As audio professionals we are always looking for new ways to enhance our audio lives an example of this is latest technology to accompany us while on-the-go. That may come in the form of the latest media capable smartphone. Most audio and video professionals opt for a device running iOS as (out-of-the-box) it is optimized for audio and video production. Some folks are fans of Android and hence the reason for this article.
iOS and Android are currently the most popular mobile operating systems on the market. Both iOS and Android are based on the rock solid foundation of Unix/Linux powering many devices from smartphones to tablets. iOS gets updates directly from Apple when they come out thus enabling the majority of iOS devices to remain secure. Apple does not allow third parties to have any control over its platform, which is excellent for both Apple and the consumer. This is not the case with most Android devices.
With Android, manufacturers are the gatekeeper for their respective devices. The current hierarchy is: Google -> Smartphone Manufacturer -> Customer.
If you bought your phone from a carrier, such as T-Mobile, AT&T etc the hierarchy is: Google -> Smartphone Manufacturer -> Carrier -> Customer.
In other words, when Google has released a security patch for their Android operating system, the manufacturer then decides whether or not their respective devices will receive the update. This is a serious problem as it means that many devices will be left venerable to hacks and exploits.
To add to this problem many manufacturers/carriers still produce and sell low-cost Android devices running out-dated software (as old as Android 4.2.2 JellyBean) and with no chance of upgrading. It is this phenomenon that has led the term known as Android fragmentation.
Today, I show you how to have your cake and eat it. Today, I’ll show you what to look for and what to buy.
Why You Should be Concerned About Security
Outdated devices provide a nest for hackers to thrive. Compromised apparatus enable them to gain full control. Once the device has been compromised hackers will be able to read your SMS messages, access, send and receive emails on your behalf from your device among other things. Hackers can activate your device’s camera and microphone thus enabling them to view or listen in on conversations/sessions taking place while in use or at that location. Stored financial information can be obtained and used for malicious purposes. It is therefore critical to maintain a secure and up-to-date device. Do Not Compromise!
What to Look For
- Only purchase devices running the latest version of Android (Android 7 Nougat at the time of writing)
- Only purchase devices from manufacturers with a reputation for updating their respective devices on time.
- Opt to purchase devices running Pure Android. You will thank me. Many manufacturers believe they are doing their brand justice by customizing every last detail of the OS and installing irremovable software that provides duplicate functionality of the features already present in Android but the truth is this just causes more bugs, more bloat, weaker performance and an overall inconsistent experience. I’m not asking, It is a fact! Over-customization also makes it a lot more difficult for the manufacturer to release device updates on time as new updates released by Google have to be tested against their customizations before they are pushed to their devices.
- Look for devices based on Qualcomm processors. They are currently the most compatible, secure, and stable processors on the market for use with Android devices. In addition when you device becomes obsolete you will have a better chance of installing a third party ROM such as Lineage OS to keep your device up-to-date.
- The device should have at least 2 GB of RAM and 16GB storage space.
- Purchase your devices online, carrier unlocked and directly from the manufacturer.
What to Buy
- Google Pixel XL
- Google Pixel
- Google Pixel C (Tablet)
- Honor 5x*
- Nokia 6
- Nokia 5
- Moto Z
- Moto G5 Plus
- OnePlus 3T
The Pixel line replaces the Nexus line as a premium set of devices made by Google running Pure Android. Pixel devices are made by Google so their is no 3rd wheel in the picture. Updates from Google will always come to these devices first. The Pixel line promises to provide “the best Android has to offer”.
* The Honor 5x was and still is one of the best Android phones made at any budget. It has a great sounding audio chip onboard, looks beautiful, has a premium aluminum build and has solid specs. It is based on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 processor and can be flashed to run the latest version of LineageOS. In order to install LineageOS you will need to unlock the boot loader which will require an understanding of ADB/Fastboot and third party software (to obtain the boot loader code). Once that is done you will have a usable device running the latest version of Pure Android.
If you stick to the devices on this list you should have no problems in the security and stability department. You will have an Android phone as Google intended. Clean, pure and free from all the junk that manufacturers and carriers love to put on their devices.
– Alexander Lindo