How I gave up my Windows 10 laptop in favor of an Android phone

UPDATE (2019): I revamped my old laptop after two months of using the phone as a one. Eventually, I found working on a tiny screen to be too much of a hassle, so after adding an SSD drive to my old Acer Aspire-ES1-512, I installed Lubuntu and never went back since. I gave up Windows 7 & the Adobe suite on on my desktop in favor of Xubuntu, Darktable and Lightworks. This has been my setup for the last 6 months and things are likely to remain the same in the near future. As a last note, I also gave up on Twitter and Instagram. This is an older post, but an interesting one to read years down the road.

Well, yeah. If someone would have told me 8 months ago that I will be using an Android phone pretty extensively and that it will also replace my laptop, I would’ve told them to buzz off or shut up (ideally both, in either order).

That is mainly because I was going through some sort of a Luddite phase up till recently. More specifically, I was using a “dumb phone” (well, the Nokia Asha 302 was not at all dumb or bad, especially for its time) and did my best to keep away from some of the newer technologies and social media. I did that for almost 10 months, and I am very happy to have gone through that experience, since I learned a lot and got the chance to reassess myself.

Then I realized that denying current technologies from entering some aspects of one’s live may not be the smartest thing to do. Yes, excessive comfort is mind-numbing and tends to make you dependent on services that you do not own or control. But moderation is key, right? And finding that balance has nothing to do with tools availability. If you find yourself “captured‘ by these, then it means something is wrong with you and you have to accept that, find what’s going on and take the actions to fix it.

Spending too much time on social media, posting photos and superficial content just to obtain people’s reactions as “ego food”, feeling like you matter and that you’re just above the rest? Hey, it’s not social media's’ fault. It’s you! But I digress.

I still strongly believe that Facebook is an awful social platform, since it encourages extremely superficial semi-social connections with people exposing only their carefully crafted digital representations (yep, I also did that a few times...awful feeling at the end of the day!) and this is done through an awful interface.

However, I do keep it around for a couple of close friends and occasionally using the Marketplace or accessing the business page for some local entrepreneur that somehow thought not having an actual website is the way to go. That aside, Twitter and Instagram I find quite useful, but only once the content sources are selected. Twitter is great for reading and sharing concise thoughts and ideas, while Instagram is perfect if you’re just looking for photos from some particular people or of a particular type (for example, I follow some nature photographers and a couple of long distance bicycle tourers).

Since I work in software development & testing, I did own a laptop. It was a nice ASUS Vivobook, a slim and neat device with Windows 10. After a year of struggling with the whole mess Windows has become (genuinely bloated, slow and with an update policy that’s designed to screw users over) and trying to use Linux as my main system on the same machine, I gave up once I bought my Google Pixel phone.

It is the first generation XL version, but the way the latest Android version (9) runs on it blew my mind. Since you cannot always escape the Microsoft ecosystem when it comes to corporations, I needed to run Outlook and Skype/Skype for Business on the work system. That is next to impossible on Linux, as you may know. Using the web-based UI is useful and better than nothing at all, but it has major drawbacks (especially with notifications).

So, once I had the official Microsoft apps on Android and learned about the Termux project (essentially a gateway to the inner workings of Android, providing a fully functional Linux shell environment), I bought a Bluetooth keyboard, plugged in a wireless mouse (using USB-OTG) and there I was: a geeky Android lover.

It’s the appeal of workplace flexibility. I can be virtually anywhere and work. Even if I do not have an Internet connection at times, I am still able to write down, run & test Python code (just an example, because one may also write C and C++ code on an Android system, and many others).

I feel relieved not having to deal with the new Windows approach anymore. It was just frustrating to start your device in order to have some work done, but having to wait for some malevolent processes to do their thing for 10 to 20 minutes, hogging all hardware resources along the way. Or to see bloatware apps being silently reinstalled after you’ve deleted them using 3rd party tools (since the native app manager does not allow for some bloatware to be removed).

I still use Windows on my home desktop PC, but that is seldom usage and it only involves photo & video editing (Lightworks & some Adobe Suite software). Also, I downgraded that to Windows 7, since it works like a charm.