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Old 10-29-2019, 06:57 AM   #16
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My friend is not tech savvy and most of the replies in this thread, though fascinating to me, would be way beyond her. And, to be honest, I do not really want to get drawn into this as her guru. She's not a close friend like the one I set up AntiX for last year.

As to where the mail address came from, she must have set that up herself, probably as part of some kind of registration procedure. I doubt if she knew what she was doing.

My original post was mainly to let off steam. I have zero experience of smartphones and, the more I see of them, the less I want to have anything to do with them.
Old 10-29-2019, 01:02 PM   #17
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A lot of what you ask depends on the type of phone carrier and phone. For GSM phones, the phone carrier's jurisdiction generally stops at the SIM card. So long as the operating system is "carrier unlocked" there is nothing stopping you from having 5 smartphones and moving the SIM card between them at will.

Most carriers install bloatware that often includes spyware such as CarrierIQ that is not visible to the user until the operating system is rooted. Most data leaks to Google through the non-free Google Apps (ie Google Play and friends) that are not part of Android proper. "Rooting" generally refers to putting the "su" executable somewhere in the stock operating system--and actually having it work. Then you can install something like TitaniumBackup that shows all of the packages currently installed on the operating system, which you can then delete one by one.

If the phone is supported by Lineage (formerly Cyanogenmod), then you don't have to even worry about this. Samsung phones leave a side door open (called "Download Mode") for you to easily replace the stock operating system. Lineage/Cyanogenmod should be completely open source except for the firmware needed to make various hardware pieces function. This does not come with non-free Google apps Google Play, so you need to get your apps from some other means. (Replicant is a downstream variant of Cyanogenmod/Lineage, which is totally open source, with open source firmware, and only works on an even smaller selection of phones.)

After you either root the stock operating system or install a replacement, then you can install a firewall like Afwall (libre). You can select only the apps that you wish to access the network. Everything else including system processes can be blocked. However, older versions of Android work far better in this regard. Newer versions seem to have some leaks. You can even set up a WiFi access point on your computer, connect the phone to it, run WireShark etc. and verify that the phone is or is not being honest.

The drawback to Samsung phones, including those supported by Replicant, is that you have to trust whether the baseband is actually off when you put it in Airplane Mode. If you don't trust the baseband, buy a Librem 5, full stop. It's currently the only phone with a physical kill switch for the baseband.

You may actually do better with an older smartphone and a completely locked-down operating system than with an older non-smart phone, simply because through the Download Mode you have access to all of the phone's partitions, can verify their contents (ie up to the point of seeing that they have not changed/been tampered with), and can re-flash them whenever you want. Most older phones don't give you that luxury.
Old 10-29-2019, 01:11 PM   #18
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It is just the confusion that a vendor adds their preferred software to Android - Google and some other brands do have a more vanilla set. You have to put in some kind of Google account (such as Gmail) in order to use the Play store anyway (as far as I can tell). I am guessing she did this on getting the phone.

You can change the preferred applications (just like any OS). There is a Google GMail client - Outlook for Android is probably better (MS support is good on Android with Office available for free...).

So really you would want to have a look at available mail clients or just get the Google one - You should also be able to uninstall unwanted apps, which can fix the preferred apps thing without digging through settings.

FYI, uninstalling generally involves holding down the icon with a finger and dragging to an uninstall/bin icon from the app menu.

Last edited by Samsonite2010; 10-29-2019 at 01:13 PM.


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