I own a quite old - at least by today's standards of planned obsolescence for every consumer device - HTC One S (2012), that won't be receiving any more Android upgrades (last update: version 4.0.4) or support by its manufacturer directly or any distributor for that matter.
It's quite a nice, small and lightweight phone, that by now has seen the world and besides a self-administered chassis change hasn't yielded any serious problems.
The phone doesn't have much RAM or much space. Neither does it have a microSD card slot, NFC or other fancy new stuff that people seem to need.
The alternative firmware for some mobile devices CyanogenMod is available for free and offers a community driven development branch of the Android kernel, without the Google and mobile vendor bloat.
Have a look: Maybe your phone is amongst the supported devices?
Not all vendors allow flashing other firmwares though. Some prevent this completely (watch Cory Doctorow at 28C3 for an in-depth comment on this), others let you do it by voiding your warranty, yet others just let you do it, because they are awesome.
Each device offers a release channel (with stable releases) and a development channel (with nightly builds for the adventurous and daring).
F-Droid is an alternative app store to Google Play. It only offers free/libre software. This is pretty awesome.
Some useful apps I like, use or have used:
- AFWall+ - Control network traffic
- AntennaPod - Advanced podcast manager and player
- Ardroid - Remote control for Ardour
- CAdroid - Certificate importer
- ConnectBot - SSH and local shell client
- Conversations - XMPP client
- DAVdroid - Contacts and Calendar sync
- DroidShows - TV series browser and tracker
- F-Droid - Application manager
- Firefox - Web browser
- Irssi ConnectBot - Specialised SSH Client
- K-9 Mail - Full-featured email client
- Kontalk - Community-driven messaging
- Kore - Remote control for Kodi (XBMC)
- Logical Defence - Encyclopedia of logical fallacies
- MPDroid - MPD (Music Player Daemon) client
- MuPDF - Lightweight document viewer
- ownCloud - Synchronization client
- ownCloud News - News/feed reader
- ownCloud Notes - Client for ownCloud Notes App
- oandbackup - Backup manager
- Open Camera - Camera App
- OpenKeychain - Encrypt files and communications with OpenPGP
- OpenTasks - Keep track of your list of goals
- OpenVPN for Android - OpenVPN without root
- OpenVPN Settings - VPN settings
- OsmAnd~ - Offline/online maps and navigation
- Orbot - Tor (anonymity) client
- orWall - Force apps to use Tor
- Orweb - Privacy-enhanced browser
- Password Store - Manage your passwords
- Plumble - Voice chat for mumble servers
- Practice Hub - Tools for musicians
- Port Authority - Port scanner
- QuickDic - Offline translation dictionary
- SMS Backup+ - Backup SMS and call logs to IMAP
- Silence - Send encrypted text messages (SMS/MMS)
- SatStat - Signal Generator for tablets
- Signal Generator - Signal Generator for tablets
- SnoopSnitch - Check mobile network security
- Syncthing - File synchronization
- Termux - Terminal emulator with packages
- Transportr - Public Transport Companion
- Tryton - Enterprise resource management
- Twidere - Microblogging client
- VLC - Media player
- Weechat - Internet relay chat
- World Weather - View weather forecast
The Guardian Project offers a repository for F-Droid with free/ libre Android applications that are being developed by a team of volunteers and are all evolving around the matter of strong encryption for communication.
One of the more notable projects was to bring Tor to Android.
- ChatSecure - A free and open source messaging app that features OTR encryption over XMPP
- Orbot - A free proxy app that empowers other apps to use the internet more securely
- CameraV - The easiest way to capture and share verifiable photos and video proof on a smartphone or tablet, all the while keeping it entirely secure and private
- ObscuraCam - A photo and video app for Android that keeps certain information private.
- Pixelknot - An Android application that allows users to hide short text-based messages in photographs and share them across trusted channels.
- I don't need to buy a new phone each year, because my battery got eaten by malicious apps that I can't disable.
- I can use an Android device without Google
- I can use an Android device without vendor bloat
- I can use an Android device as root and modify it the way I want it
- I can choose to only install free apps