Safely Use an Out of Support Android Smartphone with Linux

I have written previously about how you can check if your Android smartphone is still in support and receiving security patches.  These come from your handset manufacturer and while some manufacturers are better at supporting handsets than others, with Google and Samsung proving the longest support, other companies can drop support after as little as a year or two.

Getting security patches is crucially important, especially as we’re all using our smartphones more and for banking, shopping, and even paying for items using Google Pay or Apple Pay.  Not having the handset up to date with the latest security fixes can make you hugely vulnerable to malware distributed through the Google Play Store, which has been known to happen regularly.

So what can you do with a perfectly good smartphone that’s out of support?  If you like the phone, if there’s nothing wrong with it, and if you’re trying to reduce e-waste, can the phone be made safe to use?  Clearly just using the smartphone for basic operations is an option, but it’s hardly preferred, so what’s the solution?

Things get a little technical from here but if Android is out of support you don’t need to be using Android.  Other smartphone operating systems are also available.  They’re based on an age-old and highly secure operating system called Linux (which underpins both Android and iOS).  Most smartphones are supported by these operating systems and they can give you a great new lease on life.

The most popular and best supported mobile Linux operating systems are LineageOS, Sailfish, and Ubuntu Touch.  The websites for these operating systems usually include tools you can download to install the new OS on your smartphone, and to perform all the operations such as unlocking the security required to make the transition away from Android possible.

If you’re after more technical information, or perhaps would like to get involved with the communities making these alternate operating systems available, you can do so at XDA Developers.

Switching to a Linux-based operating system can help you keep using your using an older, but perfectly good smartphone for many more years, and the enthusiast communities that build and support these operating system builds for specific handsets are highly skilled and very committed.  While the process itself can be very technical, it’s well worth considering for an older phone.