In about a week from now, I have had my Ubuntu Touch phone for two months. I have got used to some aspects of it but I still finds fun and interesting things to do with it. Is it a pain? Yes, indeed it is, more or less all applications that I daily use are worse than the Android equivalent and I have been thinking about the possibility to buy an Android phone, the Pixel do indeed looks interesting. But, still, I remember why I’m trying to leave Android and it feels a little better. It is a roller coaster of feelings and frustration.
Still, I was expecting a somewhat buggy phone, and I was ready to live with it. But considering that the phone was in stores I was expecting something a little more stable and usable.
I’m still using it
I hoped to give it tree months, and my intended way out if it was unusable or not my thing was to buy a new Android phone. There has been a lot of frustration, and I do think the UI needs a lot of work, but I’m still using it.
I have my pebble connected and can use it to look at calendar events, get notifications and control the playback. The bluetooth caused me some problems about a month ago when I paired it, but it has been rock stable now.
Podbird is buggy, but it works and I can live with a crash from time to time. A few times a week, it will lose track of where I was after a few hours, and sometimes the playback will be messed up when I fast-forward. Just a easy close and open again will alway fix it.
At the moment I’m experimenting to use the default Music player to play the podcasts, but still use Podbird to download the shows. I did a simple symlink:
cd Music ln -s /home/phablet/.local/share/com.mikeasoft.podbird/podcasts .
It’s a computer
This is one of the things that I really like, It’s a computer that I can SSH in to and manage.
Pictures and files are synced with my Nextcloud install with the Owncloud-sync application. Works perfectly. I use the build in sync provider to sync my calendar and contacts, more about that later. I have spent quite some time experimenting with different solutions to get my work calender correctly synced to my phone. I will write a separate post about this later.
I can actually use classic desktop apps in the phone with Libertine. Then of course “use” can be a strong word, the apps are tiny on the screen and my fingers are large. This is of course much more usable if you uses an external monitor.
I have been to busy to solve or research may of my problems and find fun things to do with the phone. For example, my work calendar, I found my current solution about a month ago but I never had the time to try it out.
Bluetooth is buggy, and it looks like some problem with the BT firmware and the operating system. Calls over BT is a no-go, no big problem for me, but podcasts, I love to use a BT headset. There are good days where the sound just drops for a second or two once every 5-10 minutes or so, and there are bad days where it’s unusable. I have been using the good old 3.5mm jack a lot.
Oh my good the phone is big and slippery (metal), I have considering to fix the slippery part but I hate cases and never uses them. Size is something that it’s annoys me, it is hard to use it with one hand and a phone is a one hand device … in bed, in the subway (need a had to hold me in place, or for coffee, …). At least, the size in the pocket is no big deal, it is quite thin and light.
The hardware is good, but software-wise I miss more advanced features, like for example good algorithms to pick a good exposure, or manual controls. And I do miss HDR, and the possibility to use the 120FPS camera would be fun.
Still no way to use Slack at the phone, I have used my work phone a lot to work around this problem but It’s annoying to carry two phones when I go to meetings so I hope that this will be solved soon. Slack has a XMPP that I intended to use but to my surprise there are no XMPP client.
It’s a fun phone, and it’s a annoying phone. We will see if I still uses this next year, I hope so, because I really hope that I get everything that I need working, and then, I hope that there are a smaller model to buy some time next year.