Graphene OS and Digital Asceticism

Posted: November 22, 2022

Finally Upgrading to Graphene OS

I did it! In June, I downgraded my smartphone to do a trial run of digital minimalism. But, after months of relentless teasing from my family, I upgraded my phone to Graphene OS. It wasn't that hard, and I learned a lot from the experience.

G4 Gripes

The degree to which I upgraded because of teasing is greatly exaggerated. I had real problems with my old phone, the LG G4.

  1. The phone case was crumbling
  2. In intensive applications (OsmAnd), the battery would not last and the phone would get hot.
  3. The volume down button wouldn't work half the time, a very irritating thing when a double tap of the volume down button is supposed to be a shortcut for the camera.

Lessons Learned

I don't mean to be a negative Nellie about my old phone. While there were serious problems, I was able to learn from the experience.

GPS is a convenience
As a test, I deliberatley left Google Maps uninstalled. You can get anywhere with a combination of memory, a paper map, and writing directions on your hand in pen (I have been thoroughly mocked for the last one, but it works).

Worrying about battery life is for schmucks
I have come to realise that even with an old battery, battery life woes are only a problem if you have a Candy Crush or Tick Tock addiction. My old phone could last a week on a single charge, and this one seems to be even better.


Lite Apps
Installing a limited number of apps onto the old phone had me discover Messenger Lite, and later Spotify Lite. God bless the creators of these efficient, functional, bare bones versions of their popular, bloated alternatives. These do a good job of providing just the essential parts of this app. However, I don't think these apps see much use, and are not a priority for tech companies.

Laugh in the Face of Modernity
From my time using a "dumbphone", I have developed the (bad? good?) habit of putting it down and forgetting where it is. While using the old phone (and even before) I was able to say "I don't have a QR reader (for your covid-tracking system)". This tranquil time taught me that I don't really need a cellphone, and I might even consider giving it up for lent.

Installing Graphene OS

Not too difficult. I followed the instructions, and compared to installing minecraft mods it's easy peasy. It just works and there are supposedly privacy benefits too.

The Graphene OS installer took quite a while to download the custom firmware. I would have prefered if there were a way to download it via torrent as it would be faster and saved them bandwidth.

Tech Addiction Relapse

On this new phone, all apps work as intended, which means that in redownloading Snapchat, Youtube and Reddit, I discovered that they can be just as addicting for me as Instagram Reels were. This is unfortunate and something I am working on overcoming.

Closing thoughts

I scribbled a rough draft of this in my journal over a month ago, but only just put digital pen to digital paper. Perhaps that's a good thing, to help give ideas more flavour. But then again, there are other half blog posts written in my journal that I will not be transcribing anytime soon.