Phone suggestions


Oh yeah… of course you can set DuckDuckGo on most mobile browsers, at least on Firefox and Chrome (and derivates)


Yeah I don’t always find the search results that helpful, but you can also use their bang syntax at any time, e.g. just add !g into your search string to search Google. I constantly use those options (!discogs !bandcamp etc) on my laptop. Admittedly a little more annoying on a phone keyboard.


I think it’s time for me to start moving away from an iPhone as well, though my current phone has some life in it yet.

So what I’d like to do is start migrating away from iCloud (mainly contacts/calendar), and ideally start doing that with my iPhone already, so when the time comes I can just jump ship.

Now the last thing I want to do is jump from the Apple pot into the Google frying pan, so I definitely don’t want to use any Google services for this.

Are there some good alternatives for this kind of thing that integrate with existing OSs? (I don’t mind paying, I would just want it to “work”).


I’ve been searching for similar things and haven’t found anything that works as well, or is as trustworthy, as Apple unfortunately.

There are other services poping up as alternatives to Google’s suite, but none that I’ve seen work as well and the companies all still control the servers your stuff ends up on… and a lot of them are really opaque about security and privacy. Not to mention that if I invest my time and data in a service I want it to stick around, so startups are generally out.

My conclusion so far is to stick with Apple. They’re far from perfect, but at least for now they don’t use my data and have take a stance on privacy. When that changes I’ll reevaluate.

If you can live without mobile data access and stuff then you could go away from smart phones and cloud services entirely. That’s untenable for me, but I’m always a little envious of people who can make it work.


In theory the solution is CalDAV/CardDAV + an opensource cloud storage solution like Nextcloud. Which will give you open-format non-vendor-locked sync for calendars, addresses, todos etc + the aforementioned cloud storage solution. It will work with iOS, MacOS, Windows, and any major OS on the market right now. At least in my limited experience.
I do have a subscription here: right now, which is a Nextcloud-based thing and has all the CalDAV things. If you look past the fact that they are still having issues with optimizing their servers (which is not something that depends on Nextcloud) it’s a great solution. Nextcloud can be extended using what they call “apps” (ok not the most imaginative name, but you get the point). Indiehosters do have a bunch of those apps: tasks, notes, an RSS reader, they even have a webmail and online calendar. I wouldn’t recommend indiehosters right now (actually I think they don’t even sell subscriptions right now) because of the aforementioned technical problems, but the concept is valid and despite everything I would not go back to Google (that’s what I was using before).


In case you’re looking for a new email provider as well, also has contacts and calender sync, and focus on privacy. I can highly recommend.


Another recommendation: (email provider with contacts and calendar sync and focus on privacy)


I imagine that would be the case. I do have to say I find iCloud very buggy, with sync issues still happening. Like I’ll create some Calendar entries, and walk away, only to come back and find the missing (presumably from it opaquely merging/replacing the local database or something). Very fucking frustrating.

Plus time zone stuff seems to make it a bit whacky (I routinely travel between two time zones, so I’ve gotten to notice this kind of stuff).

I do have to say I really like how Mail auto-detect flights and such and suggests them in Calendar (though this too is buggy, with certain airlines never showing up this way).

For me it’s more an issue of needing multiple devices to be in sync, as @Angela and I share Calendar/Contacts, hence the desire for something to keep all that in syhnc.

Pre iCloud I remember doing something like this via Dropbox. Wasn’t perfect, but it was a good solution at the time. I might have even tried Nextcloud, or another early self-hosted cloud sync thing. In the end I’ve gone with which I’m really happy with. It’s basically a more secure/encrypted (with servers in Canada) Dropbox.

And thanks @lijnenspel and @cesar_wolf for email suggestions as I’ve been meaning to move to a non-gmail email address for years now. Just haven’t gotten around to it.


I’ve been using protonmail for a while now, and they also have a vpn service which is good. From doing some research online, I’ve heard that they’re working on a calendar, so I’m holding out for that, as I’m sort of in the same boat of having a phone that should last another year or two (fingers crossed). I think not being in a rush and getting started from your iPhone is a great idea, though, and will give you a fair bit of flexibility in the lead up to a move, although I understand this rec could sound a bit like vapourware for now.

PSA: For anyone who has a not-brand-new iPhone and wants to get as long a life as possible out of it, Apple are doing battery replacements for cheap (it was £30 for me in the UK, and I think $30 in the US) because of all the bad press they got around the throttling saga a few months ago. This is only available until the end of the month, so get in quick, but I highly recommend it as having a fresh battery can really extend the life of an old(er) phone. I want to get as long as possible out of my 6s + and use that extra time to sus out a move away from iPhones. You can check your battery health in the battery settings, but I would think that even if it’s at 90ish%, £30 to extend the life of your phone by maybe a year or two is a good deal. They say 80% battery health is considered close to the end of the battery’s lifespan.


Let us know your impressions of after a little while. I’ve been tempted to move from Dropbox to them, and if they also over CalDav etc that would be even better.

Edit: Just looked at their site again and it looks like it’s just storage… @Rodrigo how do you plan to use this for calendar/contact etc?


Before moving to Nextcloud I was also using, but wasn’t super happy with it. It’s better than Dropbox, when it comes to the security aspect, and is pretty ok in general, but it’s also feels a bit rough around the edges sometimes. One thing I use a lot was to upload files for my clients, but found very cumbersome for that and a couple of time I did send people the wrong link because sync was messing it up. Fortunately I didn’t send out any NDA-covered or sensible information. But it was a warning sign, so I moved to something else. does not come with all the goodies Nextcloud has though. I don’t think you can do all the email/calendar/todo/RSS stuff with it, like Nextcloud does.


I’ve been using it for about 3-4 years or so. I had a paid Dropbox account for that and got frustrated that (at the time, don’t know if that’s still the case) you couldn’t send someone really big files without them adding it to their own dropbox, which mean it wasn’t good for sending 4gb+ videos files to people with free Dropbox accounts.

I don’t share files with sync too often, but haven’t had problems with it when I have, so I can’t comment there.

As far as contacts/calendar, although I’ve not done it, what I did way back in the day with Dropbox was to setup aliases for the actual calendar/contacts databases that lived inside of Dropbox, then each computer would reference that. So I was thinking of something similar.


I still use Dropbox for work, and it’s still the same. In fact my account is always full since I don’t want to give those people money.


Yup, that’s terrible. With sync you can send a download link that anyone can download whether they have an account or not, and regardless of size etc…

That was the main thing that made me switch, all the encryption stuff, and non-US servers is a (very nice) bonus.


When I ditched my smartphone I started with an old nokia for a while but the lack of MMS support finally made me try out a blackberry knockoff – that also had spotty MMS support! (Whole different set of issues.)

I’ve been using this for about a year:

I don’t use any of the data features but this has some basics like a web browser, email client, etc… haven’t tried them but probably not going to win any user experience awards!

This phone is great for voice calls, I charge it like once a week, and I’m used to the old style of numpad texting again but it’s pretty clumsy as ever. That means I end up using texting more like sending morse code telegrams (or to receive MMS plant photos from my mother) but not like a desktop chat client…

As far as a google suite replacement, I started making the shift to fastmail this year and so far it’s excellent. They also have calendar and address book etc features, but I haven’t used them much yet.

I also sprung for one of these more recently:

It has some really annoying issues with the USB-C ports (not being able to charge it and use external devices being the main one) but I also almost immediately spilled water on it and borked the built-in keyboard… so I imagined carrying it around as a portable alternative to a smartphone or carrying a laptop, but I use it like a raspberry pi instead b/c of my dumb water spill.

They have a new edition of the gemini coming out in the future that has more smartphone-like features, and is supposed to be possible to use more like a normal smartphone… (I was looking for a tiny laptop though, not a smartphone replacement so I’m not as interested personally.)


nice subtle Monty Python reference in their background image!

also, on topic - I switched from a Google Nexus 4 which I had used for 4-5 years (touchscreen was failing) to an iPhone SE a few months ago. If you’re still wanting/needing a smartphone and don’t want it to be huge, I can recommend it as it is the most updated small smartphone that I could find from a reputable manufacturer - basically an iPhone 6s in an iPhone 5 case, is my understanding. For me, I seldom see it go below 60% battery for a normal day’s use.

Glad to see talk of Google suite alternatives. I’ve been a happy user for 10+ years and use Keep, Drive, Calendar, Chrome, and Gmail regularly, but am pretty disgusted with the constant barrage of targeted marketing so am starting to transition away from Google as much as possible.


Anybody in the US had any luck with finding a good network provider? I’m wondering, especially with all the new IoT gear out there, if there’s another option for a bare-bones network that has more privacy features. (I know most IoT is priced per MB because they’re just meant to send tiny packets, but I thought I’d ask). All the current networks have tons of deceptive practices and leave users hanging, maybe with the exception of Google Fi but they’re a privacy nightmare.

Another option, and one I’ve been thinking about for a while, is treating my laptop like a home phone and using a desktop VoIP with SMS/MMS. (Or maybe I should just always leave my cell phone at home…?)


This isn’t much more than a +1 comment, but I’ve been using Fastmail for about 5 years and have found them excellent for that whole time. They use CalDAV/CardDAV etc.


Thanks for the Fastmail recommendation. I was wondering what apps/software you use to access your mail (mobile in particular).


Maybe we need a “recommended alternatives to [enter online service name] thread”?