Setting up a minimal smartphone

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29.12.2019

Not much on here Picture by James McKinven.

A few days ago I dropped my phone.
The display is broken and while it’s still fully functional as of now and I’m actually absolutely fine with some small cracks in the display, I wanted to take advantage of the free time I’m currently having and prepare for the next time I’ll drop it, as that will pretty likely completely destroy the display. I also figured I could take this as a chance to lighten my phone and remove some more distractions from my life.

I’ve heard of phones like the Light Phone before and I think such a minimal phone is really great, but sadly its price is just as great and absolutely not minimal ($350 for the Light Phone II). As I’m currently staying at my parent’s over christmas break, I thought I could maybe find some old unused phone somewhere in the house. And I did find my mothers old Huawei P8 lite (currently at €120 new). It’s still fully intact but somewhat slow, altough not really too slow for basic usage. Also maybe the low specs and storage could even contribute to eliminating distractions as playing games and downloading series and movies are simply not possible.

So I started setting this one up as a minimal smartphone:
The first thing to do was obviously a factory reset and setting up Android. I also thought about installing a custom mod, which could grant a less bloated OS and the possibility to remove all google services from my phone, but I didn’t find a custom ROM which supports this phone and didn’t want to run into troubles and bugs later on.

Next I installed A decluttered launcher, as I really like its interface and features. There are a couple of similar launchers available, so you can just choose whatever fits you. It’s probably also not really hard to write one by yourself if you require some really fancy stuff. The great thing about the launcher is its simplistic interface. It only shows five apps on your homescreen, but features a very fast and convenient search function for all installed apps. For me the five main apps are:

You can also choose two additional apps, accessed by swiping left or right, here I chose Spotify and the toggling of the grayscale mode.
I use Grayswitch to toggle the grayscale mode on this phone. Grayswitch automatically installs a shortcut to toggle grayscale mode, so that’s what I chose as swipe-right-app. Using your phone in grayscale mode most of the time is a great way to break your phone addiction, as discussed elsewhere. It also fits the launchers design quite nicely.

Finally, I disabled all notifications. You can achieve this either by simply disabling it for every single app, or by enabling Do-Not-Disturb mode.

I’m still not sure whether I should add WhatsApp, Telegram, Email et al. to this phone. This depends on whether it will become my new daily driver or just a part-time replacement for using my phone less often. However, if it will just serve as part-time replacement, it’s by no means a replacement for not taking my phone with me at all occasionally. That way it would just add to my overall phone usage!

Screenshot of lockscreen and Screenshot of homescreen.


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