Should I buy a second mobile device to install /e/OS, or can I use my current device?

I want to move to using /e/OS (for a more private mobile OS), but I am nervous.

I only have 1 device that is listed as compatible, and it is my every-day device. It is a Samsung A5 2017 (SM-A520W) with Android 8.0.0.

How bad of an idea is it to attempt to install /e/OS on my only mobile device?

How likely is it for the full installation/setup process to result in an un-useable device?

P.S. How does one create a backup of a mobile device?

(edit: add device name and current Android OS version)

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What’s your device and do you have any kind of experience with this kind of thing?

Not a bad idea but first think about what you do on the phone and what apps you use that you feel are mandatory.
A ‘mistake’ some folks make is going to a deGoogled setup and then finding out their favorite apps do not run or run well.

Audit yourself and then search the forums for items you may have questions or concerns about.

Installation and setup concerns: Again check the forums for your device (which you did not specify) to see if there have been any installation issues. For the most part things should go smoothly if done carefully but there is always a risk.

Please provide device and current Android version.

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As the comments above, it depends on your actual proposed device, but I would say that $£40 - $£60 in a second device would be a sound educational investment if you want to learn how /e/OS will work in your life.

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It is a Samsung A5 2017 (SM-A520W) with Android 8.0.0.

And by “experience”, do you mean installing OSes on mobile phones? No, I don’t. This would be a first.

Installation and setup concerns: Again check the forums for your device (which you did not specify) to see if there have been any installation issues. For the most part things should go smoothly if done carefully but there is always a risk.

Please provide device and current Android version.

It is a Samsung A5 2017 (SM-A520W) with Android 8.0.0.

Not a bad idea but first think about what you do on the phone and what apps you use that you feel are mandatory.
A ‘mistake’ some folks make is going to a deGoogled setup and then finding out their favorite apps do not run or run well.

I don’t think I have any that I consider ‘mandatory’. I’ve previous learned of F-Droid and other FOSS app alternatives to common Google/default ones, which I’ve previously switched over to.

You may want to read this one, to understand you may have to go with dev branch, for future updates:
Samsung A5 2017 (a5y17lte) stuck to e-1.8.1-20230206257879-a5y17lte

On f-droid you can look for CPU Info, a small app, for getting some device info you sometimes need.

And, I have flashed 3 of these devices just last week, if this is encouraging for you…

you will lose all data stored in the phone,
photos and documents stored in internal storage are easy to backup/copy to another place (PC or SDcard), email will still be available on the server,
BUT other app-related things are not so easy to backup, ESPECIALY SMS CONTENT

If you live in a country where Voice Over LTE (VoLTE) is required for activation and service, e.g. the USA, or soon/eventually will be required, i.e. many other (most?) countries, then Samsung is a bad choice for installing a custom ROM. Samsungs apparently lose the ability to implement VoLTE calling after the original OS is overwritten by a custom ROM, due to their stubborn proprietary firmware, which can’t be duplicated.

So, I think you should choose some other brand.

When you’re ready to install a custom ROM, as you use F-Droid already, look for one of the “list my apps” apps in the F-Droid repository. This will make it easy for you to get a list of all your currently installed apps, which you can then re-download and install after the process is complete.

One great advantage of installing a custom ROM like /e/OS is that older devices can potentially get a new lease on life, with higher Android versions than the OEM provided, longer security updates, and usually better battery life. Not to mention, removal of embedded Google and OEM spyware and/or bloatware in /e/'s case.

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If you find a 2nd Galaxy A5 2017, there are more models then type W, which work with the same ROM, so you don’t have to learn a whole different device.
One with some cracked screen or so could still be a good starting point then.

Info about Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 - a5y17lte
Models Supported:

  • SM-A520F
  • SM-A520F/DS
  • SM-A520K
  • SM-A520L
  • SM-A520S
  • SM-A520W

Other models are not supported

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If you’re in North America Samsung devices can’t be degoogled. They don’t have an unlockable bootloader. If you’re in Europe I don’t think this would affect you.

Or, rather:
If your device was made for the U.S. market or the European (or other) market, regardless of where you are located.
:wink:

(As devices are widely sold online in and from other countries.)

If you’re in North America Samsung devices can’t be degoogled. They don’t have an unlockable bootloader.

Do you have a source for this? My model of phone (SM-A520W) is in the list of compatible devices for /e/OS, so I would have expected the installation process to work.

How would one know if a particular device was made for which geographical region?

If you live in a country where Voice Over LTE (VoLTE) is required for activation and service, e.g. the USA, or soon/eventually will be required, i.e. many other (most?) countries, then Samsung is a bad choice for installing a custom ROM. Samsungs apparently lose the ability to implement VoLTE calling after the original OS is overwritten by a custom ROM, due to their stubborn proprietary firmware, which can’t be duplicated.

So, I think you should choose some other brand.

Do you have a source for this behaviour and restriction?

Is “Voice Over LTE (VoLTE)” the standard for regular cell phone calls? Or are there multiple standards for how a cell phone makes a phone call happen?

P.S. Thank you for the tip on getting the list of installed F-Droid apps.

as for most Samsung devices of this generation, in SM-A520W, the “W” is for Canada…
“U” (free from carrier) and “U1” (carrier dependent) are for USA. “F” is for internationnal

“Voice Over LTE (VoLTE)” is become a standard in USA

It has been commonly reported about and discussed non-stop on tech sites for the last few years, as U.S. carriers started shutting down 3G (and 2G, except for T-mobile USA, which still has 2G). It has started to happen, or will start to happen, in many other countries, too. (Pick any blog or website about mobile communications to read up on it.)

Yes. Originally, calls went over the mobile 2G, then later, 3G mobile networks. Now as carriers have been moving to 4G (a high-speed data connection), they’ve started retiring their 3G networks to make room for 4G. A device that can’t use 4G to make a voice call (i.e. “Voice over LTE/4G”) has no 3G to fall back to anymore.

Usually by the ending letter of the complete model number, or generally, by different model numbers for a device sold in different regions.

This is correct, from what I’ve read in these forums and on XDA Developers forums (a site regarding custom ROM installations). North American Samsung variants use a Qualcomm processor, whereas EU variants use the Exynos processor, which can be unlocked. The /e/OS builds are for Exynos Samsungs (but, again, they won’t be able to do VoLTE).

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have you checked with the “legacy devices” option in the officially supported list ?
also the unofficially supported (builds from the community) list of devices that usually don’t receive regular updates.

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@John4

So, the installation of /e/OS may work out fine.
The OS may function well also (most recent build with Android 11 is available).

With the previously mentioned caveats you may find yourself not being able to make calls reliably (who is your phone carrier by the way?).
That is not an /e/OS compatibility thing but a custom ROM (without Google?) issue.
Given that you have only the one device that would be frustrating to say the least.

Can hope for the best that that doesn’t happen but if so you’d then have to go back to stock or flash a custom ROM with GApps I guess.
The idea of a second non-Samsung device should be considered if possible.

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In my opinion it is challenging to install a coustom ROM. If you do it for the first time and you have an idea what the following words mean, then give it a go:

ADB
TWRP
XDA
Odin

I have flashed several devices. But i have started with a phone that I didn’t really need.