New Phone Experience

My first impressions after a week of using my newly acquired phone and finally setting up ArrowOS

📆 11 Nov 2023 📕 887 words ⏳ 2 min. 🏷️ android

After quite a bit of waiting, I finally decided to buy myself a new phone, it wasn’t a Pixel sadly, I decided to go for the Xiaomi Poco F4. This phone was released on June of last year, and it was not as well received because it has the same processor as its predecesor. But since my previous phone (Redmi Note 8) had not only an older, but midrange processor, I knew it would not matter to me.

I was right, as soon as I got the phone, I got to experience some of the nice things that new phones today can offer, such as a 120 Hz refresh rate, an OLED screen, a power button fingerprint sensor and a faster performance overall.

The Proprietary Week

As soon as I got this phone I had to go through the painful process of waiting for a week to be able to unlock my bootloader and free this phone from its painful stock MIUI rom.

However, I wasn’t going to not use it right? So I decided to try living with it and test things out despite the not so great stock experience.

Thankfully, despite it all, Xiaomi lets you disable pretty much every ad shown to you, and I was able to hide almost all of their annoyances, install Nova Launcher and do some other things to get closer to the AOSP experience.

The day to day experience was fairly smooth and felt quite lightweight, against my expectations, if it wasn’t because of the huge amount of annoying pop-ups and warnings showing up everytime I wanted to give any kind of permission to any app that did anything Xiaomi didn’t like.

As the saying goes: “A monkey in silk is a monkey no less”. Despite it all, I felt so dirty trying to cover up the reality, not to mention the surveillance and tracking going on in the background at every moment.

Because I was going to end up transferring all my data to this phone after installing a clean AOSP based rom, I didn’t install stuff such as Signal or WhatsApp, which meant I was carrying two phones for this week. That was annoying but it was a sacrifice I was willing to endure during this time, for the sake of a better future for myself

And finally, that future arrived.

Custom Roms to the rescue

After I was able to unlock my bootloader, I immediately did a quick backup of the few apps I actually installed—Tachiyomi, K-9 Mail and AntennaPod, pretty much. I proceeded to follow a guide online to install ArrowOS—the same rom I had on my Redmi Note 8—and I finally felt free.

Everything went smoothly during the installation, this is the first time this happens to me, there has always been some problem, but I guess I’m already a pretty experienced Android rom user, so I know the drill.

Of course, even if the installation went smoothly, I was expecting to find some bugs or functionality to be broken. In my case, the fingerprint sensor worked at first, but after setting up my fingerprint, the phone crashed and restarted. This happened only a couple times and since then it works as expected.

Another slight annoyance is the AOSP camera—it is quite useless. However, installing Simple Camera from F-Droid managed to overcome those issues, although I do not have access to the wide angle lens anymore. I have also tried to use the GCam, Leica Cam and other options. For now I don’t feel too pressured into getting this working properly, I’ll survive.

Overall though, the phone feels a lot smoother and lighter than before, most things work perfectly fine. This time I decided to install the rom edition with GAPPS preinstalled, because I needed them to get some apps working. However, The apps that came installed were just minimal—and also YouTube. 😬

Final Thoughts

Installing the stuff I use to have my setup working, like DAVx5 and Syncthing as well as the other apps was simple enough. It’s great to see all of my data being synchronized with such ease. It helps that I didn’t have to override anything, like I used to do when installing new roms in the same phone.

A Fun Fact that I didn’t know: Signal lets you transfer everything from one phone to another without any trouble at all, it was fast and simple and I’m glad I decided to check the settings and looking for exporting tools. WhatsApp can do that too—but nobody cares.

I am happy to say KeepassDX is still great, logging into stuff is a breeze, especially with their Magikeyboard feature that works in some of those apps that won’t let the autofill thing work properly.

Sadly, this phone does not have as many roms as the Poco F5 or the Poco F3, since it didn’t get too many sales when it came out. Still, development is slow and steady and I hope that the very few bugs I’ve encountered get fixed soon enough.

Getting Android 14 would be fun too…

New phone
New phone

This is day 80 of #100DaysToOffload
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