Can I use a Froyo device in 2019?
February 16, 2019 6:19 PM   Subscribe

I can’t stop looking at my smartphone. So I was thinking of getting a less-smart phone. I want something that can competently text and also call a Lyft and found this ancient Froyo Android. Will I be able to get Lyft onto a device this old? And will it be a security hazard somehow? Details inside.

Basically I want talk, good texting, and Lyft. It would also be nice to have Audible and music and podcasts but that’s not a deal breaker. I would be willing to root it if I had to, but I’d prefer not to.

(By “good texting” I mean has a QWERTY keyboard, either physical or digital, is able to handle group text and MMS, and has threaded messages.)

If this phone won’t work because of security/Play Store access, and you can recommend a different semi-dumb phone with Lyft and good texting that would be great too.
posted by sockkitude to Technology (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It appears that you can request lyft through a browser window/computer. You'd have to manually enter the pickup address, but it appears you can do it with your ancient phone if it's got browsing capabilities. The process of how this works is discussed here.
posted by Karaage at 7:03 PM on February 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

I don't know if the Lyft app will work on a device that old (it's so old that Froyo doesn't even crack the 0.1% threshold for Google's statistics) but there's a web interface for Lyft that you could try instead, no app required.

However, please don't do this. There are a huge number of security vulnerabilities that you'll be exposed to. These could allow, say, a maliciously crafted audio or video file to execute arbitrary code on your phone. It's not safe to run versions of Android this old.

It also doesn't look like that phone supports LTE. Beyond the slow data speeds, you may get worse connectivity as carriers in major cities have been cannibalizing their 3G networks in favor of LTE, with an eye toward phasing out 3G in the next few years (or the end of this year in the case of Verizon). I'd be concerned about battery life on a phone that old too, especially if you need to be able to rely on using it to get a Lyft when you need to get home.

I'd aim for a modern, supported phone, so you have something that gets security updates. And then you could try a boring launcher and perhaps Google's Digital Wellbeing tools to help you manage your time with it.
posted by zachlipton at 7:08 PM on February 16, 2019 [7 favorites]

Why don't you instead cripple your current device? I use Thrive Away and Action Dash, but there are probably other options.
posted by dobbs at 8:20 PM on February 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I really like the Siempo app. It's working great for me, and I didn't have to change devices.
posted by onecircleaday at 8:48 PM on February 16, 2019

I can’t stop looking at my smartphone. So I was thinking of getting a less-smart phone

Honestly, get a Lumia 640 on eBay or some other Windows Phone. It's an OS on life support that for now (unlike Old Shitty Android) is still maintained and there's a Lyft web-ish app. The app ecosystem is so barren that you won't be tempted by most of it, but you can still do the smartphone stuff that matters in terms of messaging and maps and podcasts and whatever. It's a smart-enough phone.
posted by holgate at 11:39 PM on February 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Seconding a windows phone. The lack of apps is what you need.
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 11:42 PM on February 16, 2019

Someone did a series of "revisiting progressively older and older Android phones" a few months ago. They didn't use Froyo, but they did use Donut and Gingerbread, so you can kind of average the two. One thing you may not have thought of...battery life is going to be awful. Really awful. Not like "can't Candy Crush all day", but like "have to ration texting and phone calls because you can visibly see the battery going down". Battery life was not good back in the day to start with, and a 10 year old battery will have degraded significantly.
posted by anaelith at 3:54 AM on February 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

On the r/nosurf sub on Reddit many people describe getting relief from their smartphone addiction by switching to grey scale. Might be worth a try.
posted by jcworth at 4:55 AM on February 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

You could get an iPhone SE. It's size is not the best for media consumption and if you're planning to do minimal use you could get one of the 16 GB for ~100 USD. Even better, the phone still receives updates from Apple.
posted by ruben at 12:20 PM on February 17, 2019

Response by poster: I already have a grayscale iPhone SE, haha.

Though I support things like Siempo, I have tried a lot of the things that are supposed to help people be less bugged out by the internet (boring browsers, meditation etc) with limited results.

It may be that I need to either accept that smartphones will eat a large portion of my day, or I have to get a candy bar phone and give up on Lyfts and fluent texting.
posted by sockkitude at 8:31 PM on February 17, 2019

Response by poster: I do appreciate your answers though! Especially the part about old Androids having cruddy batteries, I hadn’t thought about that.
posted by sockkitude at 8:32 PM on February 17, 2019

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