT to be desired and despite that Google calls this device a “flagship”.

    Paying around USD$1000 for a phone that has overheating issues, connectivity issues, fingerprint reader issues, many apps are not working in that device, sudden crack/break of the display or screen and many other software problems sounds a bit to risky.

    Even applying for warranty or returning the phone could be a huge mess. If you go the warranty way, in a good scenario you may get a refurbished unit…I don’t like that $1000 to end up with a refurbished unit which at the end may fail in the same way…that’s a no no for me.

    Or, if you travel or live abroad and somehow decided to buy a Pixel 6 in the US just to arrive home and find that the Pixel 6 fails in many ways, it is a sub-standard phone in terms of battery duration (despite having a 5000 mAh bat…) or has a myriad of issues that could leave you with a potential USD$1,000 paperweight, that is a no no for me.

    I hate complaints and many people don’t like reading posts like this, but Google should be aware that they are not learning their lessons. Their quality assurance process is not good and maybe even their design process. Every single Pixel has had troubles, but the Pixel 6 seems to be winning in this troublesome department: bugs, issues, failures and failures.

    That is the reason I won’t be buying another phone, or at least another Pixel until my current Pixel 3XL dies.

    1. Sparky said on January 28, 2022 at 4:45 pm

      I have the pixel 6 and other then the spotty finger print sensor (now works fine with the jan update) I haven had any problems . No overheating, no connectivity issues, all apps I use are working on the device, and I only paid $550 for it .. unlocked

  21. Ray said on January 28, 2022 at 2:36 am

    Since you have a Pixel 3a, Martin, I would recommend CalyxOS.

    It’s somewhere in between Graphene and Lineage. If I had a Pixel device I would flash this.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 28, 2022 at 6:27 am

      Thank you for the recommendation, I will take a look!

      1. Sam said on January 29, 2022 at 12:42 pm

        Where can you buy a Pixel 6A for $400 unlocked?

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on January 29, 2022 at 1:37 pm

        You can’t, it is not out yet.

  22. Rex said on January 28, 2022 at 12:43 am

    My OnePlus 3 is 5 years old at this point, running Resurrection Remix ROM on Android Pie (it had Marshmallow at launch, so 4 major version upgrades). RR is the most heavily customizable and feature rich ROM there is, period. I still keep it as a back up phone because of late the NFC has become wonky and sometimes disappears from the settings. Oh, and it has an audio jack – another feature that has fallen by the wayside of late thanks to everyone copying Apple.

  23. Graham said on January 27, 2022 at 10:05 pm

    If your current phone works just fine, you really don’t need to upgrade. I’ve been holding onto my Samsung Galaxy S8+ for the past five years and it works just as well as the day I got it out of the box.

    Updates to phones are mostly just surface-level anyway, featuring just minimal improvements.

  24. Notneeded said on January 27, 2022 at 1:21 pm

    Hmm did my comment get removed because there was only a link? These 2 pages light what happened:

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 27, 2022 at 1:41 pm

      Thank you!

  25. Notneeded said on January 27, 2022 at 12:47 pm

    DO NOT TRY COPPERHEAD OS. It is a hostile takeover scam. Same guy who devs graphene did dev copperhead until it got taken over by hostile people. Its only a scam now. It would be better if you remove it from the whole article so people don’t have anything to do with it.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 27, 2022 at 12:48 pm

      Do you have a source for that?

      1. Yash said on January 27, 2022 at 1:17 pm

        Check Daniel Micay’s twitter and reddit and you’ll find it boils his blood real hot when someone mentions those ROMs.

  26. TelV said on January 27, 2022 at 11:48 am

    Germany is leading the pack at the moment demanding 7 years of updates and spare parts availability for smartphones: https://www.macrumors.com/2021/09/06/germany-eu-require-7-years-iphone-updates/

    It’ll be interesting to see how far that goes.

  27. GWF said on January 27, 2022 at 10:34 am

    I bought a Google Pixel 4A and within six months it stopped charging. I’m from the US but I live and work in Asia, that’s when I realized how much of a headache Google’s support system is, and there’s only service in specific areas in the US. Lots of pleasantries without actually resolving the issue. Another big problem is that Google is only for a small niche market without much support in most of the world, so getting it repaired anywhere else except a few select Google centers is impossible. Until Google decides to commit to their own Pixel phones, I would not again commit to a Pixel as a customer.

    They told me I had to pay to ship it back to the US with my own money even though it’s under warranty, but that I was liable for the package itself, which I was forced to do. It was only after I’d shipped it with all available documents and they refused the package from FedEx that I learned that it MUST be shipped from a US address only, which means first I would have had to ship it to someone in the US who would then ship it to Google. Now FedEx can’t deliver my package, Google refuses to accept it, and now the only option is to pay a lot of money to return it back to Asia or FedEx offered to destroy my Pixel 4A, which I used for only 6 months, which might be the cheapest option for me at this point. Definitely has not been worth this headache, I would never by Pixel again until Google commits to actually being in the phone market – right now they’re dabbling, not really serious about it. Much better to stick with the bigger and more experienced phone companies like Apple or Samsung. I’ve even owned a Chinese-made phone before and that was much more reliable than the Pixel.

    Look at the problems too with OS security support only promised from 3 years after it’s first available in the store. I bought a Pixel 3A for my wife brand new about 18 months ago and now that service will be discontinued in 4 months? That’s craziness.

  28. beemeup5 said on January 27, 2022 at 12:24 am

    I really like physical keyboards on phones, which is why I installed LineageOS on a Motorola Droid 4 from 2012, possibly the last great qwerty-slider phone ever made. I use it as a daily phone even today, but a 10-year-old phone has some key weaknesses that really hamper the experience for me:

    1) The processor is too weak. Browsing the web feels like dial-up, but it’s not because of my internet.
    2) Only 1GB of RAM. I get by with most things, but if only I had 2GB it would be sooo much better.
    3) Battery is basically on its last legs now. The ‘new’ batteries I get off ebay are little better as I don’t imagine anyone is producing new batteries for this phone, it’s all ‘old’ stock that hasn’t been opened in years and lithium-ion batteries degrade by age even if unused.

    I plan on replacing this Droid 4 with a Pro1 X by Fxtec: https://www.fxtec.com/pro1x
    Hopefully it’ll arrive some time this year. Covid shutdowns really put a wrench in Chinese factories, but the last update said there was only one part remaining before final assembly. Fingers crossed.

    I’m really excited at the prospect of using a modern qwerty-slider, especially one that comes with LineageOS out-of-the-box with official support from the XDA developers. This is the phone I plan on using for the next 10 years or more. My car is 21 years old, and I hope my new phone will be useful for just as long.

    1. Upgrade Every Year said on January 28, 2022 at 6:08 am

      That Fxtec is $800+, for an unknown manufacturer… Yikes!

      1. beemeup5 said on January 28, 2022 at 6:48 pm

        It’s a niche phone for a specific userbase, i.e. those who like physical keyboards, headphone jacks, replaceable batteries, SD card slots, unlocked bootloader, and official LineageOS support. $800 is not cheap but for the only phone of its kind that has all these features and will be used for 15-20 years, it’s not an overly exorbitant price.

        Fxtec has released the Pro1 previously to which the Pro1 X is the successor, so they’re not that much more obscure than other niche phones like the PinePhone or the Fairphone.

  29. alpo said on January 27, 2022 at 12:03 am

    I’m using an iPhone 6 – circa 2014 – and it works fine. I got it for free from one of those people who always upgrades to the latest-and-greatest models.

    I was able to install the latest o/s upgrade without any problem, and I can still get a battery replacement (the most likely hardware failure point) from Apple for a not-irrational price if and when that’s needed.

    This throwing-a-phone-out-every-3-years is nonsense.

  30. allen said on January 26, 2022 at 10:23 pm

    If it ain’t broke… I keep using it till it is. (“Broke” is a subjective term, but I used my last phone for about 5 years before replacing it.)

  31. JohnIL said on January 26, 2022 at 9:52 pm

    I am amazed at how expensive smartphones are, and yet how quickly they become obsolete. Very much a need then a want these days for many. But are we being fooled into thinking we need a new smartphone so frequently? I wonder if we really do need hat upgrade so often.

  32. foolishgrunt said on January 26, 2022 at 7:53 pm

    I bought a used Pixel 3a last year – and it’s definitely still a good enough phone. I’ve been using LineageOS and have been quite happy with it, though I also am interested in testing it out with GrapheneOS one of these days.

  33. Clairvaux said on January 26, 2022 at 7:50 pm

    “How often do you buy new mobile devices?”

    Exactly once. When I buy things, I don’t throw them away before they are thoroughly broken and unrepairable. Throwing away a perfectly good pocket computer every 3 years (which could literally have landed you on the moon with that Apollo flight in 1969) is perfectly ridiculous. No wonder people complain of lacking money.

    I have a 4-year old Motorola Moto G5. It has stopped receiving Android updates. Never mind. I selected that phone in part because of its replaceable battery. I don’t use it a lot anyway.

    I have a 12-years old home-built desk computer, running Windows 7, and I don’t intend to change it anytime soon. I have swapped a few cheap broken bits on it : two 30 € hard disks, a few cables here and there… I have had to upgrade the memory and the external backup disks. That’s all.

    I’ve just discovered that high-end Logitech and Razer mice are out of bounds to me, because they need Windows 10. Too bad. I won’t throw a whole computer out of the window just for that (sorry for the bad pun).

    Ghacks already was the source of choice for the power users of Firefox and a few other specific programs. It would be nice if it began to cover all the ways to outlive Android phones.

  34. Mike said on January 26, 2022 at 7:45 pm

    I too decided to get off the phone upgrade treadmill. They got good enough to do what I want them to do a long time ago. And the new models have fewer features than my old one, e.g. no headphone jack or SD expansion slot.

    The only reason to buy a new phone, is security updates, but that is an artificial problem that was created by the industry; 10 year old Linux computers get security updates just fine, so phones should, too.

  35. anonymous said on January 26, 2022 at 6:59 pm

    For a thoroughly degoogled ROM, there is also /e/OS from https://e.foundation/

    And besides Fairphone, another more sustainable phone is Teracube: https://myteracube.com/

  36. Mothy said on January 26, 2022 at 6:47 pm

    Last time I bought a new phone was 2016, a second Samsung Note 4 as a backup to the first one I bought in 2014 (when the Note 4 was first released). Both are rooted with a custom ROM that still supports all the S-Pen functions along with numerous privacy and security tweaks. Although I do not use them for anything sensitive like banking. I save that for my computer and home network that are locked down with numerous security layers. It is still a workhorse of a phone and does everything I want/need very well yet. The battery has been the only item to wear out. But that has always been an easy fix as it’s user-replaceable. I still have a half dozen spare batteries that I cycle through and keep charged via an external Samsung battery charger (and recycle the old ones as needed).

  37. Anonymous said on January 26, 2022 at 5:35 pm

    LOL “It is better for the environment” I am sorry but that is kind of dumb to say.
    Do you know Samsung or Google or Apple and any other phone maker doesn’t care that YOU don’t buy it? they will still make the SAME amount of phones they planned, so you buying it or not, doesn’t change anything.

    I mean… do you really think that the problem with technology is how devices get recycled, I am sorry, but humans who think like that are either stupid or just got deceived by politicians and organizations that make money off environmental lies.

    Let me ask you some questions it to you, do you know how many materials are needed to make a phone? how do they get those materials? how do phones get powered and hold powered for “a whole day” (like you say in your post), it is not by magical unicorns, it is by mining and doing so much damage to the planet, from pollution to slavery (children or adult), killing millions of ecosystems and species in the name of technology…
    I mean, do you think the phones are the most dangerous technology around? what about YOUR computer, the one you just typed on, what about your anything because I am sure you have every single technology, what about electric cars, did you buy the lie that they are so green? but they don’t count how they manufacture it?
    People don’t even understand the simple fact that mobile devices or electric cars or laptops use batteries that are worst for the environment than anything else.

    Or what about your website? do you think it runs on magical dwarfs urine? no, it needs power, all your devices need power, all your technology needs power.
    Power needs non green environmental sources, and you are contributing to destroy and pollute the environment.
    I mean, I bet some clown will talk about “green” “renewed” or some dumb word energies, but they don’t understand how those energies are made, the solar panels, the wind turbines that need oil to function properly that sometimes leak, how they have to bury the whole waste when they get damaged, how they increase the heat around, or kill animals and destroy anything around, hydropower is even worst, the only decent one is geothermal energy, which is done in useless places like volcanos, but we don’t know the real impact by doing that around unstable volcanic surroundings in the future… and of course, you won’t even be able to get that.

    Stop the dumb crap, if you don’t want to upgrade your phone and you feel this superior being for not being like others, that’s your problem, but don’t write stuff you don’t understand just to feel better and wave the virtue signaling flag around.

    If you didn’t use a phone, laptop, all your technologies I would believe the environmental talk for a second, but look at everyone who promotes environmental causes, always with a phone, Al Gore which is the most extreme case was part of board of directors of apple with his apple laptop while saying “sea level will rise and we will die” while buying a mansion next to the sea so not really worried about it.

    Be a real man and stop using technology, then let’s talk about “I care about environment” only because you don’t upgrade, will not change anything, phone makers will keep slaving people and destroying the environment at the same pace, but at least you truly will not be part of it, I mean, I bet you got a new laptop recently, maybe a new smart something, so only because you are not upgrading a phone TODAY, doesn’t mean you will not do it in the future, when you want.

    The whole talk about “I care about environment” while talking about technology doesn’t go well together, you are a source of information about non environmental topics, it is like the fraud Ecosia is about “planting trees” while you use technology destroying the environment, or the clowns at Vivaldi saying how they run their servers in renewed energies while not talking about how those renewed energies (which is a a lie) actually cause many problems for the species that have nothing to do with technology and then Vivaldi promotes the usage of technology which again, destroys the environment doesn’t matter which type or size.
    The problem is out there and promoted by everyone but still pretending recycling is enough while still polluting anywhere else in the process before recycling.

    Take a real step towards a real environmental cause, stop pretending not upgrading will somehow make a difference, you are still doing similar without adding one more device to your history of non-environmental cause. Maybe next time you can stop using a phone all together and then maybe I will believe the whole environmental talk by people like you.

    1. Photolunatic said on May 12, 2022 at 10:43 pm

      I 100% agree! Topman. People do not understand the technology and blindly believe in the green, political agenda. You are right in every single word. Thanks for the write-up.

    2. adnap das said on January 27, 2022 at 11:56 am

      And here we have the opposite example of an extremist jumping on your case for not doing everything right now and 100% the way they want you to. Hard to invent a more stupid way to convince people…

  38. GoodMeasure said on January 26, 2022 at 4:31 pm

    Martin, this is a very interesting topic. Good for you. Keep us updated. I have long been interested in loading a custom OS on a phone, largely for user control reasons. The powers that be do not make it easy. Hopefully you can find a way that people with medium levels of tech understanding can emulate.

  39. ULBoom said on January 26, 2022 at 3:58 pm

    I’ll be interested in seeing how Graphene, if chosen, works. It’s supposed to be almost complete. I bought a Pixel 4A a few months ago and like it, it’s small, most phones are gigantic these days, and it does everything I want.

    Problem is, just like with computer OS’s, you spend days disabling and replacling junkware OEM apps with simple ones that work without incessant nags, f’d up stuff like stickers, all Google apps tracking everything you do, etc.

    Kids have Pixel 5A 5G’s, which is a bit larger. They didn’t want the Pixel 6 or 6A because the camera bar across the back gets stuck in pockets easily except with a crazy thick case. The phone’s too big for them, too. They game, watch vids, vid calls, etc and have no performance problems.

    Our old phones were Moto’s. Moto G5S Plus and Moto E LTE from 2017 and 2015, respectively. Still worked OK but the new ones are much faster and have far better displays. Size is similar.

  40. semce said on January 26, 2022 at 3:41 pm

    I guess I’m showing my age but I never felt the need to have a super duper cell phone. I had to get a new phone because my old one only had 3g which is being phased out. All my phone needs to do is make calls and text. I have no need nor desire to watch a movie on a cell phone sized screen and I don’t do any banking on my phone. So I gave up my Samsung which I loved and served me well for seven years for a Moto G Power. I am very happy with the Moto G and have disabled all the bloatware I was able to. I use Consumer Cellular and very happy with their service.

  41. Yash said on January 26, 2022 at 3:35 pm

    GrapheneOS is better than most including CopperheadOS though falls short on support outside Pixel devices. I wouldn’t blame them. Smartphone landscape has changed quite dramatically. Sony is now an high-end niche brand, LG is gone, so does HTC for a while now. That leaves Samsung which is notorious for preventing users from installing Custom ROMs(hello bootloops). So Pixel only support for GrapheneOS is more than reasonable. But since it is a Google device, there’s no way on earth I’m paying Google any money.

    Users normally(normies btw) don’t need new device as old device hold their own pretty well. Granted you disable/remove OEM shit and install most apps from F-Droid or other open source platforms and only select few closed source ones.

    1. Iron Heart said on January 26, 2022 at 11:38 pm


      > But since it is a Google device, there’s no way on earth I’m paying Google any money.

      Buy it used then. Problem solved. $5, please.

      1. Yash said on January 27, 2022 at 9:34 am

        Actually that’s a good suggestion and one I have in my mind. Once this new phone of mine which I only bought just 15 months ago ages for another year or two, I’ll definitely check Pixel – though only for one use case and that is GrapheneOS. Graphene has really come good in last year or so with Play Services support and so it can be used in a primary device.

  42. Bradley said on January 26, 2022 at 3:17 pm

    “…While I could pick another manufacturer, I’d have to find one who gives at least three years of support (better 5 years) for the same price or less, and there are not many Android manufacturers who do.”

    You can get a SIM-free, dual-SIM, Nokia smartphone for £130 (G20, which is being superseded by the G100). Nokia provide three years of support and use Android One (stock Android) – so don’t come pre-installed with whole bunch of un-installable crap like Facebook (looking at Samsung here). Well, sort of – they still come pre-installed with whole bunch of un-installable Google crap, as per the Android agreement.

    However, three years of support is still ridiculously short for a modern computing device, especially with the rate that security vulnerabilities are found on them. And that three years is from when the device was launched; as most people don’t buy on launch day, they won’t even get that. Having to throw away a perfectly good working device after such a short period because it no longer receives security updates is a waste of resources and is terrible for the environment. From a buyer’s perspective however, it still works out cheaper than buying an iPhone (£130 with three years support vs £500 with an average of around six years support). When buying a more expensive phone though, it’s a no-brainer to go for Apple every time, for the longer support period and less e-waste.

    I went back to a Nokia feature phone (dumb phone) in the end. It may sound odd – being a techie – but I don’t have much use for a smartphone anyway. I prefer doing everything on a computer where I can use a proper keyboard and big monitor; I only use a phone for essential communication when I’m out-and-about. The only “smart” features I used to use were HERE WeGo offline GPS navigation (for vehicle navigation) and Windy Maps offline GPS navigation (for offroad hiking navigation), so that’s pretty much all I miss by using a dumb phone. However, I gain a really long battery life between charges and don’t have to worry about security updates, as there’s nothing on the phone except a few contact numbers.

    1. Klaas Vaak said on January 26, 2022 at 5:16 pm

      @Bradley: that was exactly what I did too. When my S3 was getting a bit wonky I got fed up with it and bought a Nokia €50 dumb phone. Perfect. No hassles, no updates that can and do get stuck, etc.

  43. Anonymous said on January 26, 2022 at 2:51 pm

    Two words: Planned Obsolescence


    1. Anonymous said on January 27, 2022 at 1:07 pm

      That, and the Right to Repair.. such as the ability to change mobile phone battery.


  44. TelV said on January 26, 2022 at 2:27 pm

    If you feel that way Martin, why not buy an environmentally friendly Fairphone. Extended warranty 5 years at no extra cost to you. https://www.fairphone.com/en/warranty/?ref=footer

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 26, 2022 at 3:29 pm

      I don’t want to pay that much for a phone. Yes, it is probably worth the price and they seem to be doing a great job.

  45. Henk said on January 26, 2022 at 2:16 pm

    Well, I’m sure some people will ridicule me or say it’s unsafe: but I still hold on to my never-rooted OnePlus 3 that I bought exactly five years ago (early 2017, when it replaced a Samsung from 2012). It’s running the OnePlus version of Android 9, which in late 2018 was the last official system update for this phone.

    The phone still works perfectly for me, most of its technical specs are still within range of present-day sub-middle-class phones, the 60Hz 1080×1920 AMOLED screen is still well-detailed and bright without any flaws, the over-all speed is OK, the 64Gb storage memory is right now only half full (even when holding quite a lot of music), the 3000 mAh battery will still nearly always last me a full day and then recharge fast, every new app I install on it will work fine… so in short, it still does everything I want it to do, I never have the slightest problem with it.

    I really think that Android phones, while certainly in all respects improved, have not really got fundamentally better by big leaps over the past five years. The pace of progress seems to have slowed down. Back in 2017 the difference between this OnePlus and the 2012 Samsung that it replaced, was a lot bigger than the difference would be today between this 2017 phone and, say, a new 2022 OnePlus Nord.

    In fact, this older phone has a few features I would miss in modern ones, such as an always-easy-to-reach physical home button and an actual headphone jack for a top-quality wired headset. It also is quite sturdy with its aluminium frame, aluminium backside and Gorilla glass 4. The one main point where this five-year-old phone now truly lags behind, is the so-so camera quality (especially lacking in poor light conditions). But even that is still acceptable in my case.

    The only extra safety measure I ever took was installing a software firewall, fine-tuning it to give internet access only to those apps that actually need to be connected.

    I think I will replace this phone only in one of two situations: either when it gets some physical damage (like a broken screen or dying battery) or when I run into real software incompatability (when one of my essential apps will no longer work reliably with Android 9). But I fully expect I can keep using it with no problems for a few more years. Replacing it now would feel like what it would be: a pointless waste of resources.

    1. ULBoom said on January 26, 2022 at 4:15 pm

      I guess if you flail away at any device or do nothing to increase security and privacy, getting hacked can be a real issue.

      Without extensive changes, phones are barely useable, they’re ad servers; in that state, security may be a big issue. I change anything I can on my phones; the average user stays signed in to a number of data collecting apps and never turns off their device.

      Probably depends a lot on a user’s diligence. Convenience comes with a price.

  46. Davin Peterson said on January 26, 2022 at 2:09 pm

    This is a big problem for Android as most OEMS only provide 2 years of updates. Whey they stop providing security updates that leaves your phone with vulnerabilities.
    We should have to buy a new phone every 2 years, after all you don’t buy a new laptop that often.
    It’s too bad we can’t go to updates and download an update like we do on Windows devices since Google leaves it up to the manufacturer.

  47. Buzz said on January 26, 2022 at 1:23 pm

    I am still running my Motorola Moto G5.
    Yes it is old, and a little slow. The battery is a little worn but is easily replaced so I have a replacement for when it fails. I have improved standby and response by debloating my phone.
    Most of the google bloat has been disabled except for Play and Maps.
    I have sideloaded Fdroid which I also use instead of Google Apps on some other android devices.
    Check out:
    Discreet Launcher
    Smartcookieweb Browser
    Openboard Keyboard
    Bookreader pdf and ebook reader
    Auxio music player
    MiXplorer file explorer
    Take a good look at open source software.
    I love using a phone that others regard as an antique. It is individual, reliable and an excellent tool.

  48. Yuliya said on January 26, 2022 at 12:20 pm

    I used Cyanogen/LineageOS on my Nexus 4, mostly because Android Lollipop was buggy. If KitKat whould have been its final update, I would have not tried LOS. And I did stay on KK until 5.1 came out, 5 was a disaster.

    That being said, I really enjoyed it. I used gApps, the most minimal package which only added PlayServices, Store and a couple of other background services. I don’t remember the actual name of the gApps package, but it was the one endorsed on the LOS wiki at that time. The phone was faster, due to the OS being leaner, root access was great, nothing beats hosts filtering in terms of performance/efficiency. Interesting features like 180″ portrait orientation, navbar customization, proper settings for the RGB notification LED. I used this phone all the way up to the Android 8.1 equivallent of LOS, when the touch died :(

    As a bonus, while using LOS, the camera would no longer crash the entire OS, unlike its original software. At worst the camera application would crash, but it woulr be extremely rare. Nexus 4 + Android 5.1 + Google Camera = Nexus 4 with no camera, you do not want to use that, trust me, extremely unreliable combination.

    I would consider it again, but Samsung’s OneUI does offer a lot of that customization out of the box, or with 1st party applications (GoodLock). It’s a decent middle ground, while I get to keep using my bank’s application and GooglePay.

    1. ULBoom said on January 26, 2022 at 4:18 pm

      Interesting. I’m very tempted to try Graphene.

    2. John G. said on January 26, 2022 at 1:14 pm

      Interesting experiences, thanks for sharing them! :]

  49. John G. said on January 26, 2022 at 12:16 pm

    I agree, why to buy a new device if the current one works fine? Well done, @Martin! :]

    1. OldGamer said on January 26, 2022 at 9:06 pm

      I agree, Martin. Every argument is correct..

  50. ShintoPlasm said on January 26, 2022 at 11:58 am

    One thing to be cautious of if/when you move to a non-standard OS: many (most?) banking apps do not work – and may require some serious fiddling to make them functional again. For me, this issue is enough to deter me from dabbling in alternative Android OSs.

    1. Xyz said on January 26, 2022 at 8:32 pm

      I juggle bank bonuses every year and have yet to run into a bank or credit union that has a problem with my rooted phone. Citibank is the only one that displays a notice about a rooted phone but works just fine. Your claim dismissing most, or even many banking apps, is dubious.

      1. ShintoPlasm said on January 27, 2022 at 12:25 pm

        The countless reddit discussions about banking apps on rooted phones seem to suggest otherwise. I don’t know about your specific circumstances and type of device, but certainly here in the UK banking apps don’t really work on non-standard phones.

  51. Julian said on January 26, 2022 at 11:45 am

    My only problem with custom roms is it’s compatibility with banking apps. I’ve tried on my phone and even if I managed to hide the root and pass Satefy Net, Revolut app still managed to detect it being rooted. That’s what made me go back to stock rom.

  52. Daffy Jones said on January 26, 2022 at 11:43 am

    I have to say I find it surprising that a tech guy wouldn’t want to have the latest and greatest technology in their smartphone. The Pixel 3A seemed underpowered even when it came out with only 4GB RAM, a Snapdragon 670 processor that’s basically a rehashed 2017-era 660, and slow eMMC storage. Couldn’t contemplate still using that in 2022.

    And using a custom ROM means the phone will not pass SafetyNet any more, so no Google Pay, you can’t use your banking apps and many streaming apps like Netflix will be limited to SD quality. If you don’t use your phone that much then maybe that’s worth putting up with, but for most people their smartphone is their primary computing device that they use for hours each day. Worth spending a few hundred every 3-4 years to get a better experience

    1. Eric said on May 17, 2022 at 11:10 am

      what is a tech guy? If it is a guy that is seating on a computer all day long, as OldPhonePerson suggested, this a guy that do most of his IT / internet stuff on his computer and NOT on his smartphone.
      Thus, the tech guy is actually the one needing the LESS of a powerful smartphone!

      I am a SW architect and developer and fit exactly there: I tend to use most of the services via a computer, I prefer to type on my keyboard than a touchscreen.

      The pixel 3a is my main smartphone until now. The main performance issue I see there is indeed the slow eMMC: some apps take too long to load..

    2. Trey said on January 28, 2022 at 11:07 am

      “but for most people their smartphone is their primary computing device that they use for hours each day”

      So I bet you consider yourself a ‘tech guy’ and all you know is your phone. Sad.

    3. adnap das said on January 27, 2022 at 11:45 am

      I think it’s pretty sad that nowadays people have to find an array of excuses for using common sense and not being wasteful and even then there’s inevitably some genius showing up to give them a hard time about it…

    4. Anonymous said on January 26, 2022 at 10:56 pm

      I’m a big tech guy and I find newer technology is scaring me more every year. Less freedom and feels like I’m being scammed. I been sticking with all my old devices past 12 years.

    5. ULBoom said on January 26, 2022 at 4:19 pm

      Not true. Like, none of that.

    6. g. said on January 26, 2022 at 2:15 pm

      Custom ROMs pass safetynet with no issue. It’s only when you root it that it becomes tricky, but even then you can easily bypass any limitations and still pass it to use whatever app you want, including google pay or whatever banking app you have.

    7. AreSoonParted said on January 26, 2022 at 1:35 pm

      You are using bad roms then. My OnePlus 5 and 5T are both running Pixel Experience 12 with SafetyNet passed. January 2022 security patch. I don’t need to buy a new phone every year. Only fools do that.

    8. Pet said on January 26, 2022 at 1:34 pm

      Yeah. Most stupid, arrogant and ignorant comment so far in the tech section of this planet

    9. thebrowser said on January 26, 2022 at 12:39 pm

      You are describing the same people who say they are into some sport and then go buy all the flashy, expensive gear without having a clue how to use it.

    10. ryuk said on January 26, 2022 at 12:18 pm

      I guess it’s because sometimes the latest =/= the greatest.

    11. OldPhonePerson said on January 26, 2022 at 11:56 am

      Can you tell me ONE example how a little bit of better technology on your smart phone could possible improve a ‘tech guys’ life?
      I get the need for better hardware on your computer (for programming, etc.). Fast and up-to-date hardware on your server, etc. But on your phone? while it is maybe true that most people spend most time on your phone, I would highly question if they use it as their primary computing device in regards to productivity. And for watching movies, texting and surving the web, you don’t need the newest hardware!

      Even with a custom ROM you can use most service without a downside (never had the SD quality problem you are describing).

  53. ROMberg said on January 26, 2022 at 11:35 am

    Last year I bought a Galaxy S20 FE 5G, it’s a nice phone. With Samsung bloat filled to the brim. My old Moto G5S Plus with MSM X-Tended running Android 11 with no GApps installed, is a much better phone. MUCH better phone. The Samsung is shiny yes, and even if I have disabled everything I can and use the most aggressive battery saving measures I need to charge it every 3 days. The Motorola, I charge it two times, per month. PER MONTH. The Moto does everything I need it to do, I do not play games, I am an adult. I have installed Viper4Android, the sound in the Moto is excellent. As a musicplayer, it blows the Samsung away. The list is endless. A phone with a custom ROM and nothing Google on it is just fantastic. So yeah.. in hidsight, I should have bought beer instead of the Samsung.

    1. Anonymous Coward said on January 28, 2022 at 11:42 pm

      Needlessly aggressive “I don’t play games, I’m an adult.” Also very doubtful. I am absolutely positive that you perform leisure activities of some sort. So why the hostility toward others who do the same?

    2. Not an adult said on January 27, 2022 at 10:46 am

      Adults don’t say they’re adults

      1. Andrew Russell said on January 28, 2022 at 5:26 am

        They do when talking to a child

      2. Aaron said on January 28, 2022 at 6:01 pm

        A child with eyes can see if an adult is talking to them or another child is talking to them. Why would you tell a child youre an adult? Unless this is over the phone?

  54. Christian said on January 26, 2022 at 11:32 am

    I thought GrapheneOS stops supporting Updates when Google stops supporting the device. There some insights about that fact here:


    1. technoviking said on January 26, 2022 at 3:59 pm

      That is correct, at least when it comes to security updates which end in May 2022 for the 3a devices.

      I know CalyxOS says they will continue to provide feature updates, but since the security updates come from the OEM, they will no longer provide those after the above date.

      Regardless, I’ve been using GrapheneOS for years and for what I need it works great. It’s nice to know that it’s use as a big tech “spy and surveillance tool” is greatly reduced.

      There are a few videos I watched when, setting up my phone, that helped a lot.

      GrapheneOS – Full Post Install Setup Guide – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBBTkxcADbs

      Install Google Camera (GCam) on Android without Play Services? – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWPSNxO-VOs

      How to Install Sandboxed Google Play Services into GrapheneOS – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWBd74uRIi8

      F-Droid and Aurora Store Guide – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVSdOrm2pqo

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