So, I bought a refurbished Galaxy S7 Edge with /e/ pre-installed. I’ve had it for a week now; time to put my experience down on ePaper.
TL;DR: They’re good phones, worth the money. Be prepared for a few bugs and hiccups … but overall, it’s already a very nice, polished platform, and I expect it’ll only get better as they continue to squish bugs and make improvements.
I’m one of the early birds … registered for it the first day pre-registration became available, ordered it a couple hours after I got the order invite. So the order process will probably improve quickly, if it hasn’t already.
That said, ordering was a pain. Payment methods were limited. For me, PayPal was my only option, and I had to jump through a lot of hoops to get it to process. A few hiccups in order screens and emails … the order process did not look or feel professional … although, to their credit, the /e/ people were very responsive and helpful in customer support (granted, I was probably Customer #4).
Phone arrived, via UPS, <1 week after ordering, nicely boxed. The hardware is good (S7 Edge). Really nice display, resolution, bright, etc. Apps launch and run noticeably faster than my old phone, many have extra rows and/or columns on-screen thanks to better resolution.
The S7 Edge has a screen that physically wraps around the sides of the phone - including display and touchscreen elements. I guess the point is that it looks cool, or more screen-space … but frankly, it’s a PITA to navigate. I got the Edge 'cuz it’s larger and has better specs than the non-Edge version, but if I’d known what the screen was like, I might have opted for the Edgeless version.
But we’re here for the software… /e/ itself launches quickly, runs smoothly, seems very stable. Only a week, but so far, no crashes or anything else that I’d blame the OS for.
The Bliss Launcher … I tried to like it, but it’s just not good (yet?). It occasionally ‘lost’ app icons when I moved them around … and no ‘All installed apps’ area to drag icons back onto the home screen after they vanished. Wouldn’t let me rearrange apps on-screen … other issues I’m forgetting, because I switched to Zim Launcher (via F-droid) after 2 days. The worst part, though, is that many of the bugs are apparently intentional UX design choices, trying to mimic Apple launcher, so they’re not gonna get fixed. Seriously, ApplePeople, you don’t have to live with what Apple shoves down your throat; you have choices; just say no.
Next item. F-droid is my App Store, the only one I’ve ever known. I paged thru the default store, lot of selections (F-droid is tiny) … I downloaded a couple things, it seems nice. There’s a built-in privacy meter for all apps; IDK how accurate it is, but it’s at least the right idea. I’ll go back. But I’ve never seen Google or Apple App Stores, so I have no basis for comparison. So, maybe the /e/ App Store is great, maybe not, but either way, I’d recommend adding F-droid as an alternate.
One place where the /e/ Ecosystem looks very promising is with the Personal Cloud feature. Getting /e/ also gets you a personal, private 5GB share in the eCloud (might be free, or maybe not, I’m not sure how it works for newcomers). This includes your own email service, a nice online webmail app, contacts and calendar stuff synced between your phone, your eCloud and any other devices you care to connect, Task manager, and more.
But the thing I see that’s special, is that /e/ is working to integrate the /e/Phone with the eCloud. Photos I take are automatically backed up online. Contacts sync was already set up, you have Dropbox-like file storage and sharing, out the gate. It’s not as well done or as fully integrated as it could be, but I also get the distinct impression that—even more than the rest of /e/—this is a work-in-progress, with much potential.
Unfortunately for this review, I run my own personal, customized, NextCloud server, which is the same software eCloud is based on … so I’ve switched many of these share/sync functions away from eCloud to my nicer, more tricked-out version … and as a result, I no longer remember exactly where eCloud features end, and my customized version begins. That means I may be neglecting some eCloud features, and/or saying it has features it actually doesn’t.
Anyone thinking to buy one, I’d recommend it. In another couple months (barring any /e/catastrophes before then), I’ll start routinely recommending these phones to all my non-tech friends & acquaintances.
Anyone wanna ask me questions, go ahead. I’ll keep an eye on this thead for awhile.
Sent from my /e/Phone.