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).

Phone

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.

iPhone

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.

Android

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:

  • MUST HAVE
    • Android One (clean Android with security updates)
    • min. 4GB RAM
    • min. 64GB storage
    • fingerprint reader
    • not too big, should fit in my hand and pocket
  • WOULD HAVE
    • USB C (convenience)
    • no more than full HD screen, more pixels (4k) is less battery life
    • more than 3000mAh battery

Currently there are many options of which I would likely buy the Mi A3 64GB, if I needed a new one at this moment.

Laptop

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:

  • min. 4GB ram
  • min. 32GB storage
  • 64bit processor: that enables the build in Linux mode
  • matte or touch screen, no glossy screen without touch!
    • matte screen for outdoor usage
    • touch screens scratch less/harder finish
  • 13 or 14 inch, full HD, good quality (IPS)
    • No 4k; limits battery life

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