August 13, 2019

My guide to a new phone or laptop

This post details the hardware choices I make. For me, fungibility is an important aspect. I take pride in backing up my data and be able to wipe my phone and laptop everytime I cross a border of a country that wants to make a backup of my data. This way of working pushes me in the cloud and less on local devices, which in turn can be cheaper and more efficient (thus better battery life).


When it comes to phones, you have three options;

  • A non smartphone (i.e. phone without apps for it)
  • Android
  • iOS (Apple iPhone)

Let’s go over these three categories.

Non smartphone

The only people I encountered using them are elderly people or cyber security professionals (going abroad: burner phone). My professor for the course of Offensive Technologies used one in 2018.


People buy a Rolex as a status symbol, it has the same features/qualities as much cheaper watches, but it has style, brand image, looks good and better service. This applies a bit to an iPhone.

Android phones have become really good but you need to know which to buy.


When it comes to Android, purist will say you have two options: the ‘clean’ Android and the ones with bloatware/spyware and usually a skin. Skins feel a bit like ‘pimped cars’, some folks like them, but I’m more of an off the shelf vehicle type of guy.

For me, the duplicate apps and skins aren’t the biggest issue, but the lack of (security) updates.

My current demands for a phone:

    • Android One (clean Android with security updates), or a Google Pixel
    • min. 6GB RAM
    • min. 64GB storage
    • not too big, should fit in my hand and pocket (max width 73mm)
    • NFC for mobile payments
    • eSIM support (when device is lost, thieves cannot use your physical card to call payed numbers)
    • USB C
    • no more than full HD screen, more pixels (4k) is less battery life
    • more than 3000mAh battery
    • (back mounted) fingerprint reader

UPDATE q1 2023; my OnePlus phone has no ability to disable Pocket Mode anymore, but this feature makes my phone unusable in arm strap (while running) or on motorcycle.


I’ve discussed using a Chromebook before, which I still recommend. I do have an old Linux laptop to do the things that I don’t attempt on a Chromebook, like TFTP to a router or RS232 to a switch.

My requirements for a Chromebook:

  • fanless (no humming sound)
  • min. 4GB ram (8GB if using some kind of remote desktop)
  • min. 32GB storage
  • 64bit processor: that enables the build in Linux mode
  • 13 or 14 inch matte screen, full HD, IPS
    • No 4k; shortens battery life
    • touch screen if you occasionally sign documents
  • dark screen bezel and keyboard area (my Elitebook had a silver like finish, forcing me into dark areas)
  • keyboard backlight

My (current) devices

With all laptops having IPS.

  • 2018 Acer chromebook 14 CB3-431 (219eu)
  • 2020: Motorola one action (170eu)
  • 2021: (returned) HP chromebook 14a (229eu); has a design flaw, which I encountered on the na0053nd and na0153nd (CTRL+ALT+T, ping
  • 2021: Lenovo chromebook s345 touch screen 4GB (255eu)
  • 2021: Acer chromebook CB314 touch screen 8GB (204eu)
  • 2021: OnePlus Nord CE 5G

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