"$120 smartphone being sold for $500" you say? Why yes, cheap Androids *are* my beat.

A quick 🧵 on the technical specs of the UMIDIGI A9 Pro (a.k.a. "Freedom Phone") and how it stacks up against vs. legit $500USD devices.
The chip inside is the 8-core MediaTek Helio P60 (a.k.a., MT6771). It was initially released in early *2018* and was not a competitive part even then:


By modern standards it's a pile of 💩; no device above ~$200 should use it.
Looking at the headline specs, this thing's a dog. There are 8 cores, but as with most Android devices, that's less than half the picture.

The *fast* cores (4 x A73's) are a design from *2016*:


The slow cores are 2012's A53:

Neither core's stock design was blessed with much cache to help out their ageing execution units (at least the A73's are out-of-order!), and MediaTek is not known for burdening their parts with a surfeit of resources.

The P60 is no exception.
For $500USD,you can get a new/unlocked iPhone SE and a steak dinner:


...or a Samsung Galaxy A52:


Either one will run circles around the "Freedom Phone".
How much of trouncing are the fascism-curious in for?

The Galaxy A52 scores 549 / 1704 in geekbench 5 single / multi-core tests. This is a broad view of system performance.

The iPhone SE scores 1308 / 2739.

The UMIDIGI A9? 134 / 483.
Reputably sourced devices are 3-5x faster, conservatively.

The freedom one purchases with this phone is an incredible lightness in one's wallet and the warm glow that comes with supporting the right's least shameful grifters.
There's a lot more to say (technically) this device vs. others you can buy for $500, but the biggest thing you should know is that it will be WILDLY INSECURE.

If it's truly an AOSP device (appears to be), the board it's built from is surely nearing end-of-life OS patch support.
Assuming that reputable app stores have been removed from it (to "de-Google" the distribution), system components like it's webview and browser are unlikely to get timely patches. And patch rates === security these days.
So the second liberation one will feel whilst carrying this phone is immunity from pesky software update nags.

The third? An emphatic emancipation of one's data from the device.
Ah, there's the detailed drop I was looking for:

This is everything I expected:

- drop-shipped, pre-flashed stock device
- clearly AOSP Android
- MT board probably not getting kernel patches
- "custom store" that the "Freedom Phone" folks probably don't even run themselves
- lol, Shenzhen addr.
I can't even. This is absolutely tech-word-salad:

Git repo or it didn't happen.
*everything* about this is, until proven otherwise, best understood as obvious grifting bullshit:

Show us the EVT/DVT boards you rejected. Which parts were swapped?

Was the modem baseband audited? Show us the diffs.
Oh god, laughing so hard it hurts:

But *most importantly*, if it's actually the Aroura Store codebase, that's GPL...I cannot *wait* for the diffs.


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More from @slightlylate

8 Jul
There's a lot of cultural rot packed into this and, per usual, California's *messed up* land use and tax policies are the backdrop.

To recap: Prop 13 means housing gets cheaper the longer you hold, not just 'cuz feds subsidize mortgages, but also property taxes.
Combined with now-rampant NIMBY-ism from the last generation to enjoy tax-funded higher ed, spiraling property costs mean the dream of owning a reasonable home and starting a family is a receding vision.

How bad is it?


The "way up" is "supposed to be" tech -- one of the few industries often paying enough to get you a slice of California. And for the lucky few, it absolutely is.

But the path to that is brutal.
Read 12 tweets
8 Jul
I take this blog post to mean that Play will provide WebAPKs to competing browsers and that I'll be able to install other stores on my Pixel.

Do I have that right?
My contention for something like a decade has been that if your tree is closed for half the year, you're "kept source", regardless of the license code eventually drops with:

One quick point and then a longer one.

Quickly, the distance between Play's mission and Google's mission has always been both obvious and disappointing.

So why does it persist? To grok that, we have to understand the origin stories.

Read 15 tweets
23 Dec 20
Even the truth in the original demonstrates ignorance: front-end (and client-side generally) has layers to occupy you for multiple careers!

Codecs, databases & storage, graphics (2d & 3d), languages & runtimes, fonts & layout, networking, performance: all harder on the client.
It *is true* that working across layers is a key trait of highly effective engineers. Respecting those who do it on the client is good.

The idea that one must "graduate" to the back end carries the same stench as every overconfidently presented "full stack" failure I trace.
Front-end demands humility because it is *different* and, in key respects, *harder*.

There's an asymmetric hubris here: those of us who work the client don't tell back-enders that their work is trivial. Nor do we gate-keep the "full stack" crowd, no matter how poorly they do.
Read 5 tweets
13 Oct 20
The cognitive dissonance of anti-web and anti-choice rules made & justified because device resource scarcity [1] against the marketing of ALL POWERFUL CPUs [2] is dizzying.

[1] infrequently.org/2020/09/the-pu…
[2] macworld.com/article/357533…
For a sense of scale, when the anti-choice, anti-web rules were laid down, Apple's fastest device was the iPhone 3G; a single-core, 32bit, in-order, ~400MHz chip attached to 128MiB of system memory.

Today, the slowest device you can buy directly from Apple is based on the A12...
The A12 is a 64 bit, 6-core, 2-and-change-GHz part with ~~8MiB of L2 cache~~ attached to 3GiB of RAM in the most resource-impoverished device Apple markets today:

Read 7 tweets
14 Sep 20
Trying again: Apple's iOS store shenanigans include a subtle & unique catch-22 journalists should grok:

- when apps violate policy, Apple says "use the web"
- ...except every iOS browser is required to use Apple's engine...
- ...and it's Apple keeps it year behind
This is hidden from view because no iOS browser maker dares to submit a browser that shows a "this isn't _real_ Firefox" (e.g.) banner...because what is the user supposed to do? Buy a new phone? They also can't afford to be cut off from all the world's rich users.
But why is Apple's engine & browser years behind?

Because Apple doesn't fund the WebKit team with anything like the headcount they'd need to keep up. And let's keep in mind that this isn't down to some sort of cash crunch.

This is a choice.
Read 8 tweets
17 Aug 20
Now imagine a world where Apple hadn't cut off the web at the knees and the things we regularly do on Android were possible, e.g.: WebGL 2, WASM threads (soon), Audio Worklets, large media storage, prompted PWA install, push notifications -- not to mention the upcoming stuff...
...backpressure for sockets, web transport, web codecs, WebGPU when it's ready (not when Apple deigns), payment handlers, etc. etc.

🍎 has used control not just to curate the store but also prevent the web from being a viable alternative & it's a goddamned scandal.
"oh, but feature X is in a tech preview" is the new "believing FB when they say they have 'more work to do'".

At some point you have to look at the pace and trend and conclude that not allowing other engines is strategic.
Read 4 tweets

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